SOURCE: Members of the Church of Christ will sometimes cite James 2:24 as ‘proof’ that the believer’s justification is not by faith alone.
Keep in mind that context of James 2:24 is dealing with Abraham, and this verse concerns the time when Abraham was about to offer up his son Isaac upon the altar.
This is a very relevant question because Romans 4 tells us that Abraham was justified before God long before Isaac was even born,
Anyone who understands James 2:24 to be talking about Abraham’s legal or forensic justification before God has a real problem, because when Paul talks about Abraham’s justification in Romans 4, he makes it very clear that justification before God is not by works:
Unless Scripture contradicts itself— and it doesn’t since it is God’s inerrant Word, James 2:24 cannot be talking about Abraham’s legal or forensic justification before God, but rather about being ‘shown, deemed, or declared as righteous’ before men.
But there’s another point that relates to the words only and alone.
The NKJV reads: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”
SOURCE: It is interesting to note that the Churches of Christ often “write-off” the doctrine of justification by faith alone simply because they are convinced it is a “Calvinist” doctrine.
Church of Christ evangelist Gene Taylor of Centerville Road Church of Christ of Tallahassee Florida wrote the following in his introduction to the doctrine of Calvinism:
“Whenever someone contends that a) faith is a gift from God b) affirms that he has been saved by faith only c) embraces false teachings about the direct operation of the Holy Spirit in the conviction and conversion of sinners d) and believes it is impossible for a child of God to sin and be eternally lost, he has fallen victim to the Calvinist system of doctrine.”
This is amazing because when one compares these points with the actual teachings of Calvinism and the “free-will” (i.e. Arminianism) view, one would think the only difference between the two from what Mr. Taylor writes is the “P” of TULIP and the perseverance of the saints.
In other words, the Churches of Christ may be surprised to learn that BOTH Calvinists and “free-will” types believe in the doctrine of the fall AND the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
However, what is actually debated between Calvinists and “free-will” types is not the dynamics of the fall nor the doctrine of salvation by faith alone, but rather how resistible God’s grace is to man- i.e. the doctrine of election.
Here, the point of contention is that if God calls you- must you respond positively to His gospel, or in the finial analysis does man reserve the ability within himself to reject the God and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and thus be lost and eternally condemned?
At this point the Arminian will say yes to “free-will” while the Calvinist answers no.
However, it is the “Pelagian” or Church of Christ view that is being argued against here.
Pelagianism rejects the doctrine of the fall and rejects the teaching that man has a “sin nature” or predisposition to sin and to do evil. In contrast it believes that man has the ability within himself to respond positively to all the necessary moral and religious commands and laws of God in order to be saved.
Thus, making the same assumption about human ability, the Church of Christ therefore rejects the doctrine of salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ, believing anyone can be saved through “Patternism” or in other words, their own New Testament law-keeping.
Again, both Calvinists and Arminians or “free-will” types reject this view.
Both believe that because man is fallen, has a sinful nature, and therefore lacks the moral and religious ability to save himself “by New Testament Law-Keeping”, the only hope for sinful man is to place faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone to do what we could not possibly do in our own sinful selves.
SOURCE: A person challenged me to show one verse in scripture that ‘salvation is by faith alone’. I replied with the following:
Considering the CHURCH OF CHRIST’s own standard of “necessary inference”, a person can identify this as plain as the nose on his face because there are at least 154 passages throughout the New Testament which tell us salvation is by placing faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Consider for a moment the following passages:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“Most assuredly, I say unto you, he who hears my Word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come to judgment, but has passed from death to life.” John 5:24
“…but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast.” Eph. 2:8
“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:15-16
These verses and provided passages plainly and clearly state:
* a direct relationship between salvation/ justification and faith- with nothing else being mentioned in the sentence or context, and/ or,
* a direct eternal benefit from faith- with nothing else being mentioned in the sentence or the context;
* therefore, since nothing else other than “faith” is mentioned in the thoughts or context being communicated-
Faith Alone or “faith only” is what is implied and required.
To further illustrate the above reality, as well as to show how ‘selective’ those in the Church of Christ are in applying their own standard, this individual applied the “faith only” argument to the illustration of Noah building the ark – with gopherwood “only”.
“Make yourself an ark of gopherwood (only); make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch (only). And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits (only). it width fifty cubits (only), and its height thirty cubits (only). You shall make a window for the ark (only), and you shall finish it to a cubit from above (only); and set the door of the ark in its side (only). You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks (only).”
His point: It’s utterly ridiculous for the Church of Christ to assert its ‘no verse in scripture specifically says we are saved by faith-only’ argument when honest consideration is given to the biblical verse(s), text, and context of those passages.
To refuse the plainly stated truth from the Word of God that salvation is simply by grace though faith in Jesus Christ alone is like saying:
‘Noah was told to to build an ark with gopher wood, but the Scripture NEVER specifies that he was told to use gopherwood “only”.’