Sola Fide: Is Faith Alone Enough for Salvation?

🌺  Written by Brittany Ann

Woman with eyes closed, head bowed, and hands folded near her face. Words are Is Faith Alone Enough for Salvation (sola fide).

Is sola fide (faith alone) enough for salvation?

Growing up, I was taught that it was.


I remember learning Romans 10:13, which promises us:

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I was taught that it didn’t matter what we did or how bad our sins were. As long as we said the Sinner’s Prayer, we were good to go. 

If we did good works (and we should!), that was great. But all our works, merits, and accomplishments had absolutely no bearing on our salvation.

We could commit the worst crimes, and it wouldn’t matter. God would still love us, forgive us, and let us go to Heaven to be with Him someday.


While there is certainly a great deal of truth to this (God can and does love us and forgive us no matter what), the way sola fide is presented can often miss the mark.

The truth is: The Bible is full of verses that say our works DO matter.

We can’t earn our salvation. Faith is necessary. But faith alone isn’t enough.


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What is Sola Fide? (Meaning and Definition)


One of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation, sola fide means faith alone. The doctrine of sola fide teaches that Christians receive justification by faith alone, and that we cannot earn our salvation through good works.

Catholic priest turned Protestant reformer Martin Luther taught sola fide in response to his belief that the Roman Catholic church was erroneously teaching a works-based salvation (with the sacraments) that did not line up with Scripture.

Since then, sola fide has become one of the core doctrines of the Reformed church and many other Protestant denominations.

The five solas of the Protestant Reformation are sola fide (faith alone), sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola gratia (grace alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), and soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone).



Why Protestants Believe in Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide)


Because “Protestant” refers to a group of various Christian denominations started as a result of Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation, there is no one official Protestant position.

That being said, Protestant denominations who do believe in justification by faith alone (sola fide) typically base their beliefs on Bible verses such as:

  • Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
  • Romans 3:23: “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
  • Romans 3:28: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
  • John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
  • John 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”
  • John 6:29: “Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'”
  • Acts 10:43: “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
  • Galatians 2:15-16a: “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”
  • Philippians 3:9: “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.


That’s a lot of verses that say we receive justification, salvation, or eternal life through faith!

And we can all agree: Our salvation is a free gift from God that none of us deserves. (Romans 6:23)

However, and this is important, none of these verses say that we are saved by faith alone (sola fide).


The Only “By Faith Alone” Verse in the Bible


There is only one verse in the entire Bible that contains the phrase “by faith alone” and it doesn’t support sola fide.

James 2:24 says, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

Yes, we are justified through faith. No, we cannot earn our salvation.

But nowhere does the Bible teach we are saved by faith alone.

In fact, there are just as many Bible verses that refute the idea of justification by faith alone (sola fide).


Bible Verses that Refute Justification by Faith Alone (Sola Fide)


As a child, I simply believed what my Baptist church pastor and Sunday School teachers taught me about theology and the gospel.

However, once I started reaching sola fide for myself, I was surprised to see how many Scripture verses clearly refute the doctrine of justification by faith alone. For example:


Matthew 19:16-17

“Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’

‘Why do you ask me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.'”

You could argue that this command was given under the Old Covenant, before Jesus’s death and resurrection fully established the New Covenant we’re under today (which is true). However, there’s more…


Matthew 19:29

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.

This verse highlights the importance of not taking one single verse out of context, even if it’s meaning seems simple and straightforward. No Christian denomination is teaching that salvation come by abandoning your family or property… even though that’s what this verse says.


Matthew 25:31-46

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me…’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (vv. 41-43, 46)

In this parable, Jesus is describing the final judgment that will happen at the end of the Earth. Here, the sheep and goats are separated, not by what they believe, but by the actions they did while on Earth.


Romans 2:6-7

“God ‘will repay each person according to what they have done.’ To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.

The apostle Paul wrote these verses (and the ones to follow) after the New Covenant was thoroughly established. They still apply to us today.


Romans 2:13

“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.

Simply hearing God’s Word isn’t enough. We have to obey it.


James 2:14, 17

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? … In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Simply claiming to have “faith” isn’t enough. Real faith naturally produces good works. If your faith isn’t producing good works, it isn’t real faith.


James 2:19

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

It isn’t enough to simply believe God exists. Even Satan and his demons believe that, and they certainly aren’t going to Heaven or enjoying a close relationship with Jesus Christ.


James 2:21-22, 24, 26

“Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did… You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone… As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Salvation doesn’t come through faith alone (apart from works). It comes from faith and works working together.


It’s very easy to find Bible verses that seem to support the doctrine of justification by faith alone (sola fide). Yet, we must be careful to read the Bible as a whole — not pick individual verses out of context.

When you read the Bible as a whole, a completely different picture begins to emerge.

Yes, we are saved through faith, but not faith alone (sola fide). If our faith is real, it will naturally produce good works. Without good works, our faith is dead, hollow, and worthless. 


What Do Catholics Believe About Salvation?


Because many people mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church teaches that people are saved by their works (not justified by faith alone), I met with a Catholic priest for clarification. Here’s what I found.

Contrary to popular belief, Catholics do not believe that people can be saved by their works, apart from faith.

In fact, the Catholic Catechism expressly rejects this idea:

Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. ‘Since ‘without faith it is impossible to please [God]’ and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘but he who endures to the end.”” (CCC 161)


Catholics believe we are saved through faith in God, but not just any kind of faith. We must have an active, living faith.

