Context is everything. Dead faith does not mean no faith at all. We say the same thing about our car battery when it is dead. It does not mean that the car has no battery at all does it? No. It mean the battery is not working properly and it is the same with dead faith. Dead faith means that the persons faith is not working properly. It does not mean no faith at all. No where in Jame’s letter does he tell us how to be saved. He is telling what to do with our faith after salvation.
Are we justified by faith as Paul said in romans 5:1 resulting in peace with God or is Paul wrong and we must do something else to find peace with God?
Do you have peace with god in your heart? If so on what bases?
Human works have ABSOLUTELY NO PART TO PLAY in justification. The works that we do in and through Jesus CAN sanctify us, which means make us holy. But sanctification can only happen AFTER we are first justified through Christ and then joined to him. We cannot merit our own justification and cannot sanctify ourselves. That’s impossible. Only God could justify us, through the action of Jesus on the cross. Only God can sanctify us, through our cooperation with his will AFTER we are justified.
Surprised to hear this from a Catholic? You shouldn’t be surprised. It’s basic Catholic teaching. As I requested previously, please read the Catechism of the Catholic Church from paragraph 1987 onward. That section is titled “Grace and Justification”. vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm has the entire Catechism online freely available for anyone to read. All of this is clearly spelled out there.
If you still wish to insist that you “know” that the Church teaches works are needed for justification, I once more ask you to provide the source of this erroneous information. It sounds to me like you’re hearing or reading things from someone with a faulty understanding of what the Church teaches. If you actually have some papal encyclical, ecumenical council or Church publication which you claim goes against the clear words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in this matter, I would be most interested to read it. I’m sure a great number of other Catholics would as well.
Indeed, context is everything. The verse says that faith ‘without works’ is dead. So we can easily conclude that a faith is not faith at all, if the works brought about by a true faith is not present within the individual. It is because that one’s faith is not working properly as to the reason it lacks works. So faith + works is a complete faith in Jesus Christ. One cannot be without the other.
No where in Jame’s letter does he tell us how to be saved. He is telling what to do with our faith after salvation.
Oh dear. Very poor interpretating on your part. Are you a fallible man who can error on the interpretation of God’s Written Word DL? If so, on what authrority to you have to come in here and preach to us as if the Holy Spirit is talking directly through you?
What a silly notion to insist that James telling us what to do with faith ‘after’ salvation since salvation is a process and not a one time event. We must endure till the end. I
You honestly think you believed, then were saved forever and all of the sudden this faith and works comes into play? So all of those Christians who seriously believed for many years but lost their faith, never had the faith you had to begin with. That’s absurd. If your faith was rock solid you’d never sin. If you love God, you’d keep His commmandments at all times. But we fail over and over again implying our need to repent and allow God to take us back into His arms.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son is a fine example of this. He was lost, but now he’s found after he returned home to his father.
Luke: 24 Because this my son was dead, and is come to life again: was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25 Now his elder son was in the field, and when he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard music and dancing:
We are all sons and daughters of Christ through Baptism. If we leave our family and never return, we will be lost. But if we return back home, He will take us in open arms and every Angel in Heaven will rejoice.
Luke: 10 So I say to you, there shall be joy before the angels of God upon one sinner doing penance.
A battery that does not work, has lost its ‘essence’ (in Aristotle’s thought) as a battery as it is unable to do what it was created to do.
We are created to glorify God, living a life of sin and pretending that all is ok ‘upstairs’ is an illusion. Christ’s death did not mean that we could swan around on earth saying ‘Jesus loves me and I love Him’, while we continue with a pagan’s life. There are constant sayings of Saint Paul telling us to ‘put on Christ’ and that we ‘must not live in the darkness’. These are wasted words as the Apostle was speaking to believers.
I also remember the young rich man who asks our Lord how he is to enter into life eternal and Jesus tells him to keep the commandments. Our Lord obviously was a bit confused about justification if we are saved by faith alone.
