Justified by Faith Alone cf. James 2:24


If you’ve read the Story in Genesis then you (and I) are the ones who saw that Abraham was right before God. Jesus didn’t condemn the Pharisees for being Godly, He condemned them for being hypocrites and seeking glory for themselves.

5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’ Matthews 23: 5-7 NLT

Many translations say that “faith was perfected by his works.” As we work our faith grows. Works feed our faith and make it stronger. This is what it mean for faith to complete our works. Works are not a missing puzzle piece. Our faith is like a ball of clay and God is the potter who is working to complete and perfect our faith.


TgGodsway (from post 1415) . . . .

The will of the Father is to believe in His Son for eternal life.

What tgGodsway MEANS by this is NOT Biblical.

What tgGodsway MEANS by this is . . . .


The will of the Father is ONLY to believe in His Son for eternal life.

This adding the word “only” is not in Scripture, this “only” is ADDED by tgGodsway, and ADDING the word “only” (even in your argument) is a tradition of men that makes void the Word of God.


Yes, in Genesis 22 Abraham offered up Isaac and was right before God, not men! Whether you and/or I read it matters not; what matters, is that God alone tested Abraham and Abraham offered up Isaac to God, in front of God alone, and he was justified before God alone, not men! Hence, why he became a friend of God and not man:

“…and he was called a friend of God.” - James 2:23

Of course, but the Pharisees were trying to justify themselves before men:

“And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” - Luke 16:15

Our Blessed Lord further condemned displaying our justification for others to see:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

“Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?” - James 2:20


My impression is that the Pharisees were excluding faith altogether, and raising their customs to the status of God’s commandments.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!


But you have to look at the providence and omnipotence of God. It was God’s will that this was included in the Scriptures. God breathed the Scriptures out to us for us to learn about faith and obedience. God was using this to show us the faithfulness of Abraham and also the faithfulness of God Himself. It is not just about the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. It is about how Abraham trusted that God would provide the animal to be sacrificed. And it is about how God did provide the animal. So in a very real sense God is showing us the faith of Abraham and His own faithfulness towards us. Abraham was not counted as righteous because he put Isaac on the altar. He was counted as righteous because he believed and trusted fully in God. He knew that even if God had him kill his son that God had the power over death and could bring Isaac back. He also knew that God has promised that his offspring would be a great nation and that God keeps his promises.

His willingness to put Isaac on the alter showed how much Abraham trusted God. God didn’t need to be shown. We do. And God placed this in the scriptures so we could be shown.

The word justified can be used in a couple of ways. It can be to be declared just, as in a judge declaring that someone is just. Or it can mean to be shown to be just. If someone commits justifiable homicide they are not made just by the homicide they are shown to be just by the circumstances and evidence.

Paul was using the word justified in the sense of being declared just. When we come to faith God declares us just. James is using the word justified to mean being shown to be just. The evidence of works justifies (shows that we are just) our faith. That is why I think the NLT does a good job of showing the meaning of these verses. Justified is this context means “shown to be right” and not “made right” like it does in Paul’s writings, primarily in Romans and Galatians.


Not only do I agree with this, it is also very well said! :slight_smile:

“Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?” - James 2:22



Thanks. I appreciate it.


God bless every readers of the CAF.

Nihil obstate: Father Anton Cowan

Imprimatur: Monsignor John Crowley, VG Westminster, 28 May 1985
Quote: “There is ONE CENTRAL QUESTION here: how can we become RIGHTEOUS and be SAVED?

We NOT justified by what we do (works, observing law) but by FAITH IN CHRIST.

Salvation is NOT a matter of achieving but RECEIVING IT FREELY from God hands, in faith.” End quote.
JOINT DECLARATION ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church

3/17 Justification is SOLELY due to the forgiving and renewing mercy that God imparts as a gift and we RECEIVE IN FAITH, and NEVER CAN MERIT IT ANY WAY.

4/25 We confess together that sinners are justified by faith in the saving action of God in Christ. WHATEVER in the JUSTIFIED PRECEDES or FOLLOWS the free gift of faith is NEITHER THE BASIS of justification NOR MERITS it.

4/27.The Catholic understanding also sees faith as fundamental in justification. For without faith, no justification can take place. Thus justifying grace never becomes a human possession. While Catholic teaching emphasizes the renewal of life by justifying grace, this RENEVAL in FAITH, HOPE, LOVE is always dependent on God’s unfathomable grace and contributes NOTHING to JUSTIFICATION.

4/37 We confess together that good works - a Christian life lived in faith, hope and love - FOLLOW JUSTIFICATION and ARE ITS FRUITS.


