Shelby G. Floyd
“Faith alone” is not a subject found in the New Testament and therefore should not be considered a biblical doctrine to be discussed. And it would not be discussed were it not for some religionists who are wedded to the Calvinistic Human Creed that salvation is by “faith alone!”
For instance, one of the Calvinistic persuaders writes,
“The benefits of the gospel come to the person who has faith alone in Christ. The blood of Christ is applied to the sinner upon faith alone in Christ and not at baptism.”
The person affirming that proposition could not prove it by any evidence found in the New Testament if his life depended on it. Why? The answer is because it is not a subject found in the New Testament. In search for evidence what the Calvinist would find instead, is the subject of salvation “not by faith alone.”
NOT BY FAITH ALONE
The New Testament phrase “faith alone” or “faith only” is “only” found one time. And in this case it is preceded by the negative “not!” James writes, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24 ESV). Therefore, salvation from sin “not by faith alone” is a New Testament subject for discussion.
The New Testament scriptures teach explicitly and implicitly that the faith that saves is never alone apart from obedience. The proverb, “The faith that saves is the faith that obeys” is certainly true. “Faith alone” is only the intellectual and emotional faith of demons and sinners that are lost. And they will stay lost until their faith is active in obedience. This we have abundantly proved in our essay Faith Alone No. 1.
Let us now define justification by biblical faith and its connection with baptism based on the text in Galatians 3:19-29. We will notice how one is justified “by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16), and becomes a child of God.
JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
The “faith of Jesus Christ” mentioned above is used throughout Galatians the third chapter to demonstrate how both Jews and Gentiles became the children of God. For instance, the Law of Moses was a schoolmaster to bring people to Christ “that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). But under that schoolmaster (the Law of Moses) no one could be justified by the works of that law. One could only “be justified by the faith of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 2:16). But after the faith of Christ came we are no longer under a schoolmaster—the Law of Moses (Galatians 3:25). But how is one justified by faith (not faith alone) and made a child of God? That is the question to be answered.
FAITH AND BAPTISM PUTS ONE INTO CHRIST
The answer to that question is found in the next two verses: “But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27). The Law of Moses has been abolished and we are under the law of Christ. It is the law of faith—but not faith alone. The word “alone” or “only” is not to be found anywhere, except in James 2:24 where it is stated explicitly “that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” Elsewhere in the scriptures the word “alone” or “only” is not in the word “faith,” or connected to the word “faith!”
THE FORCE OF THE CONJUNCTION “FOR”
The conjunction “for”—gar introduces both statements in Galatians 3:26-27. Thayer in his Greek Lexicon writes that the conjunction gar “is properly a particle of affirmation and conclusion, denoting truly therefore, verily as the case stands.”
He further explains, “Now since by a new affirmation not infrequently the reason and nature of something previously mentioned are set forth, it comes to pass that, by the use if this particle, either the reason and cause of a foregoing statement is added, whence arises the causal or argumentative force of the particle, for; or some previous declaration is explained, whence gar takes on an explicative force: for, the fact is, namely.”—Thayer, page 109. While this is technical, it is very important as applied to the false doctrine that one is saved by “faith alone.”
The conjunction “for”—gar used to adduce the cause or give the reason for what is said in Galatians 3:25, 26, and 27 is very germane to demonstrate that a person becomes a son of God when his faith is active by being baptized into Christ. “For” assigns the reason for what has been stated previously. Why are sinners no longer under a tutor? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Verse 26). When is this accomplished? Is it at the point of faith apart from obedience? I don’t think so! Why? “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Verse 27). Why were they not under a tutor any longer? The reason assigned is “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26). He did not say that they were sons of God through “faith alone,” because no one is a child of God by faith alone! Well, then how were they sons of God through “faith?” The reason assigned by the conjunction “for”—gar is their faith was active “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). The adverb “as” is used twice in that verse to show the manner in which their faith was active in being baptized into Christ and in putting on Christ. Faith and baptism puts us “into Christ” where all spiritual blessings are to be found (Ephesians 1:3, 7). Thus no one is a son of God by faith apart from obedience. Christ is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:8-9).
Copyright © 2012 2019 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd
Heartland Church of Christ
1693 West Main Street
Greenwood, Indiana 46142