How many works?


#1

I hope someone can help me answer a question from a fundamentalist friend of mine after I explained to her my understanding of our Catholic view of justification (initially justified through baptism, we ‘grow’ in justification through obedient faith, living our faith out in love, etc. therefore works play a part in our salvation because they help us grow in our justification. This is the ‘quantity’ of our justification as I think Jmmy Akin would say.)

Her question was, how do you know when you’ve done enough works to be completely justified? Can someone ever be completely justified before they die (aside from someone who has just been baptized or gone to confession). I didn’t know how to answer this. I think her point was going to be that when the bible says we are called to ‘be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect’, that we are to realize we can’t do this and that is why we have to have the ‘righteousness of Christ’ cover us (not transform us).

Can someone help me with the ‘how many works’ question? Thank you!!!


#2

the answer is 42.


#3

The question is based on a fallacious understanding of Catholic doctrine. Works aren’t need to complete our justification. One does not do a set number of works and thereby merit salvation.

One is justified the moment they are baptized. You are re-made through the laver of regeneration and justified. Works increase the justice of our salvation. They increase ‘merit’ (a word which should be used carefully when speaking to Protestants.

When you do good works through grace your righteousness increases. Your heavenly reward becomes greater. Jesus speaks of this as building up treasure in heaven.

No # of works is needed to be saved. In certain conditions one could be saved without any works at all. The thief on the cross being one example. A baptized baby who dies in infacy is another.

Pax tecum,
Ryan


#4

This will provide some insight into fundamentalist tactics.

In his book A Pilgrim’s Regress, C. S. Lewis presents us with a character named Master Parrot–a boy who has been taught a catechism allowing him to dismiss any argument with which he is presented.
Questions in Master Parrot’s catechism have the form “How do you answer any argument proving the existence of God?” and answers have the form “You say that because you are a Christian.” Just for good measure, Master Parrot is asked the question “How do you answer an argument proving that two plus two equals four?” The answer, Master Parrot tells us, is “You say that because you are a mathematician.”

In the same spirit, we offer here a short catechism for use by Fundamentalists who may find themselves temporarily stymied at how to dismiss a particular argument supporting the Catholic faith:

Q 1: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument involving a passage from the Old Testament?

A 1: “That argument is based on the Old Testament. It therefore is not relevant to the present age.”

Q 2: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument involving a passage from the Gospels, including anything Jesus said up to the time of the Crucifixion?

A 1: “That argument deals with a time prior to the death of Christ. It therefore is not relevant to the present age.”

Q 3: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument involving a passage from the Crucifixion through the first chapter of Acts?

A 3: “That argument deals with the time before Pentecost and the beginning of the Church age. It therefore is not relevant to the present age.”

Q 4: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument involving a passage from the remainder of the book of Acts or the remainder of the New Testament?

A 4: “That argument deals with the apostolic age, before the canon was closed. It therefore is not relevant to the present age.”

Q 5: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument involving passages from the writings of the early Church Fathers?

A 5: “That argument is based on things after the close of the canon. It therefore is not theologically binding on us.”

Q 6: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument based on an appeal to logic and common sense?

A 6: “That argument is based on philosophy and vain deceit and not on the Word of God. It therefore is not theologically binding on us.”

Q 7: What should you say to dismiss a Catholic argument you are not otherwise sure how to dismiss?

A 7: “You are just assuming that out of pro-Catholic bias. You don’t have any evidence for that. It is totally unbiblical.”

We hope this helps!


#5

For a better understanding of the Church’s teaching on justification see the Sixth Session of the Council of Trent.

history.hanover.edu/texts/trent/ct06.html


#6

This may not be what you are looking for but i want to ask you anyway.

what do you think? Aside from what the church says, what does your heart tell you about Faith and Works and how God looks at them?


#7

Just ask them how much faith saves them.


#8

Try these links. They provide great answers to these sort of questions. It’s from this website.
catholic.com/newsletters/kke_041116.asp
AN ABSOLUTE BUT UNCERTAIN ASSURANCE

Subscriber George Frame responded to last week’s E-Letter (the topic was “once saved, always saved”) with this:

"In the 19 years I spent as an Evangelical among the Plymouth Brethren, I heard many sermons on the eternal security of the believer. I gave a few myself. What you describe in your hypothetical example, I lived.

