Debate on Romans

We have started a study in Romans and this has come up
forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=266994&page=3

In Romans Chapter 2 says

6
who will repay everyone according to his works:
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eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,
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but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.
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Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.
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But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.
11
There is no partiality with God.
]
I dont know but it sound like a good argument for faith and works

SyCarl said
This says that we will be judged according to our works, not that we will justified by them.

In His judgement God will be just and be seen to be just. The works that we do are the evidence that we have a true faith. While God knows that He is right the works will show the world that He is just when He judges.

It is similar to any trial. You are judged according to the evidence. The evidence does not make you innocent or guilty but it is used to decide whether you are. Unlike an earthly judge, God already knows the right verdict but the evidence will show us he is right. I believe that this is where our saying that it is not enough that justice be done but that it also be seen to be done.

The evidentiary nature of works is seen through out the New Testament. Jesus tells us to judge the tree by its fruits. The fruit does not make the tree bad or good but it does show whether the tree is bad or good.

Similarly in the judgement between the sheep and goats, Jesus already knows who is a sheep and who is a goat. The evidence of works He gives shows those being judged that the judgement is just.

What Paul is saying in the first part of Chapter 2 is that if we condemn someone, it is wrong because we do the same things. Then he shows that God’s judgement will be right.

to me Ch 2 is not just about judgement but about a consequnce or cause and efffect

who will repay everyone according to his works

**eternal life to those who seek **

**but wrath and fury to those **

Paul is saying this is what will happen if that to me not just talking about judgment

He also says there is no parciality that to me does not matter what you are Christian, Jew, Native American Pre 1700s

Yes there is a consequence. That is a result of the judgement not the evidence. The judgment is made according to the evidence. The evidence is our works. However it is not the evidence that makes us innocent or guilty. The status of innocent or guilty would exist even if there was no evidence and God knows that status.

In a earthly trial if you are accused of murder, you are either guilty or not. The prosecutor will present evidence to show guilt and the defence will present evidence to show innocence. The judge will then make a decision according to the evidence before him. He may be right or wrong but we know that when God makes His judgement it will be right. The evidence is not necessary for God’s judgement since He already knows the truth, but it is necessary as He wants us to see that His judgement is just.

With the tree and its fruit, the tree is either good or bad. If it is good, it produces good fruit and because of the fruit, or evidence we know it is good. Similarly with a bad tree.

While I don’t agree with Calvin on everything, I think he says well the common Protestant understanding of works.

But we deny that the dispute here is concerning the mode of obtaining righteousness. We, indeed, allow that good works are required for righteousness; we only take away from them the power of conferring righteousness, because they cannot stand before the tribunal of God.

Commentary on the Catholic Epistles
ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom45.vi.iii.vii.html

You will note how this is paralleled in the Apocalypse:

Revelation 14:

12: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
13: And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

It of course is congruent to Matthew 25, where Jesus tells us what we must do to hear that “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” at Judgment.

The Calvinists in particular twist themselves in knots trying to wish this away, wed to the heretical notion that we are utterly depraved as they are.

Hi SyCarl,

I think the misunderstanding between Catholics and Protestants starts with a different understanding of

  1. what constitutes grace (specifically, sanctifying grace) -
  2. how it is received, and
  3. what it does to and for the human person.

A Catholic does not believed that they are saved by works. Rather, we are saved by grace (supernatural life of God infused in our souls at Baptism). It is this supernatural life of God in us that is our salvation. It is the power of God’s grace working in us that is the source of any truly good deed performed by us.

This saving grace is infused into our souls at Baptism. It is faith (either of an adult seeking conversion, or of the parents of a child) that motivates us to seek Baptism.

However, once received in Baptism, the ongoing presence of this life of grace is conditional on what we do (works). We can grow in grace through good deeds done in love and obedience; or we can lose the life of grace through willed disobedience in a matter we know is a serious offense to God. If we lose the life of grace through serious sin, we can have it restored by sincerely repenting.

The evidence is not necessary for God’s judgement since He already knows the truth, but it is necessary as He wants us to see that His judgement is just.