C. Justification takes place "by grace alone“ (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified „apart from works“ (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25).
D. "Whatever in the justified precedes or follows the free gift of faith is neither the basis of justification nor merits it“ (JD 25).
3.The doctrine of justification is measure or touchstone for the Christian faith. No teaching may contradict this criterion. In this sense, the doctrine of justification is an "indispensable criterion which constantly serves to orient all the teaching and practice of our churches to Christ“ (JD l8).




Quote: “In fact, in TRADITIONAL WORKS OF CATHOLIC THEOLOGY, one regularly encounters the statement that FORMED FAITH IS JUSTIFYING FAITH. If one has formed faith, one is justified. Period.

Sola fide formata = FORMED FAITH ALONE

a. BELIEF (Unconditional BELIEF in what God says.)

b. HOPE (Unconditional TRUST in God.)

c. CHARITY (Unconditional LOVE for God.)

On the subject of the kind of justification discussed in James 2:24, Trent quotes this verse only once and then applies it to progressive, not initial justification.

So one does not have to do good works to get into a state of justification; good works are fruits of the state of justification, not causes for entering it.

The fact this passage does not refer to initial justification should be obvious since the justification of Abraham it refers to occurred years after Abraham was first justified by faith in Genesis 12, when By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go (Heb. 11:8).

Thus James 2:24 refers to later, progressive justification, by which one grows in righteousness, not initial justification, when ones sins are forgiven. End quote.



Quote: Protestants who say, … Catholics believe we must do good works in order to become justified — a position which was explicitly condemned at Trent, which taught “nothing that precedes justification, whether faith or works, merits the grace of justification” (Decree on Justification 8).

Justification is the cause, not the consequence, of good works.

The Church teaches that we are made totally righteous — we receive 100% pure righteousness — in justification.

You don’t have to do a diddly-do-da thing after being justified by God in baptism in order to go to heaven.

There is no magic level of works one needs to achieve in order to go to heaven.

One is saved the moment one is initially justified.

When one becomes a Christian and is justified, one receives totally pure actual righteousness.

Thus in this sense one is made just as righteous as Christ, because the level of purity in Christ’s righteousness and ours is the same.

Righteousness does not continue to grow in the first dimension; once total purity has been received, it is not possible for righteousness to grow in that dimension.

One cannot go beyond total purity in the quality of righteousness, so righteousness grows in its second dimension — its quantity.

It is in terms of the quantity of righteousness that rewards are given in heaven, and thus because Christ has a greater quantity of righteousness than we do, he also has a correspondingly greater reward. End quote.



God saves us in two stages:

First stage of our salvation takes place "by grace alone“ (JD 15 and 16), by faith alone, the person is justified „apart from works“ (Rom 3:28, cf. JD 25).

“The Church teaches that we are made totally righteous — we receive 100% pure righteousness — in Initial justification.

We don’t have to do a diddly-do-da thing after being justified by God in baptism in order to go to heaven.

There is no magic level of works one needs to achieve in order to go to heaven.

One is saved the moment one is initially justified.”

I might add; as God’s elect (by God’s gift) we are not only saved but we are irrevocably saved. – DE FIDE Dogma. + Infallible teachings of the Trent.


In this stage, by our cooperation with the grace of God we do all kind of Christian works includes we are increase the quantity of our righteousness [called Progressive Justification (not a condition to enter heaven – 1 Cor.3:12-15)] for this works God gives us rewards in heaven if it is up to the standard of supernatural works.

According to the outcome of the judgment of our works, God determines our position and glory in heaven.

So, for the quality of our Initial Justification we have heaven as God’s gift.

For the quantity of our Progressive Justification + other works of love we have rewards IN heaven.




CCCS = Catechism of the Catholic Church, Simplified.

Explaining Justification
CCCS 1990-1991; Justification is God’s free gift which detaches man from enslavement to sin and reconciles him to God.

Justification is also our acceptance of God’s righteousness. In this gift, faith, hope, charity, and obedience to God’s will are given to us.

The Grace of God’s Call (1996-1998)
Justification comes from grace (God’s free and undeserved help) and is given to us to respond to his call.

This call to eternal life is supernatural, coming totally from God’s decision and surpassing all power of human intellect and will. End quote.

When God calls and draws an un-regenerated/carnal man into His service/salvation WITHOUT stimulus, merit, or condition and without regard to any future supernatural merits, His calling is backed up with an ABSOLUTE DECREE and in consequence of this DECREE, God gives them all the graces necessary for its accomplishment.DE FIDE Dogma. + Infallible teachings of the Trent.