It doesn’t matter whether these works are small or large, many or few, because it isn’t our works that save us.

Rather, if we truly believe in God and seek to live for Him, we will naturally produce good works as a result. 


The Catechism of the Catholic Church also states:

  • “Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to man” (CCC 162)
  • “Salvation comes from God alone” (CCC 169)


See Also: What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?


Francis Chan on Faith vs. Works


It isn’t only Catholics who believe that true faith results in good works, either.

Francis Chan is one very well-known Protestant pastor and bestselling author who has also debunked the doctrine of sola fide publicly from the platform.


(Start at 29:30 for the relevant — and sometimes humorous! — talk about faith and works.)


True Faith Means Good Fruit Will Follow


So what did I learn about the meaning of sola fide? At the end of the day it turns out that my original beliefs were a great place to start. What is true about sola fide is that works don’t save us — we are only saved by God’s grace.

But this doesn’t mean that works don’t matter. True faith in Jesus and love for Him means that our lives will show that love to others, just like His life did.

Our works are a really great indication of what kind of faith we have — and if we even have faith at all.

And really, doesn’t this just make sense? If you really, truly believed in Jesus, wouldn’t you naturally want to follow him? And of course, by follow Him, I mean keep his commandments and teachings, an outward expression of your inner faith that leads to salvation.


I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions! What did you grow up learning about the meaning of sola fide? Have your beliefs and your faith changed over time? Leave me a note (or a book 🙂 ) in the comments section below!



10 Common Catholic Myths that Critics Believe


Enjoyed this post? Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!

The Day I Realized My Religion Got it Wrong

10 Common Catholic Church Myths that Critics Believe

Is the Eucharist Really Just a Symbol?

Is Faith Alone Enough?

Who has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura

A Brief Look at the History of Christianity

What All Christians Should Know About Priests, the Pope and Confession

What Do Catholics Really Believe About Mary, Saints and Statues?

Infant Baptism or Believer’s Baptism? Which is Correct?

What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?

Why Do Catholics….? Honest Answers to Your Burning Questions

Protestant and Catholic Beliefs Series Conclusion

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Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author and founder of Equipping Godly Women and Monetize My Ministry. She’s also a Christian speaker, podcaster, and conference host. Her work has been featured on numerous TV, radio, and online ministries, including CBN, MSN, Christianity Today, Evangelical Alliance, Patheos, Crosswalk, and more.

Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

  1. I definitely think that if we really truly love God, our lives will show it. The Bible says that you can tell a person’s heart by their fruits. God bless! 🙂

  2. Having gone through my own journey from Catholicism (including seeking a priest’s counsel), I read this with great interest. Thank you for sharing. I will be back for the purgatory post!

  3. Great post, Brittany!

    One thing you may want to explore in a follow-up post is the Catholic teaching of Justification vs Sanctification. It may clear in some confusion as to why the Church teaches we are not saved by faith alone.

    I unfortunately can’t look up the verses and Catechism paragraphs right now, but I’ll summarize it best I can:

    We are JUSTIFIED by faith. When we accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit (normally through water baptism) we are made completely new. All stain of original sin and any sins we have committed are washed away. This is entirely through faith. This is what St. Paul is usually talking about when he says we are saved by faith.

    What now begins is the ongoing process of SANCTIFICATION. This is the grace we merit for ourselves, but only because God has promised I’d we do these things He will bless us. This is what St. James refers to in his epistle. People had taken Paul’s words out of their original context, so James needed to address them and remind them of what faith means.

    Paul wrote primarily against the Judaizers who preached you had to be circumcised before you could believe. This was clearly wrong, as Christ had instituted baptism as the new circumcision.

    James wrote to people who said they could know live however they wanted because they had faith.

  4. I see this issue relating to man’s condition that we have inherited from Adam. It is fallen, it is in slavery,it is dead and cannot and will not submit to God.(1 Corth. 2:14)He has His Chosen people that He chose before the creation of the world.(Eph.1:4)The Father gave the Son those whom He would die for and then in His time draw them and grant them eternal life.( John 6:44:65 When Christ died he made a propitiation for His elect.( this is a actual buying back)and a promise of glorification (Rom.8:30) This is why I believe faith is a Gift,salvation is a gift and God alone receives the glory and not me. Thanks

    1. Brian, your first comment was very good, but this last one (if it is the same Brian) sounds too much like full blown Double-Predestination (DP), which is not Catholicism, but Calvinism. We are allowed a moderate sense of DP, but not to the extent that Calvin formulated his.

      Anyway, Jimmy Akin probably does one of the best jobs balancing the whole topic. Here is a link to TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints)

      1. Antonio,
        Thanks for your feedback . Yes I am a different Brian and a protestant . I speak in love and enjoy sharing what i believe. Everything I wrote is backed up with scripture . Man’s spiritual state is depraved it does need to be drawn and granted new life.John 3 tells us we must be born again (born from above) John 1;13 tells us our blood line or our own will causes this transformation it is of God.Romans 9 we see God having mercy on whom he wills (15) .Making some for a honor and some for dishonor ( 21) Some for destruction and others for His glory prepared from beforehand.( 22,23)I am not a big fan of following systems of what man has come up with but what God has revealed in His Word.. I want God to receive Glory and that is my desire. Not to give half to man and half to God.I would love to hear where my error is and I do want to be humble and teachable . Thanks

      2. P.S Correction in my last post about Jojn 1:13.Our blood line and our own wills do not cause this new birth it is God. Thanks

      3. Just one question, Brian.
        Here are some things to be aware of, just in case you didn’t know.
        1. The extreme form of double-predestination doctrine, which is Calvinism, and also based on some of the earlier work of St Augustine (a great theologian and philosopher, but only ONE bishop amidst many in the Catholic Church) is believed by the Reformed churches, which include Presbyterians, some Baptists, etc.
        2. It is accepted my a very small percentage of Christians in the world.
        3. It is ‘based’ on Scripture.
        4. The vast, majority of Christians in the world also use Scripture, and arrive at a different theology, which is also totally backed up, or ‘based’ on Scripture.