I agree. You might say the judgement is already effected on God’s part when He either increases His life in us when we cooperated with His grace - or by withdrawing His life at the time we willfully offend Him in a serious matter. Separated from His life, there is no salvation. At judgement the full truth of our thoughts and actions - and their eternal consequences - will be made known to us.

Nita

Nita has offered an excellent summary of Catholic teaching on the subject. :thumbsup:

There is an enormous amount of scripture that connects works with salvation. The capper and summary, however, is James Chapter 2. In it James says that faith without works is dead and that we are not justified by faith alone. Faith alone does not justify. James further mentions that faith is completed by works and that works do justify.

Paul teaches that the Jewish system of law and the gentile system of works before the gentile pagan gods do not justify. Paul never says that works within the gospel system of the Christian faith are separate from justification and salvation. Instead, he makes it clear that all will be judged according to their works and he says:

Romans 2:6-10
"For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek."

Romans 2:6-10 was dealt with in my previous post. Works are the evidence according to which we will be judged but are not the basis for our salvation.

James 2 has been dealt with on numerous occasions. James also is talking about evidentiary aspects of works and justification in the eyes of men, who can only know your faith by your works. This appears clear from James 2:14. James says “What use is it, my bretheren **if someone says he has faith **but he has no works.” Notice he does not “if someone has faith”; he specifically speaks of someone who claims to have faith. Then again in verse 18 he is talking about someone showing that he has faith without works while he can show his faith through his works. He is referring to the proof of works.

When it comes to Abraham, he says that Abraham was justified by works when he offered up Isaac. However Paul say that Abraham was not justified by works before God. So James must be talking about something other than before God. Again then, he is talking about proof that Abraham had faith. From the whole context of Romans, when Paul speaks of law he is including the moral law and not just the ceremonial law, so even when he specifies works of the law, which he does not in Romans 4:1-2, he is including all works.

When James is talking about Abraham and Rahab being justified by works, he clearly does not mean that this is in the eyes of God. He does not even mention faith in the case of Rahab saying only that she was justified by works. The Catholic Church does not claim that we are justified by works. James must be referring to justification in a particular way and that is proof of faith.

Great discussion guys/gals…I’m still trying to wrap my head around these various concepts. Here’s another variation. I’m wondering if anyone wants to comment on it. I cut/pasted it from a ‘New Perspective’ author - Don Garlington. A bit long but give it a read anyways…

“From the entire foregoing discussion (of Romans 2) we may conclude that the passage from present justification by faith alone to future justification by the obedience of faith is natural enough, given the broader purview—and most notably the creation character—of Paul’s theology of faith and obedience. However, practically speaking, this conclusion is sufficiently important (and controversial) that something more must be said. As Sanders and Snodgrass acknowledge concerning the Jewish doctrine of judgment, what is in view is not justification by “works” in any meritorious sense but an extension of the righteousness of God in Christ. Snodgrass in particular speaks of the apparent incongruity for modern readers of judgment according to both God’s mercy and human
works. He notes that although there were abuses of both in ancient Judaism, neither the OT nor Jewish literature sensed any anomaly between the two. indeed, Ps 62:12, normally considered to be the source of Rom 2:6, actually says: “To you, O Lord,
belongs steadfast love, for you requite a person according to his work.” When both themes are kept together, there is no problem. When the two are separated, an over-emphasis on either could and did lead to perversion. Over-emphasis on judgment according to works could lead to casuistry and a strict doctrine of weighing. Over-emphasis on God’s mercy could lead to presumption of his mercy and neglect of obedience. Though requiring a study in itself, it is the Christian’s union with Christ and the
gift of his Spirit (Rom 8:1-4, 9; 2 Cor 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:14, etc.) which are the fountainhead of the obedience of faith. As the rest of Romans will clarify, it is in Christ that one becomes a doer of the law, not in the sense of sinless perfection but of one’s commitment to God’s (new) covenant, whose kuvrio” is Christ. It is because of the obedience of Christ, the last Adam, that the people of God have become obedient in him, as once they were disobedient in the first Adam (Rom 5:12-19). Paul himself puts it in a nutshell in 1 Cor 15:22: “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is in the same comprehensive sense that the author of Hebrews can say that Christ is the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Heb 5:9). With these necessary christological qualifications, “doing the law,” in Rom 2:13, is no different in kind than
the OT’s classic statement of “covenantal nomism,” Lev 18:5: one continues to live within the covenant relationship by compliance with its terms, i.e., perseverance. Otherwise put, in Christ one becomes, according to 2 Cor 5:21, “the righteousness of God.” This succinct statement of the believer’s mode of existence flows from the foregoing words: “If anyone is in Christ, behold, the new creation” (2 Cor 5:18)! The very burden of the above exposition is that Paul depicts the obedience of faith issuing in eschatological justification as a new creation: what man in Adam has failed to obtain—glory, honor and immortality—man in Christ has. This compels me to agree with Käsemann that the righteousness of God is his sovereign power effecting a new creation: “The faithful are the world as it has been recalled to the sovereignty of God,
the company of those who live under the eschatological justice of God, in which company, according to II Cor 5:21, God’s righteousness becomes manifest on earth.”

