Faith or Works...?

Arguing over faith and works or faith alone is to miss the point. It’s usually the result of an incorrect understanding of justification and sanctification.

The Church teaches that justification only takes place through the merits of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. We do NOTHING on our own to bring about justification. Jesus earned it for us on the cross. Baptism is the means by which we are justified, and only has meaning because of Jesus.

Justification is a one-time event for each of us.

Once we are made right with God, then and only then can we be sanctified. Sanctification is the process of being made holy. That’s a work of God as well, but unlike justification, sanctification involves our cooperation with God. The Church teaches that we must willingly do what Jesus asks of us to be sanctified. Avoid sin. Practice corporal works of mercy. Pray. That kind of thing. These individual works merit nothing on their own, but merit everything through our cooperation with the will of Jesus.

Sanctification is an ongoing process.

Some Protestants teach that it ends with justification, but that’s incorrect. And in practice, no Protestant actually believes that a profession of faith is sufficient without actions which validate the truth of that profession of faith. We are not automatically sanctified once we are justified. Belief in automatic sanctification is belief in a faith without works, a dead faith (James 2:20). We must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12), hoping we persevere to the end (Matthew 10:22). We will only know we’re fully sanctified, fully made holy, when we’re in heaven (either directly or more commonly with a pit stop in Purgatory first for final purification). Not a moment before.

This is ridiculous. Quotes from men? Who do you think wrote the Gospels? MEN.

You need to get out of the Protestant “Bible-only” box. The fullness of the Faith Jesus handed down to us includes the teachings of the Church, and that’s just something you’re going to need to accept.

How many times does the Bible have to say something in order for it to be true? Doesn’t once suffice?

Jesus Himself talked about works in Matthew 25.

In any case, the scriptures you quoted refer to works of the Old Law, which could never bring salvation.

Tristan, you are funny. I would read Tantum ergo’s response back a couple of posts. Remember, we - you, me, all these other posters - do not interpret the bible - the Magisterium of the church interprets the bible. As Catholics, we are taught that divine relevation is 3 things - sacred scripture, sacred Tradition (notice the capital ‘T’ - this Tradition is the oral teaching of Jesus Christ) and the Magisterium of the church - which is the authentic and authortative interpreter of the one only Word of God. You must have all 3 if you want to understand what a text of scripture is telling you. And just to read sacred scripture porperly (the first part of divine relevation) we must read the bible as a totality - we must know what the whole says and not take things out of context and we must read the bible in light of sacred Tradition.
I recommend the Navarre bible - it’s commentary is line with the Magisterium of the church.
As for your faith vs. works questions, if you seek understanding of the Word of God (by the way the Word of God is not a something but a somebody), that understanding will flow into action.

One other thing Tristan - as Caholics we are taught - faith precedes reason. We walk by faith, not by sight. That’s not to say we don’t seek understanding. It just seems you are looking for hard evidence for everything.

Nice post. Gal.5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love”.

Exactly! When Paul says works he means “works of the law”. All one needs to do is read Paul in context to understand that Paul firmly believes faith through works of love.

James is talking about the outworking of our faith and not how to be saved. We are saved by faith alone in Christ. This faith though is not alone in that true saving faith works. One must have a faith to work out before he can put it into practice. That is why by faith we are saved. Then after being saved we are asked to put our faith into practice. Read Eph 2:1-10 and you find where works come into play, verse 10.

But even the demons believed. They more than anyone proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. The Reformers claimed that the faith of the demons was not a real faith. It certainly was a real faith, but it was not a faith based on love. Their faith was a barren, fruitless faith.

Protestants, all the time, say they are saved by faith alone. It’s interesting that of all the New Testament authors who were all inspired by the Holy Spirit it was only James who was inspired to put the words “faith” “alone” together in James 2:24. That said, let me add this : I know lots of Protestants who do good-deeds. And I don’t know a single Catholic who thinks he can earn his way into heaven by doing good-deeds. I think the whole faith vs works argument is a phony man-made argument. Take care.

Similar to your thoughts ejb, I heard this said one time - ‘if we had a natural end, then natural means would get us there (i.e. being a good person). But we havee a supernatural end and it will take supernatural means (one of which is faith) to get us there.’

The works are a test of our faith…By their fruits ye shall know them

As others have said, it’s not an “either/or” proposition. If you truly have faith, you will do good works. Period. While “faith alone” is, in a way, true, if you do not do good works, then you didn’t really have the “faith” to begin with.

