Tag Archives: faith without works

A Change of Mind about Repentance: Do you Dare?

Hi Gang,
I am getting incredibly close to settling in on what I’m doing with my life.  In particular, I want to focus on FAITH & WORKS for a while…I think it is a subject I understand and that crosses many strategic parts of theology [and on-the-pavement Christianity].
In the meantime, I just posted a blog offering some fresh thoughts on Repentance as it relates to sharing the gospel.
Check it out NOW:
Grace and peace,
Fred Lybrand
What is Home & School


Calvin’s Error on Assurance

I honestly stay stumped by those who think Calvin never made a mistake and those others who think he never said anything true.  I also wonder how many out there are still interested in being objective and understanding both sides of any issue.  I do not find that my rabid 5-point-DORT-calvinism-is-the-only-true-calvinism friends (both advocates and enemies believe this same indefensible point) are able to explain both sides of their issue-of-the-moment.  It is embarrassing theologically not to be able to clearly explain both sides.

Here is Calvin’s error: We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone

Yes, he said it a little fancier, but it is the same point.  Here is the idea…if you REALLY believe, then works MUST show up.  DORT said it too…that you could fall into the most awful lifestyle for a long, long time; but eventually, if you are a TRUE believer, you will come back before you die.

Honestly, that is just simply made up.

And here’s the rub— if someone is in ‘sin’, how do you know he will ‘come back’ someday?  You clearly do not.

And— If this same person may not REALLY be saved/justified, then he certainly can’t be assured of his destiny with God.  True?

AND—WHAT ABOUT YOU? If you COULD fall into a sinful life in the future…and that would mean you COULD not really be saved…then HOW can you possibly be assured now?

Hence, Calvin’s error.  Calvin was so defensive about the Catholic retort of “What about Works?” when he accurately explained FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE…that he compromised his theology and his logic.  Don’t get me wrong…it does make sense…but only inside the framework of Calvin’s assumptions.  Of course, it is mostly an issue of incongruence; Calvin did often stay away from co-mingling works and faith.

This view about works DOES NOT MAKE SENSE in reality.  It is an assumption about the nature of faith AND and assumption about our ability to discern TRUE from FALSE works in others.  Hey gang, God is the one who knows.  But honestly, why don’t we see great populations of people getting ‘better’ in Christ as they age?  Why don’t we see better doctrine over time (if people who are saved must get godlier and godlier)?  It’s simple, people must also GROW SPIRITUALLY…which is a second choice / issue / concern.  Salvation is apart from works, but spiritual growth is intimately connected to works.

Below is the info on my intensive labor on this issue…if you want to be loaded for bear (or for bearing witness)…300+ pages and 600+ footnotes lays it out.  It also contains a mini-course in logic.

Recently a lady wrote me that she had studied this book and was in a small group meeting where she politely engaged the pastor who was trying to support Calvin’s Error.  As she explained that assurance is only sustained when we look at Christ (and not ourselves) this lady spoke up in the meeting for that moment—testifying that she suddenly had assurance for the first time in 12 years!  The wild thing was that it was her own pastor who was leading the group discussion.

Face it, as long as you look at yourself and your works, you will never be truly assured of heaven.  And, as long as you look at others’ works, you will never be assured of heaven for them either.


Now, please let’s get the word out.  I’m finding this book is being  used to convert both rabid Arminians and rabid Calvinists to the clarity found in affirming Faith Alone in Christ Alone, while dropping our lust for judging others.  I know there are lots of questions…but most get addressed in the book.


Fred Lybrand

If you grasp the insights in this book, you’ll understand FAITH ALONE IN CHRIST ALONE in such a way that you’ll never be tempted to judge anyone’s eternal destiny again.

