Destructive, Damnable Deceit of the Devil (2)

“When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (Jn. 8:44).

Satan is the father of lies because of the events in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-6). He has never ceased lying to men to lure them away from God. His work is relentless, but so is God’s.

One great deceit with which the devil has had much success is that salvation is by faith alone. Most of our religious friends and neighbors adhere to this doctrine. It is a part of Calvinism, though many are not strict Calvinist or would even know what that means.

The Methodist Book of Discipline teaches that salvation by faith only is a wholesome and comforting doctrine. If it was true, that would be true. However, it is a false doctrine and so any comfort is misleading and wholesomeness a fraud.

Faith-only salvation contradicts straight-forward language.

James teaches that salvation is “not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24). Rather, he says, it is by putting faith into action (Jas. 2:14-26). He points to Abraham as one example of true faith; so does the Hebrew writer.

In Hebrews 11, the writer sets before us not only Abraham, but also many others who lived by faith. They are concrete examples of faith. Abraham left his homeland at God’s command and offered His son for the same reason (Heb. 11:8-19). Able sacrificed by faith (Heb. 11:4). Noah built an ark (Heb. 11:7). Moses forsook Egypt and Israel crossed the Red Sea by faith (Heb. 11:24-29). Each case in this chapter is of individuals or groups that obeyed God’s command by faith. In other words, they believed what He said and acted on it.

If Israel believed God could part the Red Sea and save them, but refused to cross it when the waters rolled back, would they have been saved? If Noah took the position that God had the power to save him without the ark, and thus he neglected to build it, would he have been saved? The obvious answer is no. We are required to act on God’s commands, not just believe them.

Here is a specific case in point. There were men among the rulers of the Jews that believed in Jesus as the Christ, but refused to confess Him (Jn. 12:42, 43). They would not because of their love for the praise of men exceeded their love for the praise of God. Jesus said if we would not confess Him before men, He will not confess us before the Father (Lk. 12:8, 9). So, were the rulers saved by faith only? No. They lost their souls in spite of the fact that they believed in Jesus. There was another condition for salvation besides and beyond faith.

Faith-only salvation ignores plain teaching.

That more than faith is needed is abundantly clear from even a casual reading of the New Testament. Jesus said men must believe, repent, confess, and be baptized for salvation (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; 24:46, 47; Matt. 10:32, 33; Mk. 16:16; Matt. 28:19, 20). Peter commanded men to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins remitted (Acts 2:38). Note that at Cornelius’ house it says, “he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48). Command is not an option, though that is what most people believe about baptism today. Ananias told Saul of Tarsus to arise and be baptized to have his sins washed away (Acts 22:16). The Spirit-guided apostle said baptism saves (1 Pet. 3:21). It cannot be any plainer than this. For one to miss these truths, he must either willfully ignore it or blindly follow the teaching of another.

Faith-only salvation leads men to hell.

When a person accepts the deceit of the devil he is lost. If he dies in this state he is eternally lost and will go to hell with the devil and his angels. As examined above, faith-only salvation is one such deceit. It is partial truth, which means it is a lie.

Our family, friends, and neighbors may be caught up in this lie. Our duty is to help them see the truth. It may not be easy. They may not like it. Still, we must do it.

Finally, it is important to understand that the difference between faith-only salvation and what the Bible teaches is not academic. It has real consequences. We must view it as a weapon of the enemy, Satan, and seek to destroy it. If we are successful, souls will be saved.

— Steven F. Deaton