We misunderstand?!!! The OP implied that he cannot adhere to the lessons of that one site given to him because it’s quotes from men, but, here you come and tell us that we misunderstand what James, James, Brother of Jesus, James, THE BISHOP OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WRITTING TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH MEMBERS, SPECIFICALLY THE PRIESTS, we misunderstand. You, who came 2000 years after. Thank God He has FINALLY sent us an interpreter! We were clueless until you. Really, you should have a day on the callendar, NO, the ENTIRE callendar for bringing this to our attention.
Really: did it EVER occur to you, really, yes or no, did it EVER occur to you that YOU may be in the wrong?
Salvation, Faith, Tears, Courage, Inspiration, Sorrow are all gifts from God. We do not deny this. Catholics NEVER have proclaimed to be saved by works. That is the opposite of Catholicism. Catholicism focuses on God, not man. There is nothing we could ever do to gain our way into Heaven. Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary is in Heaven, body and soul right now, because of what She did, no, because of grace.
However, WE are not as blessed as God’s Mother. WE are attached to sin. WE LOVE SIN!! WE LOVE TO SIN, we cannot get enough of sin, and because of that, God wants us to be like Him, so, by sacrificing Himself, He gave us a choice: We can continue to choose to sin or we can choose to not and do good things; not think about or dwell in sin, be more active against it. I was listening to a Protestant radio show yesterday coming back from Mass and they were talking about ‘Birds may be flying over your head but don’t let them build a nest in your hair.’ If a thought comes into our head, and good or bad, if we entertain it, it could then become bad. A sexual example could be used but, I like how they were discussing it. Say you’re watching TV and an ad for new flooring comes on. You may forget about it by the next ad but, you may also dwell on it, either because your house needs a new floor…or a room needs a new floor…or you just want it. So you dwell on the new floor idea…now you’re guilty of coveting, and possibly worse if you do not have the funds for the new floor that you now are adamant on getting, all because of wanting to give into temptation.
We work to keep our mind on God and His Will. This is considered a work
James, an Apsostle of Our Lord Jesus Christ and a Bishop of the Catholic Church is writting to The Catholic Church.
I rather enjoy your own personal interpretation of this passage. It could be interpreted that way and that is how you choose (i.e., the work you do) to interpret it. I think you’re stretching a bit, but, it’s not to say that it isn’t clever.
We never claimed that justification by works = salvation. We are justified before God by our faith in Jesus and how we choose to live that and what we choose to do with it…one could say…faith AND works.
Context IS everything. Remember, the Bible is a book for the Catholic Church, the New Testament was written by Catholics, and what constitutes the 73 books of the Bible was put together by Catholics.
Alright, let’s just say I buy your annalogy. Faith without works isn’t going anywhere. If you’re not going anywhere, you’re stagnant. If you’re stagnant, you’re lukewarm. …What does Jesus say He’s going to do to those who run neither hot nor cold?
The “works” in Ephesians 2 are not works of the Law. Verse 10 mentions “good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” These works are acts of love–acts that Paul will discuss throughout the rest of the letter. Note the reference in 5:2 to “walk in love.”
The basic sequence of Eph. 2:1-10 is this:
We are dead in our transgressions.
We are objects of God’s wrath.
God makes us alive with Christ by grace.
We should walk in good works that God has prepared for us.
We cannot flip any of these. Life comes before good works/deeds. Good deeds are an expression of the inner life we have in Christ.
@TristanCross: Coming from a Protestant point of view, I think Luther is helpful in this matter:
“There is no justification without sanctification, no forgiveness without renewal of life, no real faith from which the fruits of new obedience do not grow.”
We are justified (declared righteous) by God totally and absolutely by faith alone. This is the clear teaching of Romans 4:5.
But, as Luther said, that justification leads inevitably to sanctification. Romans 7:5 teaches that those who are in Christ will “bear fruit for God.”
So when James writes that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17), he is teaching that real faith will be accompanied by good works.
To sum up: Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is never alone.
An extremely helpful book is John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to the Apostles, also published under the name Faith Works. It is 100% Protestant in its view, so buyer beware if you’re looking for a Catholic perspective.
