Faith & Works


#1

Recently in the Christian Club at my school (very Protestant), a student began discussing the issue of faith and justification. He said that no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God, only Christ’s sacrifice. He said to believe that on can have justification through works is to diminish Christ’s sacrifice. How would I respond to him?

Thank You for all your help-
ak_mike


#2

I understand that I am a new member, but I would still appreciate someone’s help who has more experience in apologetics.

Thank You:wave:


#3

HI!

WOW! I totally relate to you! I am in the exact same position at my school, and the exact same question has been brought up. The way you have to look at it (and I am not an expert in the slightest, so someone correct me) is that Catholic DON’T believe we are saved by works. The way I’ve always understood it is that Christ’s sacrifice is ALWAYS the ultimate salvation. We are saved through our faith and relationship with him. The difference is that we don’t believe that that is where it stops. You must continue your faith through your works throughout the rest of your life. Too many faiths belive that Baptism is the end, that you’re done once you get there…but not us. You HAVE to live your faith after Baptism, through everything you do in your life. The idea is that, if you truly have a relationship with CHrist and are saved through that, then your works will automatically reflect that anyway. So I’m not sure if this helped any, again, I am very uninformed in the subject, but that’s how I’ve always understood it…so yeah, hope this helps!

Sister in Christ,
Briddz


#4

This is hilarious, I just replied to your post. :slight_smile:

Nice to meet you!
ak_mike


#5

Faith is a work. It is our human response to the divine calling to share in the life of God. It is a personal adherence to God and assent to his truth. It is an act of the will by which we turn away from sin and toward God.


#6

[quote=ak_mike]Recently in the Christian Club at my school (very Protestant), a student began discussing the issue of faith and justification. He said that no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God, only Christ’s sacrifice. He said to believe that on can have justification through works is to diminish Christ’s sacrifice. How would I respond to him?

Thank You for all your help-
ak_mike
[/quote]

Ask him to explain then the following:

James 2:24 - Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?

James 2:26 - For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead.

John 14:15 - If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

Mt 19:16-17 - Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

Next, ask him if believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God is essential for salvation. If he says, it is, ask him to please define “believing.” The word is a verb, which describes an action. If he "believes”, he is doing something. Yet, he claims that man cannot do anything to receive salvation. Hmmm… It sounds as though he is contradicting himself.

God bless.


#7

[quote=ak_mike]Recently in the Christian Club at my school (very Protestant), a student began discussing the issue of faith and justification. He said that no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God, only Christ’s sacrifice. He said to believe that on can have justification through works is to diminish Christ’s sacrifice. How would I respond to him?

Thank You for all your help-
ak_mike
[/quote]

1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with respect of persons. 2 For if there shall come into your assembly a man having a golden ring, in fine apparel, and there shall come in also a poor man in mean attire, 3 And you have respect to him that is clothed with the fine apparel, and shall say to him: Sit thou here well; but say to the poor man: Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool: 4 Do you not judge within yourselves, and are become judges of unjust thoughts? 5 Hearken, my dearest brethren: hath not God chosen the poor in this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised to them that love him?

6 But you have dishonoured the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you by might? and do not they draw you before the judgment seats? 7 Do not they blaspheme the good name that is invoked upon you? 8 If then you fulfill the royal law, according to the scriptures, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself; you do well. 9 But if you have respect to persons, you commit sin, being reproved by the law as transgressors. 10 And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all.

11 For he that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill. Now if thou do not commit adultery, but shalt kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak ye, and so do, as being to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment without mercy to him that hath not done mercy. And mercy exalteth itself above judgment. **14 What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him? 15 And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food: **

16 And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; yet give them not those things that are necessary for the body, what shall it profit? 17** So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself.** 18 But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without works; and I will shew thee, by works, my faith. 19 Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble. 20 **But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? **

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22 Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God. 24 **Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only? **25 And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers, and sending them out another way?

26 For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.


#8

[quote=ak_mike]Recently in the Christian Club at my school (very Protestant), a student began discussing the issue of faith and justification. He said that no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God, only Christ’s sacrifice. He said to believe that on can have justification through works is to diminish Christ’s sacrifice. How would I respond to him?

Thank You for all your help-
ak_mike
[/quote]

This is a common attack of Protestants and Fundamentalist, Their tenet that people are justified by “faith alone” is a concept brought forth by Luther when he added “alone” after the word “faith” in Romans 5:1 (Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ) to justify his disobedience to Rome.

What these group do not want to recognize is the following from the Epistle of James:
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

But some one will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? 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 works, and the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:14-26 RSV)
Interesting that thisis the only place in the Bible where “faith alone” appears. In fact, this was so tenuous to Luther’s position, that he wanted James to be removed from the Bible calling it a “straw epistle”.