That is true but only concerning initial justification. After we have been initially justified She most certainly claims that works increase our justification. The reason being is that our works have merit.

The whole idea that our works are “for display purposes only”, not only contradicts the Church’s teaching on justification but also scripture which tells us that heaven is given to us as a reward. A reward corresponds to true merit and if our works don’t merit then it can’t be given to us as a reward. Also Jesus condemns the notion of justifying ourselves before men in Lk16:15 “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts; for what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” St. James would not tell us to do what Jesus condemns.

SyCarl,

The following is lengthy but it addresses your points.

Abraham is justified 3 times. (proof)

Instance #1
In Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed God concerning his descendants being as numerous as the stars, and his belief was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Instance #2
Hebrews 11:8 makes reference to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4, and says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” We know this is a reference to saving faith because in Hebrews 11:1-2 it says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval.” Divine approval is given for a person’s faith only when it is a saving faith.

Instance #3
James 2:21-23 makes reference to Abraham having faith when he was to sacrifice his son Isaac upon the altar and James says that the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.”

We will now examine the instances labeled #2 and #3.

James mentions that Abraham was justified when he offered Isaac upon the altar. The passage reads as follows:

James 2:21-24
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

–The passage clearly shows that Abraham was justified by his works in his obedience to God in offering Isaac upon the altar.

–The passage clearly says that Abraham’s faith had works associated with it and that his faith was completed by works.

–The passage clearly states that this episode fulfills his faith and thus his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

–The passage clearly states that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. The man used as an example was Abraham. Abraham was justified by his works in sacrificing Isaac.

Some non-Catholics attempt to make the claim that James 2:21 uses the word “when” to indicate that Abraham was already justified “when” he was going to sacrifice Isaac, and that this “when” is a reference to Abraham’s justification in Genesis 15:6. They try to substantiate this by saying that James would have otherwise used the word “by.” They will also claim that his later statement in verse 23 that “…the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God,” proves that the justification is only found in Genesis 15:6. This is a case where the doctrine of faith alone and the unbiblical claim that Abraham was justified only once is superimposed on the text in an attempt to make it say something other than what is clearly intended.

Any attempt to make a production out of the word “by” which is not in the text versus the word “when” which is in the text will fail. James asks a rhetorical question saying “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?”

Even a child reading this text will know that the apostle is telling us that Abraham was justified by works at the point in time “when” he offered his son Isaac upon the altar. The word “by” is not necessary to make the Catholic case and the word “when” does nothing to support the opposing view. In fact, either word is fatal to the doctrine of faith alone and to the view that Abraham was only justified on one occasion. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. The non-catholic claim is that only faith justifies. James says otherwise. Moreover, he begins his rhetorical question by indicating that Abraham was justified “by” works. That is the thrust of his argument throughout Chapter 2 of the epistle. It, therefore, wouldn’t matter if it is a “when” or a “by” in reference to the offering of Isaac. The “when” or the “by” still refers to works which is fatal to the argument.

