Paul on faith

I am having trouble with Saint Paul’s teachings in his letter to the Romans and the Galatians.

In Galatians, chapter 3, in verse 5 it appears Paul is supporting the Catholic view of things, that all good deeds come from God’s grace, not from observing the law. Am I correct?

Down in verse 10 he is saying that you must follow the law, but then in verse 11 he says it does not justify you. Is he saying you must follow the law but also have faith in Jesus? He then goes on to confuse me all the way to chapter 4. To include Gal 3:24. He is saying that the law is just a guardian of faith, but that by faith you are justified. Then in 25, he says you no longer need the law (works?). But then in in verse 27 he mentions baptism, which is something that must be done. So what is he saying here? I am so confused!

And as for Romans, he starts out mentioning that faith is obedience. He seems to agree with this in chapter 2 by mentioning that doing wicked deeds they are storing up wrath - thus they must continue to do good deeds even with faith. And in verse 16, “…God will judge people’s hidden works through Jesus Christ”.

But then in chapter 3, he builds up to verses 24-28, in which it seems that you will become rightous just by faith in Christ. But then in verse 31 doing this is just supporting the law? Huh?

He continues to confuse me even up to the big Protestant proof text, Romans 10:9-10. Saint Paul, what do you mean? Can anyone tell me?

I am at a loss here…Can someone please explain Paul’s message to me?

The best suggestion I can make is that you get a reliable commentary on these two books of St. Paul’s. Truly, your question is too complex for casual discussion here. It’s a good investment and you can add to the collection as funds and interest allow.

When Paul is saying Works of the Law, or just the Law, he is talking about the Deuteronomic Law. Eating Kosher foods is not a testament to someone’s faith. Being Circumcised does not make someone holier. If it had, there would have been far fewer converts to Christianity, something the Judaists would have preferred, and the Church would have never gone much further than backwater Israel.

Notworthy

[quote=NotWorthy]When Paul is saying Works of the Law, or just the Law, he is talking about the Deuteronomic Law. Eating Kosher foods is not a testament to someone’s faith. Being Circumcised does not make someone holier. If it had, there would have been far fewer converts to Christianity, something the Judaists would have preferred, and the Church would have never gone much further than backwater Israel.

Notworthy
[/quote]

That is what I had assumed. The only way to become sanctified is through belief in Jesus.

But when comparing beliefs, does ours not fall short? If nothing you can do makes you holy? Or, is perhaps Paul is merely trying to terminate the law of Moses by saying that it is not the way to salvation?

[quote=Della]The best suggestion I can make is that you get a reliable commentary on these two books of St. Paul’s. Truly, your question is too complex for casual discussion here. It’s a good investment and you can add to the collection as funds and interest allow.
[/quote]

Thanks for the link Della. It is going on the “need this” list.

[quote=Unfinished]That is what I had assumed. The only way to become sanctified is through belief in Jesus.

But when comparing beliefs, does ours not fall short? If nothing you can do makes you holy? Or, is perhaps Paul is merely trying to terminate the law of Moses by saying that it is not the way to salvation?
[/quote]

It all depends - do you consider Salvation and Justification the same thing? If you do, then what Paul says does not make sense, for he espouses the need for good words, obedience, and such.

The key is, we achieve Sanctifying Grace through our Faith and through Baptism, as Peter says, “Repent and be Baptized…”. But we can lose this Sanctifying Grace through our own actions by turning away from God (sinning). Our Good Works, which are the fruits of our Faith, helps us to stay Sanctified, as well as the Sacrament of Penance, the Eucharist, praying, etc. Remember, our works are the fruits of our faith, for without works, our Faith is dead.

I like to think of it in simple terms, for I’m a simple guy. When I was baptized, God gave me a wonderful gift - A Bucket chock full of Grace. When I commit a venial sin, I punch a small hole in that bucket, and my Grace leaks out. When I commit a Mortal Sin, I knock the bottom out of my bucket. The Sacrament of Penance plugs up the holes and fills my bucket up again. The Mass, my good works, my prayers, all help to put more grace in my bucket.

