OceanSide church of Christ
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SAVED BY __________ ALONE?
By Wayne Rodgers
When someone singles out any element in God’s plan of salvation and says that element “alone” saves us, without regard for any of the other elements of salvation, he is at best, ignorantly guilty of wresting (or twisting) the Scriptures to his own destruction (2 Peter 3:16), or is at worst, a false teacher. Jesus said, “beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). Paul warned, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Colossians 2:8).
For instance, some people teach we are saved by Christ’s sacrifice (or the grace of God) alone. But if that is true, then universal salvation exists, for Titus 2:11 says, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men.” However, Jesus forever destroyed the false notion of universal salvation when He said, “many” are walking the broad way which leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Do these verses contradict one another? Absolutely not! The harmony of these verses is that salvation is universally offered through the blood of Christ to all mankind (Romans 5:6-10, Hebrews 9:12). Sadly, however, not all men will receive Christ’s salvation because most reject one or more elements in God’s plan of salvation, which when coupled with all the other elements, would have availed for them salvation by the blood of Christ (Romans 6:3-5).
Others note Ephesians 2:8, which says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith…” Although this passage is a favorite of the “salvation by grace only crowd,” it clearly teaches we are not saved by grace alone! Evidently, at least one additional element, “faith” plays some part in our salvation. In support of this some cite Acts 16:31 which says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” With these verses in hand, many misguided and mistakenly declare, “We are saved by faith or belief alone.” However, if we are saved by faith alone, then the grace of God plays no part in our salvation. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t be saved by two or more things “alone” or “only.” Besides, James said we are not saved by faith “only” or “alone” (James 2:17 & 24). He also wrote, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” (James 2:19). Obviously, the devils are not saved, even though they believe in God, because their “faith” does not motivate them to obey God. Again, the harmony of the Scriptures is that we are saved by grace through faith when our faith motivates us to fully obey God.
Still others teach we are saved only if we are willing to confess Christ as Lord, and they might even cite Romans 10:9 which says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” However, Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Evidently, there is more to salvation than just giving lip service to the Lordship of the Savior.
Some might even teach that baptism alone saves us, yet nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, the Bible clearly teaches baptism is an essential element of man’s salvation. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved…” (Mark 16:16). The Apostle Peter even declared, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…” (1 Peter 3:21). Once again, however, these verses do not teach that baptism alone saves us, for unless baptism is coupled with the other elements of God’s plan of salvation, it is pointless and vain so far as any spiritual value is concerned. Indeed, many have been immersed in water in some type of religious ceremony, who have never been Scripturally baptized. They just “got wet” because they have not, as a penitent, confessing, believer, been baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), to wash away sins (Acts 22:16), or to get into Christ (Galatians 3:27).
Friends, we need to open our eyes, dust off our Bibles, and start studying the Scriptures diligently that we might present ourselves approved unto God, as unashamed workmen who know how to rightly divide the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Sadly, many deceivers have gone out into the world (2 John 1:7), to mislead the gullible into believing man can be saved without obedience to the Lord’s plan of salvation. However, the truth of the matter is, God’s plan of salvation is a process which began at Calvary and will end at Judgment. In between those two monumental events, men who want to be saved must “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12), as they “give diligence to make their calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). If we would see heaven, we must not reject anything which the Lord has commanded us to do.
Clearly, Christ’s terms of pardon include the following elements: belief (John 8:24), repentance (Luke 13:3), confession (Matthew 10:32), baptism (Mark 16:16), and faithfulness in Christian living until the day of one’s death (Revelation 2:10). Surely, no God-fearing person would deny any of these requirements which came from the very lips of our Lord. Have you fully obeyed all of the Lord’s commands?