This sounds too Reformed to be official Catholic teaching. If I’m not mistaken, the official Catholic stance is that God grants us grace to believe and to do good works. Both are required in the process of justification.
@GeorgeSword: Thanks for posting your paper “By Grace You Have Been Saved.” I found that your Background section was very balanced and brought up some necessary points, particularly the differences in definitions of terms.
I had trouble, however, following your argument in the rest of the paper, perhaps because it’s too early in the morning. I will read it over again and maybe make some comments on it.
Here is the big picture of the Christian Gospel (at least from a Reformed Protestant perspective):
Humanity was originally created to be in fellowship–both individually and collectively–with God. We sinned and that separated us from God. By nature, we are outside of God’s family and incapable of having fellowship with Him. His wrath is on us due to our sin. God is holy and cannot just overlook our sin. His wrath has to be satisfied. Jesus died on the cross to satisfy God’s holiness, bearing the sins of those who would believe in Him. When someone has faith in Christ, Christ’s righteousness is given to him. God’s wrath no longer remains on that believer and he is restored to fellowship with God.
I agree that the “real theme” in Eph 1-2 is a “family reunion, alienated children being reconciled to their God.” So when you say that this is “devastating to the Protestant position,” I really don’t get what you’re saying. Our justification (being declared righteous before God) is a necessary means to that restoration of the family.
Also, you quote Col. 2:11-14, bolding the phrase “He made you alive.” I thought it was interesting that you did not bold that 2 key phrases after it that explain *how *God made us alive. “…Having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us.” Logically speaking, we have to be forgiven of our sins before He made us alive. How are we forgiven? Through faith in Jesus Christ.
Justificaiton does not inevitably lead to sanctification. If it did then no one would ever turn away from God after being baptized. Justification only leads to sanctification if we cooperate with God’s will. We are able to turn away from God right up to our final breath, just as we are able to return to God at any point right up to our final breath.
To claim sanctification of the justified is inevitable is to deny free will. God does not force us to love and follow him. Love can’t be coerced but must be freely given. Otherwise it isn’t love.
Like DLClark, you also have a faulty understanding of Catholic teaching. Our works are a part of sanctification only, not justification. Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church starting at paragraph 1987 to see the official teaching of the Church. What any individual Catholic may say on the matter, me included, is irrelevant. The Church officially teaches what the Catechism says, and if any Catholic disagrees with that teaching then we’re just as mistaken as you are.
I agree with Romans 5:1 because that’s what the Church teaches. Note that Romans 5:1 uses the word justified. Your second paragraph makes a request using the words salvation/saved when I think you mean justification/justified. Your second paragraph also adds the word alone, which is not present in Romans 5:1. As such, I cannot agree.
Perhaps you should be clear on what you think the words justified and saved mean (and sanctified as well), and then reword your request accordingly. Much as I’d love to give a simple yes or no answer, I can’t because of how imprecise you are in your use of terminology. I’m not quite sure if you actually believe justification and salvation are the same thing, for example. The Church teaches that they are two different things.
That being said, my answer won’t change from what I’ve already given. The reason is because it’s not my answer. It’s the answer of the Church and I have no right to change it. Since I consider myself a traditional Catholic, I submit to the authority of Christ’s Church and believe exactly what she teaches about grace, justification, sanctification and salvation. That teaching is clearly outlined in the Catechism of the Catholic Church beginning with paragraph 1987.
Perhaps you should read it to be sure exactly what you’re criticizing. And to ensure that what you mean by grace, justification, sanctification, salvation and works are the same as what we mean when we use those words. It would be a shame if we actually believed the same thing on this subject but only disagreed because we each misunderstood what the other person meant by justification or salvation.
I believe exactly what the Church teaches on salvation (or any other topic). It’s detailed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church from paragraphs 1987 to 2016 with footnoted references to Scripture and other Church documents. It’s then summarized in bullet points immediately afterward from paragraphs 2017 to 2029.
As a Calvinist/Anabaptist, I suppose you would most definitely disagree with Church teaching on salvation. You’d probably get along great with my wife’s family