"A ‘professing believer’ who claims to be born-again and departs from truth is said to have a ‘false profession.’ I have seen sincere people experience nervous breakdowns over their concern as to whether or not they had truly been born again or were being deceived. There used to be a well-known independent Baptist preacher who used to delight in ‘saving’ Baptist preachers who had ‘false professions.’ His name was L. R. Shelton, and he wrote a book called ‘How the Lord Saved a Baptist Preacher.’

"For a number of years I struggled with this insidious teaching in my own life. Had I really believed rightly? Was I really saved? Was I truly born again? How could I have true assurance of salvation? Had I truly repented?

"The doubts, uncertainty, and fear can be paralyzing. Fundamentalists who believe ‘once saved, always saved’ trumpet this false doctrine, but what they are actually doing is trying to persuade themselves that it is the truth. In the quiet honesty of their hearts, they question it.

"A close friend of mine who believed the doctrine of eternal security for many years used to ask me why Catholics weren’t terrified of the possibility of being lost since they lacked the assurance that he possessed. I would explain to him that Catholics neither presume God’s grace or despair of it.

"I would ask him if he believed that he was created in the image and likeness of God, and he would affirm that he did. It was easy at that point to demonstrate the reality of free will in our experience and as an attribute that we possess as children of God. By the way, this man, at the age of 59, is currently in an RCIA class!"
From - catholic.com/newsletters/kke_041123.asp


#9

that’s a dangerous game, santaro, and not what the poster is looking for.

the poster is asking what the church teaches - please don’t proselytise when people are asking questions about church teachings.


#10

[quote=VociMike]Just ask them how much faith saves them.
[/quote]

A good point…


#11

Originally Quoted by Elisha:

I explained to her my understanding of our Catholic view of justification (initially justified through baptism, we ‘grow’ in justification through obedient faith, living our faith out in love, etc.

I am not an expert theologian…at least not yet (I begin studying theology next fall). However, from what I know, I will try to assist you.

First, one is firstmost justified through God’s grace. We cannot be justified on our own merits, by our own works separate from God’s grace.

Baptism is God’s way of providing us with His sanctifying grace through the Holy Spirit. Through God’s grace we are moved to accept divine truths in faith. This is the first step in justification. However, justification does not end there. Simply having a faith in Jesus (believing that He exists and has died for our sins) is in most cases not enough, unless that faith is an active faith, which works through love and obedience. Justification is a *process, *not a one-time imputation.

It is a grave error to believe (as many Protestants do of Catholics) that one is saved by *works. *Paul rejected the notion that one could be saved by works (even moral works), since this would imply that man could force God to re-pay him for works done on earth. There are, however, works of righteousness *which operate under a system of grace. *In this system, man does not perform works in order to earn God’s salvation, but instead performs good works because of a love of God and a recognition that God loves us, is pleased by our acts of love (despite their imperfections), and will, through his superabundant grace reward us for works done on earth (presupposing faith, of course) with eternal life.

[font=Verdana]Her question was, how do you know when you’ve done enough works to be completely justified? Can someone ever be completely justified before they die (aside from someone who has just been baptized or gone to confession).

[/font]

Justification is, according to the Catholic definition, being made righteous before God. Faith always precedes and pervades works in justification. As such, the emphasis is not on how many good works someone has done, but on how faithfully a Christian has lived his Christian vocation. It is “faithfulness” in patient perseverence, not the number of works done in one’s life, that counts for justification.

Even when baptized into Christ, the Christian still sins, even though, through the Holy Spirit working in him, he proceeds towards greater righteousness. The more that Christ is in an individual, the less that he sins, and the closer he is to becoming “perfect like God.” In my opinion (and I honestly don’t specifically know Church teaching on this matter), but one cannot become “fully” and completely rigtheous in this lifetime, since this would mean that one has become as righteous as Jesus Christ, which is impossible for mere man, who, despite his freedom from sin through Christ, is nontheless tempted to sin.

