Does "faith alone" save?
We've all likely heard it before: "Believe in Jesus and you're saved!"

Perhaps no other notion has been more fully embraced by the Christian world than this one.

There are other variations to this theme as well:

"Believe in Jesus—and be a 'good' person—and you'll be saved," or, "Believe in Jesus—and keep the 10 commandments—and you'll be saved," and so forth.

But does the Bible teach these concepts?

Does it actually teach that faith only—without the need to make any effort to fully obey Christ's teachings—will result in God granting us this truly undeserved gift of His Son's cruel sacrifice?

Does it in reality suggest that we can remain in willful disobedience to many plain teachings of the Bible with no salvation consequences—simply because we "believe in Him"?

Perhaps you have an opinion about this too.

Whatever it is, hopefully among your opinions is that "man's opinion matters little when compared to the truth of God's words."

After all, He is the One Who will determine the ultimate salvation of humanity, not us.

So, let's take a look at God's words on whether or not "faith only" will save a person.



Contents:

Jesus' views on the need to obey His teachings
Numerous verses confirm "obedient faith" = "saving faith"
Summarizing what God wants us to do
"But won't 'good people' who believe in Jesus be saved?"
Bible examples of "good Christian people" who were not saved
Reasons why some Christians think "faith alone" saves
Is your faith genuine? A Quiz

How to be saved—According to the Bible





Jesus' views on the need to obey His teachings

Did Jesus teach that "faith only"—while also being a "good" person (from a human perspective)—was the path to humanity's salvation?

Many people think so. So, let's take a closer look.

In Luke 6:46-49, Jesus advanced these shocking words to His followers:
"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what the person is like who comes to Me and hears My words and obeys them. He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent crashed into that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the person who hears and does not obey them is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation. The torrent crashed into it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."
(Luke 6:46-49)
Here we can see that Jesus provides three important requirements for those of us who want to avoid catastrophic spiritual destruction:


  1. We must come to Jesus.

  2. We must hear His teachings (in other words, "become familiar with" His teachings). Implied here is the critical requirement of growing in the knowledge of His teachings.

  3. Finally, we must obey those teachings—in other words, put them into practice.
With Jesus' requirements for avoiding what He called "complete destruction" being so plain, why is it that so many today fail to follow His simple teachings?

Why do so many today call Jesus "Lord" but fail to do what He says? Why do they believe, and practice, "faith only" Christianity?

Jesus plainly taught the opposite: He taught that salvation involves not just coming to Him, but hearing His teachings and then putting them into practice. He could not have been plainer.

Please note again that these words were spoken to men and women who believed in Jesus and crowded in masses to hear His teachings—just like many do today.

But they had a problem:

They never truly committed themselves to the Lordship of Christ in their lives. They had not grasped the critical concept that having a genuine faith meant demonstrating one's faith by action, by obedience.

As a result, Christ asked them: "Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord'—and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)

Similar questions could be asked to millions of modern men and women who call themselves Christian:

"Why do you call Jesus 'Lord' and claim to be saved, when you have no serious desire to know and then do what He says?

"Why are you being selective in what you want to obey from the Bible? If so, is Christ truly your Lord?


And: "If this is how one serves Christ, is not his spiritual house poised for total, catastrophic destruction on the Day of Judgment?" (see again Luke 6:49)

And as we'll notice next, Luke 6 was far from the only passage where God reminded us that we must demonstrate saving faith by our genuine desire to fully obey our Lord.

Yes, and 100% commitment really is what God is asking of us (Luke 14:33).

Let's notice a few more...


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Numerous verses confirm "obedient faith" = "saving faith"

It's surprising how plain the Bible is on the necessity of obedience, in spite of the rampant confusion about it. Numerous verses point this out, and here are a few for your consideration:


Matthew 7:21-24
Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven. On that day many will say to Me: `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?' Then I will tell them plainly: `I never knew you; Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'
(Matthew 7:21-24)
As you can see, a mere expression of faith is unsatisfactory to God. Clearly, a person must take action in his life by obeying God's will (His "laws") if he expects to be saved. Failure to do so is called by Christ "lawlessness." Yes, we are under God's laws, and "lawlessness" is when we violate them.