        So, at the end, we come to realize that there are some passages in Scripture that support one theology, while other passages support another theology.

      4. Well, hopefully as you continue reading through this series you’ll be able to see if what you believe is correct or not! That’s what I’m trying to do for myself as well. And saying that man has to do his part doesn’t mean that we get half the glory. We know that without God, we really couldn’t do anything at all. God is the sole reason that we are able to have faith in the first place. But then, once we have it, we have a responsibility to live it out. As I shared in the post, when Jesus called people, he didn’t ask them to believe, but to act. We need to do the same today (well, both). Not to earn our salvation, but in response to the free gift we are given.

      5. Brittany,
        I have been enjoying your posts very much. These are good things to think about. I also believe God is the sole reason why I have faith and am a Christian.Now that I have this faith I am a new man the old one is gone.I once was the natural man who did not and could not receive the things of God.( 1Corth .2:14) He has made me alive in Christ. We are to call on Him ,believe on Him and trust Him.He grants us new life so we want to live for Him. My new nature is real one that hates sin and now loves Christ like never before. I have been baught with a price.The new man will walk in a new way because he has been saved. Not because he is hoping to be saved one day.Does scripture tell us that for salvation it depends on man? part man? Or does He elect? draw? grant life? I have to go with what I see in scripture. He is a true Savior indeed. thanks

      6. Thanks, Brian. I am still trying to figure out all the semantics myself, but I *think* it falls along the lines of:

        1. The ability to have faith in the first place is a gift from God.
        2. We can’t earn our salvation by just being good people or by keeping the laws. We are given it just because God loves us and chooses to do so.
        3. Salvation isn’t a “one and done” type of deal. We can accept it in a one-time type thing, but then we have to continue “working out our salvation” (Phil. 2:12)
        4. Some action MUST be required on our part. Not for us to “get saved,” but for our salvation to remain valid. We have a responsibility. There are just too many verses in the Bible that say that we must act to say that our actions don’t count for something. NOT that they are what saves us–we already are–but that we hold up our end of the responsibility as well, if that makes sense.

        I gave someone else this analogy–if you give me a plant as a gift, it’s a free gift. I don’t have to pay you for it. BUT then I have the responsibility of tending to it if I want to keep it alive. Otherwise, if I accept it and sit it in a corner somewhere and never pay attention to it again, it will die. (Don’t ever give me a plant. It really would die, lol) Does that make sense?

        It doesn’t rest on us. If it wasn’t for God, we wouldn’t be able to have any faith or works or anything in the first place. BUT we have to hold up our end of the bargain as well. That’s what I see in Scripture (reading to the best of my ability).

    2. Do you believe then that you play absolutely zero part in it, then? That you can pray the sinner’s prayer, and then go on and live your life however you please?

      1. If you mean do we play a part in our salvation I would say no. I don’t believe in a sinners prayer or living like any old way after salvation . I have been saved by grace Eph. 2:8,9 for Good works that HE HAS PREPARED beforehand.( 10)We hear the message that we are sinners, and we have broken his laws. We are slaves to sin and need to be freed. we are dead in sins, the natural man who needs His freeing grace(.Everything I quote are from scriptures telling me our condition.)God draws us, opens our eyes ,imparts life to our dead spiritual souls and now we are alive. Wanting to serve Him, love Him,for what he has DONE.(Rom 8;29) Praise God for His grace. Thanks

      2. Brittany,
        Thanks for your feed back.I will address your points from your 2-11 post. #1 The ability to have faith is a gift from God. I agree ,man is born dead in sin,wanting to please himself and cannot seek or please God ..God seeks us,He appoints us, grants us,elects us,draws us to come to Him.( all biblical terms)God takes out our stoney heart and gives us a new one and it was not done with our free will but His.(John 1:13)#2 we cannot earn salvation I agree and He chooses to give salvation to His elect.Does God love all equally and is TRYing His best to save all? Or does scripture teach (John 6) All that the Father gives to Me will come and He will lose none? #3 If you look at your first two points,God gives faith,and you cannot earn salvation, then it is a one time event.Scripture says He made us Alive in Christ,The old man is gone and the new has come,as far as the east is from the west your sins are forgiven. These and many more passages show Jesus came to save His people from there sins,not just make a opening now you maintain it or you will lose it.This would show that your salvation depends on You and how you lived. I don’t know about you I still sin daily and I hate it,But I thank God for His grace that covers all my sin.#4 your plant analogy In my mind would be more biblical if you show God providing daily water and sun fro growth and will never let it die.He never leaves us, nothing can snatch us, He prepared before the World who would come to Him.When I see in scripture my condition and How big God is I am so thankful for His saving Grace. Thanks

      3. I agree with the vast majority of what you said. Though I still feel as though we must play some part in our salvation. I mean, first of all, there’s the fact that we have to choose to accept it. We have free will and God doesn’t force it on us, so right there, there is something that we DO. Not saying that we earn it AT ALL. Just that surely we must be responsible for playing some part. I found too many verses where Jesus told the people to go DO something to think it can just be something that is done to us. Yes, there are a few verses that support that, but taken as a whole… I just keep seeing actions again and again and again. Not sure how they work together, but they must have some bearing somehow.

