Faith alone is equivalent to Spiritual alone. We don’t live solely in a Spiritual Reality, our Reality is Spiritual and Physical. If Faith alone is sufficient then why must we do the Physical act of Praying or Repenting? Faith alone drawn down to its natural conclusion simply means No Physical acts, No Prayer, No Repentance, are needed for Salvation. Which also means no Physical acts can cause one to lose salvation, including mass murder. Faith alone is essentially nothing, without meaning, Void of Life or Dead. For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (James 2:26).
I respectfully disagree with everything you said above. You have to understand Sola fide within the context of the other Solas of the Protestant Reformation:
Sola scriptura (by Scripture alone)
Sola fide (by faith alone)
Sola gratia (by grace alone)
Solus Christus (Christ alone)
Soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone)
Faith is a gift of God. Faith comes by the agency of the word of God and the Holy Spirit (Romans 10:17; John 5:24)
Repentance is a gift of divine grace. The kindness of God leads us toward repentance (Romans 2:4). It comes from the word of God and the Spirit of God acting on the mind, will, and emotions. The individual is convinced of sin, becomes filled with Godly sorrow, and is renewed so that he turns from sin and seeks to live a life of obedience to God. This act of God’s grace is an experience of faith. Repentance is not a one time thing but the way of life for a Christian, which God’s grace enables us to live: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, continuing to walk in faith, strengthening our spiritual core by partaking in all and any means of grace (works of piety and works of mercy) that God provides, we can continue to overcome sin and carnality.
Justification is a work of grace and a judicial act of God where He remits the believer’s sin and declares him righteous. The sole basis for this declaration and transference of righteousness is the obedience of Christ (who fulfilled all righteousness and was crucified for us, shedding his blood and making atonement for us). Christ’s righteousness is transferred to the believer, freeing him from judgment and giving him the benefit of Christ’s full merit. The only instrument for receiving this divine grace is faith in Jesus Christ.
We are justified by grace alone through faith alone.
God adopts the believer as a son or daughter. God goes on to transform the believer so that he becomes a partaker in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and God’s love is shed abroad in his heart by the Spirit (Romans 5:5). He is born again in a creative act of God’s grace, again through faith (which comes by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit). The evidence for this transformation is the love of God shed abroad in the heart, the manifestation of the fruit of the Spirit, and the rejection of a life of sin.
Sanctification is a work of grace. It is provided for by the blood of Christ’s atonement. The flesh is crucified and unrighteousness is purged from the believer. In sanctification, the graces planted within the believer in the new birth are released. The pursuit of holiness is the normal lifestyle for a believer.
This is all contrary to how you characterized “faith alone” above.
I can only speak clearly for one Protestant faith since I was a member of that denomination before converting to Catholicism.
When I was Baptist, I never heard about repenting of a sin. When I got “saved” at 5 and said the Sinner’s Prayer, I was taught that all my sins in the past, present and future are forgiven. So if all my sins in the future were already forgiven, there would be no need to confess and repent of them. This of course is a concept that is gravely wrong, but that is how they are taught. :shrug:
They believe that their faith alone in Jesus Christ will save them and it does not matter what they do, they will still be saved because they “asked Jesus to come into their heart and save them.”
In defense of protestant theology, I dont think they mean nothing physical is neccessary. I believe Martin Luther even stated that works are neccessary for the Christian, but they are not what saves them. They say, it is faith alone that saves them and then faith is nothing without works.
To me, its not as negative as you are making it seem. But I also think it should prompt them to think deaper about our participation in our salvation. That is what protestantism is so affraid to think…that we participate in our actual salvation. As though it will take away some of Gods glory. Or more importantly, that it means that we deserved to be saved. These fears are not rationally based. They are excuses.
Catholics who walk their faith are in the frame of heart that we are saved by “Grace Alone” and through faith and works. Protestants could also use their own accusations that their faith merited salvation as though they would be faithfull without Jesus’ sacrifice. But we dont play that game. It really is misunderstanding for protestantism. From their own view point. For instance, if we understood our teaching as they believe it, then we would not believe it either.
The reality of justification through faith and works is known because our faith is always challenged and attacked. We must fulfill our faith in works. We must work out our salvation. True faith does understand that the works are from God and done through us. But not as though we are robots. We give consent of will, and effort to bring God into our life. We pick up and carry our crosses. Justification is not a one time deal. It is our life’s test…til the end.
