How many ways to heaven are there? Each religion seems to have its own way (or lots of them) to get there, but they don’t agree with each other and therefore cannot all be true. Some say there is one God, some say there are many gods, and some say there is no God. How can they all be right? They can’t.
Is there a way to heaven? Yes, there is. Can we know what it is? Yes, we can. Jesus said, ” am the way the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” *John 14:6) This bold statement leaves no room for any other ways to God. Many people try to take these words lightly, by thinking that Jesus was a good religious teacher and nothing more. Yes, it’s true that he was a good teacher — and good teachers tell the truth! That’s why we have to take what He said very seriously.
One day, Jesus was talking with a religious man. Jesus said to him, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”, (John 3:3). Religion is not the answer. There is a larger problem that must be dealt with. That problem is sin. Sin is like a wall that separates us from God. People have tried for countless years to climb over the problem of sin by elevating themselves morally, or to go around it by pretending that it doesn’t exist. But it does exist, and the reason we can’t simply climb over it is that from God’s perspective — sin has made us spritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). Dead people can’t climb!
Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to provide the way by which you and I could be “born again” — given spiritual life and a personal relationship with God Because this is nothing that we could ever do for ourselves, salvation is called a “free gift” many times in the Bible. It is a gift that was purchased at a great cost to the Lord Jesus Christ, who laid down His life as a payment for our sin. There, at the cross of Calvary, He “bare our sins in His own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Then, on the third day, He rose victoriously from the grave to die no more. Now this gift of a new life — the only way to heaven — is offered to you. Will you accept it? Will you acknowledge before God that you are spiritually dead in sin? Will you believe on Jesus Christ by faith to be your Savior? “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believieth in Him should not perish, but have EVERLASTING life” (John 3:16).
The way to heaven is not something that we can earn or figure out for ourselves. Rather, it is only through faith in Jesus Christ, and is open to all who cast themselves upon the amazing grace of God (Ephesians 2:8,9).
How To Be Simply Saved
1. The bad News. We are sinners. (Romans 3:23.)
We deserve to be punished in hell for our sins.
2. The Good News. Jesus Christ who is God’s Son died on the cross for all of your sins. He was buried & rose again to give you eternal life in heaven as a free gift. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4. Romans 6:23.)
3. How am I saved?
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. (Acts 16:31.)
4. Once saved, always saved.
Jesus said in John 6:47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
Are We Saved by Faith Alone, or Do We Need Works, Too?
Roman Catholics often mention that the Bible never says that we are saved by faith alone and that the phrase “faith alone” occurs only once in James where it says that we are not saved by faith alone. If this is so, then why do the Protestants say that we are justified by faith alone and not by works? Because the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith alone–and not by works.
The following is a list of verses about being saved by faith. Please take note that faith and works are contrasted. In other words, we are saved by faith “not by works” and “apart from works,” etc. The point is that there are only two options. We are saved by faith alone, or we are not. Since we have faith and works (both conceptually and in practice), then we are either saved by faith alone or by faith and works. There is no other option.
If we see that the Scriptures exclude works in any form as a means of our salvation, then logically we are saved by faith alone. Let’s take a look at what the Bible says about faith and works. Then, afterwards, we will tackle James’ statement about “faith alone.”
- Rom. 3:28-30, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.”
- Rom. 4:5, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.”
- Rom. 5:1, “therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- Rom. 9:30, “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness,attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith.”
- Rom. 10:4, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”
- Rom. 11:6, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.”
- Gal. 2:16, “nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”
- Gal. 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
- Gal. 3:5-6, “Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.”
- Gal. 3:24, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.”
- Eph. 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. 9Not by works, lest any man should boast.”
- Phil. 3:9, “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”
Again, works/Law is contrasted with faith repeatedly, and we are told that we are not justified by works in any way. Therefore, we are made right with God by faith–not by faith and our works, hence, faith alone.
James 2:24, Not by Faith Alone
The Scriptures clearly teach that we are saved (justified) by faith in Christ and what He has done on the cross. This faith alone saves us. However, we cannot stop here without addressing what James says in James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone.”
There is no contradiction. All you need to do is look at the context. James, chapter 2, has 26 verses: Verses 1-7 instruct us not to show favoritism. Verses 8-13 are comments on the Law. Verses 14-26 are about the relationship between faith and works.
James begins this section by using the example of someone who says that he has faith but has no works, “What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) In other words, James is addressing the issue of a dead faith–a faith that is nothing more than a verbal pronouncement, a public confession of the mind, and is not heart-felt. It is empty of life and action. He begins with the negative and demonstrates what an empty faith is (verses 15-17, words without actions). Then he shows that type of faith isn’t any different from the faith of demons (verse 19). Finally, he gives examples of living faith that has words followed by actions. Works follow true faith and demonstrate that faith to our fellow man but not to God. James writes of Abraham and Rahab as examples of people who demonstrated their faith by their deeds.
In brief, James is examining two kinds of faith: one that leads to godly works and one that does not. One is true, and the other is false. One is dead, the other alive, hence, “Faith without works is dead,” (James 2:20). But, he is not contradicting the verses above that say salvation/justification is by faith alone.
Also, notice that James actually quotes the same verse that Paul quotes in Rom. 4:3 amongst a host of verses dealing with justification by faith. James 2:23 says, “and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘and Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.'”If James was trying to teach a contradictory doctrine of faith and works than the other New Testament writers, then he would not have used Abraham as an example. Therefore, we can see that justification is by faith alone and that James was talking about false faith–not real faith–when he said that we are not justified by faith alone.