On Salvation by Faith and Works

Adapted from:
Is St. John the Key to Settling the Justification Debate?
By Joe Heschmeyer
catholicdefense.blogspot.com/

In order to understand St. John’s teaching regarding justification by faith and works, we must begin by answering three questions.

**1) Can you go to Heaven without loving God and our neighbor? No. **

John tells us:

1 John 3:14-15
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love remains in death. Any one who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

John says virtually the same thing a chapter earlier, as well (1 John 2:9-11). We can see John’s continuity with Paul by asking the question in a slightly different way: is faith without love sufficient? Paul answers:

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

So spiritual gifts, theological brilliance, faith, good works, and even martyrdom: all these things are worthless, if you don’t have love. Love is necessary for salvation. If this weren’t the case, if faith without love were sufficient for justification and salvation, Paul couldn’t treat it as nothing, and James couldn’t say that such a man remains in death.

2) Can you love God without keeping His commandments? No.

John tells us what Jesus said repeatedly:

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

John 14:21
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.

John 15:10
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

John continues these themes in his epistles. For example he writes:

2 John 1:5-6
And now I beg you, lady, not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we follow his commandments; this is the commandment, as you have heard from the beginning, that you follow love.

In his first epistle, John discusses the connections between faith, love (for God and for neighbor), and obedience to the commands of God:

1 John 5:1-5
Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

So to be saved, we must love God. And to love God, we must obey His commandments.

3) Can you keep God’s commandments without doing good works? No.

One of the things that Jesus commands His Church to witness to the Gospel through good works:

Matthew 7:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

There’s no way to obey this without doing good works. This is also why Jesus can say things like:

John 14:12
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.

Good works, understood in this way, flow from love, and from what Paul describes as “the obedience of faith” (cf. Rom. 1:5; Rom. 16:26). Here again, John’s epistles are illuminating:

1 John 3:17-18
But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth.

Conclusion

  1. In order to be saved, you must love God and neighbor.
  2. In order to love God, you must obey Him.
  3. In order to obey God, you must do good works.
  4. Therefore, in order to be saved, you must do good works.

If this argument is true, it leaves two possibilities for Protestants:

1. Disagree with one or more of the three points above.
Argue that loving God isn’t necessary for salvation, or that obeying God isn’t necessary to love Him, or that good works aren’t needed to obey God. In each case, holding this position would require some serious scriptural (and logical) contortions.

2. Agree with the above points.
If Protestants agree with these points, then both sides of the Catholic/Protestant debate agree on the core question: To be saved, you need faith and good works. Everything that we read in the writings of Paul or the epistle of James must be interpreted in a way consistent with this teaching. And any interpretation that says salvation is possible without good works must be dismissed as incompatible with Scripture.

Further, having agreed on the core question concerning the necessity of faith and works, additional peripheral debates seem almost purely academic with little impact on what we believe about God or how we behave as Christians. If that’s true, how is the doctrinal dispute over justification worth dividing the Church over?

Interesting question…

As a Protestant I don’t disagree with the scripture, but I do disagree with your understanding of it. If you are interested in how a Protestant tries to understand the whole of Scripture this is a good explanation of the relationship between faith and works when it comes to justification. Much better than I could write here on this forum.

desiringgod.org/sermons/does-james-contradict-paul

Hi VOM,

I believe Piper says there that works done in living faith maintain your salvation. Catholics believe the same. Why do you disagree with Piper’s understanding there?

peace
steve

-]/-]Not that they maintain your salvation…they are evidence of your salvation

" He says that what counts with God is the kind of faith that by its nature produces love. But it is faith that gives us our right standing with God. The love that comes from it only shows that it is, in fact, real living, justifying faith."

Hi VOM,

Piper also says:

For Paul, “justification by works” (which he rejects) means “gaining right standing with God by the merit of works.” For James, “justification by works” (which he accepts) means "maintaining a right standing with God by faith along with the necessary evidence of faith, namely, the works of love."

Maintaining is a thing being done, ie a work. Done by faith, but a work, nonetheless.

