Salvation By Faith Alone Part 1 of 2 -- By: George E. Meisinger
CTSJ 5:2 (April 1999) p. 2
Salvation By Faith Alone1
Part 1 of 2
[*Editor's note: George Meisinger is dean of Chafer Theological Seminary and teaches in the Old and New Testament departments. He earned a B.A. from Biola University, a Th.M. in Old Testament Literature and Exegesis from Dallas Theological Seminary, a D.Min. in Biblical Studies from Western Seminary, and presently pursues a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. He also pastors Grace Church in Orange, California. His email address is: [email protected]]
Solomon revealed that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Times have not changed! As we enter a third millennium, contrary currents of theological thought continue as they have since Christianity burst on the scene in the first century.
This article addresses an essential subject, “How does man receive eternal life?” In general, there are three answers given. The first is that God saves a man according to his good works. Thus, if in the end one’s good works outweigh his bad works, he earns access to heaven. The second answer is that God saves a man according to his faith coupled with good works. He must believe in Jesus Christ (or Buddha, or Allah, etc.) and do good deeds. The third is that God saves a man by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
The First Century
Controversy raged over this matter in the first century. Paul entered the debate frontally with the Galatians. He marveled that they turned away so soon from the grace Christians have in Christ (Galatians 1:6). In Titus’ case, the apostle firmly resisted a ritual, a good work, that would confuse the issue of “true grace”2 —refusing to circumcise him lest grace no longer be grace3 (Galatians 2:3).
CTSJ 5:2 (April 1999) p. 3
The Galatians alarmed Paul for someone had bewitched them (Galatians 3:1), leading them to suppose that somehow they must supply good works along side their faith (Galatians 3:2–6). To the contrary, we are all sons of God through faith [alone] in Christ Jesus [alone] (Galatians 3:26). They started out well enough, but someone hindered them from following the truth as regards the nature of grace and the nature of works (Galatians 5:7).
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