OceanSide church of Christ

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Faith Only, John 3:16

Victor M. Eskew


            Many of our religious friends and loved ones are convinced that they really believe the Bible.  When they discuss various subjects with us, they will quote the Bible to “prove” what they believe.  If we are not aware of this, we may be shocked when it is done.  In fact, we may not even know how to answer them.  The verse they show us may seem to prove their doctrine.  Peter call upon us to be able to “give an answer” (I Pet. 3:15).  In this new section of our bulletin, we want to help you answer some of the points your religious associates and family members may make from the Word of God.

            This first article will be very simple in nature.  It is hoped that most will know how to respond to this passage.  Our purpose in using this text is to show you how “Give An Answer” can assist you as you talk to other people.  Those who hold to the doctrine of faith only will often turn to John 3:16 as a proof text.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This very certainly proves that faith is essential to salvation, but does it prove the doctrine of faith only?  If not, how do we respond to it?

            First, acknowledge that this verse sets forth faith as being necessary to salvation.  Then, note that the verse does not say that one is saved by “faith only.”  In fact, there is only one verse in the entire New Testament that contains the words “faith” and “only” side by side.  This verse denies the doctrine of faith only.  “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). 

            Second, if we are saved by faith only, then nothing else is necessary in the salvation process.  One would not need to repent of sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30), nor would one need to confess the name of Christ (Rom. 10:9-10).  Yet, even those who teach faith only admit that these two things are a must for salvation.  If one must repent, and, if one must confess, then salvation is not by faith only.  John 3:16, therefore, only sets for one of several conditions of salvation.  We must go to other verses to find the complete plan of salvation.