I am a bit confused as to what many protestants mean by “salvation by faith alone.” I was at a protestant church a few months back where the pastor said that you only need to faith to be saved. He specifically instructed people not to try to become a better person, but to just pray and let God make all of the changes for you. This seems to fit the what salvation by faith alone would mean.
Other preachers I have heard seem to be sending mixed signals on what faith alone means. At a pentecostal church that my mother took me to for awhile when I was younger preached faith alone, but some other teachings seemed to conflict with this idea. On a weekly basis, the pastor there would remind the congregation that if they were not giving ten percent of their income, they may as well count on a seat in hell. I may be wrong, but it seems like if tithing (a work) was necessary for salvation, then they were really preaching faith and works of some kind.
I also noticed many people at this same church wearing WWJD bracelets. It seems if one believed in salvation by faith alone, he or she would not need to be so concerned with imitating Jesus. Again, maybe I am missing something.
I also once encountered a street corner evangelist who believed in salvation by faith alone, who warned others of the dangers of hell for those who engaged in various sinful practices (lying, stealing, sexual immorality, etc.). Once again, this did not seem to be salvation by faith alone to me.
Can anyone here explain exactly what protestants mean by salvation by faith alone?