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Faith Alone - The Grammar

The evangelical world claims, "Salvation is by Faith Alone."

This statement is commonly used when arguing that baptism is not necessary for salvation.

As this position has grown and flourished in modern evangelicalism, it's developed it's own unique grammar and phraseology.

This grammar has become a big part of the glue which holds like minded believers together. It's their common language.

We know from the Biblical examples of the Tower of Babel and the Day of Pentacost, language can play a stunningly powerful role in uniting people.

Considering this common vernacular, certain phrases come to mind which are frequently used to articulate and argue their position.

The first phrase is, "We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone." A second phrase is similar... just a shortened version of the previous phrase... "We are saved by faith alone."

These statements sound really good and they do present a clear picture of their position but, neither of these statements appear in the Bible.

Since their position rests so firmly on this one phrase "faith alone," you might think you could find that expression all over the Bible. But, the only time that phrase is ever used, it is used to tell us we are NOT saved by faith alone. Take a look.

James 2:24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

This passage from James is the only time the bible ever uses the phrase, "Faith Alone."

Isn't it amazing that a scripture can be so misused and it's misuse be so widely accepted? Understanding the power of this common grammar may be important to understanding how this erroneous position might survive decade after decade.

If Evangelicals want to correctly use the scripture, the phrase should be, "We are saved by faith."

Adding the word "alone" to the statement invalidates it by placing it in opposition to what James says. Adding the word "alone" to the statement that we are "saved by faith," makes the Bible contradict itself. James did not make a mistake when he boldly wrote, "We are NOT saved by faith alone."

There are other common phrases used, and I will point them out as we move forward.

The thing that troubles me about this is; so many people use these phrases or this grammar but never really think through the implications of what they are saying or what it means. They never hold these bold statements up to the scrutiny of scripture.

Now let's step back and recall our goal in these lessons. We want to hear and understand both sides of the argument.

I've done a little research by using these common phrases to find information on the internet supporting the view that baptism is NOT necessary for salvation.

I found a really good article at GotQuestions.org. The author does an excellent job of articulating several aspects of their argument. As we read his conclusion, know that he is responding to a question about Acts 2:38.

In Acts 2:38, Peter concluded the first gospel sermon and tells people to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. Here's what the author says about that event as he sums up his article:

"In conclusion, Acts 2:38 does not teach that baptism is required for salvation. While baptism is important as the sign that one has been justified by faith and as the public declaration of ones faith in Christ and membership in a local body of believers, it is not the means of remission or forgiveness of sins. The Bible is very clear that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (John 1:12; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 3:21-30; Romans 4:5; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 2:16)."

Here's your source. I found this at: www.gotquestions.org. And the title of the article is: Does Acts 2:38 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation? and finally, here is the URL: https://www.gotquestions.org/baptism-Acts-2-38.html

This author states the evangelical perspective well. His article is really worth reading. As I mentioned before, it contains a number of other reasons why he disagrees.

We'll look at all the issues he raises in future lessons. He's done a thorough job of articulating the most common arguments in this debate.

Let's focus first on his use of that common and particular phrase, "by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone."

As we have already seen, adding the word, "alone" contradicts scripture but it fascinates me that this phrase is frequently used when baptism is being debated. It's like a mathematical formula summing up their position, but in addition to the first error, their math is wrong. Evangelicals talk about three different things, grace, faith and Christ, but say they are "alone."

If there are three things, then they are not alone!

I get the poetic license but evangelicals should really clarify this and say, "Salvation is BASED on three things... grace, faith and Christ working together." Those three things are never alone in the salvation experience. Now, getting the math right doesn't complete the full picture. We're still missing obedience.

We know, from our previous studies, obedience to the Gospel is an absolute requirement for the forgiveness of sins and receiving the Holy Spirit. Remember Acts 5:32?

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.

There is no such thing as a Christian who does not have the Holy Spirit and God only gives his Holy Spirit to those who have obeyed him.

Also don't forget 2 Thessalonians 1:8.

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Both proponents agree, we must know God, this happens when we hear the word preached. But, we must also obey the gospel. Our faith and our obedience work together to complete what we call true Biblical belief or saving faith. If we refuse to obey Christ, we are not Christians.

At the end of his article, this author offers a number of scriptural proof texts. In my experience, these are the main go-to scriptures Evangelicals use when arguing against baptism as a part of the salvation experience. The author has done his homework.

Let's carefully look at these important scriptures, next.