John 8:31-32
To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, "If you continue in My teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
(John 8:31-32)
"Truth will set you free," we're told. And this is most certainly true. But on what condition? On the condition that we continue in Jesus' teachings. Believers who fail to do so are not really His disciples.


1 John 3:24-4:1
Those who obey His commands live in Him, and He in them...
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God—because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

(1 John 3:24-4:1)
Whereas Jesus explains in John 8:32 that to truly be one of His disciples we must "hold to His teachings"—John further explains that we are truly "living in Jesus" when we obey His commands. He then follows with a solemn warning not to believe every spirit, because MANY false prophets are in the world.

Do you think that people who teach that "we need only believe, but not necessarily obey His commands" are among those false prophets John spoke of? The context certainly appears to suggest it.


John 14:21,23
Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.
...If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

(John 14:21,23)
Again, we could ask: "What two actions will the person take who truly loves Jesus?"

He will (1) Get to know the teachings of Christ, and (2) Put them into practice by obeying them.


Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came to them and said:
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you..."

(Matthew 28:18-20)
Does it sound like Christ is satisfied with "selective obedience" to His commands? Why then would He have commanded His disciples to baptize and then teach Christians to "obey EVERYTHING" He commanded? Does this match the message of modern Christian preachers?

Why should the need to "obey everything" seem strange to us? Obviously, it's illogical to think Christ would have delivered so many teachings and to us if He didn't expect us to follow them.

This is the reason He asked many of His followers who were not fully committed: "Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord'—and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46)


Hebrews 5:8-9
Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered.
And—once made perfect—He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him...

(Hebrews 5:8-9)
No wonder Christ wanted His disciples to teach His people to "obey everything"—these are the only people He's going to save.

Again, we can see that we're required to do more than merely believe in Jesus. Our faith must be an obedient faith.


James 1:22
...do not simply listen to the word (and thereby deceive yourselves)—Do what it says.
(James 1:22)
From this verse we could ask the question: Is it good enough to simply read the Bible and listen to sermons on the teachings of Christ?

Not according to James. James clearly points out that anyone who fails to apply Biblical teachings is deceiving himself—that is to say, "lying to himself."

Why? Because such Christians obviously don't think obeying Biblical teachings has any effect on the outcome of their eternal destiny.

This is a fatally incorrect point of view.


James 2:18-20,26
But someone will say, "You have faith and I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
You believe that there is one God? You do well! Even the demons believe that—and tremble.
You foolish man! Do you want to be shown that faith without deeds is useless?
...Just as the body without the spirit is dead, faith without deeds is also dead.

(James 2:18-20,26)
If "faith only" proponents heard another Christian refer to them as "spiritual fools," they would probably be offended. Yet that is exactly how God—in the above verses—referred to such people!

But much worse than being called "foolish" is the fact that such fools—even though they may believe in Christ—will not be saved (see again Hebrews 5:8-9).

James pointed out that it's both logical and reasonable that each Christian should show his faith by following through with obedience.

For example, it's ludicrous to say "I believe in Jesus"—and then fail to help the needy, fail to love one's enemies, fail to be baptized to wash away one's sins, fail to obey Christ's requirements regarding marriage, fail to get rid of the "works of the flesh," fail to incorporate the "fruit of the Spirit," lie, cheat, steal, fail to worship regularly in the public assembly, fail to observe plain public worship requirements, or fail to obey any of the other many commands taught in the Bible. All of these are plainly commanded in the Bible for Christians to obey (see Quiz at end of pamphlet for verses).

If our faith is genuine—can others see it? Can they tell if our faith in Christ is real?

James made it clear that we demonstrate our "faith" by how we react to the words of GOD. If we obey them, we show that we truly believe these are God's words—and are treating them with the respect they deserve (again, by obeying them).

On the other hand, if we disobey, we show great disrespect by either (a) willfully disregarding His teachings, or (b) by failing to grow in sufficient knowledge of all His teachings to know what His will is—when we've had reasonable time to do so. (I do believe God allows us time to "grow" in His knowledge, but we must be making a reasonable effort toward continual growth and obedience—see 1 Peter 2:2.)

