|By Faith Alone|
Romans 4:4-8 (NIV)
The apostle Paul affirmed again and again in Scripture that believers are saved by faith in Christ apart from works (Romans 4; Ephesians 2:8-10). He condemned those who would teach a message that contradicted this (Galatians 1:6-9).
It is a fearful thing when some professed Christians rely on their water baptism, observance of days, diet, denominational affiliation, or anything else to complete their salvation. By doing so they are really saying Jesus did an incomplete work. They are really saying that Jesus lied, or did not know what He was talking about, when He said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30) In other words, they almost accepted Jesus by faith, but did not quite get there. What can a mere sinner add to the perfect work of God? It is only the pride and arrogance of sinful humanity that thinks it can save itself; that it can do better than God in completing its own salvation.
Scripture teaches it is by faith alone that we are saved, and not of ourselves lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-10). Those who say that they must add works to faith in Christ alone for salvation are standing on a shaky foundation. It is a false gospel like this that will be the doom of many.
The only people who have trouble with Scriptural passages like Ephesians 2:8-10 and Romans 4 are those who seek to complete their own salvation with their good works. This is something these passages (not to mention many others) say no one can do. They forcefully bring home the point that we are saved apart from our works. This is an essential aspect of the gospel.
Unfortunately, some seek to add to the gospel. It is the mandatory Sunday/Saturday Sabbatarian who adds to the gospel when he claims one must keep Sunday or Saturday holy in order to be saved. It is the Oneness Pentecostal who adds to the gospel when he maintains that one must be baptized in "Jesus' name only" and speak in tongues in order to be saved. And it is the baptismal regenerationist who adds to the gospel when he asserts that one must be water baptized in order to be saved. All these groups and many others fail to accept by faith the perfect and finished work of Christ on the cross. Instead, they seek to add their imperfect works to complete that which is perfectly completed. They turn a free gift into something to be earned. Members of such groups apparently believe deep down that what Jesus did on their behalf was not enough. They refuse to believe that Jesus paid it all for them. The Israelites in Hebrews 4 did not enter God's rest (the Promised Land) because of unbelief. Today, many will also not enter salvation rest because they refuse to believe the good news of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. They just have a hard time believing God when He says salvation is a gift, not something to be earned in any way. They would rather depend on the good works they do (their performance) or the rituals they perform instead of depending on the merits of Christ alone. And unless they turn away from this false security, they will remain stuck at the border of the Promised Land, unable to enter in. They will remain almost saved, but not saved.
"He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit." (Titus 3:5)