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Faith:  Is it meritorious for salvation? 

Gary Googe May 01

There are some today who say faith has merit and, therefore, cannot provide salvation. However, the chair I’m sitting in as I write this is holding me up.  When I sat down in it, I believed IT would hold me up.  Therefore, is it my faith that’s holding me up or is it the chair? That’s a simple illustration but that’s all it takes to refute this heretical teaching that says faith is meritorious.  But such is the teaching of that which is known as Calvinism or Reformed Theology.  Is this teaching contrary to what the Scriptures tell us? It surely is!

Ephesians 2:8-9 is the first passage that comes to my mind. 

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

In both Calvinism and Reformed Theology they try to tell us that it is faith that’s the gift mentioned in this passage, not salvation.  But you’ll find that I’ve already addressed that completely in another article.  Please go to that article for the details on this— 

Ephesians 2:8:  Is it salvation or faith that is the gift of God? 

My faith is in Christ for salvation.  Both faith and the work of Christ are necessary for salvation to occur.  But it is Jesus Christ who provides for one’s salvation, not one’s faith. It is in Him alone that we must depend for it! Therefore, He gets the credit for it, not us. There are other passages that tell us this same thing, not just this one, even though it is all we need to know what to believe about this. 

Romans 3:26-28 

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

To be one who “believeth in Jesus” is to be one who puts their faith in Him.  It is Christ who is our Savior, not faith. 

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul never says it’s anything else but faith IN Christ and His meritorious work that provides salvation. 

Romans 5:1 

1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [Emphasis added]

God DESIRES all to be saved.  He, therefore, provided a way to make that possible.  He doesn’t save all, as ones called universalists claim, but He has a genuine desire for all to be saved. 

1 Timothy 2:4-6 

4 Who will have [THELO = desires] all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Because of His love and desire for all to be saved, He provided a way for that to happen.  Personal faith in that provision is all that’s necessary to gain it. 

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all [speaking of all mankind without exception], to be testified in due time.[Emphasis added]

Christ even taught this in the time of His earthly ministry. 

John 14:6 

6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [Emphasis added]

But we have some people today who claim that salvation is only provided for those God predetermined for it.  They say all others are “doomed from the womb” for eternal destruction in torment.  But how can people be held responsible for something they were born unable to accept as a means for their salvation?  According to these people, man isn’t free to do that.  They say that if even faith has something to do with it, then salvation is not of God but of man’s works to gain it.  But where in the Bible are we told that faith is a work?  We are not! Instead, we are clearly told that man is responsible for his own free will choices.  In this case he must choose God’s provision as the sole basis for his salvation. 

Galatians 6:7-8 

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap

Yes, it is man who does the sowing by the exercise of his free will. 

8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

But these same people also tell us man doesn’t even have free will.  Where is the evidence for such thinking in Scripture?  At best, that’s only an opinion and it is a wrong one! There are many passages that exhort MAN to exercise his will to believe for salvation.  Nowhere in Scripture are we taught that God is the cause for some to believe and not others.  God does not predetermine who’s going to believe and who is not.  He did not predetermine who’s going to Heaven and who’s going to Hell.  God didn’t have to make things that way, but He did.  Robots can’t express love, hate or emotion.  God obviously wanted mankind to be able to do so.  Isn’t that what we have? It surely is! Otherwise, what would be the point of God in commanding us to do certain things and to avoid others if He had not given us the opportunity to decide for ourselves? God gave man volition before he had sinned in the Garden of Eden, and he still has it today.  Otherwise, how could man freely respond to anything God told him? Nothing has ever changed about this.  It has always been this way. 

Genesis 2:16-17 

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 

Yes, “freely” choose to eat. 

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.[Emphasis added]

Throughout history, God demanded obedience and the expression of faith from man’s God-given volition.  There are many examples of it in Scripture— 

Joshua 24:15 

15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. [Emphasis added]

Even today nothing has changed on this except the way faith is to be expressed.

2 Corinthians 5:20  

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.[Emphasis added]

Instead of causing us to do one thing or another, He lets us express our own volition in matters.  Again, He, being sovereign, certainly doesn’t have to do things this way, but He does.  Man is free to decide for himself. However, what is called Reformed Theology and Calvinism tries to convince us that things are otherwise.

After salvation, the most important decision man will make is how he approaches the Scriptures in his attempt to comply with God’s will day to day.  It is the apostle Paul who tells us how we’re to do this.

2 Timothy 2:15 

15 Study [SPOUDAZO = be diligent] to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.[Emphasis added]

The apostle Paul calls everything else “profane and vain babblings.”  Note the next verse in that same passage.

2 Timothy 2:16  

16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [Emphasis added]


Faith isn’t meritorious for anything.  Faith is simply the means of appropriating certain things God offers to us.  In salvation it is God’s grace and His provision that saves, not our faith.

Again, Ephesians 2:8-9 

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Emphasis added]

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