  2. Another reason the contention concerning the word “when” is flawed involves the way some attempt to connect it to Gen 15:6. Please note that James makes a complete thought that Abraham was justified in his work of offering Isaac. It is only after making this complete thought that James goes on to say, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,” Now think about this: Abraham believed God and he was on the verge of sacrificing Isaac. In this, we clearly see the faith and works of Abraham. His faith and trust in God was active along with his works and his faith was completed by his work of willingly offering his son upon the altar.

Once James clearly makes those points he then, and only then, quotes the verse that Paul points out concerning justification. This is deliberate on his part and is designed to clarify misunderstandings that did and could emerge concerning Paul’s teaching. James says, "and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” This verse is chosen by James to indicate that the righteousness that he is talking about is the same righteousness that Paul is talking about. He uses, however, a different instance in Abraham’s life than Paul does and this is crucial. If James was talking about the promise concerning descendents as the only justifying event then he would have used that example as Paul did, but he had an obvious purpose for making the connection using a different instance in Abraham’s life.

cont. on next post

There is a difference between what Jesus and James are talking about. The Pharisees were doing things for the purpose of gaining approval from men and to show themselves better than others. It was this that Jesus criticized. In Matthew 5:14-16 Jesus says we are to be the light of the world. People are to see our good works and thereby glorify God. Peter tells us to do good works so that the Gentiles will glorify God. It is in this sense that James talks about showing our justification by works. It is these works that show that we have faith. It shows fellow believers that we truly believe and is a light for others to glorify God.

cont. from prior post

  1. James is not talking about Abraham already being righteous in the instance of Gen 15:6 by using the word “when.” It is a fatal mistake to assume by way of a doctrine that he must have meant that very thing, when he clearly did not. Point #2 helps to show why, but it is not the only indicator.

The text of James is inspired and the inspired word tramples that assumption by making reference to Rahab. James uses the word “when” in reference to Rahab just as he uses the word “when” in reference to Abraham. The passage on Rahab says:

James 2:25
"And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?"

James uses a rhetorical question in both instances. James says both were justified by works. James uses the word “when” in both Abraham’s and Rahab’s examples. In both cases, the works and the justification are directly tied to the particular events in question. Neither applies to different events in their lives.

Now we can be even more certain of these statements about Rahab because in Hebrews 11:38 Rahab is once again mentioned as one of those that “acted” in faith and received “divine approval.” Once again, it is important to point out that Hebrews 11 begins with the following:

“NOW FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval. By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.”(Heb 11:1-3)

The passage then goes on to mention the faith of all of the many holy patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs of the OT including Abraham and Rahab.

In Hebrews 11:4 it says:
“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous…” Abraham and Rahab are in the group listed after the statement about Abel, and also received approval as righteous in the instances cited.

Now let’s take a look at something very important.

In Genesis 15:6 we are told that “Abraham believed God concerning his descendants being as numerous as the stars, and his belief was reckoned to him as righteousness.”

The apostle Paul makes reference to this instance in his epistle to the Romans. In this regard he says:

Romans 4:16-25
That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants–not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, for he is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”–in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told, “So shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” But the words, “it was reckoned to him,” were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

Here is what we can learn from this:

Paul gives his explanation and narrative about Abraham and then says, "This is why his faith was “reckoned to him as righteousness.” Paul mentions this so that we will examine and understand what the reasons are for this faith to be reckoned as righteousness. The reasons are first of all based on grace, and the promise is “descendents that would be as numerous as the stars and that he would father many nations.” So what are the reasons that Abraham’s faith was reckoned as righteousness?

Paul tells us that:

  1. “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations; as he had been told,”

  2. “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb.”

  3. “No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

These three points are significant in several ways. Each one of them contains an element of works on the part of Abraham that satisfied and pleased God. It is through these things in faith that Abraham receives divine approval.

The most telling part of this is in reason #2. We have to recognize that Abraham was, as Paul points out, “as good as dead because he was about a hundred years old.” Moreover, Sarah was by this time barren. This combination would normally mean that there would be no children. Yet God promised Abraham that he would be the father of nations and that his descendents would be as numerous as the stars.

cont. on next post

cont from prior post

By grace, faith, and the power of God Abraham and Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Thus the promise was fulfilled.

