OceanSide church of Christ

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Faith Only and the Sinner’s Prayer

Victor M. Eskew




A.   Salvation is an important concept for mankind.

1.    It involves freedom from sin.

2.    It involves freedom from the bondage of Satan.

3.    It involves freedom from an eternity in hell.

4.    It involves eternal life with God in heaven in the hereafter.


B.   How salvation is obtained is a controversial topic.

1.    Most tell us that salvation in Christ is obtained through faith only.

2.    The doctrine of “salvation by faith only” is proclaimed in many ways.

a.    Just believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you can be saved.

b.    Just accept Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior and you can be saved.

c.    Just say the “sinner’s prayer” and you can be saved.


C.   If anyone doubts with this teaching, he is considered to be heretic.

1.    Not only do we doubt this teaching, but we know that it is completely false.

a.    It adds words to Bible verses.

b.    It takes verses out of their context.

c.    It neglects plain Bible teaching.

d.    It contradicts and denies itself.

2.    The title of our lesson is:  “Just Say This:  Faith Only and the Sinner’s Prayer.”


I.             JAMES 2:24


A.   It is interesting that God has often anticipated false doctrine in the pages of Holy Writ long before the false doctrine came to exist.

1.    Jesus as a created being is refuted by John 1:1.

2.    Once-saved, always-saved is refuted by Galatians 5:4.


B.   James 2:24 completely refutes the doctrine of “faith only.”


Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.


1.    This is the only passage in the Bible that uses the words “faith” and “only” together.

2.    The text does not prove faith only; it annihilates it.

3.    To the honest individual, this should end the discussion.




A.   If faith only is all that is needed for one to be saved, then why didn’t faith only saved some individuals about which we read in the Scriptures?


B.   Examples:

1.    The chief ruler (John 12:42-43)


Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:  for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

2.    Agrippa (Acts 26:27-28)


King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know that thou believest.  Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.


a.    Paul by inspiration states that Agrippa believed the things the prophets wrote about the Christ.

b.    Agrippa believed, but he admitted that he was not a Christian.

3.    The devils (James 2:19)


Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well:  the devils also believe and tremble.




A.   “Only” defined

1.    Without others or anything further

2.    Alone, solely, exclusively


B.   If salvation is by “faith only,” absolutely nothing else is needed to save a man.


C.   The Bible connects faith and several other things to salvation.

1.    Faith and grace are connected (Eph. 2:8)


For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.


2.    Faith and confession of Jesus’ name are connected (Rom. 10:9-10)


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.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.


3.    Repentance and faith are connected (Acts 20:21).


Testifying both to the Jews and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.


D.   Will all those who say that one is saved by faith only exclude grace?  Will they exclude confession of Jesus’ name?  Will they exclude repentance?

1.    The answer will be:  “No.”

2.    So, they contradict their very own teaching.  Salvation is not by faith only, that is, without anything else.




A.   The Bible says that we are saved by faith only.

1.    We would simply ask:  “Where?”

a.    Romans 5:1


Therefore being justified by faith, we peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.


1)    First, Paul does not say that we are justified by faith only.  He says that we are justified by faith.

2)    Second, let’s look at Acts 17:30.


And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.


a)    This verse only mentions repentance.

b)    Are we saved by repentance only?  Absolutely not!

c)    NOTE:  No one passage alone tells everything one must do to be saved.

b.    Ephesians 2:8


For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.


1)    Again, this verse does not say that we are saved by faith only.

2)    Even this verse says that both grace and faith are needed for salvation.  We are not saved by faith alone.

c.    Acts 16:30-31


And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.


1)    This is a sugar stick for those who teach faith only.

2)    Again, Paul did not tell the jailor to “believe only.”

3)    We must keep the verse in its context (Read Acts 16:32-34).


And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his straightway.  And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.


a)    He was told to believe in verse 31 and he is said to have believed in verse 34.  A lot happens between these two verses.

b)    He hears the gospel so he can believe (v. 32, See Romans 10:17).

c)    He repents and evidences this by washing their strips (v. 33)

d)    He is baptized, that is, immersed (v. 33).

e)    After all of this, he rejoices believing in God with all his house.

4)    Faith must be understood in two ways.

a)    Mental assent:  Here it is just a step in the salvation process.

b)    An entire process:  Here is begins with faith, but this is an active faith that obeys the things God has commanded one to do to be saved.


B.   The Bible tells us to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved.

1.    Several passages do make this statement.

a.    Acts 2:31


And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


b.    Romans 10:13


For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.


2.    If these were the only verses that we have that speak about calling on the name of the Lord, we might think that saying something like the sinner’s prayer would be enough to be saved, but this is not all that is said.

a.    Acts 22:16

And now why tarriest thou?  Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.


b.    In Romans 10:13-17, we learn two important things about calling on the name of the Lord.

1)    To call on the name of the Lord is distinct from believing (Rom. 10:14a).


How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?


2)    Calling on the name of the Lord involves some form of obedience (Rom. 10:16).


But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Esais saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?




A.   My friends, the teaching of salvation by faith only is false doctrine.

1.    It adds the word “only” to many passages of scripture that speak of faith.

2.    It takes verses like Acts 16:31 out of context.

3.    It neglects plain Bible teaching that says that things other than faith save us.

4.    It denies itself, when it says that we are saved by grace, confession, etc., because this makes salvation NOT by faith only.


B.   Salvation is a process that involves many things.  In Mark 16:16, Jesus connects saving faith with baptism.


He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 


1.    NOTE:  Members of the church of Christ do believe that baptism is essential for salvation.  It is a faith response to God’s commands (Acts 10:48).

2.    We do not believe in baptism “only.”  One must hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believe in Christ as the Son of God (John 8:24), repent of sins (Luke 13:3), then baptized for the remission of sins in order to be saved initially (Acts 22:16).

3.    We, too, must live faithfully unto death to receive a crown of life (Rev. 2:10).