What Does the Church Teach About Faith and Works? – 3


Let’s recap the apparently contradicting two views on Faith and Works: Paul and James


Paul’s View:

We are not saved by works.

28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.                                                   Romans 3:28 NAS


James’ View:

Faith must be shown by works.

 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. 18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”                                                      James 2:17-18 NAS


How does the Church Relate Salvation to Faith and Works?



What did the early Church say?


Salvation by Faith is SHOWN by obedient Works; Obedient Works SHOW Faith:


Augustine, Seventeen Short Treatises

For both [faith and works] are connected the one with the other, as I said before; because neither can the love of God exist in a man who loveth not his neighbour, nor the love of his neighbour in him who loveth not God. And so at times we find that Scripture makes mention of the one without the other, either this or that, in place of the full doctrine, so that even in this way we may understand that the one cannot exist without the other: because both he who believes in God ought to do what God commands; and he who therefore does it because God commands it, must of necessity believe in God.



What does the Roman Catholic church say today?


Salvation is by Faith AND Works


Roman Catholicism teaches that we are not saved by faith alone. The Church has taught this since 30 A.D. as part of the Divine Revelation.                            Sal Ciresi, Bible Says Faith and Works Needed for Salvation



What does the Orthodox church say today?


Salvation is by Faith AND Works


For Orthodox Christians there is no battle between faith and works. We know that both faith and works are necessary. We call it synergic cooperation with God. But, the starting point is always an act of believing in God.

Orthodox Way of Life, Faith and Works – A Synergy Not Conflict



What do Protestant churches say today?


A major thesis of the Protestant church is Sola fide, Faith Alone, that is, only Faith is required for “salvation.”


Faith alone: Sola Fide

The debate of the Reformation, [is] a debate [that questioned:] do good works have any place in our justification before God?  The Augsburg Confession gave the definitive answer; an answer faithful Lutherans still confess to this day:


“Our churches also teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith when they believe that they are received into favor and that their sins are forgiven on account of Christ, who by His death made satisfaction for our sins.  This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight.” (AC IV) [Augsburg Confession]


No-Lordship Salvation


Today, there is also a stream of thought called No-Lordship Salvation. No-Lordship Salvation beliefs include:


  • “He’s not the boss of me!” – I accept Jesus as my Savior. But He is not my Lord. I can continue doing whatever I wish because I am forgiven by God’s grace.


  • “Fire insurance” Faith – I believe in Jesus enough that I won’t go to eternal torment in hell. What I do will not affect my salvation. I’ve said the sinner’s prayer; I’m in! After all, “Once saved, always saved!”


  • Mere Mental Agreement – I believe in my head, but not in my heart. Neither my lifestyle, nor myself, have undergone any change or transformation.



Jesus is Savior; but is not Lord


No-Lordship salvation does not require obedience to be valid. No action by the believer is required, or necessary, for salvation.


They [No-Lordship believers] have been told that the only criterion for salvation is knowing and believing some basic facts about Christ. They hear from the beginning that obedience is optional.

John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? Zondervan, Harper Collins Publishing 2009


“Fire insurance” Faith


No-Lordship salvation believers hold that by a one-time profession of faith (the sinner’s prayer), they are saved from eternal damnation.


It [the No-Leadership gospel] promises a salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity.

John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? Zondervan, Harper Collins Publishing 2009


Mere Mental Agreement


No-Lordship salvation requires mere mental assent, intellectual agreement, for faith in Jesus as Savior. There is no need for a change of “heart,” nor a change of behavior.


By separating faith from faithfulness, it [the No-Leadership gospel] teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as wholehearted obedience to the truth.

John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? Zondervan, Harper Collins Publishing 2009



Lordship Salvation


  • Submissive Faith


  • Responsive Faith


  • Evidential Faith



Submissive Faith


Lordship salvation faith includes submission to Christ as Lord.


Moreover, the message of salvation includes a call to surrender to Jesus as Lord. Those who would come to Him for salvation must be willing to acquiesce to His sovereign authority. Those who reject His right to rule cannot expect to lay claim Him as Savior.

John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? Zondervan, Harper Collins Publishing, 2009


Responsive Faith


Lordship salvation believers are saved by faith and respond with faith-in-action, i.e., works.


Good works, then, are not the ground of justification but are possible only as its consequences.                                    Lewis Johnson, Jr., How Faith Works, Christianity Today


Evidential Faith


Lordship salvation believers show “fruit” of Faith by their works.


But I do believe without apology real salvation cannot, and will not, fail to produce works of righteousness in the life of a true believer.

John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? Zondervan, Harper Collins Publishing 2009



What Kind of Faith Do You Have?



Non-Lordship salvation: unsubmitted, “Get-out-of-hell card,” mere head-belief Faith?




Lordship salvation: submissive, responsive, evidential Faith?



What Kind of Faith Do You Want?



Think about it.


“Meanwhile, back at the ranch,” the “discussion” on Faith and Works continues.


Can Paul and James be reconciled?







It’s ok to doubt, if you check it out!

Be a Berean!

 10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.                   Acts 17:10, 11 ESV


See also

By Faith or by Works? That is the Question – 1

What Does the Church Say About Faith and Works? – 2 


Please join me in this journey of discovery.

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  • Take what I say and CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!

© 2017 by the author