Maintaining for Catholics is assenting to the works that the Holy Spirit calls us to do.

Thus our faith is maintained through works, but not in return for works.

God works in us both to will and to do, but it is the assent of the will to do as God wills that maintains our faith. The actual actions may or may not bring Grace directly into our lives to support faith, but the assent of the will surely does.

peace
steve

Nice post Randy (forums.catholic.com/showpost.php?p=12733711&postcount=1).

I’m sure you and most thread readers know, that in Protestantism, the people are “inoculated” from the time they are young, about (supposed) justification by faith alone and the Epistle of James.

Our Protestant friends and family member also get a frequent steady streams of “refresher courses” in their sermons about how in James when he explicitly teaches you are “not justified by faith alone” . . . . this REALLY means . . . . “you are justified by faith alone”.

They HAVE to get these sermons, and get them frequently to keep up this mindset (and I’ve heard them).

Therefore I almost never primarily appeal to James on the issue of justification when discussing it with Protestants.

That’s WHY I think this post of yours (focusing on John) is useful.


VesselofMercy.

Your appeal to works MERELY showing your faith, ignores St. Paul’s admonition.

Doing works BECAUSE of your faith is great. But you better be doing works because of your GRACE of Charity (“love”) too.

Here is what St. Paul DOESN’T say . . . .

NOT 1st CORINTHIANS (Phantom Verse) 2 and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am still justified anyway. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain heaven because I am justified by faith alone. . . . 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is faith so it fits into a man-made doctrine of justification by faith ALONE.

So if St. Paul DOESN’T say this, what DOES he say?

If we are not justified by faith ALONE, what do we NEED along with our faith?

Fortunately St. Paul tells us.

1st CORINTHIANS 13:2b-3, 13 2 and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. . . . 13 So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This is the concept that Randy (and Joe Heschmeyer) are referring to.

I once asked an Evangelical Protestant minister friend of mine about this. I could tell from his reaction, he never really thought about this before and tried to change the subject. When I pressed him for an answer, I’ll never forget his reply.

He told me, “Well faith doesn’t really mean faith” here.

Fair enough. But WHY would you conclude that? Especially since the “faith” described here is enormous faith. St. Paul exemplifies a guy with faith that can move mountains!!! This is tremendous faith. Yet if he has NOT charity he gains . . . “nothing”.

“Moving mountains” or “giving your body to be burned” ARE “see-able” works. Yet they are not good enough.

Then you are still left with, if “faith” doesn’t mean “faith” in the context of being able to move mountains, WHAT DOES “faith” mean?

And pretending that is true (faith doesn’t mean “faith” here), St. Paul still says you need “love”!

If St. Paul believed or taught justification by faith ALONE (which he never believed or taught), this passage would be non-sense.

He changed the subject and I didn’t keep pushing him on the point (I just wanted him to think about what the Bible teaches).


Interesting topic.

God bless.

Cathoholic

Bingo. I have been saying this for years.

This need for “evidence” is what drives the “good works” of Protestantism - the evangelizing, the tithing, the missionary work, etc. They are seeking to do these things as evidence that they really have saving faith that perseveres to the end.

This is the treadmill they are on - and then they condemn Catholics because they mistakenly believe we think we think we can earn our way into heaven! They attribute this false idea to Catholics because many of them are actually doing that very thing themselves!

Well I certainly haven’t been innoculated from a young age…I was raised Catholic.

The day I was born again was the day I realized the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I was 19 and still a Catholic, attending mass with my parents and living at home. But my whole life changed…I changed. I had a hunger to read God’s Word that I had never had before. As I devoured the New Testament I began to understand and see things clearly for the first time. 10 months later, I could no longer be Catholic. This was entirely through reading the Bible and God’s Holy Spirit working in me. I didn’t read a single Protestant book, not even so much as an article, and I didn’t have a single Protestant friend. It would take a lot to convince me I’ve been brainwashed to see these things…especially since I was incredibly ignorant of Protestantism and its theology.

Only God can give you eyes to see and ears to hear.

