Q. I have a question about Christians who claimed to be saved by faith, but then say that other things are required. I’m talking about things like the baptism of the Holy Spirit, evidence of the gift of tongues, signs of repentance, proof of good works, etc. If they add things, any things, does that mean they don’t really believe they’re saved by Faith alone even though they say they do? Are they saved at all?
A. That’s a hard question to answer because it depends on two things we can’t know for sure about anyone else. The first has to do with their faith. Paul said the faith to be saved is a gift from God and is not dependent upon works. (Ephes. 2:8) But what if a person has been taught all their life that they have to add their own works to to their faith? Are they believing God or their teachers? That’s something only they can know.
And the second is their motive. Faith in the sufficiency of the cross will prompt good works, but the motive will be gratitude for the free gift they’ve been given. Those who don’t have faith in the sufficiency of the cross will add their own works in an effort to complete what they believe the Lord only began. The motive behind their works is fear of not measuring up. But we can’t tell which motive is driving their good works. Is it gratitude or fear? Again, only they can know this.
The fact is some who think they’re saved are not, and some who fear they may not be saved will discover they are. The only way to be sure is to take behavior out of the salvation equation completely. As Paul said, “To the man who does not work, but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:5) We’re saved because of what we believe, not because of how we behave. (John 3:16, John 6:28-29, John 6:40, Romans 10:9, Ephes. 1:13-14, Ephes. 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-5, etc, etc)