As you can see, God is unimpressed by those who claim to have "saving faith" but do not take action that demonstrates their faith is real—when they have every reasonable opportunity to do so.


2 Thessalonians 1:7-9
...it is only right for God to repay trouble to those who are troubling you—and give relief to you who are troubled (and to us also)—when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in flaming fire with His powerful angels, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
They will be punished with everlasting destruction, and excluded from the presence of the Lord and from the magnificence of His power...

(2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
From these verses we could ask: "If a believing Christian fails to obey God, what will happen to him?"

Answer: He will be severely punished, right along will all those who: (1) Failed to get to know the true God, and, (2) Failed to obey His teachings.

These verses unquestionably teach that "saving faith" equals "obedient faith."


1 John 2:3
This is how we know that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commands.
(1 John 2:3)
We just noticed previously that people who "do not know God" will be severely punished when Jesus returns. Here, John explains how Christians actually come to know God: when they obey His commands.

In other words, if you don't obey the commands of Christ, you don't really know Him at all, regardless of whether or not you claim to believe in Him.

So, do you really want to know God? Then develop the mindset that you will truly strive to obey all of His commands and teachings.


Revelation 12:17; 14:12
Then the dragon was enraged at the woman, and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who obey God's commands and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
...This calls for the patient endurance of the saints—those who keep God's commands and their faith in Jesus.

(Revelation 12:17; 14:12)
Please note who Satan is enraged at: obedient Christians.
He isn't particularly enraged at the disobedient ones—indeed, they aide his cause.
That's because their example of disobedience (willful or otherwise) to the commands of Christ encourages others to follow suit (the "leavening factor"—see 1 Corinthians 5:6).


Luke 11: 27-28
While Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
(Luke 11: 27-28)


If the Bible's elevating of the obedient Christian above the mother of Jesus does not demonstrate its importance, it's difficult to imagine what would.


Acts 5:29
[In response to the demands of the Jewish leaders that Peter and the apostles not preach about Jesus, they replied]: "We must obey God rather than men!"
(Acts 5:29)
When it comes to a difference between the words of God and the words of men, the choice should not be a difficult one for any sincere Christian.

Why then are people today ignoring obedience to God's plain teachings? Why are the Biblical teachings on faith and obedience summarily ignored? Why do so many in the Christian world choose rather to follow the false teachings of modern preachers, who continually mislead them with the appealing message that "if they believe in Jesus they will be saved—without any need to obey"?

We'll notice the reasons later. But regardless of what they are, Peter made it clear: "We must obey God rather than men!"


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Summarizing what God wants us to do

What have we learned in the above verses? What is God trying to tell us? What does He really want us to do to be saved?

It's very straightforward and can be summarized as follows. We must:


  1. Find out what His commandments are. In other words, grow in knowledge of the teachings and principles of God and Christ (2 Peter 3:18: Hosea 4:6: 2 Peter 1:5-11).

  2. Make a genuine effort to obey everything we learn, for this is God's will for our lives. The Bible was obviously written to be obeyed (Matthew 28:18-20).

  3. When we disobey, or "sin" (sin=violating one of God's laws—1 John 3:4), either willfully or due to ignorance—and we discover that we have done so— we must repent and improve (1 John 1:9). We must seek to repent of our sin(s) permanently. By not remaining in sin, or knowledge of any sin, I believe we continue to "walk in the light" (1 John 1:7). However, we must never justify a lack of obedience, or develop the attitude that obedience is unimportant to God since we "already believe in Jesus," or that His commands are too many or too difficult (Deuteronomy 30:11-18). And, again, we must keep growing in the knowledge of how to please our Lord (Ephesians 5:10).

  4. Continue to seek to please Him in every way (Colossians 1:9-10) and "find out what pleases the Lord" (Ephesians 5:10), Who died for our sins.
Perhaps the best advice is what could be called "5 Steps to a staying saved," found in Colossians 1:9-10. Paul wrote:
And so—since the day we heard about it—we have not stopped praying for you, asking that you may
[1] be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, and that you may
[2] live a life worthy of the Lord and
[3] be fully pleasing to Him,
[4] bearing fruit in every good work, and
[5] increasing in the knowledge of God...

