|Volume 21 Number 1 January 2019||
Ernest S. Underwood
The greater segment of the denominational world believes in and teaches that the alien sinner comes into possession of salvation, complete with eternal security, by faith alone or only. A causal examination of the creed books written by men readily affirm this statement. It is certainly scriptural to teach that one is saved by faith, but not even one passage of Scripture teaches salvation by faith only. The Scriptures, however, speak of many kinds or levels of faith.
Scriptures speak of faith in these terms.
The faith mentioned in this last list would be utterly useless in a “faith only” doctrine. For instance, if one subscribes to this false doctrine, he has no need to walk in faith, be sound in faith, keep the faith or live by faith. Each of these statements have verb action, a thing that “faith only” does not require.
At this point, we ask two questions, to be followed by a third one. (1) Do the Scriptures teach that an accountable person can be, and actually is, saved by faith? (2) Do these same Scriptures teach that an accountable person can be, and is, saved by faith only? Logic and common sense tell us that the same answer cannot be given to both questions. We have limited our questions to accountable persons because the Scriptures do not teach anywhere, as some doctrines of men teach, that infants are sinners at the time of birth—a most unscriptural and despicable doctrine (Ezekiel 18:20).
Question number three is this. If the answer to question number two is “yes,” does it make any difference to the kind of faith one may possess or proclaim, and what determines this point? “Faith alone” naturally rules out a faith working through love. Such also rules out a law of faith, since a law always has requirements that must be followed or obeyed, something “faith only” cannot allow. “Faith only“ dispenses with a faith that must be obeyed, a genuine faith, because such requires showing and practicing it.
One might claim a sincere belief in the doctrine of faith only according to the opinions of men that teach that sincerity alone is sufficient for salvation. “It doesn’t make any difference what you believe as long as you are sincere” may be a doctrine that is comforting to those who believe it, but no Scripture can be produced to defend it. In many places in the world, men bow down to trees, cows, insects, reptiles and other animals. At no time when this writer has witnessed these things did he ever doubt the sincerity of those practicing them. Yet, no one who in any way believes in the Bible would claim that such sincerity saved them, or even benefited them. It should be noted, however, that in the Scriptures when one sincerely believes, he obeys. “Faith only” requires no obedience whatsoever. In reality, the only definitions of a faith only position are those given by the apostle Paul and by James, the author of the epistle that bears his name.
The apostle stated to those in Corinth, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty” (1 Corinthians 15:14). He also stated, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” One may say that he believes that Christ rose from the dead, but if he denies or refuses to obey the commands of the risen Christ, his faith is vain— futile. Is there anyone who will make a plea for salvation by an empty or a futile faith? Then, James stated concerning a certain kind of faith, “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? …You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:20, 24).
An empty faith is useless, and a dead faith is—well, it’s dead! The faith that comes by hearing the Word of God, and obedience to the same, is the only faith that saves. Contrariwise, any faith that comes by hearing and obeying the creeds, doctrines and opinions of men is a faith that is futile, empty and dead. Such is the faith that is taught and practiced by those in denominational churches.
Brethren and Friends, let us have that living, active and genuine faith of those whom the Holy Spirit listed in Hebrews 11. These all had a faith that caused them to act. According the Hebrews 11:6, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Do you have this kind of faith?
Does God Exist?
I heard this story this week and thought you might enjoy the “insight.” The story went something like this.
A gentleman was seated in his barber’s chair. During the course of the haircut, the topic of the existence of God came up in conversation. The barber stated, “I do not believe that God exists.” The gentleman, shocked at this statement, asked “Why not?” “Well,” replied the barber, “all you have to do is go out into the street and see the pain and suffering that humans endure. If God existed, He would not allow this to happen!”
The gentleman did not want to engage in an argument, so he did not respond. After the haircut, the gentleman left the barber shop. He saw, sitting on the sidewalk, a man with dirty clothes and long hair. He turned and went back into the barber shop. “Barbers do not exist!” he exclaimed. “What do you mean?” said the barber. “Of course we exist! Here I am standing right here to prove it!” The gentleman replied, “There is a man with long hair sitting on the street! If barbers existed, he would not have long, unkept hair!” “That’s a ridiculous conclusion” said the barber. “People don’t always come to me to get their hair cut!” “That’s right” the gentleman responded, “and people don’t always come to God!”
If all people always went to God and submitted to His Will, then every person on the planet would not be hungry! All the sick and dying would be well cared for! There would be no poverty! God’s Will would be “done on earth as it is in heaven”! However, most do not submit to God’s will. Hence, the earth endures many things that God does not desire that it endure! God does exist!