A crucial aspect of this is revealed to us by Paul when he says that Abraham was about a hundred years old and as good as dead and that Sarah was barren. Paul is delicately and courteously making it clear that Abraham was too old to sire children. Likewise, he states that Sarah was barren. In Genesis 18:12 we are told that Sarah laughs upon hearing that she and Abraham will bear children.

The passage says: "So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?”

This again is a delicately stated phrase describing the lack of a sex life of this couple at that stage of their lives. Nevertheless, these two people believed God. Moreover, they engaged in marital relations and God blessed them with Isaac and God fulfilled the promise.

The promise would not have been fulfilled had Abraham not had relations with Sarah. Abraham and Sarah were pretty much incapable of marital relations and most certainly child bearing at that stage in their lives, but they believed God and engaged in marital relations. The ability and power to do so were granted to them by way of God’s grace. By grace and faith they begat Isaac.

Without that work or activity on their part the promise would not have been fulfilled by God. If the promise was not fulfilled because of this work/action Abraham would not have been the father of many nations. Abraham would not have been justified because he would not have completed his faith by that action. Abraham’s faith would not have been reckoned to him as righteousness.

The same kind of thing is evident in reading Hebrews chapter 11. Each of the holy figures cited had faith and their faith was associated with something they did. Even Henry’s Concise Commentary, a non-Catholic source, recognizes that Hebrews Chapter 11 is talking about the justifying faith of the patriarchs, prophets, and martyrs of the Old Testament. Henry’s Commentary says:

“Text: - Ver. 1-3 Faith always has been the mark of God’s servants, from the beginning of the world. Where the principle is planted by the regenerating Spirit of God, it will cause the truth to be received, concerning justification by the sufferings and merits of Christ. And the same things that are the object of our hope, are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation, that God will perform all he has promised to us in Christ.”

Hebrews Chapter 11 tells us that:

Verse 4: By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he received approval as righteous,

Verse 5: By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was attested as having pleased God.

Verse 6: And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Verse 7: By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, took heed and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; by this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith.

Verses 8-10: By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Verses 11-12: By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

Verse 13.: These all died in faith.

In verse 31, Rahab is also mentioned and we know from James that she was “justified” in that example.

This is righteousness and justification and every example includes faith and the works that completed it. This is made very explicit in Hebrews when the author talks about Abel as his initial example. It is also eminently clear that the faith of these individuals would be meaningless if they defied God and failed to live out their faith in the actions described above. None of them would have received divine approval. All of those mentioned are examples of OT justified saints.

We will now look once again at Sarah. Let’s start with Genesis where Abraham’s faith is reckoned to him as righteousness. This faith pertains to the promise of off spring. At that point in time Abraham was still called Abram and his wife was still called Sarai. God then makes his covenant with Abraham.

In Gen 17:4-8 it says:
“Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you, and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”

In Gen 17:15-16 it says this:
"And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her; I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

cont. on next post

cont. from prior post

Clearly, both Abraham and Sarah were justified by faith and their belief that God would keep his promises concerning them parenting many off spring and many nations, and that kings would come from them. The justification of Sarah in Genesis 15:6 is very obvious. Likewise, this incident is referred to in Hebrews 11:11. Every instance of a patriarch, prophet, and martyr in Hebrews 11 concerns faith and justification. This includes the reference to Abraham’s faith and justification as it pertains to his receiving divine approval for leaving his home land to sojourn to a foreign country by trusting God. This is a reference to instance #2 of Abraham’s justification.

There is one more reference to Abraham’s justification in the NT that does not refer to Genesis 15:6. In Galatians 3:5-9, Paul says the following:

Gal 3:5-9
Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith? Thus Abraham “believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” So you see that it is men of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the scripture, forseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are men of faith are blessed with Abraham who had faith.

This quote is a reference to Abraham’s justification in Genesis 12:1-4 which says:

Scripture always speaks through the idea of fatherhood and Abraham is no exception. Even though Sarah is not mentioned as having her faith reckoned as righteousness we can easily see that this is the case. She receives the same blessings and a name change just as Abraham did. This demonstrates God’s favor and approval along with the covenant relationship established with Sarah in the same fashion as it is established with Abraham. Sarah, like Abraham believed God and believed his promise concerning offspring.

