Faith alone


#1

I am bothering you good people again.

I am for a better word “stuck” in a house with a non-denominational, zealous Christian. She is a rather nice girl, so I want to be nice in my reply. We met in the living room today and she just came from her service and I came from Mass.

We started talking about the scriptures said in both our Churches. Somehow she said that we would both go to heaven. I smiled and laughed and said “I truely hope that I will go to heaven”. She was confused, and I said that I am not guranteed heaven. I hope and pray and do my best to follow God and hope that I will go to heaven.

She then said that in Romans 14 it says that we are guranteed heaven by our faith alone. I read the passage in the Bible and then looked in the Catechism and then looked up James2: 14-28 and James clearly states that withour works there is no faith. I left her to read James and came to the library to study. She said that she would read the passage I gave her (she could name it what it said without looking it up) but she wants me to read Romans when I come home.

I really try not to get into discussions with her if I can help it because my apologetics are not that great. I am trying to learn and read as much as possible but please help. How can I counter Romans… from what I read it just says that everyone can be granted faith (Am I correct) but it doesn’t say that faith alone will grant you eternal life in heaven… correct?


#2

Romans 14 seems to be all about Old Covenant dietary restrictions, that people should not judge each other on what they consider to be clean and unclean.

Romans 8:12-13 puts into words what Paul is trying to convey quite nicely: Consequently, brothers, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. And 6:16: Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?

I think the message Paul is trying to get across in Romans is: works won’t save you, faith alone won’t save you, but works coming from faith and love of Christ will.


#3

**[size=2]**I would explain to her that commandments are part of faith and faith is part of salvation, I dont see how a christian can seperate them.

I dont believe all christians who die go right to Heaven as the Kingdom is for the Holy and as Jesus said" nothing unclean or unrightous may enter."

We need purification of our souls for our sins, so Catholics have Purgatory. If we refrain from sin and follow Christ as the Saints did. then we may gain entrance straight into Heaven.

The eternal security believers always quote Romans, Gal, and take a couple of verses out of context to suit their way of living rather than a way Christ has asked of us. If they read Matt, Mark, Luke and John they will see the consequences for believers who claim they love and have faith in Christ but do not obey him. ****
Sara[/size]


#4

catholic.com/library/Assurance_of_Salvation.asp


#5

I don’t think there can ever be anything such as “faith alone” (wasn’t the “alone” added by Martin Luther, anyway?)

Aside from letting her read from your Bible the letters of James (with “faith without works is dead”), let her ponder. .

A man says he has faith in Jesus as His savior. He never really does anything wrong. . .does not lie, cheat, or steal. But. . .he never really does much of anything else. No bad works. . .but no GOOD works either.

Is such a person a Christian? Nominally, just “accepting Christ as savior” yet living a life which is totally concerned with self, never loving one’s neighbor, never praying with others, never going to a church, never reading the bible, etc.

I guess she would think it God’s mercy if such a person went to heaven. I guess it’s merciful, huh? One can pretty much live as one pleases, never have to even make contact with another human being, just from once having said “the sinner prayer” and being careful just to sort of coast along. Or–I forget–since there is no confession, this person can actually sin up a storm and all is forgiven if the guy says he is sorry, because “Jesus is my Savior”.

This doesn’t really sound very merciful, though.
If I had a child, and I let the kid pretty much coast through life without any consequences for his wrong actions so long as he said, sorry, mom, you’re the greatest. . .what kind of parent would I be? What would the kid be learning–that he can do what he likes, mom will always forgive WITH NO CONSEQUENCES?

That is NOT the God that I know, it is not the God of the scriptures either.

And then I’d just let her think about it. No arguments, no explanations, just really think about God as our father. . .

and picture just what kind of father lets his children mess up their lives over and over, accepting the mess with a smile and a “fuggedabodit”, no matter what harm they have done to themselves, to others, and most especially to him.


#6

The section What is the purpose of life ? might help
catholic.com/library/Pillar.asp


#7

Romans does not override or contradict James, point out that both are scripture and they both must be understood together.

I believe, works without faith is just trying to be good and rejecting God. Catholics do not teach that at all.

We need faith, working through love.
Faith alone in the strictest sense is what the demons have.
This is an almost scary version that some believe.

Many people when they say Faith Alone do so and mean Faith that includes works and love, but either precedes it (#1, with free will or #2 you do it because you are saved without free will)
The first almost believing exactly the same as Catholics just describing it differently.

Catholics do not think they can work their way into heaven, but do not deny the necessity of loving God and obeying His will.

So in the end it is important to stress that we shouldn’t take one or two verses and let them trump others but they should be taken together as a whole.