Overall though, we all agree about one thing…the person with no good works/fruit will not be saved. The difference though, is that in your case you have reason to boast (even if it’s because you simply gave assent), in the biblical case, there is no reason to boast because God is the one who has done ALL the work. The only thing I ever used my free will for was to reject God, and I would have continued to use my free will to reject Him if He hadn’t stepped in and saved me.

Ephesians 2:1-10
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

I have never understood why there is so much confusion about the role of faith and works in personal salvation. In my view, both Catholics and Protestants fail to understand this simple reality, not because we misunderstand works, but because we misunderstand faith, that is, the theological virtue of faith. That is the first reason.

The second reason is that modern man isn’t educated in classical philosophy, so we have a harder time understanding man’s nature, namely his intellect and will, and how it operates.

Now, Protestants badly misunderstand what faith is, but Catholics often are no better.

The following is a simple explanation:

FAITH = Intellectual Assent to all the truths of the Gospel. Thus, we might say that faith is certain knowledge of revealed truth.
WORKS = Living one’s life according to that knowledge. In other words, using our God given freedom to live in accordance with truth.

Protestants (and some Catholics) erroneously believe that faith alone spurs us to good works, which are merely a kind of evidence of our faith, but that is clearly and obviously false. For the knowledge of something, even divine truths, does not destroy our free will. This heretical doctrine is extremely dangerous and has been condemned by the Council of Trent.

As a side note, all who claim to profess the Christian Faith would do well do study the virtue of faith, so as to come to a right understanding of its object, in order to distinguish between (1) authentic faith and (2) opinion.

The Summa Theologia is especially helpful in this regard.

See II-II, Q.5, art. 3.

In sum, heretics (e.g., Protestants) must repent and hold to the entire deposit of the Catholic Faith, without which they cannot be saved.

Your response brings to mind 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles,
but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

“Classical philosophy” is the wisdom of men. The true answers to all of our questions about man, the way he thinks, God, and life are found in God’s word. Faith as mere belief is the faith that James writes of when he says that even deamons believe. Or in Luke 4:41, “And demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.”

Hi, VOM,

Just trying to find common ground here.

So was I! :slight_smile:

The day I was born again was the day I realized the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I was 19 and still a Catholic, attending mass with my parents and living at home. But my whole life changed…I changed. I had a hunger to read God’s Word that I had never had before. As I devoured the New Testament I began to understand and see things clearly for the first time. 10 months later, I could no longer be Catholic. This was entirely through reading the Bible and God’s Holy Spirit working in me. I didn’t read a single Protestant book, not even so much as an article, and I didn’t have a single Protestant friend. It would take a lot to convince me I’ve been brainwashed to see these things…especially since I was incredibly ignorant of Protestantism and its theology.

I was kind of the opposite. Intuitively I knew Christianity was the correct view of the world: Jesus’ s life and words are beyond human understanding, but they put life, love, hope & faith in a context that just makes sense.

However, in college and some years after I fought this, being captured by the spirit of rationalism and materialism. But these could not break my initial understanding, for they gave no ultimate meaning to life.

After college, I returned home where i lived with my folks until my marriage, where I took more seriously my faith, at least in regards to my wife and family.

But all along, I wondered if the Protestant ideas were correct. I compared them and wondered how any could be the truth whaen each Protestant interpretation conflicted with another.

So, with now pre-K children, I decided to test on-line the truth of the statements of the Catholic Church versus the other claimants, by going to Protestant websites and presenting the Catholic view. I visited forum after forum and found that the Catholic view had logic, evidence and history behind it. My attempts to find contradictions or misinterpretation by the Catholic Church led to confidence in its claims, and the corresponding lack of confidence in the Protestant claims.

So here I stand.

Only God can give you eyes to see and ears to hear.

Agreed.

Overall though, we all agree about one thing…the person with no good works/fruit will not be saved. The difference though, is that in your case you have reason to boast (even if it’s because you simply gave assent), in the biblical case, there is no reason to boast because God is the one who has done ALL the work.

