In a previous post, I noted that the only place in the Bible that mentions “faith alone” or “faith only” is James 2:24, where we are plainly told that salvation is NOT by faith alone (KJV: “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”; NIV: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone”). I make this point especially for those who condemn us as somehow being non-Christian for not accepting their doctrine of “salvation by faith alone.” Another verse to consider on this issue is 1 Corinthians 13:2, part of Paul’s famous discourse on charity:
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
Paul the Apostle declares that even if he had all faith, it would be inadequate of he did not have charity. How, then, can faith alone be sufficient for salvation? Of faith, hope, charity, Paul states in verse 13 of that chapter that “the greatest of these is charity.” Perhaps a doctrine of “salvation by charity alone” would be a step closer to the truth.
When we understand that humans have free will and that we are the sons and daughters of God (Romans 8:14-18; Acts 17:28; Hebrews 12:9-10), it helps us also realize that God’s desire is for us to choose Him and follow Him that we might grow and “put on the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-10) and become more like Him (1 John 3:2). Then we will understand why He is more interested in having us accept the grace of Jesus Christ in a covenant relationship, in which we strive to follow Him and repent of all our sins and grow in Him, rather than merely believe and be instantly assured of salvation. Keeping the commandments earns nothing and does not save us – it is the grace of Christ that does all that – but Christ nevertheless tells us that we must do so to have eternal life in Matthew 19:16-22, for example: “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Keeping the commandments helps us gain access to His blessings and grace, and prepare to enter into His kingdom. Especially the commandment about having charity. Note that the Book of Mormon teaches that charity is a divine gift – but it’s up to us to seek it, and pray with all the energy of heart that we might be filled with it (Moroni 7). We rely on the grace of Christ to have power to keep His commandments and develop charity in the first place – there is never any grounds for boasting in the kingdom of God. But we do have free agency, and must choose to move in that direction with God’s help. We must choose Him and seek to follow Him and to seek His grace in a covenant relationship that includes the covenant of baptism. My advice: don’t delay!