I think a large motive in creating the faith alone doctrine was the desire of assurance of salvation. This, then leads to a host of compromises and underminds anything the Church teaches, if it is too difficult to understand, or seems contrary to their understanding.
Remember what the works of the spirit are. The first work is repentance. And also forgiving others. These two are neccessary for salvation. Its not WHY God chose to redeem us, but it is How God redeems us. He chose to redeem us out of His goodness and grace alone.
Right. This can lead them to believe, no matter what i do, I am saved. Again, I think most protestants are actually doing God’s work in their lives. It is never Catholics who are accussing them of this. But these rejections of our faith give them division. It comes down to rejecting the Lords true supper. This is the guilt of protestant teachers; that they keep children from the eucharist.
A number of years ago, I got in a debate with a protestant about this. I gave him this logic: if you do not think works are necessary for Salvation, does,it at least stand to reason that someone who has faith will also have works follow? He agreed. I should not have “compromised”, but he DID see that work was necessary. The argument may not be exactly theologically correct, but it did the trick. He did give up sola fide in the strict sense seeing a that a genuine faith in God, makes one love God, and will make one want to love and serve God’s servants to help bring about the Kingdom.
You may have mentioned this before and I’ve forgotten, but what Baptist church was it you were in? I’ve attended three different conferences of Baptist churches, and none of them teach anything like what you have described.
For Southern Baptists, Boyce is the most commonly referred to systematic theology, and he says this about justification:
It is thus evident that works occupy the position of subsequent, not antecedent, accompaniments of justification. They manifest that justification has taken place, because they are invariable consequence. They do this, however, not before man only, but God also, and consequently he, as well as man, perceives them, and because of them the believer performing these good works is justified before God. But such justification is not that actual justification which takes place in connection with faith, which is the judicial act of God declaring the relation of the believer to the law, but that declarative or manifesting justification, which cannot exist except as the result of the actual justification, but which is so inseparably connected with the latter that by its presence, or absence, the existence or non-existence of justification is distinctly established. founders.org/library/boyce1/ch35.html
And this about repentance:
To set forth explicitly what Christian Repentance is, it may be stated that it includes
An intellectual and spiritual perception of the opposition between holiness in God and sin in man. It does not look at sin as the cause of punishment but abhors it because it is vile in the sight of God and involves in heinous guilt all who are sinners.
It consequently includes sorrow and self-loathing, and earnest desire to escape the evil of sin. The penitent soul does not so much feel the greatness of its danger as the greatness of its sinfulness.
It also includes an earnest turning to God for help and deliverance from sin, seeking pardon for guilt and aid to escape its presence.
It is also accompanied by deep regret because of the sins committed in the past, and by determination with God’s help to avoid sin and live in holiness hereafter. The heart heretofore against God and for sin is now against sin and for God. founders.org/library/boyce1/ch33.html
And of sanctification:
It is a real sanctification, not merely one that is imputed, as is righteousness. Holiness is not merely “accounted to men,” so that they are treated as though holy, but they are made holy. Holiness becomes the characteristic of their natures. It is habitually exercised in their lives. It will eventually be possessed in perfection. It is real and in no sense only virtual.
It is of the whole nature. The renewed nature, given in regeneration, shows that sanctification includes the whole spiritual part of man. It is not to be confined to mere outward actions. . . But sanctification is to be extended to the body likewise. Its appetites and passions are to be controlled, wicked actions are to cease, and unholy habits to be put away, the members of the body are to be mortified, all filthiness of the flesh to be cleansed, good works are to be exhibited to mankind, and such high moral duties to be performed as are imposed upon Christians as obligatory towards each other and the world. founders.org/library/boyce1/ch37.html
Itwin pointed out that sola fide is not the sum total of Christian theology. Justification is often referred to as being by grace alone, through faith alone, for Christ’s sake alone, but justification is not all there is to man’s relationship to God. Election, calling, conversion, repentance, faith, justification, adoption, sanctification, and perseverance are all chapters in understanding our relationship to God, even for those who hold the concept of sola fide. founders.org/library/boyce1/toc.html
I am a Christian who adheres to faith alone theology which is misunderstood by Protestants and Catholics alike. We are not saved by faith nor are we saved by our faith in Christ. Our faith has an object which saves us. The object of our faith (Christ) saves us from the wrath of God, reconciles us to God, and is the sole basis of our eternal adoption as sons of God (sonship).