      4. Brittany,
        Thanks again for all your comments I enjoy this series. Picture a man chained up in a burning house unable to free himself. He needs someone to come in unchain him and bring him to safety .Can you imagine him saying ” Just throw me the keys to these locks and leave some water and I will do the rest.Now to make this more biblical I would say the man does not even think the House is burning or in chains. He is mad at the man who claims he needs to be saved and says “leave me alone” . All this is to say man does not participate in salvation or even seeks God.I would never think Of God forcing anything,but He free’s us so then we can believe. God grants life( Acts. 11:18),gives repentance( Acts (5:31)appoints people for salvation(Acts 13:48)Grants people to believe(Phil.1:29). Man cannot understand the things of God.( 1 Corth.2:14)The Son chooses whom He will reveal Himself.( Math. 11:27)Man is unable( John 8:43) also so much more in Romans 8 :7;8 Your free will (our dead nature) cannot please God.We have a will and that was a will we inherited from Adam and it is free only to do what a dead will can do. God gives us a new heart( Ezek.36:26)God enables us to come to Him( John 6:65)John 1:13 tells us we are not born( spiritually) by decent,decision or will.not my desire but God’s mercy( Rom.9:16) All this to say I believe there is a Gospel that saves and another that requires man that won’t.Any time you see action ask yourself is this FOR salvation. Or someone who is saved. These are some things I have been blessed by, Thanks

      5. I like your analogy. Except that I would say, God doesn’t unlock us, pick us up, and drag us out kicking and screaming. He unlocks us, takes our hand and says “let’s go!” It’s still up the individual to 1. accept salvation (which is an action), and then stay out of the burning house in the future. And I agree, we don’t work FOR our salvation, we work BECAUSE of our salvation. We’re already saved. But now we need to act like it.

  5. Thanks for the thoughts Antonio.I try to be consistent In what I believe.I try not to base it on percentages and what the vast might think.It’s what scriptures teach.In what I presented so far can you see where I could be off? I do realize many will come to different conclusions at the end of the day. I see both sides can’t be right and there is only one true meaning of a passage. Maybe some different applications but one meaning. Like James 2:14 and following ,some want to show this as proof that we have to have works for salvation. If we read this closely it is talking about a true faith verses a false one. Faith that is followed with good works is a true faith given by God.A false one who does not show the fruit is of yourself.. We need to be born again.(that’s the start of true faith) We need to be the new man and the old one gone. We need to have passed through darkness into the light. There is a actual change in who you are and your sins forgiven as far as the East is from the West.. My Tomorrow sins are covered by Christ’s Atonement. That’s why He can” Save His people from there sins” it’s not a potential thing and it’s not based on how well I work with’s by His grace( Eph.2:8,9) what do you think?

    1. I’m not Antonio, but I think this all sounds right. This is my understanding:

      1. It is because of God’s grace that we can have faith in the first place.
      2. We cannot earn our salvation; it is a gift.
      3. There is a real faith and a dead faith. A real faith is one that naturally produces good works. The person is already justified, so it’s not for their salvation, it’s just the natural result of a true faith.
      4. We don’t have to keep the OT Laws of Moses, but we do need to follow NT Laws. NOT for salvation, but bc it’s the mark of a real faith.
      5. We are justified, but we aren’t perfect. We still struggle with sin and will until we die. We need to keep working out our salvation every day.

      Does this help?

      1. Brittany,
        1.Yes if this is God’s grace alone to save a dead sinner.It is all His grace void of our works.

        2. If salvation is a gift,like a debt we owed was completely paid in full ,then there is nothing we can do to maintain it or add to earn it . It is a gift,

        3.The real faith is caused by God and kept by Him. Works do not help or maintain this real faith given to us. The dead faith will try to reject grace and do something to “help” God out.

        4.What are these NT laws? Doing good? feeding the needy? Don’t put a requirement on what is not given. The new man,born again, will do what you might say are required.The mark of a real faith is born in a man by God. This cannot be by rejecting His grace alone to save us and then “try” helping Him out.”He who began a good work in you will complete it”.

        5. If we are justified then we are secure in Christ. What sin did he not pay for? We need to press on, yes,We need to work OUT and not work For our salvation..Do you believe in election? His drawing power,converting the soul?

        What does the Catholic church say about someone like me who holds to faith alone?


        5. I agree we will sin until we die. If we are in Christ then we are secure

  6. Hey, thanks for all this sharing. I’m curious to know what kind of protestant background you were from? As far as I know, the teachings about faith being enough and works being irrelevant were very charismatic-movement sort of teachings that I grew up with, but that I later came to realise were insufficient and incomplete because of the precise verses you pointed out. An active faith that manifests in works seemed more aligned with what the bible taught. However, I never saw this as a protestant vs Catholic point of difference but rather as truth that has been diluted by the shallow teachings that prevail today. I have come to realise that many protestants who study the bible seriously do indeed know the importance of works as a reflection of faith.

    1. Hi, Joy! We switched churches several times growing up so I don’t know that I can tie my beliefs to one denomination in particular, but I did spend a lot of time in both the Baptist and Missionary denominations–both of which I learned after the fact are supposed to be very anti-Catholic. (I never knew! Preachers don’t really preach “boo Catholic church” from the pulpit, lol). I’ve just heard and seen the sentiment a lot.

