Everyone and their mother says we are justified by faith alone. If you step out of line with this, you will get whacked.
I have gotten whacked over this many times. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have left my church over this issue. It’s a large number, much larger than the number who currently attend my church.
My life would be easier and my church would be larger if I told people they were justified by faith alone. That good works are optional at best. That sin isn’t that bad because God only sees Christ in you, not what you do.
People like that message and I can see why. I’d like that message too!
I’ve gotten lots of blowback on this issue. I’ve questioned my take on the issue each time someone argued against it.
As far as I can tell, the main thing that shifted me from being a guy who happily taught justification by faith alone to what I teach now is one main thing: I began reading the Bible regularly and repeatedly.
Of all the arguments I’ve heard, none have shaken me from my conviction that justification by faith alone is wrong.
The results have shaken me. The consequences have shaken me. But I can’t ignore these two huge points:
There is no verse in the Bible that says we are justified by faith alone
There is a verse in the Bible that says we are not justified by faith alone.
For me, that’s enough. I don’t know where else to go with that.
If you believe that justification is by faith alone then I am left to conclude that you do not believe in the inspiration of Scripture.
I know, there are many neat theological gymnastics attempting to resolve James and Paul. But all of them boil down to whether the words on the page mean what they say or not. If they don’t, then why listen to the Bible at all? If your theological opinion carries more weight than the Bible, then why mess with the Bible? Just make stuff up.
If James is just making things up, what else is just made up in there? The Bible is either God’s Word or it isn’t.
The Bible clearly says we are not justified by faith only. I know not what else to say.
Here I stand. I can do no other.