I sometimes receive caustic letters from strangers, and sometimes they’re long letters. I feel so sorry for them that they wasted so much of their time! And they start off with insults and demeaning, condescending statements, and I can’t imagine that they could possibly think that they’re going to persuade me, as they start off insulting me.
“What a jerk you are, you’re a false teacher.” I just stop reading. Those kind of people probably don’t have many friends, because they don’t have the basics yet on how to try to get along with other human beings. You need to go back to school, maybe your local community college, and look for the course called Human Being 101, because that’s what you need.
When friends correct me, if they start with insults, there’s not a real good chance they’re going to succeed in persuading me to their side, right? Even with friends. But when people I don’t know send me insults and condescending statements and so forth, do they really think they have any chance of persuading me?
If you’re going to change somebody, you change them by love and humility and gentleness and grace. Amen. The best way to bring conviction to somebody for their sin is to talk about your own sin and how you repented of it. Without even pointing the finger at all at them, they’re thinking about themselves, because they see your good example of how you repented of the sin that they’re also now currently guilty of.
Alright, so we’re kind of breaking into the middle of this letter, this is a great letter. This person disagrees with me that Mormons can be saved. I’m not sure, I think this person believes that they actually couldn’t continue to be Mormons, that it’s not possible to be in the Mormon church and be saved, that you’ve got to come out. And the basic premise is that Mormonism, like all the cults, is faith in Jesus plus something else. That’s the salvation equation in many of the cults, and many of the denominations too. Roman Catholics, for example, would say that we’re not saved by faith alone.
But here’s a really important paragraph in this letter. And if the author of this letter, you didn’t give me your whole name, if you’re watching this, I just want to tell you I love you. I’m using your letter as an example of a great letter, okay? We don’t agree, but we love each other. I hope you love me, I love you. Okay? So listen to this statement, because this is very provocative: “Faith alone, in Christ alone, leads to true salvation.” Now, this person’s been listening to some Protestant teaching, Reformation teaching, because that’s one of the cardinal doctrines of the Reformation, faith alone. Grace alone, faith alone, Scripture alone, et cetera, et cetera.
And it’s always amazed me that people harp on that mantra, because the only place you find in the New Testament the words “faith” and “alone” side by side is in James 2:24, and James says, “So we see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.” Well, that ought to raise some eyebrows amongst the “saved by faith alone” group. And I’m a Protestant, but that’s in the Protestant Bible, “so we see that man is saved by works and not by faith alone.”
Now, someone’s going to write to me and say, “Oh, yeah, but that’s not talking about justification before God, that’s talking about justification before man.” Well, the only reason you say that is because you have to say that to twist that scripture to make it fit your doctrine, because if you read the context, it’s not talking about justification before man, it’s talking about justification before God.
You know, the whole passage is about faith and works. “You say you have faith, I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I’ll show you my faith by my works,” James says. Then he goes on and gives examples of people who had faith that worked, and then he sums it all up by saying, “So you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” That’s why I will never, ever say that you’re saved by faith alone, because it contradicts what the Bible says.
I remember when I was kind of a young teacher, I read this in somebody else’s book, and I started saying it because it sounded so smart, and you may have heard this if you’ve been in the Reformation theological circles: “We’re saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” Ooh, now, that explains it! I said that, so don’t feel like I’m trying to make you feel bad. I said that a lot of times. “We’re saved by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.” That’s actually doublespeak, because if you’re not saved by a faith that is alone, that means the faith must have something else. It has to be faith plus something else. Faith plus what? Faith plus works.
But it’s not the works that save us, it’s the faith that saves us, and it’s also the faith that results in the works. Now, that’s all Biblical, and that can be supported by Scripture. But of course, if a pastor stood up in a Reformed Protestant church that was following John Calvin, Martin Luther, all those guys, and he said, “I want to read something to you today,” and read this: “So we are not saved by faith alone …” “So, a man is saved, is justified by works and not by faith alone.” A lot of the people in the congregation would say, “Oh my goodness, our pastor’s preaching heresy.” But he would be actually reading from the Bible, from the New Testament, from James. You know, Martin Luther didn’t like the book of James, did he?
So anyways, I’m just saying to my dear friend who wrote to disagree with me here regarding this statement, “Faith alone in Christ alone leads to true salvation,” it sounds great, but, but she’s saying that if you’re trusting in Jesus 99%, and 1% in some work or something that you do, you’re going to go to hell, and I believe that God is much more gracious than that. Amen. Because, you know, how about you? What are you trusting in? I mean, we all would like to believe, “I’m trusting purely in Jesus,” but yet the Bible makes it very clear that we can assure our hearts before God by the works that we do. That’s in John, right? 1 John. And if our hearts are condemning us, when we give and sacrifice, that assures our hearts that we are actually believers in Jesus Christ.
So I’m not trusting in my works, but I do look at my works for affirmation that I truly do believe in Jesus, you know? So there’s a fine line there. Well, if someone crosses that line a little bit too much, and they’re trusting in Jesus 99% but slip over into 1% trusting their works, well, they shouldn’t do that, but I don’t think that’s going to disqualify them from heaven. Okay, once again, I’ve gone over my self-imposed time limit. Thank you for joining me. I’ll hope to see you next time.