Justification by faith ONLY is not Bible doctrine.
The reason for this is that faith is not abstract. Faith can only be demonstrated by works. This is clearly explained by James:
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
James clearly says that we are NOT justified by faith ONLY.
James’ words alone should be sufficient to show that the doctrine of ‘justification by faith ONLY’ is a FALSE doctrine.
James says that faith without works is dead.
James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
We demonstrate our faith by what we do.
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
This is not the same as trying to attain to righteousness by the works of the Law of Moses.
Galatians 2:16... for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Baptism is the prescribed work of faith if we would have forgiveness for our past sins.
Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved...
Faith is a genuine belief that what God has caused to be written is the truth and that what God says is required of us is actually required.
Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit:
If baptism is not necessary for the remission of sins why would Jesus prescribe it?
Baptism is necessary if we would fulfil all righteousness.
Matthew 3:15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.
John 3:5... Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
To be born of water is referring to baptism by immersion. We cannot enter the kingdom of God without it.
Without baptism our sins will not be remitted.
The act of baptism is shown to be necessary consistently throughout the New Testament.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...
Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
Could any of the three thousand have been added to their number without baptism?
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Acts 8:36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
Would the Eunuch have requested baptism if Philip had not told him it was necessary?
Paul was baptised:
Acts 9:18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
The function of baptism in washing away sins is made clear to Paul by Ananias:
Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Would Paul’s sins have been washed away without baptism?
The Philippian jailer having been told:
Acts 16:31... Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Was nonetheless baptised – surely indicating that baptism cannot be separated from the act of believing – that baptism is the natural follow-through of belief.
Acts 16:33 And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.
Those that Paul found at Ephesus who had been baptised by John were re-baptised when the gospel was fully explained to them.
Acts 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.
This shows that it is what we believe at baptism that makes baptism valid. If we are baptised with an incomplete understanding of the gospel, re-baptism becomes necessary when we come to a proper understanding.
Peter commanded those at Antioch who had been baptised with the Holy Spirit to be baptised in water.
Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord...
This demonstrates that baptism by immersion in water was necessary to enter into the Apostles’ fellowship even for those baptised with the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is the only way that we can ‘put on’ Christ. By ‘putting on’ Christ in baptism we become Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise. We cannot ‘put on’ Christ and become heirs without baptism.
Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
If we are not buried by baptism in the likeness of Christ’s death we cannot hope to be in the likeness of his resurrection.
Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
If we are saved without baptism then Peter is mistaken:
1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
Baptism is the response that God requires from an enlightened conscience which recognises that salvation cannot be attained without the washing away of our sins. Further that total immersion in water signifies the death of the old life and the beginning of a new – a rebirth – whereby we are reborn of water to live a life acceptable to God.
In submitting to baptism we show that we believe God.
Naaman in the Old Testament is an example recorded for our learning.
That God intended to cure him of his leprosy is seen in what Elisha says:
2 Kinds 5:8... let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.
Would Naaman have been cleansed of his leprosy had he not followed Elisha’s instructions?
Is not the advice of his servants recorded especially for our sake?
2 Kinds 5:13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?
Only the thief on the cross was promised entry into the kingdom of God without mention of baptism. It is clear that he lacked opportunity and he was dying with Christ for real. On this basis we might surmise that intention to obey prevented by death will not exclude from the kingdom of God.
But a belief that we can be part of the body of Christ without baptism will not save us.
1 Corinthians 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles,
Ephesians 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
We must be baptised to be part of the body of Christ.
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I hope you have found this helpful.
God bless you,