  7. I’m really enjoying this series, THANK YOU! One item I rarely see in a conversation about faith and works is the distinction between good deeds and works of the law. Works of the law are about keeping the Mosaic law… keeping kosher, keeping the Jewish feasts- all 613 laws the Jews were required to follow. When Paul says we are not saved by works, he is often specifically speaking about the 613 works of the law.

  8. I have lurked through this series so far, but feel I need to throw my opinion in here also. I am a cradle Catholic, I have been exposed to scripture my whole life. Not to single out Baptists from other Protestant religions but my husband and I are great friends with a Baptist couple. They fairly recently introduced me to the “by faith alone” line of thinking and asked me about it. It had never occurred to me prior to that. I have pondered it based on my knowledge of the stories of the Gospels/Acts/etc rather than just this or that passage but there are a few passages which come to mind and actually have been noted in previous comments on this thread. I agree heartily that by faith alone are we saved. I also agree and firmly believe, that if we do have this faith, we cannot NOT act/do works/whatever you want to call it. Yes, I did just write a double negative and I meant it that way. If you pull in the “love one another as I have loved you”, and “do this in remembrance of me” passages, it is very obvious to me that if I have faith–meaning accepting Christ as my personal savior (another phrase I had never heard when I was a child), I MUST do works of sacrifice. It isn’t the work that gets me to heaven, it is the faith. Add in “faith without works is dead”, which to me means its not really faith unless one lives it in action.


    1. I agree completely. And I get the “never occured to me” feeling. I had several of those in RCIA. Like the lack of assurance in Salvation. Growing up, I was always taught it was a sure thing and we didn’t have to worry about it. I thought it was so strange that Catholics worried so much. (I mean, yes, go do good things because it’s the right thing to do, but to worry?)

  9. I know by now we’re already two articles removed, but I’ll chime in again anyway to respond to the other Brian:

    First, the Catholic Church agrees Salvation is from God through faith. The moment we accept Him, we are indeed saved. Our Baptism – which is the Christian form of circumcision which brings us into the Kingdom – makes it that way by God’ grace. If we cannot receive the traditional water-baptism that does not mean we are not and cannot be saved. The Church also recognizes Baptism by Blood (martyrdom) and Baptism by Desire (examples: infants who cannot know it’s importance, or RCIA student who dies before receiving it) as being sufficient.

    But once we are in the Kingdom (saved) we want to stay in the Kingdom. Following your logic (one-and-done) this doesn’t require anything. In fact, I don’t have to obey any rules at all because if something would really keep me from God He will somehow prevent me from doing it. I can go ahead and rape, pillage and murder to my heart’s content. I don’t think either of us would consider that person a Christian. The difference is that “once-saved-always-saved” thinkers would say that person was never saved to begin with, while Catholics and others who share similar views of salvation would say that individual lost the gift of salvation and has to get it back.

    That’s why our actions are so important. Like anything else, faith is a habit. If I want to quit smoking, I have to continue to not smoke. If I want my life to be a reflection of God, I have to continually choose Him in all my actions. Every time I do, I grow a little bit. With that growth it becomes harder and harder for me to choose to turn away from Him because my habits are geared towards Him.

    It’s also important in any discussion of salvation to ask where love is in the equation. God is love, and because He loves us He has given us free will. He wants us to choose Him, but won’t force us to. If He forced us to remain in Him after that initial choice, it wouldn’t be love. It would be like a man who started dating someone and then refused to let her leave him. It’s one thing to continue to fight for that person, but it’s another to force that person to remain with you. One is love, the other is highly distorted love.

    Finally, I want to recommend you listen to the Nov. 9, 2014 UMD Newman Catholic Campus Ministry podcast titled, “The Kingdom: The Temple.” Fr. Mike explains how we remain in the Kingdom after our baptism. I’d summarize, but he does such a great job. It’s 30 minutes you won’t regret 😉

    1. Bryan,
      Thanks for your thoughts on this all important subject.I believe we have different thoughts on the word “saved”I would say the Bible teaches we are saved by grace not works(eph.2:8)This means we are rescued.Can you imagine a man jumps from a plane and forgets his chute.Another man with a chute jumps and holds on to him and saves his fall.We would laugh if we thought he was saved only when the man got to him in the air and then said you need to flap your hands and arms and that’s what is expected for him to be saved. We dont have salvation and cross from darkness into light,from the old man to a new man,and a lost ,redeemed,saved,alive in Christ person to losing it because we did not keep up our faith and good works man.He elects us and draws us,justifies and glorifies us( Rom. 8:29)

      You mention and one-and done) belief.This is unbiblical and the bible does not teach this. Again a proper look at man show’s his condition, He is dead in sin,does not seek God nor can he,he cannot please God,he is a slave to sin needs to be drawn,granted life,given a new heart,and the list goes on. How can man have ultimate free will when we are taught the opposite?When a person has been granted life you see a conversion happen.A person at one time is not a lover of God(loves his sin)and is awakened,born again which for sure cause new life. Not perfection but a new life filled with fruits and good works BECAUSE of salvation not to earn salvation. Christs’ righteousness imputed to man. and on that we are saved and secure. His perfection covers all our sins.So yes a man claming to be a Christian but has no fruit of conversion is not saved. Neither a man who rejects Christ’ work on the cross to be sufficient to pay for and redeem His elect and say I need to help with something will here “i never new you.”Math 7
      We both agree we will never be perfect and have anything to lay at our Lord’s feet saying . So what is the standard? How good do you have to be? My faith says I will for sure have good works being produced from my changed life..You can never no if your saved and will keep trying to be good before God. He see’s His Son as perfection covering us or not covering us. Which are you?

