Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Sola Fide — “faith alone” — is the premise that one is saved once they’ve believed in Jesus, prayed “the prayer”, and accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Much of this is based on the following verses.

John 3:16 — 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 20:31 —
But these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name.

Acts 16:31 — [speaking to the Philippian jailer] They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Romans 10:9-10 —
. . . if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

There are many others used in the argument for “faith only” salvation, but these are few of the most prevalent verses. One can indeed conclude — and rightly so — that faith is essential for salvation. Hebrews 11:6 confirms this conclusion when the writer states: And without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Unfortunately, the “faith alone” stance has several large holes. For starters, nowhere in Scripture is a convert told to “pray a prayer” to be saved. Perhaps the biggest hole is James 2:24, which says, You see a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. This is the one and only place in Scripture that mentions “faith alone”, and this single place states very clearly that “faith alone” DOES NOT save (justify)! Earlier in Chapter 2, James says (verse 19), You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. James is saying here, “So you believe in God. Well, good for you! So do the demons, and it scares them to death.” Are demons saved? Of course not! In Acts 24:25, Paul preached to the governor Felix. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened [KJV says, “trembled”] and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.” Felix never summoned Paul again. Felix obviously believed, else he would not have been frightened — but was he saved? No. As a matter of fact, he kept Paul imprisoned to win the favor of Paul’s enemies.

Hebrews 11
, the famous “Faith Chapter” goes into more regarding faith.

Verse 7: By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. Was Noah saved by faith alone? No, he obeyed as well.

Verse 8: By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to recieve for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. Did Abraham just have faith? No, he obeyed as well.

Verse 17-19: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “In Isaac your descendants whall be called.” He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead . . . Did Abraham just have faith? No, he obeyed as well.

Verse 27: By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they [Israel] passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned. Did Moses just have faith? No, he obeyed as well. Did Israel just have faith that God would save them from the Egyptians? No, they obeyed as well.

So we establish that faith, while essential to salvation, does not save us by itself. We need something else . . . acts of obedience. James 2:17 says, . . . faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. If something is dead, it is useless. How can we logically be saved through a dead faith? The very idea is absurd. So the purpose of James 2 is to point out that yes, we ARE saved by faith. All the verses quoted by “faith only” advocates are correct. But that faith has to be a LIVING faith, a faith of obedience. So what obedience makes our faith living?

The very first time the Gospel was preached, Peter and the apostles stood before a multitude of three thousand people, and convicted them of their guilt in the torture, crucifixion, and death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God — who had just been made King of All, seated at the right had of God. Imagine their terror! They had done all this to someone who was now in a position of judgment, and had every right to bring His wrath upon each and every one of them! Acts 2:37 tells us they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”

Read carefully when Peter gives his response. He had to be specific in his answer because, as said before, this was the first time anyone had ever heard the Gospel preached. Does he say, “Pray the prayer and accept Jesus in your heart as your personal Lord and Savior”?

NO! He says (Acts 2:38), “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”

So nothing is said about “praying the prayer”? Does he tell them that, because they believe, they’re saved? On the contrary! Obviously they believe, because they are afraid, convicted, and asking what to do. If they did not have to do anything, Peter would not have given them the answer we read in the 38th verse. He told them they needed to do two things:

  • Repent
  • Be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.

Now let’s take a look at this. Faith is the first step. So the second step is to repent. This is huge. Did Felix repent? No. He believed, but he did not express regret for his sinfulness. II Corinthians 7:10 says, For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (KJV) We are all sinful (Romans 3:23 — . . . for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.). We all need to repent of our past deeds and turn to Jesus for salvation. True repentance and true sorrow for our wretchedness will bring us to the salvation we will never regret.

The third step is baptism in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins. Not baptism into a specific denomination or church or congregation, but baptism into Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3), in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness (remission) of sins. When Paul met Jesus on the road to Damascus, he waited for three days for Ananias to tell him what he should do. He spent those three days blind and praying. Do you think he believed? Of course he did, else he would not be praying. If faith was all it took to be saved, why would he spend those three days praying so fervently? And when Ananias finally arrived and told him what he must do, Ananias said (Acts 22:16): “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.” This was the only thing Ananias ever told Paul to do, so this must be what Paul MUST do. The context of the sentence (“Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name) implies that, though Paul believed, his sins would not be washed away until he was baptized.

Jesus said in Mark 16:16, “He who has believed and is baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”

Pair that verse up with John 3:18: He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (KJV)

Jesus also told the Jewish leader Nicodemus that one must be born again to enter the kingdom of God. Our salvation is our rebirth. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The water of which Jesus speaks is, beyond question, the water of baptism, which John had already introduced and of which Nicodemus was doubtless aware.

So if you want to be condemned, all you have to do is disbelieve. If we want to be saved, we must –based on the verses we have read so far — (1) Believe, (2) Repent, and (3) Be Baptized.

To simply believe and expect God to save you, or to suggest that salvation comes prior to baptism, is unscriptural. The apostles emphasized the importance of baptism repeatedly.

  • Faith saves: (Acts 16:31)
  • Repentance saves: (II Corinthians 7:10)
  • Baptism saves: (I Peter 3:21)

But none of these things by themselves can bring about salvation. One needs ALL THREE to enter the Kingdom of God . . . to be saved.


4 Responses to “Faith Alone (Sola Fide)”

  1. internet elias Says:

    Good post. Thanks. God has pricked my heart for some time now concerning the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes and its connection to the spiritual traditions of today….especially…’once saved/always saved.’ I grew up in the Baptist church which holds the doctrine as biblical. As did the Doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, Once Saved Always Saved uses Grace as a covering for continued sin….demands that salvation is of Faith only…without works of repentance. Attended my home church this past Sunday and the pastor preached a fiery sermon on Once Saved Always Saved. My heart was broken. I sat and prayed, ‘Father, they will be done.’ Scriptures are clear that true salvation which comes through Christ will transform, change, and bring one from death to Life. Eternal security comes through fellowship….and fellowship brings forth fruits of the Spirit. It is these fruits which testify of Christ.

    Again, good post.

    • This is the topic on which I face the most opposition. I can disprove the Rapture and its proponents are annoyed, but if I suggest baptism is part of the salvation process (or argue against Once Saved Always Saved — funny you should mention that as it was going to be my next post!) the fangs come out. It is indeed heartbreaking to hear when a pastor preaches to a room full of people about these falsehoods and they hang on his every word. What a terrible feeling! The helplessness rips my heart out.

      I’m glad the first person to comment on my blog is of an encouraging nature. I thank God for you. 🙂

  2. internet elias Says:

    so sorry…should be ‘thy will be done.’

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