Hebrews 11:11 specifically mentions this about Sarah by stating:

“By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.”

This is exactly the same thing that Abraham did and the connection is unmistakable when Paul says in Romans 4:3-13 that:

“For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ … We say that faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness…How then was it reckoned to him?..The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.”

Gen 12:1-4
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Galatians 3:5-9 makes it clear that the belief that Abraham had in this instance came by way of the Spirit and faith, and that as a result “it was reckoned to him as righteousness” just as his faith was reckoned to him as righteousness in Genesis 15:6. Like James, Paul quite naturally uses the phrase “reckoned to him as righteousness” in referring to an instance of Abraham’s justification other than the instance cited by Paul in Genesis 15:16 where the phrase is found. Moreover, Paul may very well be the author of the Book of Hebrews in which he speaks of Abraham being justified in Genesis 12:1-4.

Abraham was clearly justified on three separate occasions. Moreover, nowhere in scripture does it ever say that someone is justified only once. Such a claim cannot be supported by scripture either implicitly or explicitly, and there is no logical reason to believe that such a thing would be true.

Ouch…my first post disappeared…I’ll fetch it and post it out of order. Thanks for the PM on that SyCarl.

This is the first post in the series…sorry about that.

Abraham is justified 3 times. (proof)

Instance #1
In Genesis 15:6 Abraham believed God concerning his descendants being as numerous as the stars, and his belief was reckoned to him as righteousness.

Instance #2
Hebrews 11:8 makes reference to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-4, and says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” We know this is a reference to saving faith because in Hebrews 11:1-2 it says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval.” Divine approval is given for a person’s faith only when it is a saving faith.

Instance #3
James 2:21-23 makes reference to Abraham having faith when he was to sacrifice his son Isaac upon the altar and James says that the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.”

We will now examine the instances labeled #2 and #3.

James mentions that Abraham was justified when he offered Isaac upon the altar. The passage reads as follows:

James 2:21-24
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

–The passage clearly shows that Abraham was justified by his works in his obedience to God in offering Isaac upon the altar.

–The passage clearly says that Abraham’s faith had works associated with it and that his faith was completed by works.

–The passage clearly states that this episode fulfills his faith and thus his faith is reckoned as righteousness.

–The passage clearly states that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. The man used as an example was Abraham. Abraham was justified by his works in sacrificing Isaac.

Some non-Catholics attempt to make the claim that James 2:21 uses the word “when” to indicate that Abraham was already justified “when” he was going to sacrifice Isaac, and that this “when” is a reference to Abraham’s justification in Genesis 15:6. They try to substantiate this by saying that James would have otherwise used the word “by.” They will also claim that his later statement in verse 23 that “…the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God,” proves that the justification is only found in Genesis 15:6. This is a case where the doctrine of faith alone and the unbiblical claim that Abraham was justified only once is superimposed on the text in an attempt to make it say something other than what is clearly intended.

Any attempt to make a production out of the word “by” which is not in the text versus the word “when” which is in the text will fail. James asks a rhetorical question saying “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?”

Even a child reading this text will know that the apostle is telling us that Abraham was justified by works at the point in time “when” he offered his son Isaac upon the altar. The word “by” is not necessary to make the Catholic case and the word “when” does nothing to support the opposing view. In fact, either word is fatal to the doctrine of faith alone and to the view that Abraham was only justified on one occasion. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. The non-catholic claim is that only faith justifies. James says otherwise. Moreover, he begins his rhetorical question by indicating that Abraham was justified “by” works. That is the thrust of his argument throughout Chapter 2 of the epistle. It, therefore, wouldn’t matter if it is a “when” or a “by” in reference to the offering of Isaac. The “when” or the “by” still refers to works which is fatal to the argument.

  2. Another reason the contention concerning the word “when” is flawed involves the way some attempt to connect it to Gen 15:6. Please note that James makes a complete thought that Abraham was justified in his work of offering Isaac. It is only after making this complete thought that James goes on to say, “You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,” Now think about this: Abraham believed God and he was on the verge of sacrificing Isaac. In this, we clearly see the faith and works of Abraham. His faith and trust in God was active along with his works and his faith was completed by his work of willingly offering his son upon the altar.