(Colossians 1:9-10)
So, in view of this can it be said that we are:


  1. Making every reasonable effort to "fill our minds" with the knowledge of God's teachings? Remember, the Bible says (Hebrews 10:16-17): "This is the covenant I will make with them...I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds...Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Thus, we must be busy internalizing the laws and commandments of God—until we fill our minds with them.

  2. Living a life worthy of Christ? As we've noticed, God really does require Christians to "live right" to be saved (Colossians 1:10). For more verses about how to do this, please consider Galatians 5:16-26.

  3. Seeking to please Christ in every way (in other words, seeking to obey all that He commanded)? See also Matthew 28:18-20.

  4. Seeking to incorporate "every good work" the Bible describes to do into our lives—not just seeking to be a "good person" by human definition (which often is quite different)?

  5. Continually growing in the knowledge of God? In other words, not satisfied with simply basic knowledge, but deepening our faith by continually growing in knowledge (Hebrews 6:1-8). If so, then you have grasped the meaning of a "saving faith."


For your faith can then be observed not merely by "what you say" but also by "what you do." (James 2:18)


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"But won't 'good people' who believe in Jesus be saved?"

It's common for people these days to think that "good people" who claim faith in Christ will be saved.

It has already been abundantly shown that God wants us to be obedient, not just "good" (which is often defined by man's standards, not His).

In fact, the Bible makes it clear that although "being good" (again, by God's definition of goodness) is certainly part of the will of God, much more is also required. Peter wrote (2 Peter 1:5-8):
And besides this—with great haste— supplement to your faith moral excellence,
and to moral excellence knowledge,
and to knowledge self-control,
and to self-control steadfastness,
and to steadfastness godly reverence,
and to godly reverence brotherly love,
and to brotherly love, love.
If you possess these things in superabundance, then you will be neither lazy nor unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(2 Peter 1:5-8)
Plainly, we cannot be content merely with having "faith in Jesus and being good." Peter calls such faith "unproductive" (it could also be translated "useless").

Instead, we must—with GREAT haste—ADD TO OUR FAITH moral excellence (not just "goodness", but "moral excellence"), AND knowledge AND self-control AND steadfastness (long-lasting faith through difficult times) AND godly reverence (it's common for "good people" these days to not be particularly "godly" or "holy") AND brotherly kindness AND ALSO love.

Furthermore, we must also possess all these in INCREASING MEASURE, so that our faith is not "unproductive." In other words, we must keep on improving.

So, having faith in Christ and possessing "goodness" alone is not by any means God's total will for our lives.


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Bible examples of "good Christian people" who were not saved

Surely you must agree that the Bible, on the topic of obedience, has been plain enough for any sincere follower to understand.

But what further solidifies this point are the many Biblical examples of individuals who plainly believed in God / Christ, and were "good" by modern definitions—but were definitely not going to be saved.

Here are a few of those Biblical examples:


Multitudes of Christian believers on the Day of Judgment who failed to fully obey God

We already noticed (Matthew 7:21-23) that Jesus prophesied the coming of a horrifying Judgment scene, a "Day of Judgment" on which numerous people who believed in Him and referred to Him as "Lord"—people who fully expected to be saved—would receive terrifying news of their eternal destiny.

Why would their souls be lost? After all, they believed in Jesus—even calling Him "Lord." They were also religious people, claiming to have done MANY good works in Jesus' name—which Jesus did not deny. So, how then could these Christian believers who had performed many "good works" for Christ be lost?

Jesus gave the reason: Because only those who actually do the will of God will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Doctrine turns out to be pretty important after all, doesn't it? These shocked individuals had a simple "doctrinal" misunderstanding about what "saving faith" actually is: obedient faith.


Gnostics

Many today apparently don't realize that the Gnostics (Christians who had a "mere doctrinal misunderstanding" about whether or not Jesus actually came in the flesh versus being an apparition) clearly believed in Jesus.