God Bless
Scylla


#8

You are not bothering any of us.

You need to ask her to show you in scripture (because I’m sure she is bible alone) where it says we are saved/justified by faith alone. The words faith and alone only appear 1 time in scripture and it is is James 2:24 which says:

KJV:

24Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

NIV:

24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

This is one of those things protestants can’t get around because scripture says the exact opposite of what she is telling you.

Here is a quote from www.biblechristiansociety.com which is a site you need to use right now because there are some basic questions or arguments she may throw at you either out of curiosity or because she may tell those she is going to church with that she rooms with a catholic and they will give her ammo.

"You see, many Protestants believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us.

There are so many places in Scripture, which talk about how one is “saved”, but not one of them says we are saved by one act of faith at just one point in time. As I just mentioned, 1 Ptr 3:20 says we are saved by baptism. In Hebrews 12:14 it says that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy, and that we have to strive for this holiness. In Matthew 6:14-15, it says we must forgive others or we will not be forgiven. Can you attain salvation if God hasn’t forgiven you? No! So, our forgiving others is necessary for our salvation.

1 Tim 2:15 says that woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. John 6:54 says we will have eternal life by doing something…eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 19, verses 16 and 17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. Did He say, accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.

Yes, as Catholics we are born again. And, as Catholics we believe that we were saved, as Paul says in Rom 8:24; that we are being saved, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18; and that we will be saved, as Paul says in Rom 5:9-10, provided we persevere and keep our eyes on the prize. Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches."


#9

I think this is going to be a very enlightening rotation for you! Actually, my own faith journey has been so enriched by my opportunities to defend the faith.

I think you are dealing with two separate issues here with your zealous housemate: “faith alone” and presumption.

On “faith alone”:
Matt. 16:24-27: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and begin to follow in my footsteps. Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. . .The Son of Man will come with his Father’s glory accompanied by his angels. When he does, he will repay each man according to his conduct.”

Matt. 7:21: “Not everyone who cries out, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Philip. 3:10-11: “I wish to know Christ and the power flowing from his resurrection; likewise to know how to share in his sufferings by being formed into the pattern of his death. Thus do I hope that I may arrive at resurrection from the dead.”

Rom. 2:5-13: “. . .He will repay every man for what he has done: eternal life to those who strive for glory, honor, and immortality by patiently doing right. . .There will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who has done good. . .For it is not those who hear the law who are just in the sight of God; it is those who keep it who will be declared just.”

All of these passages are good for refuting “faith alone” as it is understood by many Protestants. You were very right in pointing her to James, too. God’s plan for our salvation is to infuse us with His grace to make us his “co-workers,” his “cultivation,” and “his building” (1 Cor. 3:9). Everything is grace. “It is God who, in his good will towards you, begets in you any measure of desire or achievement” (Philip. 2:13). We are given grace that we would freely choose to co-operate with that grace. Our faith, our hope, and our love are all gifts beyond our own power. They are all God working in us. These gifts are freely given. We can not EARN anything on our own—God is not our contractual employer—he doesn’t owe us anything! But, we CAN lose salvation on our own by refusing him and his will for our lives.

Faith alone will not save us. Works alone will not save us. Faith and works, both, are God’s gifts to us that help us come to know him in this life. Only the grace of God through the sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ can save us. We are called to respond to that grace and become participants in Christ’s suffering as part of our Christian walk.

Your housemate’s view of faith alone is on very shakey ground. . .especially in light of Romans.


#10

Part 2: Presumption

So, your housemate says that one is “guaranteed” salvation by our faith alone?

This is where the presumption part comes into play. Paul tells us: “Can you not realize that the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God? Do not deceive yourselves. . .” (1 Cor. 6:9) and “What I do is discipline my own body and master it, for fear that after having preached to others I myself should be rejected” (1 Cor. 9:27) and “Let anyone who thinks he is standing upright watch out lest he fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12).

The point being–contrary to your housemate’s theology–we CAN fall. We CAN lose our salvation. This is why we read in ROMANS:

“You will say, ‘Branches were cut off that I might be grafted in.’ Well and good. They were cut off because of unbelief and you are there because of faith. Do not be haughty on that account, but fearful. If God did not spare the natural branches, he will certainly not spare you. Consider the kindness and the severity of God–severity toward those who fell, kindness toward you, provided you remain in his kindness; if you do not, you too will be cut off.” (Romans 11:19-22)

Here, St. Paul is very clear. Yes, some (the Gentiles especially) are grafted into the Church because of their belief apart from works of the law (which is entirely different from the “works” James is speaking of, by the way). Yet, these same people who are now “grafted in” because of faith are warned not to be haughy, but FEARFUL as they, too, can fall from God’s grace and be cut off.

