It is by faith alone that we are saved from God’s wrath and welcomed into a loving relationship with Him. Faith alone is the instrument, which is given to us by God so that we would be brought into His fold. Manifold are the passages which mention saving faith alone (which is always accompanied by repentance, Acts 20:21) as the condition or instrument of justification. But Roman Catholics may object that the Bible nowhere says “faith alone” and the only places where that phrase appears is in James 2:24 when it’s in the negative. We will deal with that below. But when we read of faith being the instrument of justification and in the same verse excluding works, then we are justified (intended pun) to say that the Bible teaches that faith alone is the sole instrument of justification. Romans 3 is my favorite passage on justification. It’s clear and to the point. The Holy Spirit says—
Rom. 3:28-30 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.
What are the works of the Law but the things that God delights in and has commanded in the Mosaic Law, including the Ten Commandments? But still, Paul says that is not the way that we are justified. That is not the way that we are declared righteous before the thrice holy God. It is by faith. For the Jew and the Gentile, it is the same way whereby comes the equality of Jewish and Gentile Christians (e.g. Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:11ff). The Jews had the idea that justification was through their efforts, but Paul here combats that idea. Justification by works is the essence of all man-made religions and the path to perdition. John Calvin comments on Romans 3:28 with these words:
He now draws the main proposition, as one that is incontrovertible, and adds an explanation. Justification by faith is indeed made very clear, while works are expressly excluded. Hence, in nothing do our adversaries labor more in the present day than in attempts to blend faith with the merits of works. They indeed allow that man is justified by faith; but not by faith alone; yea, they place the efficacy of justification in love, though in words they ascribe it to faith. But Paul affirms in this passage that justification is so gratuitous, that he makes it quite evident, that it can by no means be associated with the merit of works.
He mentions the evasion which Roman Catholics made (and still make). Poole says:
A man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law; a phrase equivalent to that which is so much spoken against, that we are justified by faith only; as if we should say, That God is to be worshipped, ...