Yes, Gnostics were believers in Jesus too. And you and I both likely know that they would be welcomed readily into the vast majority of modern Christian denominations. They were, however, resolutely rejected by God.

Indeed, the Holy Spirit had some shockingly stern words for the Gnostics: "deceivers" and "the antichrist" (1 John 4:1-3; John 1:14). This is about as strong a condemnation as could be given.

Not only that, but true Christian believers were commanded to disassociate from these men (2 John 6-11). I wonder how many Christian churches these days are willing to disassociate from those promoting egregiously false teaching, people like the Gnostics?

It sure doesn't go along with the "faith only and you're saved" doctrine that we hear so much about these days, does it?

Again, what was the problem with the Gnostic? He simply didn't correctly believe and teach the truth on can't-get-wrong facts regarding Jesus. By teaching the false doctrine that "Jesus didn't come in the flesh," John explained that Gnostics were not "in obedience to His commands." (2 John 4)

Yes, Gnostics were undeniably believers in Christ. But, barring repentance, they weren't going to be saved.


Demons and devils

While demons and devils aren't "good people," they deserve to be in this list. That's because many modern Christians overlook the fact that the demons Jesus cast from people during His ministry recognized Jesus and believed He was the Christ—yet who would seriously argue that these "believers in Christ" were saved?

James said that even demons believe in God—but like many modern "believers," they disobeyed and therefore were eternally condemned (2 Peter 2:1-3,20-22, James 2:19-20, Matthew 8:29; Jude 3-4). Again, God is not impressed with "disobedient believers." He equates them to having the "faith" of demons.


Unrepentant, immoral believers in Christ

Today it is common in Christian churches to find people openly living in a state of adultery (or other forms of sexual immorality), and to be invited / welcomed to church functions and accepted into Christian fellowships—without repentance and change of behavior.

Paul commanded a totally different approach (1 Corinthians 5): he instructed the Corinthians that such people, if they failed to repent and change, were to be put "out of the fellowship." Please note that such believing Christians were not to be associated with until they repented. Why? Because their actions could cause others to follow suit, to imitate them in their disobedience (1 Corinthians 5:6).

Please note that even though the adulterous man of 1 Corinthians 5 obviously believed in Jesus, prior to his repentance he remained in a state of eternal condemnation (he had been "delivered to Satan").

Obviously, a believing Christian who has been "delivered to Satan" will be destined for the same destination as Satan: the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:10-15).

Sadly, modern Church leaders neither obey the Bible by disfellowshipping such individuals, nor do they inform the rest of the church about the behavior involved so that the leavening effect of sin does not infect the rest of the church. Such modern preachers fail to stand in the gaps of the walls of a crumbling spiritual Israel (Ezekiel 13:4-5). Therefore, God will bring judgment upon such spiritual leaders for their tragic oversight (Ezekiel 13:8, 14-15). While freely accepting compensation for their services, they fail to fulfill their Biblically-assigned job description.

Consider also the following words (Galatians 5:19-21), written to Christian believers:
The deeds of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentiousness, jealousy, outbursts of rage, self-advancing divisiveness, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, worldly partying—and the like. I am warning you—just like I did before—that people who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.


Once again, we can see that the notion that one can remain in a state of salvation simply because he is a Christian believer—while continuing in the above-mentioned sins—is dangerously false.


Christians who believed that the "resurrection has already passed"

Today, if a Christian believer held accurately to every Biblical teaching except that he taught "the resurrection has already passed," that Christian would be welcomed with open arms in many modern churches.

Why? Because "anyone who believes in Jesus is saved and is someone I should fellowship"—or so we're told.

Was this God's attitude toward those who twisted / misinterpreted plain Biblical teachings, such as those surrounding the resurrection from the dead?

Did the apostles of Christ accept such teachers?

In 1 Corinthians 15:12, 33-34, we learn of believers in Christ who "merely" had a "harmless doctrinal misunderstanding" regarding our future resurrection from the dead.

