Faith and Works, need some help


#1

I’ve been posting on another forum. There are only two of us Catholics on there. I keep going around and around with these kids about faith and works, how you have to have both. Here’s what the guy says:

Alright then, let’s suppose you’re right. A certain amount or number of works is required for salvation. What is that number? If I give $10 a week to the church, but the person next to me only gives $9, will I be saved and they damned? If ‘works’ are required to save us, how much ‘works’ is sufficient? Are we demanded to keep the whole law? Because humanity has proven time and time again that we’re incapable of doing that. Are there certain sections of the Law that have to be kept to be saved? What if we break them? Can we be forgiven by grace? Or is grace insufficient to overcome our lack of works?

This was in response to my saying this:

Here is the message that I am getting from you…

Works alone will not save you.

Is that what you are trying to say?

Because if it is then we are in complete agreement. Catholics believe we are only saved through grace which is a free gift from God, like you said. However, we are justified not by faith alone but by faith AND our good works.

Just as our actions and disbelief (or mistaken belief) will earn us eternal damnation, our faith and actions can also save us through the grace of God.

“By grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” Eph. 2:8-9

If you go on to v. 11 you will see that Paul was speaking about works of the Jewish law (the Torah), specifically in this instance about circumcision. Because there were some adult converts of Christianity who were gentiles and therefore, uncircumcised, some in the Church thought these converts needed to be circumcised according to Jewish law. Paul was saying they were justified apart from Jewish law. Baptism is the replacement for circumcision.

SBT p. 233: Salvation is in a sense a completed action in the life of all who have been baptised (Mat. 16:16, Rom. 6:3, Gal. 3:270. But salvation is also spoken about in the present tense, for example, Paul says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of Gad” (1 CCor. 1:18). Salvation is also described as a future event: “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Mat. 10:22).

So, I responded with this:

You are putting words in my mouth. I never said you must achieve a certain number of works or you will be condemned. You still seem to be separating faith from work, which cannot be done.

and

Why are the works that Catholics do through faith different from the works that protestants do through their faith? It’s prejudiced and hypocritical to say that it’s okay for a Presbyterian to show their faith by donating their time in a soup kitchen, but if a Catholic does it they are not doing it out of faith in Christ.

Here’s what I’ve been saying:

Yes, our actions and good works are key in our salvation. You can see in Mat. 25: 31-46 that Jesus separated the sheep who did the good works through faith “inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundations of the world.” But the goats who did not do any good deeds (although they had full faith in Christ), “these will go off to eternal punishment”. Rom. 2:5-10 “By your stubbornness and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immorality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness. Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek. But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.”

Does anyone have any really good way to get it throught to people’s heads?? These are just kids and already their minds have been sooo molded into thinking that Catholicism is just a works based religion. It’s almost like they aren’t even reading what I’m saying. :o


#2

Here as an anology I have used in the past to help explain it… Hope it works for you…

You are hired to do a job(works). you are told you will get a ceartain amount of rpay (reward). If you do not do your job, you do not get paid. Person who hired you wont let you the building again…
If you do your job and jsut that, the boss is pleased, and gives you your pay.
If you do your job + some, you still ge the same pay, but the boss is more pleased with you. The reward is the same, but you pleased your boss more so in the last case.

Same applies to god.
When you accept your job (christ), we are commanded to do ceartain things. If we dont do as christ instructed us, we get fired (literaly). We accepted the job (beleived) but didnt follow through. If we do the job god asks of us (works), we get our pay (salvation) and god is pleased. If we go above and beyond the call of duty, we get the same pay (salvation), but god is more pleased with us. People always say god does not show favortism, but there are plenty of times especially in the OT where he does hold others more highly. So, please god by going above the call of duty is possible. We will never get our pay (salvation) though if we dont first accept the job (Christ).

So, using this logic, which is based on scriptural principles, works are the result of our faith (assuming you use the dictionary define and not the action define used by many christians)

Peace In Christ


#3

James 2:24 “Man is justified by works and NOT faith alone.” If they try to reason their way out of it, then they will have lost their claim to being “Bible Christians”.