Perhaps paraphrasing St. James’ statement of faith without works being dead, using modern terminology might help: “talk is cheap, whiskey costs money.” Someone who refuses to do good works, but talks at length about his “faith” is a liar - (to use another cliche), he’s got to put his money where his mouth is.

Bottom line: One can do good works without faith, but one cannot have faith without doing good works.

try searching for similar made topics cause I remember making a post in another before this. maybe you have and their gone or something, but perhaps some older running member or moderator could leave a link if they haven’t already.

To just add to what may have been said, heres a nice story…perhaps you’ve heard it before?

a man goes home giving his wife some flowers. she is impressed and likes them. she sees her husbands actions as part to their marriage and acted out of love. she asks for the occasion as her husband replies “eh thought it would be nice since i am your husband and they were on sale so it was not real biggy.” so how you think she feels now? how would you feel now?

on another thought, how do we have faith? how could we build in spirit? standing here wishing for such…or doing something? acting huh…acts. (maybe that was the other title…faith or acts…anyways) hoped my blabering has helped, some just get confused

You misunderstand what faith Is here that James is talking about with the demons. It is not saving faith but intellectual assent.

James is not talking about how to be saved but what saving faith should do. True faith in God works. We have to have a faith first before we can put that faith to work. Like salvation, faith is a gift from God. We are not saved by works or by co-opration with God because there are not enough works we could ever do that would fix our sin problem Only god can do that for us and He did through His Son. Read Eph 2:1-10 and you will see where works come into play. They are only effective after salvation read verse 10.

I don’t know why I even bother. I didn’t say the faith of the demons was a saving faith. I said their faith that was not based on love. I said their faith was a barren and fruitless faith.

As far as what kind of Faith James is talking about I would have to guess that since he and Paul both refer to Abraham then they must be talking about the same kind of faith.

Another way to look at this often debated topic would be to say that we are saved by the grace of God. Before we can have faith we must have the grace to believe. We don’t earn salvation. However, salvation can be lost when we fail to love (Cf. Lk 16:18-31…Lazarus is a good example of this). Being “inside the Kingdom” does not guarantee our salvation. The parable of the of the wise and unwise maidens shows us this (Mt 25:1-13). “Lord, Lord, open to us” and the reply came “I do not know you.” (Recall: Jewish weddings were held in the house of the bride’s father; the maidens-bridesmaids were in the house waiting for the bridegroom). These words are identical to Mt 7:21. We encounter this notion of the futility of the faith which is not working through love again in Jas 2:15ff; in Paul 1 Cor 13…“if I give away all I have…but have not love, I am nothing.”; in 1 Jn 3:17 “But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need…” and explicity in John’s Gospel and in Mt 25:31-46. I didn’t cite all of the places this can be found but you get the idea.
You know, if you love someone, you must do something for that person. Think about it.

It is important to know who James is writting to. He is addressing believers. James is not telling them how to be saved but how to live a life pleasing to God. When James say that “faith without works is dead,” he is not says that there is no faith at all in this type of person. He is saying that this person’s faith is not operating properly. James never says we are saved by works. He never says work for your faith either.

Being justified by works is not the same as salvation. We are justified before God by faith and not works and that is our salvation Acts 16:31. Before man though we have only works to tlook upon to know if that person is saved. Work justify the believer before man and not God. God looks at the heart to find faith and man looks at works to find faith.

The Catholic Church does not teach that we are justified by our works. Romans 3:21-26 is quite clear on this matter. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is also quite clear on this matter beginning with paragraph 1987.

Your argument is not based on what the Church teaches but on someone’s misconception of what the Church teaches. Where is the official Church teaching that has caused you to believe that Catholics think justification is possible by the works of man? I would be greatly interested in reading that. Perhaps you have a paragraph number from the Catechism to back up this claim? A papal encyclical? A document from an ecumenical council? Anything?

If that is true about works then you would agree with what Paul says in Romans 5:1. Are we justified by faith like Paul said we were? I know that you teach that works are needed for justification. If I am wrong then you would whole heartly accept Romans 5:1 and be thanful that works do have a place in our salvation. They do after we are saved but not before or during.

Of course we accept Romans when read in context with the verse that states “Faith without Works is dead”. Do you accept this? Yes or no?

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