There is a short article by Rod Rosenbladt that paints that same picture. Here are a couple of my favorite quotes:
Melanchthon had a different sort of temperament than Luther. Some would call him timid; others of a less generous bent might call him spineless. At one time, while Luther was off in the Wartburg castle translating, Melanchthon had another one of his attacks of timidity. He wrote to Luther, “I woke this morning wondering if I trust Christ enough.” Luther received such letters from Melanchthon regularly. He had a tendency, a propensity, to navel-gaze and to wonder about the state of his inner faith, and whether it was enough to save. Finally, in an effort to pull out all the stops and pull Melanchthon out of himself, Luther wrote back and said, “Melanchthon! Go sin bravely! Then go to the cross and bravely confess it! The whole gospel is outside of us.”
This story has been told time and time again by less sympathetic observers than I in an effort to caricature Luther and the Reformation generally as advocates of licentious abandon. . . Luther’s frustrated counsel was not an invitation to serve sin, but an attempt to shock Melanchthon into realizing that his only true righteousness was external to him: “The whole gospel is outside of us.”
. . . A friend of mine was walking down a street in Minneapolis one day and was confronted by an evangelical brother who asked, “Brother, are you saved?” Hal rolled his eyes back and said, “Yes.” That didn’t satisfy this brother, so he said, “Well, when were you saved?” Hal said, “About two thousand years ago, about a twenty minutes’ walk from downtown Jerusalem.” This is the gospel message.
Faith is just an instrument in which the merit of Christ flows through. Therefore, faith in itself cannot save anyone. The demons have faith and shudder. We are saved by grace (merited by Christ in His life and death) through the instrument of faith (Eph 2:8-9). So, to answer your question, we cannot be saved by faith alone. Our faith has to have an object to save us.
So you are not Saved by Faith Alone! It’s nice to know you agree that Faith Alone is a False Doctrine. I pray that you contemplate on this further and become Catholic. I love you and wish to see you and all my separated brethren brought back into the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
That’s because you are presenting a caricature of faith alone that is something we don’t believe. We are justified by grace alone through faith alone for Christ’s sake alone (and that last refers to what Christian Unity has pointed out–that faith has as an object Christ and His work), but, as John MacArthur points out below, this justification, God’s act of declaring the believing sinner righteous, is not the only essential aspect of salvation.
Biblical justification must be earnestly defended on two fronts. No-lordship theology (the error we dealt with in the November/December issue of Pulpit) twists the doctrine of justification by faith to support the view that obedience to God’s moral law is optional. This teaching attempts to reduce the whole of God’s saving work to the declarative act of justification. It downplays the spiritual rebirth of regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17); it discounts the moral effects of the believer’s new heart (Ezek. 36:26-27); and it makes sanctification hinge on the believer’s own efforts. It tends to treat the forensic element of justification–God’s act of declaring the believing sinner righteous–as if this were the only essential aspect of salvation. The inevitable effect of this approach is to turn the grace of God into licentiousness (Jude 4). Such a view is called antinomianism.
On the other hand, there are many who make justification dependent on a mixture of faith and works. Whereas antinomianism radically isolates justification from sanctification, this error blends the two aspects of God’s saving work. The effect is to make justification a process grounded in the believer’s own flawed righteousness–rather than a declarative act of God grounded in Christ’s perfect righteousness.
As soon as justification is fused with sanctification, works of righteousness become an essential part of the process. Faith is thus diluted with works. Sola fide is abandoned. This was the error of the Galatian legalists (cf. Gal. 2:16; 5:4). Paul called it “a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6, 9). The same error is found in virtually every false cult. It’s the main error of Roman Catholicism. I’m concerned that it may also be the direction many who are enthralled with “the New Perspective on Paul” are traveling. gty.org/Resources/articles/1393
I would not say that being saved by the instrument of faith alone based on the object of Christ alone is a false doctrine. Christ is the sufficient Savior for all who believe, regardless of the flavor of Christianity that you embrace.
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