Some say that we are saved by grace alone; others say that we are saved by faith only. The Baptists say in Article 4 of their confession of faith “We believe that the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace,” and in Article 5 they say concerning justification that it is “solely through faith.” They are not only confused about what the Bible teaches, but are also confused about what they teach.
“Wholly of Grace”
When the Baptists say that “the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace” they are excluding everything else. The word “wholly” means “To the whole amount, extent, etc.; so as to compromise or involve all; entirely; totally; altogether; quite.” For a sinner to be saved wholly by grace means everything else but grace is excluded. If it is wholly of grace, then, there is no place for faith or repentance. If you bring in faith and repentance it is not wholly of grace.
“Solely of Faith”
In speaking of justification article five of the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which is used by Baptist Churches, says it is accomplished “solely through faith in the Redeemer’s blood.” “Solely” means “The only one or ones; exclusively or only; wholly; merely.” If the justification of a sinner is “solely through faith” then, it cannot be “wholly of grace.” In fact, it cannot be of grace at all. If it is “solely through faith” repentance has no place in the justification of sinners. Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)
Which Shall We Believe?
Which shall we believe, article four or article five of the Manual? Neither, for both articles are wrong; the Bible does not teach that the salvation of a sinner is “wholly of grace,” nor that a sinner’s justification is “solely through faith,” but “by grace are ye saved through faith.” (Eph. 2:8) Not “wholly of grace” nor “solely of faith,” but “by grace are ye saved through faith.” Again we read: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:1,2) It is by faith that we have access into grace by which we are saved. “Access” means “admittance; approach; passage; path.” So faith is the path or passage that leads to the grace of God and without either of the two, sinners would be hopelessly lost.
What about These?
We are saved by repentance (Acts 11:18), by confession (Rom. 10:10), by baptism (1 Pet. 3:21), by the gospel (I Cor. 15:2), by calling on the name of the Lord (Rom. 10:13),by hope (Rom. 8:24), by works (James 2:24), by the blood of Christ (Rom. 5:9. by love (John 3:16), by obedience (Heb. 5:9), by Christ (Matt. 1:21), and it also is stated that God is our Savior in 1 Timothy 4:10. On the day of Pentecost Peter exhorted the people saying, “save yourselves from this untoward generation.” (Acts 2:40) Which of these saves us? Al1 of them. God saves us, but he uses all of these things in saving us. By what authority could we leave out one thing that the Scripture says saves us?
We Understand This
We know that blood is essential to life, but the body may be full of blood and yet die because the heart fails to pump that blood through the body. Remove a man’s brains and death is certain. Because this is true, we will not take the position that our lungs are not essential to life. Because the body needs air we will not deny it food and water. Since we understand that all of these things are essential to life of the body, why can’t we understand that everything that the Bible says saves is essential to salvation?
The Bible Says...
“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.” (I Pet. 3:21) This passage states just as plainly that baptism saves as Eph. 2:8; states that we are saved by grace. If we can understand one then we ought to understand the other. Again we read:
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mk. 16:16) If we can understand that faith is essential to salvation we ought to be able to see that baptism is also essential. If we can understand that repentance in Acts 2:38 is in order to the remission of sins, why can’t we understand that baptism is for the same purpose? It is an ignorant and foolish generation which can understand the organs of the body. but cannot understand plain commands of God. -Walter N. Henderson