Most Christians claim to be saved by “faith alone.” This mantra has been said so many times that if you don’t say it, you are labeled a heretic.
Certainly faith is a large issue in the Bible. But the Bible does not put faith first. Yes, the Reformers did, primarily Luther and Calvin, but the Bible does not. The only time the Bible talks about faith alone is when James says, “NOT by faith only.” So, what does the Bible put first?
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.“
Love is not just greater than faith, it’s THE GREATEST of any other word.
Putting faith first and making love subordinate to it, does damage to what we think faith is.
We place our faith in Jesus Christ, primarily in the Gospel of Jesus Christ: His death, burial, and resurrection. The Gospel is the great demonstration of God’s love. We love Him because He first loved us.
When asked what the greatest command was, Jesus did not reply, “Believe the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.” Why not? Because people believe all sorts of insane things with their whole heart and soul and strength!
God is not solely interested in whether you “believe in Him.” Even the demons believe and tremble. God is more interested in whether you love Him.
I believe that the chair I’m sitting on will continue to hold me up. This does not mean I love this chair, nor does it mean I love the laws of physics that uphold the whole system. It just means I believe I can sit here without falling over.
Believing things is not the main issue. Nor is believing God. Read Paul’s words from the famous Chapter of Love, 1 Corinthians 13:
“though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.“
But Jeff, the Bible says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” It’s all about whether I believe!
Indeed it does, and that’s why it’s important that we understand what the Bible means by faith.
Galatians 5:6 tells us that faith works by love. According to Vincent’s Word Studies, this phrase means “faith which is wrought by love.” In other words, you can’t have this faith outside of love. Love is what brings about this faith. Without this love, faith will never be “worked.”
This is why James said, “faith without works is dead.” James knew that true saving and biblical faith includes works.
Everyone has a conniption here and ignores the context, which says the work he is talking about is fulfilling the royal law.
What is the royal law, oh James? “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the work that shows that faith is genuine.
There’s lots of confusion on this issue. The confusion does not arise from the Bible; the confusion arises because people have been listening to people for too long! The Reformers, just like any other human, got some stuff right and some stuff wrong.
Our faith is in God’s Word, summed up in the Gospel and person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. Lots of people claim to believe Him because they understand some facts about Him and His Word. But the true test is whether you love Him.
Your life will reveal that.
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.