You have done a good job with your explaining, they just don’t seem to be very smart (that or they’re too cocky). Perhaps if you dumb it down some for their sake. The above passage is pretty explicit and should work. Also, explain that Catholics participate in the grace of Christ and thereby grow in that same grace. It is by grace we are justified, not by works. But works are the means by which we grow in that grace. I think you explained this clearly, but that they didn’t get it. Perhaps if you explain more simply so they can’t twist your words it might work better.


#4

I suspect they aren’t reading what you are saying…because you are doing an excellent job of explaining :bowdown: They may be reading but not comprehending…

Maybe you should simplify it by asking them what a work is…Start asking them questions so that they may come to their own conclusions.

Example:
Jesus said that we are to Love our enemies…Do you consider that hard to do…or is that something that comes naturally after being saved?

Give them scenarios…someone comes in your house…kills your family for the VCR…would it not be a work to forgive that person?


#5

[quote=Lillith]Maybe you should simplify it by asking them what a work is…Start asking them questions so that they may come to their own conclusions.

Example:
Jesus said that we are to Love our enemies…Do you consider that hard to do…or is that something that comes naturally after being saved?

Give them scenarios…someone comes in your house…kills your family for the VCR…would it not be a work to forgive that person?
[/quote]

I like the question approach. I think many times people are so set on what they believe that giving them statements that differ from their beliefs don’t do any good. You have to get them to think for themselves by asking questions. And I like how you even made the connection with love. Love is a work.

If you want to get technical faith is a work. Yes, faith is a gift from God, but it is also something we do. Faith is our response to God’s calling (a work).


#6

A few thoughts:

Be sure to include Eph 2:10 with Eph 2:8-9. Protestants seem to forget verse 10 comes after verse 9. :slight_smile:

When he asks you how many works, ask him how much faith? He won’t argue that some people have more faith than others…how much faith does it take to be saved? Now, tell him to apply his answer to ‘works’.

It is possible to have faith without love according to St. Paul. In 1 Corinthians (Chapter 13) * “…though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.”*. St. Paul says if you have faith but not love, you are nothing. Read the section in context - he’s very clear. Surely a ‘saved’ person is not ‘nothing’, therefore he must have faith and love (works).
And a little later, “…the greatest of these is love” (when talking about faith, hope, and love). If faith alone is what saves us, why is faith not greater than love?

Asking question is a good way to go. Try not to be put on the defensive.


#7

If I may offer some middle ground…

What they believe is that no matter what, we will always fall short of deserving the salvation that Jesus wrought for us. No matter how much we do, it can never be enough. We can never be good enough, it is through the grace of God that we are saved. Therefore, in the end, it is our faith and willingness to accept the sacrafice of Christ, the perfect one, on our behalf, that saves us. NOT works, because we can never do enough of them.

That is not to say that protestants do not believe works are unimportant. Works matter, we are commanded to do them. By doing them we serve Christ. But it is not the works that save us.

To someone not of the Catholic faith, or who’s contact with Catholics was limited to those who go to church because they have to, go to confession because they have to, etc. etc. it is easy to get the idea that Catholicism provides some formula of works by which we may be saved.

In their faith, to become a member of Christ’s body, one must make a personal commitment to Christ in their heart.

When a person asks what one must do to be a Catholic, the most common answer has nothing to do with Christ. People trot out the precepts and start talking about giving stuff up for Lent etc. And it sounds as if Catholics believe that this formula is what saves them.

It is often a case of people speaking two different languages. One, Protestantese, the other Catholicese, and neither being able to really grasp what the other means.

As far as these people being “hardheaded” or “dumb”, imagine how you would respond if they came here and tried to explain how their faith was right. You might appear the same to them, just plain dumb and stubborn for not accepting it.

The best you can do, is explain clearly what you believe, try to iron out any misunderstandings and leave it at that. Underlying all faiths is an understanding that comes only from experience and practice. There are subtleties of both faiths that are unclear to the other, that can’t quite be explained, but must be known in the soul and felt in the heart. When speaking with people of faith, it is always good for us to remember that we dont’ know what it is like to believe as they do, and let that knowledge humble and temper us.

cheddar


#8

#9

Tell them to read Matthew 25:31-46 (the last judgment). It sure seems like the Lord is using works when making his judgment.


