Not By Faith Only

I’ve had a few people try to explain to me that I’m not a real Christian because I don’t believe in salvation by faith alone. I love the twisted definitions of “Christian” that people contrive to justify their prejudice. Latter-day Saint doctrine definitely teaches of the essential nature of faith in Christ and that it is only by the merits of Christ that we are saved, but we are not taught that God does everything and that nothing is required from us, or that the only requirement for salvation is faith alone, a faith that is given to us by God totally apart from any agency or effort on our part. I find it interesting that some people would use “faith alone” or “faith only” as a key criterion for being Christian, when Christ taught no such thing (see “if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” – Matt. 19:17, alone with many other scriptures dealing with salvation). Even more interesting, the only time the phrase “faith only” or “faith alone” occurs in the Bible, as far as I know, is in James 2:24, which expressly denies the modern man-made doctrine of salvation by faith alone: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” I hope some of our critics will reconsider their position.


Author: Jeff Lindsay

18 thoughts on “Not By Faith Only

  1. Faith is to good works as bread is to flour. You cannot have bread without flour, but you can have flour without bread. Good works are simply reflections of the faith that God has given to us through Christ; they are results. If we have faith, we will have good works, as taught by Paul and James alike (Rom. 6:1-2; James 2:14-26).

    If, then, this is not true, then the sacrifice of Christ was useless. If our works were truly good and profitable for salvation, then Christ was not needed in the first place. On the contrary, our works are as filthy rags (Isa. 64:6). Therefore, we can place no faith in our works. Rather, we must first place our faith in Christ and in *His* works. Then we shall see *our* works become more and more like His.

  2. I agree with your stance but have a minor editorial quibble.

    “I love the twisted definitions of ‘Christian’ that people contrive to justify their prejudice.”

    Do you really love it? I frequently say sarcastic things like this myself, but I’ve started to try to catch myself because I think that the same idea could be expressed in a more sincere and meaningful way, such as, “I am fascinated by…” or “It is interesting to see…” or probably many other ways. Just a suggestion.

  3. I have been through this discussion with others as well. My experience is similar to yours here. You clearly state that we do not believe that works are the ticket. Of course, your first anon commenter summarily dismisses the expectation of work entirely. Of course our work pales in comparison to what the Lord does for us. That does not negate the fact that we are asked to work. I suppose this dear commenter believes that children should not attempt to do anything because it will be worthless compared to what their parent can do. :^/

    I grew up on this strange concept thanks to the admirable though misguided writings of Martin Luther.

  4. All formulae that require us to take action in order to add to what Christ has given us are reversions to legalism and insults to Christ.

  5. Interesting. Are the 10 Commandments an example of a formula that is an insult to Christ? Who was that offensive Person who gave them? Does it bother you that the 10 Commandments appear to be included the scope of what Christ was referring to when he said, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments?” (Matt. 19)

    I’m just wondering if there is a logical scriptural basis for your opinion here.

  6. My dear anon who thinks we are insulting Christ, if you love Jesus, keep His commandments. Perhaps you do not love Him and that’s why you wish others to deny this statement from Christ? I don’t know. But if you do love Him, you have a funny way of showing it.

  7. We follow His commands because He first loved us. We obey in response to His grace, not in a futile attempt to gain it.

    You Mormans sure are caustic, aren’t you?

  8. If you mean caustic as in “biting wit” then yes, I suppose some are – though probably not anymore so than the general population.

    2 Thes. 2:13-17… Salvation is a beautiful thing. Would be interesting to see how it is achieved without belief or sanctification (which is no passive thing). I’m so grateful for “hope through grace” (which is a gift).

  9. How is it achieved without belief or sanctification? Belief, as stated in that verse that you gave me, is given by God. Belief is not of us; it is of God, and He is the One who gives it to us.

    As far as sanctification goes, sanctification and justification are two completely different folds of a three-fold redemption. Justification through Christ is what saves us, and our sanctification through the Holy Ghost is what happens *after* we are justified.

    I don’t think you can give me any verses that teach of works being required for salvation. I can give you some verses that teach against that doctrine (Acts 13:39; Rom. 3:28; Rom. 4:2; Eph. 2:9; Gal. 2:16; Gal. 3:11; Gal. 5:4; etc.), but you can really only give me James. And James was simply saying that if you have faith, you will have deeds. Deeds do not give us faith; they are results of the faith that we already have through the sovereign choice of God and through the definite Atonement of Christ. If this is otherwise, then either the epistle of James, the epistles of Paul, or both, were not God-breathed, and cannot be listened to. Or, the Bible contradicts itself and, therefore, cannot be relied upon whatsoever.

    Again: our works are as filthy rags. How, then, can they be worth anything apart from the perfect works of Christ? We are not justified by any work of our own; we are justified through the faith that God has given us through Christ (Rom. 3:24; Rom. 5:1; Rom. 5:9; Titus 3:7; etc.), and through CHRIST ALONE (Sola Christus).

