John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

More Than Sola Fide

So far, in our attempt to broaden our understanding of salvation, we’ve seen how salvation must not be separated from the kingdom of God. In other words, it’s got to be more than just getting into heaven when we die; it also must include experiencing abundant life in the here and now. We’ve also seen that we must not settle for Jesus as Savior without also reckoning with Jesus as Lord. In fact, the two cannot be split from one another, because it is as Jesus is Lord that he is in a position to be Savior. Therefore, our salvation must include submitting ourselves to his leadership in every arena of life.

Finally, our salvation must not rest on faith alone (hear me out) but must also come to embody love as well.

Now, I know what some of you are saying. Evangelical Christians have for centuries declared that salvation comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And in one sense, that is absolutely true. Our reconciliation to God is not accomplished through any good works on our part. It is only by God’s unmerited favor (by grace alone), by our simple trust alone (through faith alone) on the sole basis of Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection (in Christ alone).

This central tenet of the Christian faith must never be compromised in any way.

And yet….

True faith will never remain alone. That is, if our faith is authentic, it will inevitably manifest itself through our good deeds motivated solely by the love of God which we now carry within our hearts.

James says, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17)

John says, “If any one of you has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has not pity on them, how can the love of God be in you?” (1 John 3:17).

Paul says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

Even more plainly – and more to our point here – Paul also says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6b).

Saving faith and serving love must exist simultaneously. In fact, when one is absent, rest assured both are absent.

Now, our question today is this: If the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love, why do church discipleship programs focus almost exclusively on knowledge? What might it look like to have a discipleship program that trains people to love more expressively?

Bonus Question: Would knowledge still be an important part of such a discipleship program?