Biblically, you are correct: the works are of God. Even the assent of the will comes because it is God who first worked in you to will. But there is a boast; the boast we have is in the Lord. Our assent is at best a non-rejection of the Holy Spirit. So where have we done anything positive?

The Church has always said that anything we do that is good is due to God.

The only thing I ever used my free will for was to reject God, and I would have continued to use my free will to reject Him if He hadn’t stepped in and saved me.

True here as well, but I must admit God worked in my conscience all the time, if not at all times through my faith, which may have been dead. I’m sure He was working in your conscience, as well.

Ephesians 2:1-10
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. ***And this ***is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

VOM, note the bolded text. That pronoun is neuter, and neither refers to faith or grace directly, but rather the act of having being saved. Meaning works have not brought you to saving faith, but rather that it is a gift.

However, it does not imply that works do not maintain faith, once you are in a state of being saved. As James says, works bring your faith to perfection. Without works to perfect faith, your faith is really a dead one.

A a dead faith is a real one, because as Paul says, if one has faith to move mountains [a real faith], but has not love, one is nothing. A real faith that makes you nothing.

So “sola fide” is not true.

peace
steve

Some Protestants are more faithful to the Bible than others. Those who are faithful turn to scripture to understand scripture. There are minor disagreements among the faithful, but those often don’t cause a rift in unity (ie. issues of infant vs. believers baptism).

At the same time, I would argue that not all Catholics interpret Scripture nor Catholic teaching the same way. These forums are proof of that! And I would say that the idea of Catholic unity is not entirely accurate. But that is a conversation for a different thread.

You are right that our boast is in Christ! But if you don’t reject the Holy Spirit, while others do, then you have reason to boast of your own works.

Paul is not giving an example of saving faith here. There are many people who perform miracles, but do not have a real saving faith in Christ. If it were ‘real faith’ the faith that saves, it would produce love.

VesselofMercy. Thanks for the quick reply.

You said:

Well I certainly haven’t been innoculated from a young age…I was raised Catholic.

But that is exactly why I ALSO said:

. . . . also get a frequent steady streams of “refresher courses” in their sermons about how in James when he explicitly teaches you are “not justified by faith alone” . . . . this REALLY means . . . . “you are justified by faith alone”.

You said:

I was incredibly ignorant of Protestantism and its theology.

Fair enough. But did you ever know Catholic theology?

You mentioned that when you fired up to affirming the sufficiency of Christ and Bible-reading etc. you left the Catholic faith for your emotions coupled with your personal Bible reading. Yet there are Protestants who could say the same thing of when they become Catholic (especially about the teachings on the Eucharist).

The day I was born again was the day I realized the sufficiency of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. I was 19 and still a Catholic . . . 10 months later, I could no longer be Catholic.

Yet now you seem to DENY the sufficiency of Christ CONTINUING to WORK IN YOU. And the NEED for this too.

It also seems to me, you are redefining what St. John the Evangelist through the Holy Spirit teaches.

You seem to be redefining that in the need to be “born again”, that you now DON’T need to be born of water AND the Spirit (in being “born again”).

Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong on this admitted conjecture about what you think about being “born again” (that I drew from how you used the term “born again” and what you said and the fact that you were Catholic so you were likely already Baptized long before age 19).

And I think it is a lot easier for some ex-Catholics to “get fired up” about a faith, if it conforms to a new and “liberated” lifestyle that also may occur (although I am not saying this is the case with you VesselofMercy).

For example a guy who has had a few “wives” (i.e. via divorce and “remarriages”) or now thinks he can view porn (and continue as such) yet not repent and be saved anyway because he is a “believer”, or a young woman who wants to fornicate with her boyfriend, etc. will all find it immensely easier to get “fired up” about a “faith” that allows them to continue in this lifestyle and be “saved” anyway.

You also ignored St. Paul’s warning about works being reduced down to a mere showing of your faith, and the necessity of “love”. Once you affirm what St. Paul teaches, you will be discarding the man-made tradition of “justification by faith ALONE” or “sola fide”.