  10. > Deeds do not give us faith;

    Who on Earth said they did?? Why are you so hell bent on thinking you and I believe different things?

  11. Well, then what is your opinion? That deeds contribute to our faith? That deeds allow us to keep our faith? If you believe this, then you don’t have faith in Christ in the first place, because you cannot have faith in Christ and in yourself at the same time.

    As I’ve been propounding repeatedly, DEEDS ARE REFLECTIONS OF THE FATH THAT GOD HAS ALREADY GIVEN US. Our deeds to not affect the faith that we have; we can do nothing to lose it or gain it. If you kept on wallowing in the sludge of your sinfulness even AFTER you have recieved faith, God would still love you according to His Grace. But God’s grace does not give us an excuse to keeping; it gives us a reason to stop.

    That is all I am saying. And, yet, whenever I say it, you completely miss the point and say utterly preposterous things like I don’t love Christ and don’t respect the Ten Commandments. In fact, you’ll probably misunderstand me again.

    OUR DEEDS ARE REFLECTIONS OF OUR FAITH (OR LACK THEREOF); and nothing more. That is the main point I am trying to get across.

  12. We can see here a healthy example of people talking right past each other- more interrested in the other’s perceived doctrinal flaws than trying to seek understanding first. There is much we can agree on. I think, in general, that mainstream Christians think they know what the Mormons believe and latch onto it, refusing to allow that they may not hold an accurate perception of Mormon beliefs. In talking with many Mormons, I’ve found the reverse to be equally true as well. When a particular issue like the doctrine currently being discussed arises, we would do well to seek understanding of the other’s view first- let them speak for themselves- drop the presuppositions. Avoiding degrading generalizations such as “you mormons sure are caustic” will go a long way toward mutual understanding.

  13. Jeff
    As far as I am concerned, I will not be saved until I have overcome the world and am just like Christ…perfect. It is by his saving grace (power to help me overcome the world as he did) that I am able to achieve that goal. However, faith and works are the two ingredients needed for Christ’s healing grace to work in our lives…(no pun intended) . Christ has no intention of saving us in our sins. Through much faith, works and our reliance on Christ, we are able to overcome our weaknesses (ie.addictions). The 12 step programs (repentance) would not work without the reliance(faith)in this higher power. But even in 12 step programs, works (service to our fellowman) play a vital role. It is neccesary for us to help others as we are being helped by others and Christ. You can’t have the faith necessary to fully apply the atonement without works…your faith would be dead as James clearly stated. I think that Paul emphasizes faith alot due to the fact that it is a little harder to produce (requires alot of humility)than works for a lot of people…especially the works oriented Jews. We also fall into the same trap when we use all of these self-help( behavioral modification) books instead of having Christ change us from within. Thank You
    Tom Sanford AZ

  14. Name change? Oh, right – you mean when the early Saints (that’s what they called themselves) started being called Christians by others? It’s a perfectly fine name for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Early Day Saints, and I don’t mind it one bit.

    As for your question on Satan, I’ll defer to one of the Early Day Saints, Lactantius, whom I cite on my post on this topic.

    Why do men fictionalize Scriptures rather than reading them and believing them? I will let you reach your own conclusion as to the answer. What is is purpose of water baptism according to Acts 2:38?

    1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and each of you bebaptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (New American Standard Bible)

    2. Acts 2:38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible New International Version 1983)

    3. Acts 2:38 The Peter said unto them,Let each of of you repent and be immersed, in the name of Jesus Christ, in order to the remission of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. ) The Better Version of the New Testament by Chester Estes)

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter told them, "You must repent and every one of you must be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, so that you may have your sins forgiven and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (The New Testament in Modern English by J.B. Phillips)


    1. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized because your sins have already been forgiven. (Fictional Account)

    2. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized as a testimony of your faith. (Invented Version)

    3. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized as an act of obedience. (Fantasy Translation)

    4. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized because you were forgiven the minute you believed. (The Version of Unfounded Truth)

    5. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized with Holy Spirit baptism; because water baptism is not a New Covenant requirement. (The Version of Spurious and Erroneous Quotes)

    6. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent, for the forgiveness of sins; but water baptism is optional, because the thief on the cross was not baptized in water. (The Counterfeit Version of Truth)

    7. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Rent and be baptized in order to join denomination of your choice. (The Creed Bible By Men)

    8. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized as a symbolic jester, pointing to the fact that your sins were forgiven when you said "The Sinner's Prayer." ( The Book of Stuff Men made-up)

    9. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized to indicate the outward sign of the forgiveness you received the very minute you believed. ( The Fabricated Book of Fantasy Verses)

    10. Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, "Repent and have your committed sins forgiven by faith only. And then be baptized to be forgiven of the sin Adam committed. (The Denominational Revision of Fictional Truth)




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