“So then, my dearly beloved, obedient as always to my urging, work with anxious concern to achieve your salvation. . .” (Philippians 2:12)

That does not seem very assured to me.

“Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers; surely those who do so will never be lost.” (1 Peter 1:10)

Here, St. Peter instructs the Church to be “solicitous” in making their “call and election permanent.” That is, it is not already PERMANENT. He is speaking here to Christians. People who believe in Christ. People who have faith. Yet, they are called to be careful in their Christian walk so that they will not be lost. He would not have given this warning if it were not possible to be lost.

“Thus do I hope that I may arrive at resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have reached it yet, or have already finished my course; but I am racing to grasp the prize if possible, since I have been grasped by Christ (Jesus). Brothers, I do not think of myself as having reached the finish line.” (Philippians 3:11-13)

Here, St. Paul speaks so well about how we are to view our salvation. It is a process. It is a journey. We have not already achieved it, so obviously we can lose it. Christ’s sacrifice has won for us the rewards of eternal life, but while we are here on earth we are still on a journey towards him. We have not finished the race, nor should we behave as though we have.

Let us know if you need any more reinforcement–there’s a LOT more.


#11

How does she know with abolute certainty that she is saved? How does she know she won’t fall away later in life, and other will say of her “well, she was never saved to begin with”?


#12

The kind of faith St. Paul is talking about is obedient faith, that is, the obedience that faith is.


#13

Thank you so much all of you.

Yesterday she asked me if I wanted her feedback on James. I noded and she said “that was very good, but I interpret James as saying how you are suppose to practice your faith. It doesn’t talk to me about salvation.” I said “the Church interprets it differently” and then went to bed since I have to get up a 5:30 in the morning and not in the mood for yet another debate.

I am sure many of you have experience with “Sola scriptura” Christians and I find it rather frustrating. How can you debate anything if they just say “I don’t interpret it that way.” However, perhaps the seed is planted and I will just pray that it will grow into something.

I am trying to decide if to give her all the above Scripture to read. I am just not sure if my Biblical knowledge is strong enough to debate her.

God bless…


#14

It’s going to be tough with her because of one thing she will say over and over, especially if you make a valid point. “well, I interpret it different.” When she does that, you need to bring up the fact tha the Holy Spirit was send to lead us to ALL truth, and how can she be right with her interpretation and everyone else be right with their own interpretation also when 99 times out of 100, it is always different.


#15

Oh. . .I have been where you are! It is when we are challenged in our insecurity that we are compelled to journey further and dig deeper. So many times have I been in a conversation that I came out of thinking, “That is never going to happen like that again.” I am not a Scripture “scholar,” but one too many Scripture sword drills with zealous Protestants has made me search and seek the Sacred Scriptures in ways I never would have on my own. I hope this your experience, too.

As for your housemate’s comment on James. . .It is really very sad. Really. For someone who values Scripture above all other authority, it is quite sad that she would ignore the obvious salvation references in the text of James!

St. James begins his letter with the most wonderful encouragement on this road to salvation. He says:

“Happy the man who holds out to the end through trial! Once he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1: 12) This is how we are to understand our SALVATION. . .it is the crown at the end of a life of trial. In this life we will be tempted so fiercely, yet if we hold out to the end, St. James says we will receive our crown–the SALVATION promised us through Jesus Christ.

Just verses before the famous “faith and good works” passage, St. James sets us up for what he teaches about faith working in love towards the SALVATION of our souls. He says:

“Listen, dear brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom he promised to those who love him?” (James 2:5) The kingdom promised to those who love God is SALVATION. . .that’s his whole point here.

And St. James ends his whole letter with the verse:

“Remember this: the person who brings a sinner back from his way will save his soul from death and cancel a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20) St. James ends his whole message with a word of SALVATION. He entreats his readers to ACT, to WORK, and to LOVE towards the SALVATION of one’s soul.

I’m not sure what version of the book of James your housemate is reading, but if she missed St. James’ teaching on SALVATION then she is sadly misinterpreting this rich and beautiful book.

And truly, if your housemate really does believe that she is saved by faith alone and she really does think that James is talking about how one should live one’s faith, then by the transitive property James is about SALVATION.

If you are not comfortable at this point in your ability to debate her with your current knowledge of Scripture, I would just press her to explain her interpretation further to you (if you are interested in continuing this conversation). It seems that at this point she is merely playing back the interpretations that she has been taught and once she is challenged to really explain the Scripture in her own words, she may not be on such solid ground.


#16

[quote=ElizaE]Thank you so much all of you.

