The Error Of The Salvation By Faith Alone Doctrine

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the American King James Version).

The doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ Jesus, outside of works, has been greatly misunderstood. The papists, like the Jews, go to one extreme to insist we must earn our salvation by good works, while some protestants, in rejecting the heresy of earning our salvation by good deeds, go to the opposite extreme of insisting salvation is by faith alone in Christ Jesus, by this, meaning that a man needs only believe in Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour, without doing anything further, to be saved. Thus, we find in many protestant circles that all the sinner is required to do to be saved is believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and recite the “sinner’s prayer”, without doing anything further! Does the gospel of Jesus Christ require that men only have faith in him and make a confession to be saved? What were men required to do to be saved in apostolic times? We shall examine the Scripture to answer these questions.

After his resurrection and before his ascension, the Lord Jesus gave his apostles the great commission to preach his gospel to every creation in order to get men saved. In the great commission, the Lord told us how men were to be saved— by believing the gospel and by being baptised, Jesus said men shall be saved. The Lord was emphatic about this—”he that believes and is baptised”, he said, “shall be saved”. Thus, the Lord made it clear that believing alone was not sufficient for salvation, and that those who believe in him as Lord and Saviour must be obedient to his command to be baptised by water to be saved. Therefore, any gospel of salvation must include the necessity of water baptism, immediately after believing the gospel.

Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

Matthew 28:17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.

Matthew 28:19 Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, see, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.

Mark 16:14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen.

Mark 16:15 And he said to them, Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

Mark 16:16 He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned.

Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Mark 16:18 They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Mark 16:19 So then after the Lord had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.

We find this formula given out to the Jews during the first evangelistic message of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. After a stirring message that pricked the heart and conscience of his listeners and convicted them of sin, the people cried out to the apostles, under the weight of their convictions, asking what to do to be saved. Peter’s response provides the formula for salvation for all sinners in the gospel age—”repent and be baptised, everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost”. To be saved, sinners, on hearing the gospel, need to first believe it and repent. To believe is to acknowledge that they are sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. Thereafter, they must repent— have a change of mind and turn to Jesus Christ for forgiveness of their sins, acknowledging him as Lord and Saviour and confessing him as such. Then, they must be baptised by immersion in water, which together with their repentance and faith in Christ, will allow God to forgive and blot out their past sins. After this, they are qualified to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is God’s seal of approval of their faith.

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

The Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

The Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls.

The Acts 22:12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelled there,

The Acts 22:13 Came to me, and stood, and said to me, Brother Saul, receive your sight. And the same hour I looked up on him.

The Acts 22:14 And he said, The God of our fathers has chosen you, that you should know his will, and see that Just One, and should hear the voice of his mouth.

The Acts 22:15 For you shall be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.

The Acts 22:16 And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

The Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

The Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

The Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

This process was exactly what Jesus explained to Nicodemus on how to be born again. The Lord taught that, for a man to see and enter the kingdom of God (that is, for a man to be saved), he must be born of water and of the Spirit. To be born of water simply means to be water baptised (which can only come after one has repented and believed the gospel). After that, one needs to be born of the Spirit—simply meaning receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes after one has repented and has been baptised in water. One must be born of both water and the Spirit to be saved! That’s the only way to see/ enter the kingdom of God! That’s what Jesus himself taught!

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

John 3:5 Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again.

The error of the ‘faith in Christ only’ movement is in taking the words of Paul in Romans chapter 10 in isolation. Here, Paul taught the necessity of faith, as against works of the law, for salvation. He underscored the fact that it’s only by believing in Christ as Lord and Saviour, and confessing him as such, that salvation can be possible. But Paul did not teach that that alone was sufficient for salvation! Paul went ahead to immediately baptise every one who so repented and believed the gospel, and prayed for them to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, just like Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and just like Jesus commissioned the apostles to do! Thus, we see that faith in Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour must be coupled with water baptism in Jesus’ name, and the baptism of the Holy Sprit, for one to be saved! That’s how the apostles preached the gospel of salvation, and that’s how they led people to Christ!

Romans 10:8 But what said it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

Romans 10:9 That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.

Romans 10:10 For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.

Romans 10:11 For the scripture said, Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.

Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call on him.

Romans 10:13 For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

The Acts 16:27 And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.

The Acts 16:28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do yourself no harm: for we are all here.

The Acts 16:29 Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,

The Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

The Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved, and your house.

The Acts 16:32 And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

The Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

It’s not enough to tell people to repent and confess Christ. Having done that, they need to be immediately baptised by immersion in water in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then, they need to go on and receive the Holy Spirit, for it is by the Holy Spirit that we are baptised into the body of Christ. Whoever does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ, for the Spirit is the seal of our salvation. Just as Abraham believed God and was then given the seal of circumcision as the evidence of the approval of his faith, the Holy Spirit is the evidence of God’s approval of our faith in Christ as Lord and Saviour. No wonder the apostles were so concerned about people receiving the Holy Spirit after believing and being baptised. The apostles had to come specially to lay hands on the baptised Samaritan believers to receive the Holy Spirit. When Paul met a group of believers in Ephesus, the first thing he asked was whether they had received the Holy Spirit, meaning one can believe and be water baptised and not receive the Holy Spirit. After rebaptisng them properly, Paul laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. That’s the apostolic way of being saved and of being born again. We must return to that, as that is the only way to fulfill Jesus’ command in the great commission. Like Jesus said, except a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot see/enter the kingdom of God!

1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Ephesians 1:13 In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed to the day of redemption.

The Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John:

The Acts 8:15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost:

The Acts 8:16 (For as yet he was fallen on none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.)

The Acts 8:17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

The Acts 19:1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

The Acts 19:2 He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

The Acts 19:3 And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

The Acts 19:4 Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

The Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

The Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.

Romans 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:9 Comes this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness.

Romans 4:10 How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.

Romans 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed to them also:

Romans 4:12 And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised.

In conclusion, the doctrine of salvation by faith alone in Christ Jesus, without incorporation of repentance, water baptism and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, as integral parts of the salvation process, is erroneous. Jesus taught that to be saved, a man must be born of water and of the Spirit. Being born of water refers to water baptism, which is to be done immediately after repenting and believing the gospel; and being born of the Spirit refers to the gift of the Holy Spirit that is to be received by those who have repented and have been baptised by water in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. That’s the formula for salvation Peter gave on the day of Pentecost, for whoever would be saved in the gospel age. Therefore, faith in Christ must be demonstrated by obedience to his command to repent and be baptised in order to be saved, and to be born both of water and of the Spirit. That’s the only way salvation was preached in apostolic times.

The Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers, what shall we do?

The Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The Acts 2:39 For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call.

The Acts 2:40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

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Published by Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo

Dr Ojo is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a student of the Word of God, who believes firmly in the original apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian conduct, order and doctrine.

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