“Your” faith is not even all your own (Jesus is the author AND finisher of your faith—Hebrews 12:2), yet your faith IS part yours too!


Why get worked up about Catholics, who acknowledge the key aspect and importance of your faith,
but YOU seem to disavow that Jesus is ALSO the author and finisher of our saving works too (as St. Paul reminds us elsewhere, yet Protestantism usually denies)?

Why affirm Jesus’ work on Calvary, but DENY Jesus’ CONTINUED and necessary WORK within and through you?


And this is the core of many flavors of Protestantism.

“Now I affirm Jesus’ work on Calvary, and a personal relationship with Him” (as Catholics DO TOO), but in essence say: “Now I don’t believe Jesus still works in and through me and/or that He MUST do this (I only believe that faith through me part).” Now I don’t believe in the ministerial Priesthood, the role of the Communion of Saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Oral Tradition, the Magisterium (or the official teaching office of the Church), etc. etc. Now I don’t believe, now I don’t believe, now I don’t believe . . ."

And conclude . . . .

“Now I REALLY believe. Now I REALLY know I’m saved.”

The extension of this is . . .

“Now I REALLY know I’m saved. Now I get to assert anything I want to as long as I can derive it out of my Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit” (“now I get to use my Bible as a spiritual ‘divining rod’ from Heaven”–although admittedly they wouldn’t put it that way).

Yet there are countless other disagreeing Protestants who say the same thing about their own interpretive doctrinal conclusions. Countless other Protestants assert this authoritative supremacy to THEMSELVES, their Bible, their own “PERSONAL Bible interpretation”, and the Holy Spirit, yet come to a vast array of differing doctrinal conclusions and confusion, all claiming to be united to the Holy Spirit!

1st CORINTHIANS 14:33a For God is not the author of confusion . . . .

This is why sola fide, or justification by faith ALONE, is a tradition of men that makes void the commandments of God.

=Randy Carson;12735801]Bingo. I have been saying this for years.

This need for “evidence” is what drives the “good works” of Protestantism - the evangelizing, the tithing, the missionary work, etc. They are seeking to do these things as evidence that they really have saving faith that perseveres to the end.

I could not agree more! While good works are indeed evidence of saving faith, they are not ours to boast on, nor do they add to the work done by Christ. They are evidence of grace, and the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives, not what we do, but what He does in and through us.

  1. We believe, teach, and confess also that all men, but those especially who are born again and renewed by the Holy Ghost, are bound to do good works.

9] 4. In this sense the words necessary, shall, and must are employed correctly and in a Christian manner also with respect to the regenerate, and in no way are contrary to the form of sound words and speech.

10] 5. Nevertheless, by the words mentioned, necessitas, necessarium, necessity and necessary, if they be employed concerning the regenerate, not coercion, but only due obedience is to be understood, which the truly believing, so far as they are regenerate, render not from coercion or the driving of the Law, but from a voluntary spirit; because they are no more under the Law, but under grace, Rom. 6:14; 7:6; 8:14.

11] 6. Accordingly, we also believe, teach, and confess that when it is said: The regenerate do good works from a free spirit, this is not to be understood as though it is at the option of the regenerate man to do or to forbear doing good when he wishes, and that he can nevertheless retain faith if he intentionally perseveres in sins.

12] 7. Yet this is not to be understood otherwise than as the Lord Christ and His apostles themselves declare, namely, regarding the liberated spirit, that it does not do this from fear of punishment, like a servant, but from love of righteousness, like children, Rom. 8:15.

[bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#IV. Good Works.](“http://www.bookofconcord.org/fc-ep.php#IV. Good Works.”)

This is the treadmill they are on - and then they condemn Catholics because they mistakenly believe we think we think we can earn our way into heaven! They attribute this false idea to Catholics because many of them are actually doing that very thing themselves!

Yep.

Jon

Jon and Randy…back in sync and all is right with the world. :slight_smile:

I was 19 when God called me into His Church…the Catholic Church…with all the same hunger and attraction, etc. that you experienced.