      Love is defined by the way He defines it. Not by man’s free will having a choice. But our God coming and giving His life as a ransom for many..As you can see in my previous post that I have shown clearly man does not have a free will in the sense that it can choose outside it’s dead nature.It does not seek God will not come to Christ..( I won;t go over it all again)
      I will look at the stuff you posted and please look at all that I have said as about election,drawn, dead will ect. I have not heard anyone respond to those scriptures which I believe proves my point. Thanks so much.

      1. Brian,

        First, I’m sorry If I’m misunderstanding something. The way the post is formatted on my screen is making some things run together that I’m not sure you meant to.

        I like your parachute analogy, except for a couple of things. I’m not an expert, and I can’t understand why anyone would ever jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but from what I’ve seen, read and heard about it, the first person would still have to listen to rescuer and do exactly as he says when he says or neither will survive.

        So if you jump first, and I follow and catch you, I need you to remain calm and not be flapping around everywhere. I may also need you to pull the cord, because I’m a little preoccupied holding you. Depending on the type of jump and the equipment we’re using, I may have to tell you when to actually pull the cord.

        In this example, you’re not really saved until you’re safely on the ground. There are still a number of things you could do which might prevent me from getting to you safely, and it may be too late by the time I’m there for a chute to properly deploy and slow our descent enough. Even if we have time, I’ve already mentioned some of the things which could still go wrong even if I don’t lose my grip (because we both agree, God wouldn’t lose His grip on us).

        I also strongly dispute your idea that we cannot choose outside our dead nature.

        Would you agree that it’s objectively good for me to help an elderly woman bring in her groceries? What about when I choose to reject immoral behavior (especially sexual immorality)? If I’m understanding your argument correctly, I should not be able to do these things until AFTER I’m saved because my dead nature makes it impossible.

        Conversely, after the moment of our salvation, it should be impossible for me to REFUSE to do these things because I’m a new man.

        Yet the reality, as we both know and agree, is that doesn’t happen. For you, the argument is the person was never saved to begin with. For me, he was saved but chose to go against God for a moment which broke his relationship with God. In order to reach Heaven, he must repair the relationship.

        This is because of free will.

        Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood, but your argument makes it impossible for me to know if I’m saved, because according to you God has chosen his elect and only they will be saved. Under that system, nothing I do good or bad truly matters. I’m either saved or I’m not. I can’t choose it because God chose it.

        I mentioned some Catholic terms earlier that you might have missed…JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION.

        We are JUSTIFIED – made completely right with God – the moment of our Baptism (see my previous post about Baptism by Blood/Desire). We are imparted with grace which cleanses us from all sin (original and personal). The process of SANCTIFICATION now begins.

        As I said before, baptism has brought us into the Kingdom just as circumcision did for the Jews. But what keeps us in the Kingdom is the Temple. For Christians, the Temple is Christ’s body. Every time we partake of the Eucharist, we receive grace which strengthens us to remain on the narrow path. Every time we participate in building the Kingdom through works of mercy, we draw closer to God and it becomes easier to choose the good.

        It’s important to note this grace I’m talking about only comes through faith, and is only possible because of Christ. He still covers us, He just gave us a detailed roadmap of how.

      2. Bryan,
        Thanks for your comments and with such a great name you have to be pretty cool.

        So what I was trying to say with my plane analogy was that man plays no part of helping God or allowing Him to do anything .We need to be acted upon someone (God) outside of us. If we are slaves to sin we need to be freed.(Ezek.36:26)(John 1:13)We cannot please God with our wills.( Rom 8:7)(1Corth 2:14)

        Having a dead will does not mean you can’t do good in the eyes of men.People from all faiths can “do” Good.This in no way is pleasing to God for salvation or maintaining salvation( if it is something needed to be done for salvation).So people can with stand sin and that does not mean they are not dead in sin. If they are not born again they are not in the faith and what they do is in sin.

        If a man has become the new man this does not mean he is not going to sin. It does mean he won’t practice sin the same as when He was the dead man.He will be growing in sanctification through the power of the Spirit.

        Our relationship with God is not severed if we sin. We will sin everyday. Does that mean I could lose my salvation daily if I am not keeping up my end of the deal?He promises to never leave us,never snatched from His hand,as far as the East is from the West our sins are forgiven. What sins of mine did He NOT pay for?Read Rom 8:29 what promises to you see?
        I never see in scripture that we are justified by baptism.I never see we are just imparted with some faith and now we must do something to maintain our salvation.

        Circumcision never saved anyone, it was faith. What are we told about Abraham? It was faith. This was even before the law.

        Keeping the works of the law never saved anyone. Grace has always been shown why one is saved.If you say grace only comes through faith and this is from Christ. This is something you never had before.(saving faith and Grace) but now you must do something to maintain this? Remember conversion? being born again? the new nature? This is why one has works because of the radical change God does.