Justification, although it concerns single incidences, is also a process, and as such, even when a man is made righteous in God’s eyes, he is nontheless innately flawed and therefore unable to please God, except that God has mercy for man’s condition. Justification, therefore, is a continual growing in righteousness through God’s grace working through faith, obedence and love.
You may want to read Robert Sungenis’ Not by Faith Alone, which deals specifically with the Catholic doctrine of justification and why he believes the Protestant arguments are insufficient.

You may also ask her to explain the second chapter in Romans, and of James, as well as Jesus’ many parables and teachings which emphasize doing good for others.

One oftentimes overlooked fact is that it is through Christ’s “dying on the Cross” for mankind–an act of love, in the faith that God would redeem mankind–that Christ himself ascended into the glory of heaven. Christ had complete faith in God, but only after demonstrating himself completely submissive to the will of the Father, by going through temptations and the Passion, was He raised and glorified in heaven. Jesus’ life points not simply to a belief and trust in God, but involves actually living according to that belief and trust.

If I explained anything incorrectly, please somebody correct me, since I am still somewhat new in understanding justification.


#12

I would recommend the following tapes from Bible Christian Society which is a catholic apologetics group.

biblechristiansociety.com/free_tapes.asp

Apologetics for the Scripturally-Challenged
Introduction to Apologetics

The tapes/CD’s are free all you do is pay for shipping and you can give them a donation. I heard about them on EWTN Radio, I ordered all the free CD’s and gave them a donation. I have listened to the two I have mentioned above and it does a great job on giving you some instruction on apologetics to non-catholics as well as catholics. The “Scripturally Challenged” one is especially good for dealing with non-Catholics.

You can find out more about the BCS at biblechristiansociety.com

Also check out their 2 minutes apologetics section:
biblechristiansociety.com/2min_apologetics.asp?id=2


#13

Ephesians Chapter 2!

Good works are an INDICATION of the faith that has grown inside you through the Holy Spirit. You are saved by God’s Grace through faith. Good works are the RESULT not the MEANS. The reason they are the result is God saves us to glorify Him by living as Christ.

Therefore, no number of Good works is acceptable. If you have the Holy Spirit inside you, good works is just an ongoing way of life, not an obligation or homework assignment to achieve.


#14

[quote=jeffreedy789]the answer is 42.
[/quote]

Yes, it is, and be careful of the mice!


#15

[quote=Elzee]I hope someone can help me answer a question from a fundamentalist friend of mine after I explained to her my understanding of our Catholic view of justification (initially justified through baptism, we ‘grow’ in justification through obedient faith, living our faith out in love, etc. therefore works play a part in our salvation because they help us grow in our justification. This is the ‘quantity’ of our justification as I think Jmmy Akin would say.)

Her question was, how do you know when you’ve done enough works to be completely justified? Can someone ever be completely justified before they die (aside from someone who has just been baptized or gone to confession). I didn’t know how to answer this. I think her point was going to be that when the bible says we are called to ‘be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect’, that we are to realize we can’t do this and that is why we have to have the ‘righteousness of Christ’ cover us (not transform us).

Can someone help me with the ‘how many works’ question? Thank you!!!
[/quote]

Oh, heck, man, God just gets a “Sin Cash Register” and a “Works Cash Register” and assigns so many “points” to each sin and work and adds 'em all up to see if they balance out and damns to Hell everyone whose works cash register tape is shorter!

I was just poking gentle fun at your friend’s view of Catholicism.

The answer to your friend’s radical perspective is this: Faith and good works are not ultimately philosophically distinguishable. Good works are the more important form of faith. Talking about faith as though it is ultimately distinguishable from works is theological error. So, there is error even in your friend’s way of thinking, which criticizes Catholics for prioritizing works over faith instead of faith over works, as separate philosophical entities.

If we view faith and good works as separate philosophical entities, behavior like that of the priest and the Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan becomes possible.

In Christ’s Parable of the Good Samaritan, Christ contrasted a Samaritan – by definition, a “non-believer” – with a priest, and a Levite of the priestly Levite tribes – “believers.”

