Faith alone, with exception.

In a recent conversation with a Non-denominational friend, the subject of Matt 20:1-16 came up. He expressed how unfair he thought the land owner was with dispersing the daily wages. We discussed in further detail the deeper meaning of the parable, however he went away holding fast to his opinion. Later I thought how odd it was for someone who believed in faith alone to be so upset by what appears to be a lack of justification for work performed.

Any comments?

there is a chance that the issue is one of exposure. He may have never been exposed to this particular story as an issue of teaching a doctrine. Basically, he was confused.

Could be, but when remembering past conversations this issues has surfaced before.

There seems to me that as human persons, we have an innate expectation of consequence resulting form our actions. Bad actions = bad consequences, good actions = good consequences. Not that we necessarily expect an outward punishment or reward, but internally, we have a knowledge of failure or success. Faith alone seems to neutralize that understanding.

Actually, I would say it is Grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ that neutralizes that understanding. The Gospel does turn our thinking on its head a little bit. There is nothing we are capable of doing to warrant or merit salvation. IOW, that good consequence (salvation) we want to try to earn with our good works is totally and completely out of our reach. As our order of public confession says, “…we justly deserve your present and eternal punishment” (that bad consequence).
But because of a God who is faithful and just, and because of the sacrifice of His son, salvation is available to us.

It is only by Grace through faith that salvation is made available to us.


Ok, Jon,
Why would that story from the Bible be so bothersome to the person? After all, it does not matter when we get the Grace, but that we act on it, so why would it bother someone that everyone, no matter how bad before they repent, ends up in the same heaven?

Hi Ralph. Hope you are well.

It seems to me there are some who view salvation from a competetive POV; “I might not be perfect, but I’m better than Joe over there. I give more. I help with Sunday School, etc.” As the OP said, humans have a sense of fairness, and the Cross kind of flips it over.


you said it right when you say that salvation is made available to us. the question is if it is available, what must you do to get to that salvation? i am sure you will come up with many things we must do.

Actually, no. Christ said we must believe and be Baptized. Now, we can discuss what is included in faith if you wish. For example, we are to help the least of God’s children. Certainly, showing love and charity are at least an expected response on our part. But believe and be baptized are the short list.


so we must do some things. what i think it is funny is that protestants always accuse Catholics of doing working for salvation.
becarefull jon, sometimes we think that by just believe we are in good shape. for i do not despise those without realizing are doing others good. i am sure our Lord do not forget them.

Jon is right on this and at this point. But after this we are on our separate ways though in many of them we do the same things.

The questions of course: what does it entail in believing and in being baptized? For that we will have to fall back to the Church’s teaching. The Bible is a good guide of course but one needs to be taught to understand it.

When men has suffering from bad experience then he faith alone.

so we must do some things. what i think it is funny is that protestants always accuse Catholics of doing working for salvation.

In fairness, I have never heard Jon accuse us of this.

God bless you

Hello Jon, I was just reading your response to Ralph and in doing that, a question formed in my mind. First, I agree with you. Now my question to anyone here:

Was the Lord worried about how we would appear to one another or was He more worried that we do His will?

I think we tend to place our perceptions of one another on God (we look better if we do more). IMHO, I don’t think it was God’s way of deterring arrogance when He inspired Paul to say:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” -Ephesians 2:8,9

Notice that even in your example the key word is “I”. It was never how much you do, but to whom credit is given.

But I also think we sometimes use this verse to negate the relevance of good works in terms of salvation. Salvation, meaning to be saved or rescued from something. It’s like saying you can love someone if you never show it. Love and Grace are actions, not just states of being. Grace is God’s Good Work for us. It is His gift and we are to “pay it forward” whenever possible. Christ says, love one another as I have loved you. That is a call to *act *not simply to feel. We are to rescue one another, not just have faith. God calls us to do for each other (in earthly terms) what He did for us.

So IMHO, I hardly think God would ever favor Sola Fide. (no intention of starting something here)

I think what may be true is that all good works come through the Lord so we are to give credit to Him alone, none to ourselves. If this is correct, it does not negate the “need” for works but places the credit where credit is due *and *inspires us to be faithful so that we can and want to do God’s will which is to love another as He loves us.

I don’t think any Protestant or Catholic or even Jew thinks that by doing good works they are saved. I think people have a general conception that by doing God’s will, we’ll be in God’s favor. Being in God’s favor is always helpful when one wants to sit beside God in Heaven :).

In fact I never really understood why this is such an argument between Protestants and Catholics (and others). Why the need to disqualify the good works of anyone? :shrug:

I think you make some good points here. Sometimes I think the differing views we have in the necessity of good works is not that it is so, but how do they fit in. Lutherans make more of a line of distinction between justification and sanctification, and place the neccesity of good works in the area of sanctification. Hence Luther’s remark “by faith alone, but faith is never alone.” It seems to me, correct me if I’m wrong, that Catholics view the two as a continuim. In the end, however, at least according to the JDDJ, we agree that, “By grace alone, in faith in Christ’s saving work and not because of any merit on our part, we are accepted by God and receive the Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts while equipping and calling us to good works.”

That calling to good works is not God casually saying, “well, you have faith, so it would be nice if you did good works, but don’t put yourself out.” It is a necessity, an obligation that Christ places before us. He says so often in scripture. Not a single one of those good works will save me, but as part of my sanctification they will help me grow in Grace.


=wisdomseeker;5146411]so we must do some things. what i think it is funny is that protestants always accuse Catholics of doing working for salvation.

I think, frankly, that is a perception out there, but I wouldn’t use the word “always”. I think it is historical, and has roots in some of the abuses of the past. I have come to believe that knowledgable Catholics know they can’t earn their way to heaven, and I have come to respect what Catholics teach about faith and works, and believe that our beliefs are not so far apart as they once were.

becarefull jon, sometimes we think that by just believe we are in good shape. for i do not despise those without realizing are doing others good. i am sure our Lord do not forget them.

I tend to agree, that it is a troubling notion if we believe that just by an assertion of faith we have no responsibilities for our sanctification. We must recognize that we are still in sin and must confess, we must participate in word and sacrament, and we must care for the least of God’s children. Failure to do so can eventually drive out the Holy Spirit, and the faith that brought us to justification in the first place.



The new testament speaks of people being saved before Jesus died…

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