Bible Basics: By Faith Only?

By Earl E. Robertson

Since the garden of Eden there has been a constant conflict between truth and error, between God and the devil, between right and wrong. One would think the wonderful opportunities granted man-kind would have, through the intervening centuries, produced some kind of change in this matter. But not so! God, His word, His character, all remain diametrically opposed to Satan and his nefarious efforts, both in the moral and spiritual realms. Neither God nor Satan are here personally engaged in such conflict; rather, the emissaries of both are doing battle. True teachers of moral and spiritual truth are engaged in battle against error in these realms.

Let us illustrate this matter. James says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). Can any responsible man read this sentence and not comprehend it? Yet, in the face of this plain declaration of truth (or is the Bible true, preachers?), Article Nine of the Discipline (a book written by a number of religious guides) says, “We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” The conflict in the garden of Eden was no sharper drawn than these two statements – one by the Holy Spirit and the other by man. Any one can see that James 2:24 and Article Nine do not agree! How can one, capable of reading with comprehension, so stultify conscience and potentiality with such an absurd, inconsistent position? A religious guide who thus accepts such a position in full rejection of the word of God is untrustworthy as a teacher! He could just as easily oppose any other and all other statements of God in like fashion.

The average man of the street knows that Jesus says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and he knows this faith requires action ~ that is, obedience to God. This is why James says salvation is not by faith only -the preachers to the contrary, notwithstanding. Ask your preacher just why he preaches Article Nine rather than what God says through the writer James. See how forthright he will be with you.

Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 4, p. 109
February 16, 1984