So, now that you have been away from Catholicism for awhile, what would you say is the biggest theological error of the Catholic Church that you have discovered from your study of the Bible?

VesselofMercy

You said:

At the same time, I would argue that not all Catholics interpret Scripture nor Catholic teaching the same way.

But this is a tu quoque fallacy. This if the fallacy of “you too”.

This is in essence saying, “You Catholics have doctrinal differences too, so we Protestants get to have those too.”

It always goes back to the issue of authority sooner or later.

The Catholics have the Bible (as do Orthodox and Protestants). Catholics have authoritative oral Tradition (as do Orthodox). But only Catholics also have a teaching Magisterium that claims to be God-protected (under certain circumstances—not in “everything”), and have God-given authority. This last part is called, “the Magisterium” (which just means, “the teaching office”).

**
Think of it like a Math class** (although admittedly the association is not perfect).

[LIST]
*]Protestants have the math book (which the students can refuse).
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Eastern Orthodox have the math book and the math lectures in person then on audio too (which the students can refuse).
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]Catholics have the math book, the lectures in person then also on audio, AND the math teacher coming around looking over our shoulder and perhaps making appropriate corrections to amend our math work (which the students can refuse).
[/LIST]
[LIST]
*]And there are optional things too for any the students–some students sit in the front of the class while others gravitate toward the back. The clothing of the students differ, etc.
[/LIST]

There ARE differing things among all Christians to be sure. And much of that “difference” is good by the way. I am not criticizing ALL differences amongst Protestantism.


We are left with the Spirit of Truth. We are not left “orphans” or “desolate” to truth and teachings as St. John reminds us . . . .

JOHN 14:16-18 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 "I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you.

JOHN 14:18a (NIV) I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. . . . .


You also said to thenobes (with parenthetical addition mine),

You are right that our (Protestants) boast is in Christ!

**But our (Catholics) boast is in Christ too! **

Only Catholics boast of “more” of Christ.

Christ gives us supernatural faith to be sure. But He also gives us that “charity” or “love”. “We affirm MORE of Christ”.

Jesus even gives us a necessary supernatural “hope” too (perhaps WHY St.Paul can say “For in this hope we were saved”–see Romans 8:24).

And if we reject that supernatural “hope” that Jesus authors and finishes in us, then we can commit the sin of presumption or despair if persisted in this sin.

We NEED ALL of Christ. Not just the faith ALONE part of Christ.


You also said:

There are many people who perform miracles, but do not have a real saving faith in Christ.

I agree. But this seems to contradict what you said about the purpose of “works”. Works being done merely to SHOW other people you have faith.

And if you can have such WORKS (like to “move mountains”, or ostensibly be “martyred” by fire), but these “works” are fooling people anyway . . . . what is the use of “works” being reduced down to “show people” you have faith?

After all. If this is the case, this “show” of works, could serve as a vehicle to deceive others!

But the bottom line for a Bible Christian should be: “Where is the verse or verses that say, “works” are ONLY to show other people their faith.”

I agree works do that, but is there more that Scripture teaches?


Catholics call Jesus working in and through you being in “a state of grace”, but the concept is the same.

Do you NEED to have Jesus doing good works in you to be saved? What about someone who REFUSES to do good works (when they are able such as a healthy adult)?

Many will ignore St. John and respond,

“Well they just will do good works. They gotta do good works if they have a real faith! They just can’t refuse to do good works if they are in “the vine”. They automatically WILL bear much fruit!”

But does Jesus through St. John say that? No!

JOHN 15:5-6 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.


If by being justified by a faith that NECESSARILY includes hope and charity (by definition), I will not take issue with your teaching (but I might take issue with the wisdom of presenting it that way).

But if you mean by “faith alone” you mean a mere intellectual assent, I must take issue with that.

COUNCIL OF TRENT (SIXTH SESSION, CANON IX.) If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.

