Saturday, November 27, 2010

Justification by Faith Alone - A Few More Questions

As I close out this mini-series on justification I'd like to briefly address three questions:

1. What about the sacraments?

The sacraments (or ordinances) are beautiful gifts that God has given to His church. Both baptism and the Lord's Supper remind us of what Christ has accomplished and reassure us of our new lives in Him. They should be joyful acts that unify Christ's church and glorify God.

Although they have spiritual significance, the sacraments are performed by man. We baptize. We partake of the Lord's table. Therefore, these are works (good ones at that). Because works in no way contribute to the basis of our justification, we can conclude with confidence that neither baptism nor the Lord's Supper is required for justification, and therefore, salvation.

2. What about The Apostles' Creed?

I have read and heard Christians who say that The Apostles' Creed spells out salvation sufficiently. The thinking (by some) is that the truths stated in this creed are all we need and that anything more specific divides the church.

As for me, I believe that while The Apostles' Creed is accurate, I do not believe it is sufficient. In other words, it leaves out a great deal of important information about salvation. Specifically, it does not speak to how guilty man can be made righteous before holy God. In other words, how is man justified?

Let's remember that all creeds are man-made documents, and therefore are not perfect. While I embrace the great truths of this document, I believe it is lacking in key areas.

3. Is it necessary to believe it for salvation?

Another way to ask this is, "Does a person have to believe in justification by faith alone in order to be saved?"

Or, with more words, "Does someone have to believe in justification by faith alone in order to be justified by faith alone?"

I'll admit that this is a difficult one.

First, in order to have a full and accurate understanding of the gospel, I believe that a person must believe in justification by faith alone.

Second, different people may believe this doctrine but state it differently (thus causing some difficulty in discussion).

Third, we are all faulty and therefore probably do not perfectly understand all nuances of the gospel.

Fourth, God is gracious.

Keeping all that in mind, I believe that a person can be saved even if he believes that some combination of faith and works leads to justification. However, I could be wrong and therefore would not want to be that person. If that person is relying on faith (but just happens to believe works are beneficial), then I think he will be saved. If, on the other hand, that person is actually relying on good works for salvation, then I fear for His soul.

Ultimately salvation is of the Lord. He will justify whomever He wills. Some will probably be justified by God even though they hold some faulty beliefs about this issue. Again, I'd rather not test God on that one.

The scriptures are clear. God justifies based on faith. This leads to good works. Let's not confuse the two.


Aussie John said...


Well put!

Eric said...


Thanks. I struggled to word number 3 as I wanted. I'm not sure if it was clear enough. I hope my heart came through the jumbled words.