Yesterday she asked me if I wanted her feedback on James. I noded and she said “that was very good, but I interpret James as saying how you are suppose to practice your faith. It doesn’t talk to me about salvation.” I said “the Church interprets it differently” and then went to bed since I have to get up a 5:30 in the morning and not in the mood for yet another debate.

I am sure many of you have experience with “Sola scriptura” Christians and I find it rather frustrating. How can you debate anything if they just say “I don’t interpret it that way.” However, perhaps the seed is planted and I will just pray that it will grow into something.

I am trying to decide if to give her all the above Scripture to read. I am just not sure if my Biblical knowledge is strong enough to debate her.

God bless…
[/quote]

So “Faith without works is dead” is only talking about how we should live?

“Faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love”? How can love be greater when “Faith” is all you need?

Tell your friend to try reading some of the Gospels and not just the Epistles of Paul. Jesus gives numerous examples of our need for Works through Faith.

NotWorthy


#17

[quote=JaneFrances]“So then, my dearly beloved, obedient as always to my urging, work with anxious concern to achieve your salvation. . .” (Philippians 2:12)

That does not seem very assured to me.

[/quote]

In my version this verse is even more explicit:

“So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work our your salvation with fear and trembling.”


#18

[quote=ElizaE]I am bothering you good people again.

I am for a better word “stuck” in a house with a non-denominational, zealous Christian. She is a rather nice girl, so I want to be nice in my reply. We met in the living room today and she just came from her service and I came from Mass.

We started talking about the scriptures said in both our Churches. Somehow she said that we would both go to heaven. I smiled and laughed and said “I truely hope that I will go to heaven”. She was confused, and I said that I am not guranteed heaven. I hope and pray and do my best to follow God and hope that I will go to heaven.

She then said that in Romans 14 it says that we are guranteed heaven by our faith alone. I read the passage in the Bible and then looked in the Catechism and then looked up James2: 14-28 and James clearly states that withour works there is no faith. I left her to read James and came to the library to study. She said that she would read the passage I gave her (she could name it what it said without looking it up) but she wants me to read Romans when I come home.

I really try not to get into discussions with her if I can help it because my apologetics are not that great. I am trying to learn and read as much as possible but please help. How can I counter Romans… from what I read it just says that everyone can be granted faith (Am I correct) but it doesn’t say that faith alone will grant you eternal life in heaven… correct?
[/quote]

Bump!! I had to bump this because I’ve been having similiar discussions within the last couple of weeks.

First, I had some people come to my door asking for a can of food, I obliged, and then I was asked “if you died tomorrow, would you go to heaven?” I said, “I hope so”. Then they asked “Do you want to be 100% sure?”. I said, “I’m pretty sure, but that’s up to God”. Then I told them I was devout Catholic, and they left in a hurry.

Second, was last night. My wife and I attend a protestant bible study. It’s more like a bunch of friends that get together to discuss scripture, etc. The also know we are Catholic, and we won’t be joining their church, ever. Anyway, one of the women there said “I’m 100% sure I’m going to heaven”. I bit my toungue and didn’t say anything, but I was ready to.

This thread will help me on my way, so thank you to all who have participated and gave so many great ways to approach this topic.

God Bless!! :thumbsup:


#19

I heard apriest talk about this very subject, and I have to agree with him 100%.
There really is no argument here on this subject, because, if a person is deep in the faith irregardless of what he or she believes, about faith alone or faith and works, a good Christian would be inclined to do good deeds irregarless of how he or she feels about the matter, and even though a person may feel that you are saved by faith alone, their works of charity, alms, prayers for others, love, etc., is contributing to their salvation, thus works are being done whether they realise it or not.
I don’t believe you can be a good Christian, and an uncaring, selfish person at the same time.
Funny how deep the trenches have been dug between the faithful, on something that really isn’t there.
Wonder who had a hand in this misunderstanding. Mmmmm.

Eashoa’ M’sheekah


#20

This will inevitably result in what I have heard termed “Biblical badmitton”…where verses of Scripture are volleyed back and forth. You will quote James, and she will quote Romans, and you will go back and forth until someone runs out of verses. Since Catholics believe in the totality of Scripture, I have found through personal experience that the easiest way to spike the conversation is on the first counter. When you quote James, and explain how “faith” + “alone” only appear once in the Bible, and she counters with Romans (this is a hypothetical example of course) then simply ask her “does that mean that the verse in James is false or cancelled out ?” Its an effective method of steering the conversation in a little different direction, and usually stops it cold because it takes alot of Protestants out of their comfort zone and causes a little deeper critical thinking on what the totality of Scripture actually says.


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