Friday, January 11, 2013

Faith vs Works


Let’s look at verses that many Protestants use to make their case of Sola Fide, the doctrine of salvation through faith alone as compared to passages that seem to suggest that salvation is found through works alone.
Galatians 3:11 “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 3:28 “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”
Acts 16:30-31 “He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.””
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
1 John 5:13 “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

And

Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.”
It seems pretty obvious that we are justified, that is saved, by faith alone right?  Not so fast, let’s compare the case for salvation through faith alone with the many passages in the Bible on the need of doing good works in regards to our salvation.

Rom 2:13 “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
James 2:24 “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

James 2:20 “You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
Mat 7:21 ““Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Mat 19:16-17 “ Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
Eph 2:10 “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Therefore, by virtue of not having a single verse directly stating that one is saved through faith alone along with the fact that our Bible does say that one is saved by what we do, we see a need to marry all these verses together without contradictions.  Paul does exactly that in his letter to the Galatians where he says that “the only thing that counts is faith working through love.”  And so we can see that it’s not exactly what we do but with what intention that we do these things because of our faith.  If we do these things out of love then that makes it pleasing to God and useful for our salvation (James 2:20-26).

4 comments:

  1. In my opinion, when St. Paul said, “justified by faith apart from works”, Luther interpreted that as faith “alone”: But that s not what St. Paul meant. St. Paul was teaching the justification which occurs in the Sacraments.

    Let me explain:

    St. Paul taught the Catholic Teaching that only those who do the works of the Law are justified:

    Romans 2:13
    13(For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.

    In Catholic Teaching, we are justified by faith and works. That is the foundation and root of all justification. Faith is expressed and perfected in works.

    However, the Church also teaches that we are justified in the Sacraments where we are washed in sanctifying grace. Especially Baptism. Sacraments are God’s mighty works. We don’t do anything except submit to His works in the proper dispostion, which is that of faith.

    This is the Justification by faith apart from works to which St. Paul referred.

    The process is evident in every semester of RCIA. By faith, we seek the Lord and study to show ourselves approved. Only those who undergo this process are then JUSTIFIED in Baptism.

    Lets take another example.

    St. Paul says:
    Galatians 2:16
    16Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

    Notice how he repeatedly says here, "faith OF Christ". Not "by faith IN Christ". He is not speaking about believing in Christ. That is assumed. He is speaking about the observance of the rituals instituted by Christ in His new way. He is speaking of the Sacraments.

    And this, is Luther's error. He did not connect the Sacramental teaching of St. Paul. Luther recognized the Sacraments and he recognized the perfection of the sinner in the justification by faith. But denied the merit of that expression of faith in good works without which no one will be saved. And he applied St. Paul's teaching wrongly across the board. He failed to recognize the difference between the justification by faith and works that occurs as a result of the effort of the man of God which is illustrated by St. Peter below:

    2 Peter 1:4-10

    4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
    5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
    6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
    7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.


    And that justifcation by faith apart from works which occurs by the action of God in the Sacraments:
    Titus 3:5
    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;


    What do you think?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You said: "St. Paul taught the Catholic Teaching that only those who do the works of the Law are justified:" early on in your post. I hope that was a typographical error because that is not the "Catholic Teaching." If you mean that the Church teaches that Paul was speaking about works of the Law in this passage, I'd agree. However, the Catholic teaching on works is that good works do have merit along with faith. Works such as the Corporal Works of Mercy (Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, etc) are not only fruits of our faith but signs of our faith. St. James said, "Faith without works is a dead faith." (My paraphrase) This has been the teaching of Christ and His Church for almost two millenia. Faith alone is a recent phenomenon developed by men who think after reading a biblical passage or two out of context that they know more than the Christ, the Apostles, and countless Christian philosophers. Paul condemned works of the Law (anything from counting how many steps one takes on the Sabbath to make sure it doesn't count as "working" on the Sabbath, to not eating pork, to how many and what kind of Sacrifices are made in the Temple for each family every year, etc) I believe Paul also said that it was impossible for Jews to obey every "Law" imposed on them, so "we" could not impose the "Law" on Gentiles. One other point, the Catholic Church does not teach that works alone will merit salvation. Good works without faith mean nothing, also.

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    2. Hi, Cathmom, you said,

      cathmom5Thursday, December 25, 2014 5:07:00 PM
      You said: "St. Paul taught the Catholic Teaching that only those who do the works of the Law are justified:" early on in your post. I hope that was a typographical error because that is not the "Catholic Teaching."


      I supported it with the Biblical Text:

      Romans 2:13

      For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

      If you mean that the Church teaches that Paul was speaking about works of the Law in this passage, I'd agree.

      I do mean that, yes.

      However, the Catholic teaching on works is that good works do have merit along with faith. Works such as the Corporal Works of Mercy (Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, etc) are not only fruits of our faith but signs of our faith. St. James said, "Faith without works is a dead faith." (My paraphrase) This has been the teaching of Christ and His Church for almost two millennia.

      I am not denying the merit of works.

      Faith alone is a recent phenomenon developed by men who think after reading a biblical passage or two out of context that they know more than the Christ, the Apostles, and countless Christian philosophers.

      I am explaining what I believe is Luther's error which led to his developing this false doctrine.

      Paul condemned works of the Law (anything from counting how many steps one takes on the Sabbath to make sure it doesn't count as "working" on the Sabbath, to not eating pork, to how many and what kind of Sacrifices are made in the Temple for each family every year, etc) I believe Paul also said that it was impossible for Jews to obey every "Law" imposed on them, so "we" could not impose the "Law" on Gentiles.

      I don't know that Paul condemned any works, whether of the law or not, which are done in faith. Read Heb 11 and see how he extolls the Jews who by faith obeyed God's commandments.

      One other point, the Catholic Church does not teach that works alone will merit salvation. Good works without faith mean nothing, also.

      I don't remember saying anything about works alone.

      You seem to be searching for a pretext to disagree with my comment. The entire point of the comment is that Luther misunderstood our disposition before the Sacraments, which is one of faith apart from works. In the Sacraments, those who have done the works of the law are washed with the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, on account of their faith.

      Do you disagree?

      1127 Celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious because in them Christ himself is at work: it is he who baptizes, he who acts in his sacraments in order to communicate the grace that each sacrament signifies. The Father always hears the prayer of his Son's Church which, in the epiclesis of each sacrament, expresses her faith in the power of the Spirit. As fire transforms into itself everything it touches, so the Holy Spirit transforms into the divine life whatever is subjected to his power.

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    3. I was not "searching for a pretext to disagree" with your comment. I was seeking clarification. I never said you said "works alone" either. That was just my clarification of my comment within my comment.

      I agree that we receive sanctifying grace through the Sacraments, but I would stop there. There actually are things that I don't agree with in your statements here. But the point you were making was of Luther and of that I am not in disagreement. It was not my intent to pick a fight with you. I sought clarification which you have provided, thank you.

      Delete

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