FAITH PLUS SOMETHING
Even "faith only" preachers proclaim that sinners must do something besides believe in order to receive salvation from God.
Most of the religious groups in the world proclaim the doctrine of salvation by "faith only." What is ironic in this is the fact that most who preach this do not practice what they preach! Many of our Baptist friends proclaim salvation by "faith only", but then call people forward at the invitation to pray at an altar and recite a "sinner's prayer." They make salvation dependant upon coming to the altar and praying. A well known evangelist affiliated with the Southern Baptist denomination instisted in one of his televised crusades that coming forward is essential to becoming a Christian. I have heard that there are actually some preachers of this persuasion who will extend the invitation till some on comes forward. By doing this those who preach salvation by "faith only" contradict their message. If they truly believe in salvation through "faith only", all one should have to do is hear the word of God which produces faith (Rom. 10;17). Why don't they be consistent and proclaim to their congregations "if you believe don't bother coming forward to pray at the altar because that would be works and we are not saved by works!" Whether they chose to accept it or not, they also teach salvation by faith "plus something."
What would those who believe in salvation through "faith only" say to a person who claimed to believe but absolutely refused to come to the altar and recite the sinner's prayer? Would they accept such a person as being saved? If not, then they make the altar call and sinner's prayer a condition upon which salvation is contingent. Since we have established that most of them preach salvation comes by faith "plus something," we should consider what that "something" should be.
I have studed the Scriptures for several years and have yet to find where any sinner in the New Testament was exhorted to make an "altar call" or recite a "sinner's prayer." There are examples of sinners praying but never do we find salvation being bestowed through the medium of prayer alone. Cornelius prayed and an angel came to inform him that he was to send for Peter who would tell him "words" by which he and his household would BE SAVED (Acts 10:1-8; 11:12-14). Saul of Tarsus was struck blind on the road to Damascus and prayed for three days. When Ananias came to tell him what to do he was still lost because he was instructed to "Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16). From these two examples we see that neither the "altar call" nor "sinner's prayer" was that "something" in Scriptures that followed belief. We can only conclude that they were invented by man and added to Christianity without the authority of Christ (Rev. 22:18,19; 2 Jno. 9; Matt. 15:8,9; Gal. 1:6-9).
Doctrines and practices can only have one of two origins: either they are from heaven or they are from men (Matt. 21:25). If the doctines or commandments are from heaven they are "righteousness" because all of God's commandments are righteousness (Psa. 119:172). When we follow His commandments "by faith" we are counted as "righteous before God" (Lk. 1:6). On the flip side, those who add or substitute ordinances that are "not according to knowledge" are seeking to establish their own righteousness. In such a case one has "not submitted to the righteousness of God" regardless of how much religious zeal he has (Rom. 10:2-4) In the Old Testament God's people were destroyed because of their lack of knowledge and forgetting the law of their God (Hos. 4:6).
I affirm that we are indeed saved by faith "plus something." The Holy Spirit tells us that the faith that justifies gives us "access" into God's grace (Rom. 5:1,2). In another epistle the Spirit of God moved Paul to write that all Christians are "sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3;26,27). This concurs with the words of the Great Commission wherein Jesus told the apostles to "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk. 16:15,16). On Pentecost when the Holy Spirit had convicted the Jews of murdering the Son of God, through Peter's preaching the multitude responded by asking "men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37). The Holy Spirit's answer was "something" like this: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Their faith motivated them to ask what to do about their sins, then they obeyed the gospel which is God's power unto salvation (Rom. 1:16,17; 6:3,4, 16-18; 2 Thes. 1:7-9; Heb. 5:8,9; 1 Pet. 1:22,23).
Faith alone never brings about any desired blessing in any aspect of life! If a man went to a doctor with whom he had never consulted before, there would be a certan amount of faith involved. As he sat and read the physician's diplomas from medical school hanging on the walls he becomes convinced that he is indeed a doctor based upon the historical fact of his graduation from medical school. The doctor walks in and examines the man and makes a diagnosis then prescribes treatment. Suppose the man disagrees with the diagnosis or rejects the treatment; would his faith in him being a doctor bring about a cure? The obvious answer is no. Likewise, Christ has diagnosed all mankind as sinners (Rom. 3:23; Gal. 3:22; 1 Jno. 1:8,10) and prescribed treatment through obedience to the gospel by repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of our sins (Lk. 13:3,5; 2 Cor. 7:10; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3ff; 1 Pet. 3:21,22, etc). One may claim to have enough fiath in God to move mountains but if their faith doesn't move them to obedience, they have a dead faith! "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (Jas. 2;26).
Since we have concluded that we all in actuality preach faith "plus something," why not let that "something" be baptism as is clearly taught in the Scriptures?
By J.L. McKinley in Biblical Insights, Vol. 4, No. 8, August 2004.
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