        Works will be apart of the believers life but not for salvation but because of salvation. ( Eph.2:10)

        Remember you are accountable for your sins, you can never say” you made me this way”see (Rom 9:19)Also God has ordained all things. We can’t grasp this but scriptures show God ordaining and man’s will working together. Pharaoh,Joseph,birth place of Christ, Those who took Jesus to the Cross.They all had free wills but God ordained it that way and that mean it would for sure happen.correct?
        We can know we are saved ,scriptures say the Spirit will testify to this.We can see a Love for God and a hatred for sin. You will see a desire for prayer and scripture reading,belonging to a body of Christ and baptism.Most of all a complete trust in Christ alone for salvation and sanctification .Thanks

      3. Thank you! I now understand your point much better.

        I think we’re close to agreeing, which I’m not surprised about. How’s the old saying go, “We share 90 percent of the same beliefs, but it’s the 10 percent that divides us”?

        Where do we agree…I agree with you that we cannot be saved by good works alone. I agree with you that the Law, especially circumcision, never saved anyone. I agree with you that we need God to act in us. I agree that good works will come naturally as a result of living faith.

        I’ll start with your question on Baptism. There are many Scripture verses which attest to the importance of Baptism for salvation. Here’s a collection that demonstrate the graces we receive from this Sacrament: Acts 2:38, 22:16; Rom. 6:1–4; 1 Cor. 6:11, 12:13; Gal. 3:26–27; Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 2:11–12; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:18–22.

        From these verses, it’s clear that baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:18-22) by uniting us with Christ’s death (Romans 6) through one Spirit into the one Body of Believers (1 Cor 12:13). This Baptism has also replaced circumcision as the outward sign of our faith (Col. 2:11-12).

        Just to reiterate, this grace comes to us not because of our merits, but those of Christ.

        But it is not enough to be baptized and then go about our life thinking we can do whatever we want. You and I both agree this person is lacking faith. We agree that our old ways will continue to tempt us, and we also agree we are now capable because of the grace we receive from Christ to choose Him over ourselves.

        The difference in our viewpoints, as I understand it (so again please correct me if I’m wrong), is you believe this person can never lose salvation no matter what he does. While I believe that some actions can cause salvation to be lost (murder, for example). Do we commit small sins everyday? Absolutely. The Church refers to these as “venial sins,” and while they harm our relationship with God they do not break it. Collect too many of these with no desire or attempt to change, and you may have a problem. But most faithful people don’t have to worry about them. Most of us realize them and turn to God for forgiveness (side note: Catholic teaching is these sins do not have to be confessed to a priest. confession to God and genuine sorrow is enough).

        Mortal sins are those of a serious nature (like murder) which do cause us to be completely separated from God’s grace. These are the sins Catholics are called to confess to a priest (1 John 1:9, John 20:21-23) before receiving the Eucharist (1 Cor 11:27-29).

        Again, parallels…Circumcision made someone Jewish, but Temple worship kept you Jewish. Baptism makes you Christian, but the Eucharist – the Temple of the Lord’s body and blood (John 2:21) – keeps you Christian.

        The works we do matter. It’s important, though, to distinguish between works of the law and works in general. While we do have to keep the Commandments, we are also not under the ceremonial laws such as dietary law or laws about which fabrics to wear. The law we are to abide by is the Law of Christ, summarized as “love God…and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)

        Like I said, we agree that our works, by themselves, are meaningless with regard to salvation. But we are also told in Scripture that our works matter (James 2:14-26, 1 Cor 6:12-20, Rom 2:6-8, Rom 6:16, Phil 2:12-13, 1 Cor 3:12-15)

        Again, we agree these works do not save us in the sense that they merit salvation for us. The Catholic Church condemned that belief as heresy (see: Pelagianism). But we still have to continue in Christ in order to, “work out (our) own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12)

  10. Bryan,
    I would say we are not saved by works at all.Good works come from only a regenerate person.God must act on us and when He does it’s all we need to justification. With our new natures we will live for His good pleasure.This is not to maintain what He started. What did Christ’s death accomplish?

    Baptism Is something one does after he is saved to identify with our old natures being buried and risen With Christ.When you look closely at those passages you will see someone believing and then baptism, Never babies .

    I see you denying the power of Christ converting the soul and providing what one needs for growth. If Our sins are removed,cleansed,forgiven then we are secure in Christ. We will have new natures that have been sealed by the Spirit.. We don’t need anymore graces that will help for salvation . Since we have been elected,drawn,granted and given a promise for glorification I can’t see what else we need.

    We have not been given any laws to follow. We have been given life. We have the Spirit of the Living God within us.All works are meaningless if you think in any way they help with maintaining what has already been given freely. Works only flow from the believer for His glory not anything else.Remember to Work out your salvation, NOT work FOR your salvation.

    1. Both sides agree that we do NOT work for or earn our salvation–so don’t worry about that. We all agree that is our faith (which we have because of God) that saves us. BUT with SO many verses where Jesus tells people that they need to go do something in order to see Heaven–I just can’t see that it doesn’t play some sort of role somehow. I *think* it is the natural outpouring of a faith that is real… so AFTER we are already saved and BECAUSE we are saved, not in order to become saved. Otherwise, how would you explain allll of the verses I shared in the post? (I’d love a good explanation! I really don’t know!)

      As far as graces-they don’t make us any more or less saved, they just strengthen our faith and draw us closer to God. Like a marriage. Once you are married, you can’t be any more married, but you can certainly build a much stronger, more fulfilling marriage that better represents what a marriage is supposed to look like. Buying your wife flowers is one way to do that in a marriage; doing good deeds is one way to do that with God.