Yet, for this false belief alone, they were condemned in the Bible as "bad company" and "sinners." Furthermore, faithful Christians were required to keep away from such false teachers since they could corrupt the good character of other Corinthians believers—in other words, pervert their pure understanding of truth.

What's the moral? We can see that even though one believes in Christ, he will be lost if he proceeds to ignore simple facts about our future resurrection from the dead. Such "can't-get-wrong" facts are too plain to misunderstand—and the church must be the "pillar and foundation of the truth..." (1 Timothy 3:15). In other words, Christ requires the church to keep Biblical teaching pure.

Along these same lines, Hymenaeus and Phyletus deserve a dishonorable mention. The Bible described that they were "destroying the faith of some" due to their erroneous teaching that the resurrection had already passed (2 Timothy 2:17-18). In so doing, they were not "properly handling word of truth."

Their teaching was so serious it was described as having the danger of "spreading like gangrene," a fatal condition, especially in that day.

The bottom line is this: Getting plain Biblical teachings correct is incredibly important to God, because Biblical teachings are facts, not interesting myths about which we may delightfully disagree without the fear of consequences.


False teachers who corrupted other plain doctrinal truths

In Acts 20:28-30, certain Christians were mentioned who would rise up from among Christian churches and would "distort the truth" in order to gain a following.

How serious was "distorting the truth" to Paul?

For three years he warned them "night and day with tears" that such "Christians" would rise up "among you," and that true Christians must therefore "be on guard." He referred to these false Christian teachers as dangerous, "savage wolves."

Along these lines, in Hebrews 13:9, the Bible warns: "Do not be carried away by various kinds of strange teachings."

Then, in Romans 16:17-18, Paul warned Christians to beware of men who clearly believed in Jesus but were teaching things "contrary to what you have learned." He ordered the Romans to "keep away from" such men.

Clearly, God considers it a serious matter when men pervert plain Biblical truths.


False teachers who twisted complex scriptures in order to change basic Christian truths

Although similar to the previous section, 2 Peter 3:15-16 deserves to be mentioned because it is an approach commonly used by modern false teachers.

What is it? It is the use of erroneous conclusions drawn from complicated Bible passages (e.g., Romans and Revelation), conclusions that modify the meaning of plain and simple Bible teachings found redundantly elsewhere.

What is the end result of those who do this? They are described as those who twist the Bible "to their own destruction."

Again, we see that even though one believes in Christ, he will be lost if he proceeds to twist the Bible in such a way as to modify the meaning of plain Biblical teachings.


Hymenaeus and Alexander

In 1 Timothy 1:19-20, Paul encouraged Timothy to "hold on to his faith," and explained that Hymenaeus and Alexander had actually "shipwrecked their faith."

Because their faith in Jesus Christ had been "shipwrecked," Paul used his apostolic authority to hand them "over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."

Unless one actually believes a Christian can be "handed over to Satan" and still be saved, one must admit that Christians can have a non-saving faith—a faith that has been "shipwrecked."

In other words, we must make sure we are indeed sailing continuously along the path of God's teachings; we need to be, as John said, "walking in the truth" (2 John 4). Otherwise, our faith too could be shipwrecked, and we too could find ourselves having been "delivered to Satan" due to our failed faith.


Numerous other examples

Many other examples could be given. Here are a few more:


  • Any person, Christian or otherwise, who fails to obey critical, basic Christian teachings (Revelation 21:7) —In this passage, the Bible plainly states that anyone who is cowardly, unbelieving, vile, a murderer, sexually immoral, a sorcerer, an idolaters, or a liar—his place "will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." In Galatians 5:19-21, the Bible adds to the list those who are sensual, involved in witchcraft, harbor hatred, jealousy, or envy, those who can't control their anger, alcoholics, those who engage in worldly partying, and anyone who engages in behavior similar to the above, without repentance and change—these individuals "will not inherit the kingdom of God."

  • Christians who fail to be "holy" (Hebrews 12:14)—The Bible clearly states that Christians who fail to be "holy" (live a godly, prayerful, spiritual, obedient life) will not see God. In other words, being a "good," believing Christian is not enough for our salvation. We must also be holy if we expect to see God.

