One of the two pillars of the Protestant Reformation is Sola Fide, or “Faith Alone.” When I attended a Baptist, and later a non-denominational church, I heard this from the pulpit, on Evangelical TV and radio programs, as well as tracts and books. I was told that salvation was merely a matter of “believing in Jesus.” However, as a devout Christian, I read the Bible thoroughly, and what I read troubled me. The most obvious was the second chapter of James where he tells us that faith without works is dead and that we are not justified by faith alone (and this is the only time in the entire Bible that the words “faith alone” is mentioned). When I expressed my doubts to other Evangelical Christians, they directed me to Romans 10:9:
for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I was also given John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
This and other passages indicated the importance of believing in Jesus to have eternal life, which I felt was Scriptural evidence of “Faith Alone.”
However, I read in James 2:19 that “Even the demons believe that and tremble.”Jesus himself warns in Matthew 7:21 that not all who say ‘Lord, Lord’ will inherit the Kingdom and in Luke 6:46 chides his listeners "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command?” Indeed, some of the things in the Bible that scared me the most were the words that came from the mouth of our Savior. In addition to the above quotes, the parables in Matthew 25 worried me greatly. In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, the parable of the talents, and the parable of the sheep and goats no mention at all was made of faith or belief. In each parable, salvation or damnation was based clearly on what one did or failed to do. Also, a few verses down from John 3:16 (John 3:36) Jesus tells us “whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him” So exactly what kind of belief in Jesus would save one? And how does Jesus expect us to obey him?
When a rich young man came to Jesus asking what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to keep the commandments:
“'You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself’" (Matthew 19:18-19).
Later, in Matthew 22:38-40 Jesus tells us that the two greatest commandments are to
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.
So, salvation then is based as St Paul tells us, on “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).