Saved by Faith… Plus Nothing?

The rallying cry of contemporary Christianity seems to be “saved by faith plus nothing!” As expressed by its most ardent proponents, faith plus nothing  lends itself to what some call “easy believism”. This is decried by many as a dilution of what Jesus taught and a radical distortion of His teachings. Think of all those silly martyrs! Consider all the misguided believers who wandered through life bereft of comforts and security. And what about those faithful ones who struggled mightily against principalities and powers? The Apostle Paul could have saved himself a lot of trouble had he contented himself with faith plus nothing.

Faith Without Works is Dead

Th Epistle of James declares “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). Martin Luther was so upset about this that he claimed the Book of James did not even belong in the Bible!  “St.  James’ Epistle is really an epistle of straw…We should throw (it) out of this school, for it doesn’t amount to much.”  The problem was that the Book of James refuted Luther’s personal views…. so rather than change his views he attacked scripture. I only wish we had a record of Martin Luther and the Apostle James talking this over. Now that would be an interesting dialogue! James did grow up in the same household as his half-brother Jesus so perhaps he was on to something.

It is Possible to Please God!

Do we believe then that we are saved by faith? Of course we do! This is the essential transaction between the believer and his God. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6) but faith greatly pleases God. On the other hand, does our faith give us permission to disregard and disobey the teachings of Jesus Christ? Of course not. Jesus told us His position plainly and in no uncertain terms! The essential point was: Don’t call me Lord unless you intend to do what I tell you. (Matthew 7:21-23 and Luke 6:46)

Where is “Plus Nothing” ?

We are wholeheartedly committed to the message of salvation by grace through faith. What we fail to see anywhere in scripture is that little addition…plus nothing. If Sola Scriptura means anything it means we don’t get to add our own thoughts and opinions to what is written in the Bible. (even if those thoughts seem plausible and can be shouted nicely from a pulpit)

This is a Better Way Than Faith Plus Nothing!

Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness (Galatians 3:6) and then Abraham confirmed the authenticity of his faith by obedience. Abraham acted on his faith and sealed his covenant with God.  Obedience was even required of our Savior who was made perfect through His obedience. Faith then is the beginning and ground of our walk with God but without obedience it means nothing. Our walk with God begins with saved by grace through faith and concludes with loving God enough to obey Him. This is a far more excellent way than faith plus nothing.

Copyright 2023 by Bob Shutes

PS:  Let’s not be foolishly blown about by every wind of doctrine that comes our way. Let’s be of full age and recognize that salvation is the gift of God and that mercy and justice are met in Jesus Christ! In our hearts we know that God expects more from us than just a polite nod in His direction. After all, He insists that we love Him with all of our hearts and minds and “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” (I John 5:3)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *