Our discussion will take the form of a simulated conversation between a Jehovah's Witness named Joe and a Christian named Chris.
Joe: How can belief be enough for salvation, Chris? James 2:19 says that the demons believe yet they are not saved.
Chris: Joe, what do the demons believe?
Joe: Well....they believe that there is one God.
Chris: They also have knowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. Yet that knowledge does not save them. You see, Joe, the kind of belief that saves is the belief that is mixed with faith and trust. Do the demons trust God or have faith in God?
Joe: Of course not. They are enemies of God.
Chris: Then, that is why that kind of belief or knowledge can never save. For example, suppose you were running a marathon and you were hot and dehydrated and you stopped on the sidelines where a friend handed you a glass of water. You could say you believe that it really was water that would benefit you because of your thirst, but unless you trusted the person enough to drink the water, the water would do you no good. You see belief + trust = faith.
Joe: But if faith is all that we need, why does the Bible say that we are to work out our own salvation?
Chris: Joe, read me from your New World Translation the passage where that verse is found.
Joe: It is found in Philippians 2:12 "keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.."
Chris: Go on. What does the next verse say, Joe?
Joe: Let's see...it says "for God is the one that, for the sake of [his] good pleasure, is acting within you in order for you both to will and to act."
Chris: Ah... so it is God that is acting within you. Who is the one acting within you? Tell, me Joe, why is he acting within you?
Joe: It says "in order for us both to will and to act."
Chris: So for us even to have the will or desire to follow God, requires that God is acting or working within us to create that will or desire. Joe, did you notice that Philippians 2: 12 says "work out your salvation" not "work for your salvation"?
Joe: No, I didn't notice that. But so what? What is the difference?
Chris: Because working out your salvation means to bring to completion what you already have. Working for your salvation means that you are obligating God to pay you for your work. You are working to gain something that you do not already have. You see, God has provided salvation as a free gift. It is not Christ plus works that saves...it is faith in Christ alone.
Joe: That sounds too simple to me.
Chris: Romans 10:9 says "if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Joe, this is a promise from God. The requirements for salvation are that we confess Jesus Christ and trust him as our Lord and Saviour and believe in his bodily resurrection and we will be saved. It doesn't say, maybe you will be saved if you do enough. Joe, just trust what God says and set aside your Watchtower magazine for awhile to learn God's truth from the Bible alone.