OK…so, I want to shamelessly tell you about the power of sorting out the Faith/Works issue in keeping the Gospel clear, assurance solid, and judgmentalness banished.  It is all in Back to Faith (see www.backtofaith.com)

Here’s the beginning of Chapter 5 from the book to consider:

The Cliché Is Pragmatically Invalid
If the arguments presented have been unpersuasive to this
point, consider that this one great weakness of the cliché is the
only real challenge needed to justifiably abandon it: The cliché is
pragmatically invalid. Pragmatic invalidity simply means that, in
any practical sense, the theology behind the cliché is useless, even
if it is true. Assume the cliché, “It is therefore faith alone which
justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone,” is true. In
other words, with the assumption that the cliché is valid, it is held
that one can indeed look at works (or the lack of works) and
determine something about the true nature of an individual’s
eternal salvation. Said otherwise, works prove faith. But can one
truly know if the works are authentic? Or, can the works be
hidden? Here a great problem appears, practically speaking,
because the true works arising from a true salvation are
indeterminable, and so the cliché is pragmatically useless. How
can one know for sure that the works seen in another are “because
of salvation,” rather than “in order to get saved?” To appreciate
this argument, one need only consider the distinction between fact
and theory.
A fact, in the simplest sense, is something that corresponds
to the actual state of affairs. Facts are those things which are
knowable and demonstrable and correspond with how things really
are. A theory, on the other hand, as used in this context, is an
unproved assumption. It parallels words like conjecture and
speculation when one speaks of theory in this sense. Obviously the
[This argument admittedly matches the correspondence theory of truth.
Ted Honderich, ed., The Oxford Companion to Philosophy [book on-line]

(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995, accessed 4 October 2006), 267;

available from Questia, http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d= 74362715;Internet.

Defined 6b: an unproved assumption: conjecture, c: a body of
theorems presenting a concise systematic view of a subject. Merriam-Webster’s
Collegiate Dictionary, 11 ed. (2003), s.v. “theory.”]

word of God does not contain theory, as such, but the factual
explanations from God concerning His will and revelation to
mankind. Whether or not one can demonstrate the validity of the
cliché as a biblical concept is not at issue. At issue is the
distinction between that which is provable and factual, in contrast
with that which is theoretical and based on conjecture.
If the cliché’s theory is true, then it is apparent that one can
look at works or lack of works to point to the genuine nature of
another’s saving faith. So the puritan Matthew Henry asserts,
Faith is the root, good works are the fruits, and we
must see to it that we have both. We must not think
that either, without the other, will justify and save
The truth, however, is that scripturally speaking, believing
individuals can indeed lack works, while unbelievers can indeed
have good, albeit dead, works. Judas serves as a glaring example
of one whose works never betrayed him. When Jesus predicted
that one of the disciples would betray him, all were perplexed, and
no disciple stated, “Well, it is obviously Judas.”


Fred Lybrand

“Back To Faith” is now available


I’ll have them on sale at the Free Grace Alliance Conference (www.freegracealliance.com)

I’ll also offer a .pdf for purchase shortly (if you buy the book…I’ll probably give you the .pdf for your Kindle by request)

This is like nothing you’ve ever seen…I hope it turns out to be quite a resource!


Order BACK TO FAITH by Fred Lybrand

“Maintaining veneration for Calvin, this work resolves inherent contradictions to the Gospel found in the Reformed tradition.  Lybrand reiterates “faith alone in Christ alone,” and works accompanying salvation are “normal but not necessary” while cogently requiring the reader to reexamine theological traditions.  My prayer for the mindful Reformer: Read and wrestle with these words. Be willing to abandon all, for the clarity of the Gospel cannot be undervalued.”

Jay Quine, ThM, PhD, Dallas Theological Seminary;
President, College of Biblical Studies


“Fred Lybrand’s analysis of the common saying, ‘Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone,’ exposes the logical and biblical fallacies inherent in Calvin’s famous statement. With careful exegesis he dissects James’ discussion of faith and works with fresh insight into this controversial passage. When I read his doctoral dissertation I immediately encouraged him to publish this so that many others could benefit. The book is well written and finally puts Calvin’s cliché to rest—where it belongs.”

– Jody Dillow



Order BACK TO FAITH BY Fred Lybrand