#10

[quote=cheddarsox]If I may offer some middle ground…

What they believe is that no matter what, we will always fall short of deserving the salvation that Jesus wrought for us. No matter how much we do, it can never be enough. We can never be good enough, it is through the grace of God that we are saved. Therefore, in the end, it is our faith and willingness to accept the sacrafice of Christ, the perfect one, on our behalf, that saves us. NOT works, because we can never do enough of them.

That is not to say that protestants do not believe works are unimportant. Works matter, we are commanded to do them. By doing them we serve Christ. But it is not the works that save us.

To someone not of the Catholic faith, or who’s contact with Catholics was limited to those who go to church because they have to, go to confession because they have to, etc. etc. it is easy to get the idea that Catholicism provides some formula of works by which we may be saved.

In their faith, to become a member of Christ’s body, one must make a personal commitment to Christ in their heart.

When a person asks what one must do to be a Catholic, the most common answer has nothing to do with Christ. People trot out the precepts and start talking about giving stuff up for Lent etc. And it sounds as if Catholics believe that this formula is what saves them.

It is often a case of people speaking two different languages. One, Protestantese, the other Catholicese, and neither being able to really grasp what the other means.

As far as these people being “hardheaded” or “dumb”, imagine how you would respond if they came here and tried to explain how their faith was right. You might appear the same to them, just plain dumb and stubborn for not accepting it.

The best you can do, is explain clearly what you believe, try to iron out any misunderstandings and leave it at that. Underlying all faiths is an understanding that comes only from experience and practice. There are subtleties of both faiths that are unclear to the other, that can’t quite be explained, but must be known in the soul and felt in the heart. When speaking with people of faith, it is always good for us to remember that we dont’ know what it is like to believe as they do, and let that knowledge humble and temper us.

cheddar
[/quote]

This is beautiful, Cheddar. God bless you!


#11

Any Christian - Catholic or not - that believes we can earn our salvation is mistaken. The Catholic Church does not teach a “works-based” theology and never has irregardless of what spin folks want to put on it. So, basically these folks are arguing against a condition that does not exist. Although, they probably think it exists in some conspiratorial secret realm that only the Pope and his henchmen are privy to while the rest of us Catholic-lemmings just follow blindly.

For me, faith and works are inseparable; a position well illustrated by the following BIBLICAL evidence:

“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 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 the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:14-24

But, being “bible-Christians” they probably have a difficult time dealing with this seemingly unsettled proposition - it actually requires faith rather than wrapping every possibility into a nice, neat little box.


#12

If you have done your level best trying to explain what you understand and have gotten nowhere, then I would recommend that you have them explain EXACTLY what “faith alone” means. Not what it is not (ie faith, apart from works of the law), but what it IS.
Their best hope is to claim that it is “belief” to which you will ask how it is that they know the are “true believers”. And the answer, among many verses, is that “A tree is known by its FRUIT” You know the tree by its fruit and, more germaine, the tree knows itself by its fruit.

Is forgiving another a work? yes or no? Is forgiving another “faith” in Jesus Christ? yes or no? If salvation is by “faith alone” and christ tells us that “if you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your father in heaven forgive you yours”, then we must conclude (since salvation requires the forgiveness of sin by God) that faith in Jesus Christ is inseparable from forgiving others their sins. Forgiveness is not simply a belief, it is an act of the will, and it often has practical application as well. It is an “act of faith”, which you might call a work, but either way, its an action.

How preposterous that God would inspire Scripture to record James 2:24"a man is not justified by faith alone" if, in fact, the exact opposite were true.

Phil


#13

[quote=Philthy]If you have done your level best trying to explain what you understand and have gotten nowhere, then I would recommend that you have them explain EXACTLY what “faith alone” means. Not what it is not (ie faith, apart from works of the law), but what it IS.
Their best hope is to claim that it is “belief” to which you will ask how it is that they know the are “true believers”. And the answer, among many verses, is that “A tree is known by its FRUIT” You know the tree by its fruit and, more germaine, the tree knows itself by its fruit.

Is forgiving another a work? yes or no? Is forgiving another “faith” in Jesus Christ? yes or no? If salvation is by “faith alone” and christ tells us that “if you do not forgive others their sins, neither will your father in heaven forgive you yours”, then we must conclude (since salvation requires the forgiveness of sin by God) that faith in Jesus Christ is inseparable from forgiving others their sins. Forgiveness is not simply a belief, it is an act of the will, and it often has practical application as well. It is an “act of faith”, which you might call a work, but either way, its an action.

