Is justification through faith? Is a sinner forgiven when he prays?


Dear Mr. Hamilton,

I was reading your article on the NIV and I found it very informative! I just want to start off by saying thank you I had no idea there were a few discrepancies I needed to be aware of. With regards to this, I had a question. I completely agree with the point you are making here with Romans 10:10 in which the NIV teaches that justification is reached at the point of faith. Doesn't Romans 5:1 NKJV teach that justification is reached through faith though?

Also, one more question, was Abraham in a state of damnation when he believed God and was declared righteous even though he had not yet been circumcised? If a person who believes is declared righteous, is he righteous without baptism?

If a sinner prays and asks God to forgive him of his sins, is he actually forgiven (I know repentance plays a role but what about baptism)?

Looking forward to hearing your take, thank you for your time!


"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1).

"By" or "through," as the New International Version translates the word, are both acceptable translations. Faith is absolutely required for salvation. But neither "by" nor "through" imply that this is all that is needed or that it is the final point on the path to salvation. Romans 6:3-7 makes it clear that Paul saw that baptism was also necessary. Romans 10:8-10 makes it clear that hearing the word and confession are also needed.

It is not proper to compare how a person was saved prior to the Law of Moses to how someone was saved under the law of Moses. Nor is it proper to compare the same person to someone living under the law of Christ.

When it was noted: "And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6), Abram had not yet been circumcised. Yet God said several years later, "He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant" (Genesis 17:12-14). Clearly, if Abraham refused circumcision, he would not be saved. Yet, under the Law of Christ circumcision of the flesh is not a requirement for salvation (Galatians 5:1-4).

God required something more than a declaration of faith. I would argue that the world's definition of faith is faulty because it states that faith is something that can exist without evidence. As James noted, "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:26). This is the flaw many makes when reading Paul's writings. They assume that Paul sees faith as they do -- as something that has nothing to do with effort; yet Paul started and ended Romans talking about "obedience to the faith" (Romans 1:5; 16:26).

Will prayer save a person? Let us look at the case of Saul, later called Paul. He had a vision of Christ (Acts 9:3-6). He fasted and prayed for three days (Acts 9:9-11). But, as Paul recounted later, Ananias still told Paul: "And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). The vision, the fasting, the prayers did nothing for Paul's sins. He still had them until they were washed away in baptism. "Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you -- not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience--through the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:21).

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