  • Christians who are lukewarm and inactive in their faith (Revelation 2:4-5)—They individuals were commanded to repent, or face serious consequences.

  • Christians who fail to completely obey God (Revelation 3:1-3)—Jesus described Christians whose deeds were incomplete before God. In other words, they weren't doing enough to please God.

  • Christians who disobey basic teachings, such as the requirement to be truthful (Acts 5:1-11)—Liars were referenced above; this passage describes Ananias and Sapphira, who were two Christians who lied about their donations to the church (Acts 5:1-11). As a result, God took their lives to demonstrate to the church the importance of obedience.

  • Christians who believe false doctrine (Revelation 2:14-16)—Believing and advancing false doctrine is far more serious to God than many in the modern Christian world think. God does expect us to keep our doctrines and practices Biblically-correct.

  • Christians who held to the teachings of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:15)—Scholars aren't sure about exactly what the Nicolaitans taught; this case is referenced simply to draw attention again to the fact that 'merely' holding to certain teachings that are false" is unquestionably enough to cost a person his eternal salvation.
The Bible goes on and on with examples similar to the above.

In fact, almost every page of the New Testament either directly or indirectly teaches the necessity of having an OBEDIENT faith in Christ.

Therefore the choice is simple: Are we going to believe the words of men, who insist that obedience is not important? Or, will we instead believe what God said regarding the necessity of an obedient faith?

Peter made it clear where his allegiance lay. To the religiously educated—albeit disastrously wrong—spiritual leaders of his day he said:
"We ought to obey God rather than men."
(Acts 5:29)



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Reasons why some Christians think "faith alone" saves

It's been said that "a person can be honestly mistaken, but when he is shown the truth, he either stops being mistaken—or stops being honest."

In view of the above verses, it's impossible for an honest person to maintain the modern "faith only, but not necessarily obedience" position that so many today advocate.

Examining the words of God makes it clear that such people should either stop being mistaken, or be revealed as dishonest.

Saving faith is this: "God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Therefore...I will OBEY it."

Yet, as we know, millions of Christians today have been led to believe that faith alone, without obedience, is perfectly suitable to God as far as our salvation is concerned.

Why? How is this possible in view of how plain the Bible is on this topic?

What typically occurs is this: certain Bible verses are taken dangerously out of context, while numerous other verses that clearly speak to the contrary are ignored.

Here are just a few verses that are commonly twisted to suggest the "faith only" doctrine:


John 3:16; 5:24
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only [begotten] Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

Truly, truly I say to you: Whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has passed over from death to life.

(John 3:16; 5:24)
"Who can deny it," someone might say. "If we believe in Jesus, we're saved!"

Of course, the problem is that they are not reading Christ's words in context. They are not taking into consideration the body of Christ's teachings, and His many words regarding the need to have not just any type of faith, but an obedient faith.

The Bible, and Christ, could not be clearer on this. Again, for proof we point you back to the many verses already referenced in this writing.


Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved, through faith—and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God—not because of works, so that no one can boast.
(Ephesians 2:8-9)
"There you have it!" we're basically told. "God doesn't care about works—we're saved by grace through faith alone, without those works!"

Again, this gross mishandling of Biblical context could only be concluded by someone who was unaware or unconcerned of the Bible's many teachings that give us information about "what kind of faith is being spoken of."

Does faith save? Without question!

But, again, it has to be "Biblically defined, saving faith"—it must be an "obedient faith." It cannot be a dead faith, a lukewarm faith, or a disobedient faith. Our faith must be real, it must be genuine, and this is shown by our actions, by our deeds of obedience. The Bible could not be plainer (see again James 1:22; 2:18-20, 26).

In fact, Paul explained that his mission was to call people to obey God; and he specifically referred to it as "the obedience that comes from faith" (Romans 1:5). In other words, Biblically defined, saving faith is an obedient one.

Do men's deeds in and of themselves save us? No! We are saved, without question, by the grace of God!

But we cannot gain access to the saving grace of God without an obedient faith; in other words, a faith demonstrated by obedient action. The Bible could not be clearer on this (again, please refer to the numerous verses above).


