Bible Q&A

Doesn't Romans 4:4-5 mean a man is saved by faith only?

Thanks for the question,

Now to him that works is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that works not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 

Yes it does teach that we are justified (or saved) by faith without works, because our faith is accounted to us as righteousness without any works being done. There is not any amount of good works or works of righteousness that we can do to merit salvation. The ungodly typically have no works in which to trust. How could they? So, to justify the ungodly, God accepts their faith which they have instead of their righteousness which they do not have.

(Tit. 3:5-7)
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; Whom he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

Therefore salvation has to be gratis, a free gift, and that gift is accepted by faith. Faith comes to God with empty hands and receives everything from Him. In his grace he saves us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. We simply submit to and receive his washing and his renewing by faith. That is the same thing to which Jesus refers when he said that we must be born of the water and the spirit. We are born of the water in the washing of regeneration (or the bath of the new birth). Then because we are born again as children of God having our sins forgiven, he renews us in sanctification by the Spirit of his son.

All these things I mention are things God does for us as a free gift. Our faith is in His working, not our own. We are buried with Jesus by baptism and we are raised with him to a new life through faith in the working of God who raised Jesus from the dead, and who there forgives our sins and quickens us to spiritual life.  Col. 2:12-13

The only place in the scriptures that the phrase "faith only" is used, is James 2:24 that says, we are NOT saved by faith only. What James was saying, he was saying to those who were already Christians, whose faith was inactive and dead. So it really does not apply to the justification of the ungodly.

The true and real faith is the one that will believe what God says and then act on it.

What most people in the denominations mean by "faith only" is for the ungodly to ask Jesus to come into their hearts to be saved and to not be baptized for the remission of their sins.

The first thing wrong with that is in adding something that the scriptures do not mention nor was it something that anyone was told to do by the Apostles to be saved. No one in the scriptures is heard asking or was told to ask that Jesus come into their hearts. A man made that up.

The second thing wrong is in the blatant contradiction to what God told us to do to be saved. Jesus told us to believe and be baptized to be saved; denominations like the Baptist church say that baptism has nothing to do with salvation. Peter tells those who are coming to God to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. Baptists tell them that baptism has nothing to do with the remission of sins.

Both of these are born of unbelief in the word of God. They are putting a stumbling block in the way of those who would come to God by leading them astray, teaching them things that God did not say. We are saved by faith. But how can they believe when they will not even listen to Jesus and what he tells them to do? They put their faith in the teaching of men, not in God.

They, no doubt, will tell you that their denial of the need for baptism involves some sophisticated reason with the difference between the Old and New covenants. I have never met a Baptist that really understood the difference between the covenants. Besides, Jesus told the disciples to go into all the world and teach the gospel to every nation and then baptize them - when no other nation was in covenant relationship with God.

I really hope this helps you.
Larry White