The two believers, unwilling to dirty their hands with the problem of the half-dead robbery victim in the road, very carefully walked around the robbery victim.

Ask yourself the question: Would Christ have agreed that those two “believers” had “faith”?

No.

The Good Samaritan, on the other hand, dove right in, giving the guy first aid, feeding him, and buying him recovery time in an inn.

Ask yourself the question: Would Christ have agreed that that “non-believer” had “faith”?

Yes.

In other words, the purpose of the parable is to make us see that “Faith” = “good works,” and “good works” = “faith.”

“Salvation by faith alone” embodies a false distinction, condemned by Christ in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.


#16

[quote=jeffreedy789]the answer is 42.
[/quote]

Great ! now all I need is one more for Bingo !

A priest once told me, the only thing God will judge everyone on is love, did you love God above all else, and did you love your neighbor. You prove your love for God and neighbor by the good that you do for them.

One of the simplest and best definitions for a Christian is ‘one who loves’. That is why faith alone is not enough, merely believing that God is who He claims to be, doesn’t cut it (the devil and demons believe that also), we must show that we love God and man in what we do in our daily lives.

It not a matter of one or two or a thousand or more good works, it is a commitment for a lifetime. AS sinners, we will falter, as a just man will sin many times a day. We need to look for Christ in the homeless, the hungry, the naked and imprisoned, because in showing love for our brothers, we prove our love for Christ.

Christ’s Peace,
wc


#17

I hope I conveyed to her that Catholics believe we in no way earn our salavation, but that we increase our justification before God by the works we do that please him, and these can only be done if they are done through the grace of Christ. The problem is she equates justification with salvation, and I need to remember that. Sometimes terminology gets in the way.

I liked your explanation, Magadalan, about there being no way we can become ‘completely righteous’ in this lifetime. I agree with that on a personal level, but I don’t know either, what the church teaches on that. I haven’t been able to find it out, even reading Trent.

So, taking what you all have said (thank you!!) does this make sense as a way to explain this better: As long as we don’t commit a deadly sin after we are baptized (the word ‘deadly’ is used in John so I use that instead of ‘mortal’ with her), we will go to heaven. But we vary on how much we let the grace of God work in our lives. For those who ‘persevere to the end’ barely - by just avoiding deadly sin, basically - their reward in heaven won’t be as great a those who continually let their faith work out in love. Works play a role in our justification because, done through Christ, they please God and merit for us ‘more of God’ both in this life (through being open to more of his grace working in us) and the next, because he has promised to reward us for our works and perseverence (Romans 2:6-7, among others). We are not earning this reward. The difference is God has promised it. It’s not a wage, it’s a promised reward.

I hope I’ve taken what you all have said and summarized it right. Did I say anything wrong or confusing? I’m trying so hard to get this right so I can clearly convey it to her. Re-reading what I’ve written, it still sounds like I’m saying we’re ‘working for our reward’ (not our salvation - but our rewards in heaven), even if this ‘work’ is a genuine fruit of our faith and love for God and others. :confused:


#18

The question is based on a false premise. Tell here so. It is not a “quantity”, it is a quality. We must put on Christ. Ask to read James 2:20 in the KJV.


#19

See if these help at all? If not, look through the link…

1989 The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. "Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39

1990 Justification detaches man from sin which contradicts the love of God, and purifies his heart of sin. Justification follows upon God’s merciful initiative of offering forgiveness. It reconciles man with God. It
frees from the enslavement to sin, and it heals.

1992 Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men. Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy. Its purpose is the glory of God and of Christ, and the gift of eternal life.

1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.

I don’t know if she will accept the catechism, but it may help you to clarify your thoughts on how to approach her, at least it helps me to sometimes :slight_smile:

I linked you to the Justification section. Also, you may want to ask, because sometimes justification, sanctification and whatnot are defined slightly differently by non-catholics.

vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__P6Y.HTM


#20

[quote=juno24]Yes, it is, and be careful of the mice!
[/quote]

I always forget about that part (to my disadvantage)…


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