Romans 6:14; 5:13
For sin will not dominate you, because you are not under [the] law, but under grace.
...sin is not counted when there is no law.

(Romans 6:14; 5:13)
"Isn't that wonderful!" people exclaim. "We're not responsible to obey any command under Christ, because we have no law to obey. God's grace takes care of us. Furthermore, we can't be held responsible for any sin, since when there is no law, there is no sin!"

Again, this gross misapplication of Scripture totally distorts the context of Romans, where Paul made many references to the Law of Moses, referring to it as "law" or "the law." In fact, when Paul said "you are not under [the] law," he was certainly not referring to the Law of Christ, which we are clearly responsible for (see following verses)—he was instead referring to the Law of Moses.

Again, not only does the Bible abundantly discount any notion that we have nothing to obey, it also plainly states that we are in fact under the Law of Christ.

The following verses make this abundantly clear:


Romans 8:2
...for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.
(Romans 8:2)

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other's burdens—for this fulfills the law of Christ.
(Galatians 6:2 )

Hebrews 10:16-17
This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds...Their sins and lawlessness I will remember no more.
(Hebrews 10:16-17 )
Clearly, there's no question we are under a law—the Law of Christ, or "New Law/Covenant." Indeed, disobedience to God's commands is called "lawlessness" (see also Matthew 7:24).

Therefore, we are responsible to obey those laws and commands of Christ.


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Is your faith genuine? A Quiz

So far, we've pointed out that:


  1. Christians must get to know all God's teachings (2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 1:9-10; Matthew 28:18-20), and

  2. Christians must genuinely seek to put all those teachings into practice (see again Luke 6:46-49; John 14:21,23).
So, are we? Are we putting into practice the teachings of the Bible?

The following short quiz has been designed to help you answer these questions. It is by no means comprehensive.

(If you have any questions or need spiritual assistance, please feel free to contact us at any time—see contact information on back of this pamphlet.)


  1. Are you truly striving to gain knowledge of all God's commands? (Matthew 4:4; 28:18-20; 2 Peter 3:18; Colossians 1:9-10). Are you aware that an inadequate knowledge of God's will can result in your spiritual destruction (Hosea 4:6; 2 Peter 3:15-16)?

  2. Are you "walking worthy of Christ" (Colossians 1:9-10) by truly striving to obey all the commands of the Bible? (See second section above, entitled "Numerous verses prove the necessity of an obedient faith" for supporting verses).

  3. When you fail to obey, do you repent and seek to conform to God's will? Or, like many today, do you excuse your disobedience with the attitude that "no one's perfect—and God realizes this—so why do I need to obey everything?"

  4. Have you obeyed God's commands for becoming a Christian? Among them are commands stating that we must, after believing, repent of past sins, confess Christ, and be baptized to have our sins forgiven (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Galatians 3:27; Matthew 3:13-16; 1 Peter 3:21; Romans 10:10).

  5. Have you, per Galatians 5:19-22, put away the "works of the flesh" (sexual immorality, sensuality, hatred, discord, jealousy, rage, disputes, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, worldly "partying," etc), and have you replaced them with the "fruit of the Spirit" (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control)?

  6. Are you obeying the command to assemble regularly? The Bible clearly commands that we must not neglect the public assembling of the true church (Hebrews 10:25).

  7. Are you careful to keep Biblical teachings accurate (2 Timothy 2:15)? The Bible repeatedly warns against believing false teaching (1 John 4:1; Acts 20:28-30). Our doctrine can definitely affect our salvation, as has been noticed previously (2 Peter 3:15-16; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

  8. Do you repay evil with good—or with evil (Romans 12:19-21)? Do you forgive those who sin against you? (Matthew 6:12-15; Colossians 3:13)

  9. Are you holy and godly in your speech, behavior, and conduct in general? The Bible says that "...without holiness, no one will see the Lord..." (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Timothy 2:2)

  10. Are you aware that, when Christ returns, He will come as a "thief in the night"—and are you therefore always ready? (2 Peter 3:10; Colossians 4:2)



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