Can you have faith w/o works?

JUSTIFICATION: By Faith or Works? by Wayne Jackson Christian Courier: Archives Saturday, December 2, 2000 Is justification from sin by faith or works? Does it result from neither, one as opposed to the other, or both? Is justification from sin by faith or works? Does it result from neither, one as opposed to the other, or both? One would expect that such a fundamental question could be answered clearly and confidently, with a united declaration, by those who profess a devout regard for the testimony of the Scriptures. Sadly, such is not the case. The more strict disciples of Calvin, for example, contend that there are no conditions at all in the plan of salvation. In 1957, G.E. Griffin, a cleric for the Primitive Baptist Church, affirmed, in debate with Guy N. Woods: “The Scriptures teach that the alien sinner comes into possession of Spiritual or Eternal life, without any condition on his, the sinner’s part” (p. 6). These folks do not even acknowledge that faith is a condition of salvation. Sarrels, a Primitive Baptist writer, stated: “[W]e believe that there is no warrant whatever for the view that John 1:16 lays down faith as a condition to be performed by the lost person in order to attain spiritual or eternal life” (p. 444). At the opposite extreme, there are those who contend, at least by implication, that works effect salvation apart from faith. Every group that practices infant baptism must concede that whatever advantage the baptism of a baby is alleged to have, it is not associated with faith, since no infant can personally believe. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that baptism may be administered to those who are unconscious or insane (Attwater, pp. 44,45). Clearly, some endorse the idea that works save – and that without faith. Then, there is the common claim of many Protestants that faith alone saves. The Discipline of the Methodist Church states: “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort” (p. 40). But elsewhere in the same volume, it is argued that the “benefits of the atonement” are “unconditional” (p. 55) – a clear contradiction. The doctrine of salvation by “faith only” is not wholesome, and the comfort is deceptive. Again, another sectarian body contends that justification is “solely through faith in Christ” (Hiscox, p. 62). It is hardly necessary to point out that if salvation is “solely” through faith, then repentance is excluded from heaven’s plan of redemption – if the word “solely” is assigned its legitimate meaning. On the other hand, the same writer later contends that both repentance and faith are “inseparable graces, wrought in the soul by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger, and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God . . .” (p. 64). Which is it? Is salvation “solely” by faith? Or are both faith and repentance requisites for turning to God? The statements are not consistent. Martin Luther was so adamant regarding the doctrine of “faith only” that he smuggled the word “only” into the text of his German translation in Romans 3:28. Lenski, a Lutheran commentator, attempted to defend Luther’s addition to the Word (cf. Rev. 22:18) by suggesting that although the term “only” is not found in the original text, the “sense” is (1961, p. 271). Shall we conclude that Luther was more adept at rendering the “sense” than Paul was? The Role of Works in the Divine Plan It is frequently asserted that whereas “works” are the result of salvation, they do not play any role in the securing of one’s redemption. There is simply no truth to this allegation. Faith, repentance, and immersion are all conditions preliminary to the reception of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Jesus affirmed that the one who has believed, and who has been immersed, shall be saved (Mk. 16:16). The construction of the Greek grammar makes<