We, as Catholics, take the Bible as a whole, not bits a peices. So called “Bible Christians” only want to use passages that fit their position. This includes taking passages out of context.

A funny analogy of this is that athiests can prove that the Bible says there is not God. What they use is part of Psalm 14:1 which says:
"There is no God."
What the full line says is:
The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds,
there is none that does good.
I hope this helps.

PF


#9

Ak_Mike,

I’ve always liked the apologist Tim Staples and he has an article that is short and about the topic here. Most of his nuts and bolts articles seem aimed at how to answer just what you are talking about and at the age you are talking about. So I think it is a good place to start.

If you ever want a die hard book on the subject, Not By Faith Alone is good by Sungenis. That isn’t online, however.


#10

Look at the entymology of the Hebrew words for faith. Aman is translated as “believe”, “trust”, “have faith”, and also “support”, “nourish”, and “make lasting”. A derivative word is omenat, meaning “pillars” or “supports of the door” as in 2 Kings 18:16. Another cognate is emunah, which is “faithfulness” or “trust”, as in Exodus 17:12 where God brought victory to Israel as long as Moses would hold his hands up. Aaron and Hur held up his hands so that they “remained emunah until sundown”.

All of these illustrate that faith is an action that we take, it’s something that we do.


#11

Haha:) Hi! nice to meet you to:)


#12

[quote=ak_mike]Recently in the Christian Club at my school (very Protestant), a student began discussing the issue of faith and justification. He said that no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God, only Christ’s sacrifice. He said to believe that on can have justification through works is to diminish Christ’s sacrifice. How would I respond to him?

Thank You for all your help-
ak_mike
[/quote]

First seek to know the truth and to share it with love.
Next, be careful to know exactly the terms you two are discussing.
For example, to say that" no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God" is true depending on some unspecified terms in the sentence. Certainly we would all agree that there is no salvation by “works alone”, and in that way his statement is true. By the same token, to say that Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished everything fails to account for the fact that not everyone will be saved.
The more I contemplate the separation of faith and works the more I find them inseparable! There may be such a thing as faith recognizable independent of works, but humans can’t discern it, only god. That being said, not only are works a good measure of some one elses faith, but they are also the measure for ourselves. James Chapter 2 is must reading for you.

gotta go-

Phil


#13

Fundamentalists and Catholics see justification differently. To fundamentalists, it is a one-time declaratory act by God. Believe in Jesus as your Savior and you are ‘saved’ and justified. Some say you have to repent, others don’t. Catholics view justification/salvation as a process. The bible talks about ‘having been saved’ (past action), ‘being saved’ (present action)’, and ‘will be saved’ (future action). We also believe that when we are justified we are not just declared ‘just’ (clean) by God, we are MADE just. We believe what God declares he does ("So shall My word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, adn prosper int he thing for which I sent it (Is 55:11)

We are initially justified through Baptism. That is how we ‘get into Christ’ (Romans 6:3-4, Titus 3:5-7). If you are an adult, it’s faith that brings you to baptism, but it is totally the grace of God that justifies us (i.e. - if someone has more faith than I do when they’re baptized, I don’t have to worry that they are ‘more saved’ than I am. We trust in the grace of God and God’s promise (refer to the above verses again). If you are a baby, it is through the faith of your parents that brings you into the convenant with God and makes you a ‘child of God’ (remember, baptism replaces circumcision). When you reach the age of reason, then everyone, must, on their own, have their own faith.

After we are baptized, we grow in justification by living a life of obedient faith (Romans 2:6-8) and faith working through love (Gal 5:6). As we submit to God’s will with our life (our life is a ‘work’), we please God and are open to more of his grace, which allows us to further live our life in love and obedience. This is where works come in and how works are necessary for salvation. Without them our faith is dead (read James 2) and we will eventually slip into mortal sin (which is a rejection of God). Therefore, while works do not ‘get us into Christ’ (remember, there is no way we can work our way to heaven), persevering in faith and works done THROUGH THE GRACE OF CHRIST in me (not my own doing) - are needed to REMAIN in Christ or we will have a dead faith (which James says will not save) and fall into mortal sin.

Faith, by the way, if you really want to think about it is a ‘work’ (ever hear the term ‘an act of faith’?). If we didn’thave to ‘do anything’ to be saved, everyone would be automatically saved. Plus, remember, 1 Corinthian 13:13 says love is greather than faith. If we only needed faith to be saved, there would be no reason for Paul to tell us to ‘persevere to the end’, and faith would be greater than love. But the Bible tells us just the opposite. When you look at all the passages of the Bible, they perfectly fit with the Church’s teaching.


#14

A lot of good responses here.

