Bible Question:

Lee Woofenden writes that Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does. Is he correct?

Bible Answer:

The article, Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does was written by Lee Woofenden.[1] Unfortunately the author is a false teacher and demonstrates his inability to handle scripture accurately. He is a pastor of a church in a cult.

Statistical Argument

First, the author used a non-biblical argument to convince the reader that “faith alone does not save.” He employs a secular argument to teach biblical truth. That is backward. One should use the Bible to teach biblical truth. For example, he consumed four pages to conclude that only 6.4% of the world believes that salvation is by faith alone. Here is his method for determining that only 6.4% of the world believes that salvation is by faith alone.

Approximately 20% of Christians belong to churches that teach that faith alone saves. Approximately 32% of the world’s population identifies as Christian. This means that approximately 6.4% of the world’s population belongs to churches that teach that faith alone saves.

Then he adds . . .

Is God incompetent?

If you worked in an automobile design studio, and one day you rushed into your boss’s office and said, “Look! I’ve designed a car that works 6.4% of the time!” how would your boss react? I’ll tell you how: “Back to the drawing board!”

Supposedly God loves all of the people whom God has created. And yet, if the only thing that saves us is faith in Jesus Christ, and the belief that we are saved by that faith alone, then over 93% of the people God supposedly loves are going to hell.

I would call that an epic fail.[2]

His conclusion about the 6.4% is faulty. First, how does he know that only 20% of Christians believe that salvation is by faith alone? Did he conduct a poll such as a Gallup Poll to determine how many in the entire world believe that? Did he assume that everyone in the dominations believe that? Did he consider the thousands and thousands of independent churches scattered across the United States and the world? If so, he never tells us. Second, he has ignored the following biblical passage,

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)

This passage of scripture teaches that God is not a failure. God already knew the “success rate.” If 6.4% is the correct “success rate,” then God already knew that. It is man that has failed to believe. This reveals that Jesus knew that only a small minority would respond to the gospel. Additionally, God sovereignly choose a minority for salvation (Matthew 22:14). Why? It is the mystery of election. The author’s statistical conclusion is in error. Worse, yet, he ignored Matthew 7:13-14. That passage clearly says that there are “few who find it.” Man is ultimately responsible. Only a few really do find it. That is not a reflection on God.

Biblical Argument

The author’s biblical teaching is deceptive too! First, he uses different Bibles in order to be convincing. He will select the NIV or the NRSV in order to support his argument. Why does he pick and choose the Bibles? The answer appears to be that he looks for one that supports his point of view. Here is his quote of Ephesians 2:10 from the NRSV.

Paul even says in the very next verse,

For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:10 (italics added).

Normally he selects from the NIV. Why did Lee Woofenden change Bibles with Ephesians 2:10? The answer is that the NIV does not add, “to be our way of life.” The Greek does not say that either. He wants us to believe that works for salvation should be our way of life as is taught by every other religion.

Second, he redefines the meaning of words. Take Ephesians 2:8-9 for example.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

The author states that the word “works” in this passage is “shorthand for ‘the works of the law.’”[3] His conclusion is deceptive. First, a review of Ephesians 1:1-2:7 before these two verses reveals that Paul was not talking about the Law. Second, where does scripture teach that the word “works” is restricted to “the works of the law”? You cannot find that in the Bible. To the untaught Christian this sounds convincing. His “shorthand” argument is supposed to convince us that salvation is not by observing “the Law” but by performing other works. So he had to redefine the word “works” so that he can convince the reader that salvation is by works – some other type of works.  But there is nothing special in the Greek word that is translated as “works.” The Greek word is ergon and it just simply means works or energy. The clear plain meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9 is that salvation is not by any works – even the works of the Law.

Historical Argument

The author’s historical argument is that the reformers made a big mistake by teaching that salvation was by faith alone. If that is true then the reformation should never have occurred and we should all be Roman Catholics. He would either be a Roman Catholic priest or none at all.

Purpose-In-Life Argument

The author concludes that there is no purpose in life if one is not working for their salvation. Again, the author is guilty of false teaching. 1 Corinthians 10:31 gives us our primary reason for living. Our purpose is to glorify God. Our other purpose for doing good works is to use our spiritual gifts in ministry to others (1 Corinthians 12 and Hebrews 6:10) and to share the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20) so that they find the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14).

Conclusion:

The author misapplies numerous passages revealing a lack of biblical scholarship and broad, balanced understanding of scripture. The following passage summarizes the teaching of scripture that salvation is by faith and NOT works – the law or otherwise.

But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: . . . Romans 4:5-6

The passage clearly says that those who have faith are declared righteous or godly. These individuals are going to heaven. It is not by works. Paul started this discussion in Romans 4:2 about Abraham. That is, this is in reference to Abraham. Then Paul goes on to teach that this principle was established before the Law was even given to Moses (Romans 4:10-12). Paul was not talking about works of the Law in Romans 4:5-6.

James 2:24 is not a statement that teaches a person needs to work in order to be saved either. The author conveniently ignores James’ conclusion in verse 26.

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:26

The conclusion clarifies the message of the author. Real faith is revealed by the works a person does. That is, faith will result in good works. This false teacher fails to see the distinction. John 1:12 and 3:16 do not include any statement about works in order to gain eternal life. The thief on the cross could not perform any good works in order to get saved.

The author is a false teacher who twists the scripture for his own purpose. He ignores the truth that no one can do good works, not even one (Romans 3:10-12).

All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Romans 3:12

If works were required how could anyone save themselves? Consider the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he had to do in order to gain eternal life (Matthew 19:16-26). Jesus replied that there was only one who was good – God. Therefore, the author’s teaching is tragic and is a hopeless promise of eternal life in heaven. He is sending people to an eternal condemnation. Man cannot earn his salvation by good works.

References:

  1. leewoof.org/2015/04/20/faith-alone-does-not-save-no-matter-how-many-times-protestants-say-it-does/
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.

Suggested Links:

Wide and Narrow Roads
The Narrow, Uncomfortable Way
Why do we need to repent in order to be saved?
What is the meaning of James 2:24?
Faith Alone