Once James clearly makes those points he then, and only then, quotes the verse that Paul points out concerning justification. This is deliberate on his part and is designed to clarify misunderstandings that did and could emerge concerning Paul’s teaching. James says, "and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” This verse is chosen by James to indicate that the righteousness that he is talking about is the same righteousness that Paul is talking about. He uses, however, a different instance in Abraham’s life than Paul does and this is crucial. If James was talking about the promise concerning descendents as the only justifying event then he would have used that example as Paul did, but he had an obvious purpose for making the connection using a different instance in Abraham’s life.

The Catholic Church was commissioned by the Lord and they accumulated and wrote the Bible. Protestents have an incomplete Bible and an incomplete faith doctrine. Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide are lies. St.Paul and St. James were Catholic and wrote Catholic books.

To interpet scripture with just scripture is circular logic. Private interpetation breaks down at the individual level. The CC is the only valid source to interpet the Bible.

So I believe the RCC Church’s teachings on Faith and Works.

I disagree that St. James is talking about our works as being a mere display exhibiting to others that we are just.

Look, people will recognize goodness in Christians even if they don’t make a show of it. Those who are a good example of Christian faith are not “justifying themselves before men”, that is a pharisaical vice not a Christian virtue.

Jesus in the Matthew verse you cite is not exhorting Christians to parade their righteousness in order to show that they are just; rather He tells us to shine by being a community of love in order for people to glorify God. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:1 “Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them”. Don’t you see, we are to shine for God, not for ourselves, in order to bring men to God not to make a show of our own righteousness. The same goes for St. Peter.

***exactly.***:thumbsup:

Pax:

First let me say that the possibility of Abraham being viewed as justified on more than one occasion does not bother me that way it would someone who supports “once saved always saved”. To me justification is an ongoing judgement of innocent that continues as long as faith continues. If we cease to believe then we are no longer justified. Even if Abraham didn’t lose his faith, he can still be said to be justified by each act of faith as that act confirms his existing justification.

I would also say that faith itself is a work. In John 6:27-29 says that believing is doing God’s work. So what faith alone really means is that no other work is required to accept God’s grace.

“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
(John 6:27-29 NASB)

You comment that James quotes the same verse about Abraham that Paul did and that he did this purposely to correct misunderstandings of Paul’s teachings. A problem with this view is that James’ epistle is generally considered to predate Paul’s epistles to the Romans and the Galatians. For example the Catholic Encyclopaedia gives the probable date for James as about 47 AD, while Romans is dated about 57-58 AD and Galatians anywhere from 49-58 AD. Consequently, if anything, Paul likely wrote to clarify what James’ epistle. Although it is just speculation on my part, perhaps James’ comments on works were utilized by the Judaizers that Paul warned about in his letters. If Paul was clarifying James, then the passage Romans 4:1-2 is even stronger in support of faith alone.

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
(Romans 4:1-2 NASB)

James had said that Abrahams had been justified by works when he offered Isaac. Paul then says if Abraham was justified by works before anyone, it was not before God. James would then have to be taken as saying Abraham was justified before someone besides God. This would give credence to the interpretation that James was dealing with proof of our faith to other believers.

With respect to your comments about Abraham and Sarah having no sex life when God promised Abraham about the numbers of his descendants, I think it is more likely that age and barreness were emphasized to show just how great God’s action was. In any event, Abraham was reckoned righteous in Genesis 15:6 long before he had the relations with Sarah that resulted in Isaac so, while his actions resulted in the fulfilment of the promise, they did not result in the declaration of righteous which was made immediately upon his believing.
With respect to Hebrews 11, the whole tenor of the chapter is set by the first two verses.

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval.
(Hebrews 11:1-2 NASB)

Each person was given as an example of faith, not of works. It was faith that justified them and any additional works were proof of that justification. Of course the Protestant view does not deny that works follow and are the result of faith. However works are not the cause of justification, which is through faith.

Finally, although you posts were very comprehensive they did not really address my point that James and Paul are talking about two different things. James is dealing with justification in the sense of showing or proving that we have faith while Paul deals with justification before God.

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