Ask Your Preacher
Is salvation by faith only or by both faith and works? Passages like Hab 2:4, Rom 1:17, 3:27-28, 4:2-5, 5:1, 10: 9-10, 11:6, Gal 2:16, 3:11-12, Eph 2:8-9, Tit 3:5, 2 Tim 1:9, and Php 3:9 all say that faith is just needed. Especially a standout here is Eph 2:8-9 because I see this verse used often by the Pentecostal/Evangelical Charismatic preachers to prove their idea that faith is all you need and nothing else, not even baptism. I often see these guys preach this idea to young people because they believe they will be more likely proselytes, especially someone who has never even touched a Bible in their entire lives.
But according to passages like Ps 62:12, Matt 16:27, Rom 2: 6-7, Pr 24:12, Eccl 12:14, Jer 17:10, 32:19, Jhn 5:29, 2 Cor 5:10, Php 2:12, Jas 2:14-26, Heb 6:10, 1 Peter 1:17, Job 34:11, Gal 6:7, Col 3: 23-24, and Rev 22:12, works do matter! So what are we saved by, and why are there some passages that talk about only faith and other passages talk about both faith and works?
Dear Mixed Messages,
The Bible says that we are saved by faith (Eph 2:8), but it never says that we are saved by faith only. The Scriptures mention a lot of things that are involved in our salvation. We are saved by hope (Rom 8:24). We are saved by baptism (1 Pet 3:21). We are saved by the love of the truth (2 Thess 2:10). All of these things are involved in your salvation. In order to understand a topic, we must look at the sum of God’s Word on that subject (Ps. 119:160).
We are told that in order to be saved, we must believe in Jesus (Jhn 3:16), repent of our sins (Acts 2:38), be baptized (Mk 16:16), and continue to grow in the knowledge of Christ through the Bible (2 Pet 3:18). Faith is hearing what God says (Rom 10:17)… and then acting upon it. James says that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17). It is impossible to be a faithful person and live an unrepentant life. Faith is more than belief; even the demons believe in God (Jas 2:19). Faith is belief combined with action. We must be hearers and doers of God’s Word (Jas 1:22).
I understand that all spiritual gifts are no longer needed and have ceased; I understand why. But a question came up with a Pentecostal friend that I need a little help with. What is the scripture that explains to us that God chooses to no longer speak to people directly? And what would be a good way to explain why He does not speak to people outside the Bible?
Trying To Help
Dear Trying To Help,
There are several places that you can go to explain this concept to your Pentecostal friend. Here are a few verses to show them:
- We are told that the Bible contains everything we need to know concerning life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3). If the Bible tells us everything we need to know, we don’t need anything else.
- The Bible tells us that we shouldn’t add or subtract from God’s Word (Rev 22:18-19). A vision or prophecy given to an individual would do exactly that. If a “vision” says more than the Bible, we don’t need it, and if it says the same thing as the Bible, we don’t need it.
- Heb 1:1-2 says that God used to speak to mankind through many diverse methods, but today He has spoken to us through His Son. Jesus’ Word is now our only guide.
- Jude 1:3 says that we have the Word of God handed down “once and for all”. God has finished providing revelation to us.
- The silver bullet verses are 1 Cor 13:8-9, but it is a little lengthier discussion to handle all of the arguments in that verse. We recommend you read “Incomplete Understanding” for a complete breakdown of the 1 Cor 13:8-9 argument.
The long and the short of it is that prophecy was needed until the Bible was complete, but now that we have everything God wanted us to know, prophecy has ceased.
With no religious upbringing, I was baptized in 2008 according to Matthew 28:19 at a conservative evangelical church. I moved and attended an apostolic church. I was told I had to be re-baptized in Jesus' name because I was not saved. And then the whole tongues thing. I made the decision to leave because I could not embrace their doctrine of Oneness, Jesus' name only, speaking in tongues… forget all the holiness issues. How do you suppose the Lord looks upon me for leaving? Should I have stayed to be a light of truth? Thank you.
Fleet Of Foot
Dear Fleet Of Foot,
You can only do so much to help others, but in the end, it is more important that you seek the truth and be part of a faithful congregation than it is that you stay and try and be the lone voice for a church that isn’t interested in changing. Your own salvation comes first (Php 2:12). Furthermore, it isn’t like the congregation showed an interest in studying or changing. In such cases, God tells us not to “cast your pearls before swine” (Matt 7:6).
As far as the doctrinal issues, you may find the articles “Just Gibberish” and “Gifts That Stop Giving” useful for future reference, but you are right to not embrace the doctrines you mentioned. Christianity is meant to be simple. If we take what the Bible says and follow its pattern, we will have the truth. All the religious division is wrong and completely unnecessary. Read “Down With Denominationalism” for an in-depth look at how denominationalism has strayed from the Bible. All we have to do is follow the Bible like an instruction manual, and we will be fine. We congratulate you on your stand for the truth, and we would be happy to help you get in touch with a congregation that has your same love for truth. We know of many simple, honest, Bible-patterned congregations; e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can be of service.
I love church, and I love being part of God’s family, but I really dislike being a certain type of christian. I don't understand why there are so many different beliefs for one religion (like Catholic, Methodist, and so on); is it possible to just be a christian and not any thing specific? Is there a special church that's just christian?
No Party Affiliation
Dear No Party Affiliation,
All we should ever be is just christians… you are absolutely right for being frustrated. The denominational world is confusing… exactly the opposite of God’s church (1 Cor 14:33). The term ‘denomination’ comes from the idea that a church believes that it is a subgroup of a larger religious body. Lutherans worship and teach differently than Episcopalians, Catholics, Presbyterians, etc., but they all believe themselves to be christians – this is wrong. Jesus said that there is only one path to heaven (Matt 7:14). Denominationalism teaches that how you act and worship are matters of opinion, but Jesus said that how you act and worship are matters of truth (Jhn 4:24). The only way to avoid denominationalism is to find a congregation that simply teaches what the Bible says – no creeds, no opinions, no personal agendas. If we truly love Christ, we will follow His commandments (1 Jn 5:2).
Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15). A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15).
Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2). We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21). We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible. As you said, you don’t want to go to a church that offers their own thoughts – you want God’s thoughts.
There are other congregations like ours scattered across the country and the world. Most of them use the name ‘church of Christ’, but then again, many churches that use that name aren’t faithful. A Bible name for a church isn’t enough to make it faithful. We have helped others, like yourself, looking for New Testament Christianity find faithful congregations in their area by contacting other preachers and christians that we know. We’d be happy to do the same for you. If you feel comfortable, just let us know what general area you live in, and we will try and get you in touch with a congregation that lives like your Bible reads (our e-mail is email@example.com). It is frustrating, confusing, and exasperating to deal with denominationalism. Thanks be to God that there is a better option!
Hi, I was wondering: I am christian, and my boyfriend is Pentecostal. They believe we should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, but ever since I can remember, it was, "I now baptize you in the Father, Holy Spirit, and the Son.” I seem to think that they go by the Old Testament; could you help me please?
Dear Doctrinal Differences,
There is no difference between being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and being baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; both phrases are used in the New Testament (Acts 2:38, Matt 28:19). However, the Pentecostal church teaches that baptism isn’t what saves you… which is contrary to the Bible (1 Pet 3:21). The Pentecostal church believes that you are saved when the Holy Spirit miraculously descends upon you, and you begin to speak in tongues. This is a false teaching that pervades the Pentecostal movement. Their belief that God directly speaks to believers apart from the Bible has lead them to change and alter God’s Word radically. God warns us to never do this (Rev 22:18-19). Read our article “Speaking In Tongues” for further information.