I don’t see faith in terms of “dead faith” or “live faith”. What makes a person alive in God is His Charity given to us, i.e. the theological virtue of Charity (aka “Love”). It alone makes a person spiritually alive, able to call God “Father”, and enables us be with Him and see Him for all eternity after bodily death. Without it, one cannot do these things because the soul is dead - God does not dwell therein. Charity makes it alive. But one can have faith but no love. This is called a “dead faith”, but it’s more accurately (to me, anyway) called “faith belonging to a dead person”. That faith can be great (enough to move mountains!) but so what? - the soul is dead and in a state of enmity with God. Even the demons have faith. They know and believe all the truths of faith, and much better than we do, for that matter, but it does them no good because they lost the Charity that God, at their creation, infused into them, at their Fall. All of this is actually simple Catholic theology. When we commit a mortal sin we lose the gifts of Charity and Hope (we have no hope for heaven since we are spiritually dead) but we maintain Faith. We need that Faith to continue to believe in God and His unfailing love for us and to enable us to come to repentance for our sins. Then we go to Jesus in His gift to us of Holy Confession to have them wiped away in His own blood and to have the gifts of Faith and Hope again poured into our souls by the Holy Spirit (who ‘is’ Love, after all). We only lose the gift of faith if we commit a sin specifically against it, such as despair. This is also why we will most assuredly go to heaven to behold the Face of God for all eternity if and when at death we are in a “state of grace”, that is, if we possess the theological virtue of Charity, and why we will most assuredly go to hell if we do not possess it - because we have no means to enter into heaven without it and are dead in our sins.

So what’s the big problem?

What is this nonsense about doing good works to ‘maintain’ a state of grace? We can only lose the gift of Charity by seriously rejecting God and His Commandments in committing a mortal sin. If, since one has been baptized, which is the moment that person was “saved” one has had no opportunity to commit a mortal sin (maybe the person only lived a short time after) or otherwise never committed a mortal sin and then died, that person is infallibly “saved” - “saved” here meaning that they will enter heaven - because they never lost the “salvation” they were given at baptism. However, not doing the good works “which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them”, not striving after holiness, constantly committing smaller, venial sins, diminishes our life in God, since we have been rejecting His opportunities to grow in grace and have become steadily more callous, and then makes us much more prone to say “yes” to serious sin when that temptation comes, and we fall from grace. I know about these things from reading a little of theology and from years of personal experience.

I suppose it could be a mortal sin not to do some particular good work that God has given us to do. But it wouldn’t be the case, nor is it ever, that we weren’t doing “enough” good works (as if we have to meet some quota) to “maintain” a state of grace. It would be the case that we are committing a serious sin against God in not performing that particular good work. Examples? I dunno - how about we see someone drowning and although we are perfectly able to save them, we find their predicament amusing and watch them die. I’d say that would qualify. Of course, most “good works” that we are called to do are daily things of much less import.

Peace

Faith alone, NEVER saves us.

If it could, why does Paul says that “if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, **but have not love **[that is, not possessing the theological virtue of Charity, poured into our hearts by the free gift of the Holy Spirit, from either never having had it, or having lost it through serious sin], I am nothing.” NOTHING, he says.

Or

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, [great “good works”] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Or

And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge … but have not love, I am nothing.

Faith alone does not save anybody. What saves people is entering into a right relationship with God, becoming His adopted children in Christ, co-heirs with Christ, and having our sins forgiven. This is Charity - God, who is Love, acting in our hearts to do these things. The above things happen through faith, which must be present, it is true, but not because of faith. God is the one to do these things. But God gives us all three theological virtues - Faith, Hope, and Charity - through enkindling in our minds the gift of Faith and then through Holy Baptism, doesn’t He? Yes. Then who is this possessing Faith alone, which does not save, according to the Bible: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone,” or to put it another way with some editing, “A man is not justified by faith alone.” That’s exactly the grammatical meaning of the sentence, if you look at it. I only changed the order of some words and took out “by works”, to make it more clear. So who possesses “Faith alone”? Those who once had Faith, Hope, and Love, but through their own fault, by grave sin, lost the Love and Hope they once had.

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