      1. Brittany,
        I don’t believe both sides would agree that salvation is faith alone by God’s grace alone. I think Rome rejects this view . Is that correct? What verses do you think show that works are needed for heaven? I do believe that the saved regenerate person WILL produce works. This is only because of salvation.. So because of salvation I am justified. Nothing more is required for salvation from me. His Spirit now resides in me..

        In marriage we are in a contract with our spouse. I agree we should do things for each other.But if I don’t it does not make me divorced by the lack of not doing enough.God makes the a covenant with His elect. He will cause salvation and maintain all we need.for sanctification .and glorification .

      2. Catholics don’t believe we are saved by works either. Just that a real faith WILL produce good works. I think we are all in agreement on this. They aren’t saying your works EARN you salvation–but that if you don’t have the works to show for it AFTER you are saved–then your faith maybe isn’t real. If you say you are “saved” but your life doesn’t change at all and you’re still living however you want… maybe you aren’t saved after all.

        (Did you watch the video? Francis Chan is nondenominational, but does a GREAT job of explaining it)

        But one thing that surprised me was that Catholics don’t see your salvation as a sure thing until you are actually in Heaven. As a Protestant, our assurance was always a given. But Catholics teach that we aren’t actually “saved” until we’re in Heaven. Justified, yes, but there’s always that chance we could walk away at any time.

        Are there any verses that speak to our assurance of salvation? (I’m asking because I really don’t know and would love to if you know of any!) I know there is the “nothing can separate us from God’s love” one–but that talks about God’s love, not our salvation. In other words, God will never stop loving us, no matter what we do, which is true. Not that we can go to Heaven no matter what we do. And then I know there is a “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” one, which supports the Catholic position.

        That’s the same thing I originally said in RCIA too. They disagreed, lol.

      3. Brittany,
        I am trying to follow you here. You don’t believe in works salvation.That means you believe Eph.2 :8..You are imputed with God’s righteousness.You were elected,drawn,granted life. You did not cause salvation nor can did you maintain it.If Christ payed for and secured your salvation That means your works have nothing to do with salvation.
        I did watch Francis Chan. I have some books of his. Watch at 39 min. in.It’s all about a living faith verses a dead faith.Not faith needing to come up with works along side it for salvation..Your saved apart from the works of the law.
        If you have a “chance” to walk away then it would be based upon YOU. What you did do that was wrong or something did not do that was not enough. If God saves us then it’s not partial it is total..
        I explained Rom 8:28 to the end of the chapter before.It cannot be looked at asGod’s general love.33 says “who can bring a charge against God’s elect.also”He who began a good work in you will complete it on that day”” All that the father gives to Me will come to Me and I will lose none”, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” None can snatched from my hand.” As far as the East is from the West so is your transgression.” These verses and much more show show God’s assurance for His elect. If it was not that way then it’s YOU not doing your part and that means you deny faith alone and God’s grace alone.

        We both agree true faith must have action. My faith imputed by God will produce works.This is because it is a living faith.You say we must have works also but grace alone is not enough which makes your faith +works =salvation.
        A person has 5 minutes left to live. He is crying out What must I do to be saved? I say believe on the Lord and you will be saved!! If God has elected him, and is drawing him then he will be saved. If God is not he has no true faith. What would you say to that person with 5 minutes left? Is there any true hope for him? How do baptism,works,mass play into that?God imputing grace is our only hope not works of man but works of Jesus alone on the cross.

      4. This was a good explanation of how I too see it. When looking at the total picture, I feel this sums it up. Thank you Brian for sharing with us.

      5. The Catholic Church teaches that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you necessarily go to hell. I have faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. Because of my faith, much of my life is informed and inspired by supernatural grace – charity. Alas, there have been a number of occasions since becoming a Christian that I have fallen into what the Catholic Church would call a state of mortal sin. I have committed mortal sin in the last week in fact. I haven’t been to confession so technically speaking, I’ve effectively condemned myself to hell – if I don’t make confession before I die.

        I’m sorry, but like Martin Luther, I’ve realized over time that I can’t live out a life that will assure me of salvation. I’ve realized that it is Jesus Christ who covers me in his saving grace, and that when the Father sees me, he sees his beloved son Jesus. This has humbled me greatly. I now “get” the gospel. Righteous conduct can only stem from pure mercy. “A little leaven leavens the whole dough”. Adding works to the gospel spoils the whole gospel. Saying that we need to cooperate with grace in the hope of salvation can never make one righteous. Outwardly righteous perhaps, but not inwardly. I realized that as a Catholic, I was a righteous hypocrite – living the “clean” life but doing it from a place of self righteous pride, and fear.

        “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. When I realized I was saved perfectly by what Christ did for me on the cross, I recognized what this statement means. “Fear and trembling” is the deeply humbling realization of just how much God loves you. It is a feeling of intense awe. It breaks your heart in the best way. Salvation comes when you realize that Christ is it. Nothing else.

      6. No, YOU can’t “live out a life that will assure me of salvation.” I’m not talking about salvation through works here. What I’m saying is just believe in Jesus isn’t enough. If you truly, truly believe, then your actions will automatically follow as a result. If they aren’t, then maybe you don’t really believe.

      7. Oh, yes, and as for verses, all the ones I put in the post:

        He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life… For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” –Romans 2:6-7, 13

        “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.‘” –Matthew 19:16-17

        “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” –Matthew 19:29

        What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?… So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!…Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” –James 2:14, 17, 19, 21-26

        That’s a lot of verses telling us to do things for eternal life for works to be inconsequential…

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