IS FAITH IN CHRIST ALONE ENOUGH TO GO TO HEAVEN? DO NOT THE DEVILS “BELIEVE?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
Someone defending her works-religion recently contended with me that faith alone does not guarantee one’s salvation into heaven. Her argument is summarized as follows: “Since the devils ‘believe,’ they could potentially go to heaven. But, since the devils cannot go to heaven, believing is not enough to go to heaven.” I knew she was making a general reference to James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Was she using this verse properly? Is there any merit in her quoting the verse? Or was she just desperately trying anything to sustain her denominational/works viewpoint? In this brief study, we will evaluate her comments and critically examine the verse. Saint, have this answer ready whenever someone tries to use James 2:19 against you!
While James 2:19 says exactly what it means, and it means exactly what it says, it does have a context… a context often ignored. The context (as I pointed out to her) is James 1:1. Before we grab James 2:24—“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only”—we had first better take James 1:1. The entire epistle of James is not written to whoever happens to find and read it and see how it can be used to advance a “pet” doctrine. The first verse says that James is written to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. James is not writing to the Church the Body of Christ. He says that he is not writing to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace. If we want to claim a verse in James chapter 2 as applicable to us, we had better be sure to know as to which tribe we belong. If we are unaware of such tribal information, we should not be quick to say that we are of the 12 tribes, and we should not be quick to claim what exclusively belongs to the 12 tribes of Israel.
There is no question that the devils believe that there is one God (James 2:19). There is no question that the devils believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God (see Matthew 8:29; Luke 8:28; et al.). They did not say Jesus was “the Son of the gods” (plural). However, this is nothing more than head knowledge. A mere mental agreement with God’s Word never saved anyone. It has to be faith in the heart, “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10a). There are two billion people today who believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins, but very few have heart faith in that message. If they have only head knowledge of Calvary’s crosswork, they are heading to the same devil’s hell as the person who has never heard of Jesus! They constantly say that He died for their sins, but when they are asked if they will go to heaven when they die, they cannot say one way or another because they still have to atone for sins in purgatory. Behold, the confusion and double-mindedness in works-religion!
Furthermore, angelic beings and devils cannot experience soul salvation from sins. They, unlike us, have no Kinsman-Redeemer. Jesus Christ became a Man and by becoming a Man He was able to pay the sin debt of Adam and all of Adam’s descendants (see Romans 5:12-21 in its entirety). However, Jesus did not become an angelic being. The Bible says, “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16). Angels are individual creations of God. Unlike humans, they did not descend from one original couple reproducing. Angels do not have a federal head. People have a federal head—Adam. Consequently, the merits of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork cannot and will never apply to angels or devils. God’s plan of salvation is available only to sons and daughters of Adam. Fallen angels (devils) can never be reconciled to God. They will be doomed to “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). Each and every one of them would need their own savior, and we are talking about thousands upon thousands, if not millions, of beings. All angelic beings, whether those angelic beings that are elect of God or those that are fallen and following Satan, know the truth about Calvary. But, that knowledge cannot be reckoned as faith unto righteousness. That privilege is only for humans.
Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Where is the water baptism? The tongues? The tithing? The sinner’s prayer? The turning from sin? The joining the church? There are no works in the verse, yet people are constantly forcing these items into the passage!)
Romans 3:26: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” (Again, where is the water baptism? The tongues? The tithing? The sinner’s prayer? The turning from sin? The joining the church? There are no works in the verse, yet people are constantly forcing these items into the passage!)
1 Corinthians 1:21: “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” (Once more, where is the water baptism? The tongues? The tithing? The sinner’s prayer? The turning from sin? The joining the church? There are no works in the verse, yet people are constantly forcing these items into the passage!)
These verses—written to us Gentiles!—say that faith alone in Jesus Christ saves an individual from his or her sins today. There are no religious works necessary like in Israel’s program (the context of the book of James). James and Paul are talking about two different types of “belief.” There is no merit in trying to harmonize the two epistles. There is no merit in using a non-applicable verse and making it fit us. Paul is describing heart faith in people (Romans 10:10a), whereas James is talking about head knowledge in devils (James 2:19). Heart faith in James’ audience will cause them to do good works. James is in perfect accordance with Israel’s legalistic system. The devils do not have heart faith, so they will never be able to do the good works that God requires of Israel in James’ context. James is encouraging his audience not to be careless or shallow when it comes to good works. They have faith, now they need works! In Israel’s program, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17,26).
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Can you compare and contrast Peter’s ministry and Paul’s ministry?