Let’s suppose that our Protestant friends were right and that we needed no efforts at all on our part to justify us, does that mean we could just choose to live that way, not doing any good anywhere?

I think not, I should think that if we were saved we would *want * to do good things with joy and love. By our fruits we shall be known. As has been said already Faith is not just an intellectual enterprise, it overtakes us and we act out our faith. Our own inability to act on our Faith should tell us something about ourselves we really need to know.

Even Satan believes in God, in fact his faith is stronger than ours, he knows God exists! Faith alone will not save him.


#15

Try this: catholicintl.com/epologetics/dialogs/justification/horton-rebutal.htmIt’s like a free, (very) abridged version of Not By Faith Alone.


#16

25 And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers, and sending them out another way?

I think Rahab’s story is a significant one because it illustrates the necessity of works coupled with faith to achieve salvation. Consider this, she exhibited her faith by receiving the two spies, protecting them, and sending them out, but what ensured her salvation was following the instructions given to her by the spies. As we read in Joshua 2:

17 The men answered her, “This is how we will fulfill the oath you made us take:
18 When we come into the land, tie this scarlet cord in the window through which you are letting us down; and gather your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.
19 Should any of them pass outside the doors of your house, he will be responsible for his own death, and we shall be guiltless. But we shall be responsible if anyone in the house with you is harmed.
20 If, however, you betray this errand of ours, we shall be quit of the oath you have made us take.”

Notice that if she does not follow the spies’ instructions (exhibit her faith by works), there will be no salvation for her! No matter how hard she believed, if she neglected to put the scarlet rope out, the promise of salvation would be naught! James’ allusion to this Old Testament story is powerful, showing Rahab’s faith and works together to be the necessary formula for salvation.


#17

But most Protestants are not universalists, they don’t believe that saying Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished everything MEANS that everyone will be saved. They mean that nothing can be added to that sacrifice to make it more sufficient, which is what Holy Mother Church teaches as well. The only way I can sum it up (and I struggle with this as a former Protestant) is that our faith is something that we do, that there are explicit actions and conduct that go with being a Christian, that to have faith in Christ is to follow Christ. Does anyone not think that works?


#18

[quote=ak_mike]Recently in the Christian Club at my school (very Protestant), a student began discussing the issue of faith and justification. He said that no work we can do is sufficient to justify us before God, only Christ’s sacrifice. He said to believe that on can have justification through works is to diminish Christ’s sacrifice. How would I respond to him?

Thank You for all your help-
ak_mike
[/quote]

In the book Catholicism and Fundamentalism Karl Keating puts this succint little paragraph on page 176. “Are you saved?” asks the fundamentalist. “I am redeemed,” answers the Catholic, "and like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling, with hopeful confidence - but not with false assurance - and I do all this as the Church has taught, unchanged, from the time of Christ.


#19

[quote=JKirkLVNV]But most Protestants are not universalists, they don’t believe that saying Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished everything MEANS that everyone will be saved. They mean that nothing can be added to that sacrifice to make it more sufficient, which is what Holy Mother Church teaches as well.** The only way I can sum it up (and I struggle with this as a former Protestant) is that our faith is something that we do**, that there are explicit actions and conduct that go with being a Christian, that to have faith in Christ is to follow Christ. Does anyone not think that works?
[/quote]

I believe you are correct. Faith is a lifestyle modeled after Jesus Christ. This concept of faith as belief exclusively just doesn’t capture all of the NT teaching. For example, how would you reconcile Sola Fide with the simple message from the gospel of Matthew (paraphrasing):
" If you do not forgive others their sins neither will your heavenly father forgive you yours."
Just think about that statement. It wipes out OSAS and salvation by faith alone in one fell swoop. Let’s assume you are minding your own business. Suddenly someone comes up and steals your wallet. Then, this individual is apprehended by the police, claims he found the wallet on the ground and accuses you of lying when you report that he stole it from your pocket. Guess what? Jesus says that unless you are willing to forgive him his sins (theft, false testimony) that your sins are not forgiven. There is no salvation without the forgiveness of sins. Ouch! You are not “saved” until you forgive others. This is a lifelong process and should never be considered a finished deal.
there are more examples, but Im goin to watch Journey Home…

Phil


#20

evangelicals sometimes think of salvation as a kind of quiz:ehh:. get the right answer and you"re in? they ask people, when you die, and jesus asks you at the gates of heaven, why should i let you into my heaven? what will you say?:hmmm: what a question! jesus nowhere implies that judgment will be a quiz in which the correct answer gets you in and the wrong one forces you out. perhaps someone has been watching too many game shows in telavision. “wheel of fortune” has nothing to do with entering to heaven. entrance to heaven is preceded by a judgment of what we done in our lives.:yup: :blessyou:


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