Q. Thank you again for your incredible website!! There’s no telling how many people you’ve helped through it. As I’ve read untold numbers of questions and answers, I’ve found (and agree) that salvation is only by what you believe, rather than how you act. One thing that puzzles me, however, is that if all it takes is to believe, then why aren’t the demons mentioned in James 2:19 saved? According to James, the demons also believe…….and tremble.
A. James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder (tremble).” This verse is often used by people who want us to think it takes more than just belief to be saved. But if you read James 2:19 carefully, you’ll discover it doesn’t say the demons believe Jesus died for their sins, which is required for salvation. It says they believe there is one God. And of course they believe that. They’ve seen Him. But the fact is they’ve aligned themselves against Him, and at some level they must know that was a big mistake. That’s why they tremble.
James was making the point that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). A living faith will always produce a certain amount of Christ-like behavior in the life of a believer. But the Bible makes it very clear that our salvation is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). The behavioral changes we make are the result of our salvation, not its cause. These changes vary from believer to believer and can be internal as well as external.
But the one factor that will ultimately determine whether or not a person is saved was stated in no uncertain terms when the people asked Jesus, “What must we do to do the work God requires of us?” It was the perfect opportunity for Him to list everything that’s necessary for our salvation. His answer? “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent” (John 6:28-29). If you believe that, nothing else matters. And if you don’t believe that, nothing else matters.