Faith alone

I have been WELS all of my life, raised, baptized, confirmed, and have been to many WELS churches and attending multiple schools. I have been taught so many times that faith alone saves. Why do we say faith alone if we also seem to say that faith and repentance saves? Is it faith alone? Or is it faith and repentance? And let's throw in baptism, too, while we are at it. Is it faith alone or not?

It is faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-6).

It is helpful to keep in mind that the Bible uses “repentance” in a narrower and wider sense. When the Bible combines “repentance” and “faith” (for example, Acts 20:21), then “repentance” means “contrition, sorrow over sin.” That is the narrower sense of repentance.

The wider sense of repentance is a meaning that combines “sorrow over sin” and “faith.” You can see examples of this wider sense of repentance in Luke 13:3-5 and Luke 15:7.

What about baptism, you ask? The Bible teaches that baptism saves (1 Peter 3:21). That claim about baptism can be made when we keep in mind that the Holy Spirit can work through baptism to connect people to Jesus Christ in saving faith. In the end, it is the faith that baptism creates that saves. Faith alone—not works—saves.

I hope this helps clarify matters for you.