John 15:16; You did not chose Me, but I chose you.
At Initial Justification God’s special grace The Gift of Final Perseverance given which grace INFALLIBLE makes sure the Initially Justified dies in the state of grace.DE FIDE Dogma. + Infallible teachings of the Trent.

CCC 2019
Justification includes the remission of sins, sanctification, and the renewal of the inner man.
COUNCIL OF TRENT Session 6 Chapter 8
. . . None of those things which precede justification - whether faith or works - merit the grace itself of justification.

Phil.2:13; “For it is God who works in you BOTH TO WILL and TO ACT for His good pleasure.”
Aquinas said, “God changes the will without forcing it.
But he can change the will from the fact that He himself operates in the will as He does in nature,” De Veritatis 22:9.
CCC 2022; “The divine initiative in the work of grace PRECEDES, PREPARES, and ELICITS the free response of man. …”
In other words, when God commands, He capacities the hearer to respond.
Our cooperation with the grace of God is produced (not just enabled) by God’s operation.

Yet the ability to respond is also His gift.

God bless every readers of the CAF.



rcwitness, i think you have something there and not something others had thought of before at least not me. there is something to the Pharisees bring works customs to the status of God’s commandments . It seems to me that so many rituals and customs the Jews had to do distorted what had taught them in the Scriptures to the point where rituals and customs became more important in being a Jew. One thing to remember no every Jew believed in an afterlife, while Pharisees did believe in an afterlife, The Sanhedrin and the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife. which might be why customs and rituals were important that is what they gained in life like riches and importance and status in life was the blessings from God and showed that one was righteous before God.

Abraham was considered righteous and justified not so much by offering Isaac but because he first believed that there was one God and not many as was believed and so when God told him to go to what was to be the promised land he went why because he believed and continued to believe so much so that when God did tell him to offer Isaac to him he with heavy heart proceeded to do so since God was testing him as to his faith in God. how did Abraham show his faith in God by doing not just saying he had faith but bu showing he had faith This what justified Abraham and all who came after believing as Abraham did, that made Abraham the father of all who believed as Abraham did.

So then when one has faith one does and not just says one has faith. Faith is a verb as i see it meaning it is an action word. Being an action then faith is more then just saying it one does something with it… Jesus said to store up treasures in heaven. What are treasures then but works done out of faith in God. In Matt. 25, jesus tells those who did nothing with their faith that he does not know them yet those who do something with the faith they were given were known to Jesus so saved. I think there is a very big difference between doing works in order to be saved and doing works out of love for God. If one really loves God then the faith that was given to them will bear fruit that is they will do something with it.



Faith has works to back it up.

And if people refuse to back up their faith with works, St. Paul in 1st Corinthians 13 reminds us they gain . . . “NOTHING”.

They don’t gain heaven despite their “non-servium”.

They gain NOTHING. Even though they have “faith”. Faith to move mountains.


JESUS TO ST. FAUSTINA I am giving you three ways of exercising mercy toward your neighbor:
the first - by deed, the second - by word, the third - by prayer. In these three degrees is contained the fullness of mercy, and it is an unquestionable proof of love for Me. By this means a soul glorifies and pays reverence to My mercy. . . . It is to be a reminded of the demands of My mercy, because even the strongest (163) faith is of no avail without works.

St. Faustina’s reply recognized the need for grace in this equation . . .


ST. FAUSTINA to JESUS O my Jesus, You Yourself must help me in everything, because You see how very little I am, and so I depend solely on Your goodness, O God.


Wonderful post, Cathoholic! I distinctly remember this passage from Saint Faustina’s diary! Thank you for posting it!


Yes I agree they were doing that. But keep in mind that the Law of Moses had no power to save. The Law was used only as a restrainer of sin. It could not change the heart of anyone. The Pharisees misunderstood the purpose of the Law and believed that the Law saved.


Where do you get this from?


Excerpt from Malachi in today’s Mass readings . . .

. . . You have said, "It is vain to serve God,
and what do we profit by keeping his command,
And going about in penitential dress
in awe of the LORD of hosts?
Rather must we call the proud blessed;
for indeed evildoers prosper,
and even tempt God with impunity."
Then they who fear the LORD spoke with one another,
and the LORD listened attentively;
And a record book was written before him
of those who fear the LORD and trust in his name.
And they shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts,
my own special possession, on the day I take action.
And I will have compassion on them,
as a man has compassion on his son who serves him.
Then you will again see the distinction
between the just and the wicked;
Between the one who serves God,
and the one who does not serve him.


Thanks for the kind comment several posts ago AugustTherese.

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