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Saved By Grace Alone, Though Faith Alone, In Jesus Alone?
By Wayne Seaton

The title above on this bulletin article was taken from a sign I read while driving around in Edna, Texas were we used to live. The article below was written in response to that sign and was published in the local Edna newspaper. It may serve as useful for us as well, and it is offered here in that light.

As I was driving around in Edna, TX I read a message on the sign of the St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone. I assume this was an attempt to use Scripture. Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Do you notice the vast difference between the scripture I believe is being referenced, and the message on the sign? The message on the sign adds the words alone in three places. Do the Scriptures teach we are saved by grace alone? No! Do the Scriptures teach salvation is through faith alone? No! Do the Scriptures teach salvation is in Christ alone? No! The addition of the words alone is contrary to Scripture, and is therefore a teaching of men. Not only is the message on the sign contrary to the scriptures, it is contrary to reason. The 10th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines alone. It is defined as 1: SOLELY, EXCLUSIVELY 2: without aid or support. To list three things that save and add the word alone to all three is contrary to reason. It is unreasonable to write we are saved by grace alone if it is through faith and in Christ. It is unreasonable to write we are saved through faith alone if it is by grace and in Christ. It is unreasonable to write we are saved in Christ alone if it is by grace through faith. The wisdom of God stands in clear contrast to the wisdom of men.

Are we saved by grace alone? No! We are saved by grace through faith. Grace alone would be without the aid or support of anything else including faith. Salvation by grace alone would be Universalism, the belief that all men will be saved based solely on God's grace. Yet Paul tells us that we are saved by grace through faith. Is that saved by grace alone?

Are we saved by faith alone? No! Salvation is by grace through faith. James 2:18-26 tells us that there are two types of faith--dead faith and saving faith. In verse 20, James clearly tells us that faith alone is dead. The demons are given as an example of faith alone in verses 19-20. Faith alone is dead, not saving, ineffective, and without any works to demonstrate it. Abraham and Rahab are offered as examples of saving faith in verses 21-25. Saving faith is a faith that is demonstrated by things they did. In the context, Abraham offered up Isaac and Rahab sent the spies out another way as they came to spy out Jericho. James sums up this great chapter on faith with these words. James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. Do the scriptures teach us we are saved by faith only? No! Scripture instructs us that faith alone is an example of demonic faith, a dead faith, a faith that cannot save.

Are we saved by Christ alone? No! Salvation in Christ alone would eliminate God who devised the plan of man's salvation. Ephesians 3:9-11 And to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; 10 to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 11 according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Is that salvation in Christ alone? Is that salvation in Christ solely without aid or support? No, we are saved by grace through faith which is in Christ.

Words are vehicles that convey thought. What is the thought of the words in the sign of the St. Paul's Lutheran Church? Are they words conveying the thoughts of God? Or are they words that distort and twist God's words by adding the words and teachings of men? Distortions of God's word as they teach the doctrines of men are divisive and polarizing and ought to be rejected by all who seek to be saved by faith in Christ Jesus. Saved by grace through faith in Christ? Yes! Saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? NO!

In contrast to the above, I read a good article in the October 26th edition of the Jackson County Herald-Tribune. The article was written by Andy Schroer of the Redeemer Lutheran Church here in Edna and entitled simply, Heaven. Toward the bottom of the article he writes The Bible tells us clearly: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16). Those who believe in Jesus go to heaven. Those who don't, go to hell. It's that simple. Amen. I appreciated Mr. Schroer's appeal to scripture. He did not write it is by faith alone. He did not minimize the significance of baptism in God's plan of salvation. If everybody would simply stick with the Scriptures and eliminate all human doctrine, the religious world could and would be united. The Scriptures are truth (John 17:17). Scripture is the basis of unity and truth. Let's stick with what unites us and reject what divides us.

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