Earl of Funk.
You asked about Protestants and . . .
Ultimately, it boils down to the gospel and whether you believe that Christ finished the work on the cross or didn’t and needed stuff added to it from our good works.
Saying . . .
What answers can I give?
Suggest this to them:
Actually. Ultimately, it boils down to the gospel and whether you believe that Christ finished the work on the cross and CONTINUES finishing HIS work on the cross (Jesus’ work transcends time as Revelation 13:8 reminds us) and if we accept that work.
For example can your natural belief save you? I have had many non-Catholics think it can.
Yet the Bible talks about Christ as the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 and also Cf. John 2:23-25). So if we have to believe, does that ADD to the work of Christ too?
If the answer is “yes” they have the same issue. If the answer is “no”, than I can say the same thing about Jesus’ works in me.
If we have to work does THAT add to the work of Christ if He is the author and finisher of our works done in grace? No! It illustrates HIS ongoing work.
CCC 2008 The merit of man before God in the Christian life arises from the fact that God has freely chosen to associate man with the work of his grace. The fatherly action of God is first on his own initiative, and then follows man’s free acting through his collaboration, so that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, then to the faithful. Man’s merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.
PHILIPPIANS 2:12a 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation . . .
HOW can we possibly WORK out our own salvation!!??
Fortunately St. Paul tells us in the very next sentence how. By God WORKING within us!
PHILIPPIANS 2:12-13 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
2nd CORINTHIANS 6:1 1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.
PHILIPPIANS 4:13 13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.
GALATIANS 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
EPHESIANS 3:20-21 20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
HEBREWS 13:20a, 21 20 “Now may the God of peace . . . . 21 equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
ROMANS 8:8-11 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit which dwells in you.
JOHN 6:55-56** 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
1st THESSALONIANS 2:13 13 And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
PHILIPPIANS 1:6** 6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
ROMANS 6:3-5 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
1st CORINTHIANS 9:1 1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord
This from the Council of Trent too (when they tell you Trent taught we get saved by our own mere works):
If anyone says that man can be justified before God by his own works, whether done by his own natural powers or through the teaching of the law, without divine grace through Jesus Christ, let him be anathema.
Hope this helps.