How preposterous that God would inspire Scripture to record James 2:24"a man is not justified by faith alone" if, in fact, the exact opposite were true.

Phil
[/quote]

Good stuff Philthy!

Just what do they mean by “faith alone”? Is it mere mental assent? Is it a fire in the bosom? Just how does one “accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior”?


#14

These are some great suggestions. I hope it’s okay that I am literally ripping quotes from here and pasting them on that forum… :rolleyes:

I have pointed out James 2 and Mat. 25 before. They have even quoted James 2 to me! It’s like they read the Bible and just ignore the parts they don’t like. Oh well, I guess that’s what it means to be a protestant! :smiley:


#15

[quote=RCCDefender]These are some great suggestions. I hope it’s okay that I am literally ripping quotes from here and pasting them on that forum… :rolleyes:

I want the link!

I have pointed out James 2 and Mat. 25 before. They have even quoted James 2 to me! It’s like they read the Bible and just ignore the parts they don’t like. Oh well, I guess that’s what it means to be a protestant! :smiley:
[/quote]

With time you will regret making comments like this. Make sure your heart is in the right place and your pride is not leading you. I do it too, so doing think Im judging you - just be careful how you are inadvertantly treating others who may come across these posts.

Phil


#16

[quote=Philthy]With time you will regret making comments like this. Make sure your heart is in the right place and your pride is not leading you. I do it too, so doing think Im judging you - just be careful how you are inadvertantly treating others who may come across these posts.

Phil
[/quote]

You are right, I should be more charitable. :frowning: . It’s just so frustrating. I pray that I can bring people to Jesus’ Church, but it doesn’t seem to ever happen :confused:


#17

Two passages I like:

Jesus says in Jn15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

Apart from Jesus we can do nothing and are helpless, but because He chose (ie grace) to make us part of the Vine (ie Himself) we must respond to His act of love for us by bearing good fruit. We PROVE ourself by bearing good fruit and that is done by obeying what Jesus says. Failure to abide in Him results in hell.
Also the second most important Faith Alone destroyer (after James2:21-26) is Hebrews Ch 11, when it says over and over “By faith” it means, “I believe in God, now I MUST OBEY what He commands”


#18

Here’s Phil’s Parable:

You have a pot, a watering can, a water supply and some dirt and you want to grow a flower.

You are hopeless without a seed. Nothing you do works. Your works do nothing!

God comes along and freely gives us a seed which begins to grow.Thank you God!

He also tells us - I’ll provide the Sun, but you need to water the plant or it will die!

You don’t water the plant and it dies after a while.

Explanation:

The pot, can, water and dirt - everything we are - is us in our sinful state.
The desire for a flower is the desire for eternal life
The attempt to grow the flower without a seed is works without faith
The seed is God’s gift of Grace and without it there will be no "flower"
Jesus is the Sun - the metaphor was to good to pass up - also necessary
The statement by God is His Word - it tells us what we need to do.

Failing to water the plant is "faith without works"
Watering the plant is the “works” part of eternal life - ignore them, and the plant dies. It grew for a while, but you let it die.

Enjoy,

Phil


#19

There is a gentlman in my hometown.one of two brothers,never married…now both over 70 and trying to hold onto their little home and they look sad and out of it…once or twice I would drop a $bill on the food market floor…yell…hey there Buck…gotta be more careful and slip him the money…thats a good deed…in the great boy scouts a good deed daily is required…this was started by the greatest of all presidents Theodore Roosevelt! No one was ever to know of this daily good deed except the scout troop leader…how much more Christian can one be…no wonder the scouts are so under attack! Little bits of kindness to our neighbors that help break down that cold wind of isolation that is engulfing the world as secular humanism stands on the throne. We dont want foundations or buildings or scholarships named after us after we ‘donate’ some big bucks (!) so that we can get that fame…no just a bit of kindness…faith and works.side by side…letting others know they are not alone…that so many of us are also going uphill and against the wind…against the wind…Nino


#20

Whenever people ask this question (and it’s never a sincere question, in my experience) I just ask them how much faith is required for salvation. If they want a number from me, then they have to give me a number in return.


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