Christianity without faith alone in Jesus is just empty religion. In Mark 2, four men came to Jesus bringing to him a paralytic (3). That’s all we know. This man could not walk and his friend carried him on his bed to find Jesus. “And when they could not get near Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and…they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay” (v4). And Jesus saw something in these men…faith. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (v5).
Jesus requires faith alone for salvation. But religion requires faith plus works. The work of these men was evidence of their faith. These men were not working for Jesus’ help. They were willing to do anything, go anywhere, because they had faith in Jesus. They were convinced Jesus could help, enough that they were willing to remove all obstacles. They didn’t think Jesus would help their friend based on their efforts. They came desperate for help, believing Jesus was able.
These men didn’t even talk. There is nothing mentioned that we could even use as a model prayer. They just trusted! And that’s all that mattered to Jesus.
Religion tries to replace faith alone with works, or add works to faith alone. Christians must take care not to do this. Salvation is not dependent on the quality of our quiet times, our giving records, or our ability not to sin. And our salvation is not dependant on water baptism or church attendance. Its only when we really understand this, that God finds pleasure in us when we trust Jesus’ works (not ours), that all these duties get easier to do. Unfortunately though, the temptation to add things to faith in Jesus alone is real. When that happens, you find yourself in empty religion, and out of fellowship with God.