Now, when I die, I’m going to give that bucket back to God. If it’s full, guess what? I’m heaven bound, praise the Lord! If that bucket is full of holes, and empty, well, you know…

I hope this makes a little sense.

Notworthy

[quote=NotWorthy]It all depends - do you consider Salvation and Justification the same thing? If you do, then what Paul says does not make sense, for he espouses the need for good words, obedience, and such.

The key is, we achieve Sanctifying Grace through our Faith and through Baptism, as Peter says, “Repent and be Baptized…”. But we can lose this Sanctifying Grace through our own actions by turning away from God (sinning). Our Good Works, which are the fruits of our Faith, helps us to stay Sanctified, as well as the Sacrament of Penance, the Eucharist, praying, etc. Remember, our works are the fruits of our faith, for without works, our Faith is dead.

I like to think of it in simple terms, for I’m a simple guy. When I was baptized, God gave me a wonderful gift - A Bucket chock full of Grace. When I commit a venial sin, I punch a small hole in that bucket, and my Grace leaks out. When I commit a Mortal Sin, I knock the bottom out of my bucket. The Sacrament of Penance plugs up the holes and fills my bucket up again. The Mass, my good works, my prayers, all help to put more grace in my bucket.

Now, when I die, I’m going to give that bucket back to God. If it’s full, guess what? I’m heaven bound, praise the Lord! If that bucket is full of holes, and empty, well, you know…

I hope this makes a little sense.

Notworthy
[/quote]

That does make sense. As I understand it, Justification is when we merit to be saved - we believe in Jesus and are baptized. Salvation is the whole process that we must “endure to the end.”

But I guess what gets me about the whole deal is how our good works are a product of our faith. ie. we only perform them through God’s grace. A protestant would say that once we are "saved’, the good works come natually because we want to please God.

However, from what I understand, we only perform the good works because of God. Am I incorrect?

PS. My CCD classes were quite lacking when I was a child. :stuck_out_tongue:

But that implies that are good works are actually God’s good works being performed through us. We always have free will to give God Gifts of Grace back to Him, just as we have free will not to perform Good Works in His name.

Do you remember being hopelessly in love with someone? I mean head over heels, nothing else in the world matters, end-all-be-all-of-existence kind of love? What did you for this person? Did you buy them flowers? Gifts? Did you do a bunch of things for this person? Why did you do this (and this is the $10,000 question)?

You did this simply because you loved this person and you wanted to please them! So, in answer to your question, yes, we only perform the good works because of God - BUT… we do these good works because we only wish to please God, for we know this is what He wants of us.

Simple, right?

Notworthy

[quote=Della]The best suggestion I can make is that you get a reliable commentary on these two books of St. Paul’s. Truly, your question is too complex for casual discussion here. It’s a good investment and you can add to the collection as funds and interest allow.
[/quote]

Good recommendation. I’d also recommend these:
catholiccompany.com/product_detail.cfm?ID=3850
catholiccompany.com/product_detail.cfm?ID=6816

This article from Catholic Answers may be helpful:
Grace: What It Is and What It Does
catholic.com/library/Grace_What_It_Is.asp

The best book I’ve seen on this subject is by Bob Sungenis and is called "How Can I Get to Heaven?: The Bible’s Teaching on Salvation-Made Easy to Understand."
amazon.com/gp/product/1579180078/qid=1134441377/sr=1-4/ref=sr_1_4/002-9037519-2286441?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

It is an abridged version of his huge treatment on this subject "Not By Faith Alone: A Biblical Study of the Catholic Doctrine of Justification:
amazon.com/gp/product/1579180086/qid=1134441377/sr=1-3/ref=sr_1_3/002-9037519-2286441?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

The last is probably THE book on the subject from a Catholic perspective.

So when I hear from others that the Catholic church is “Faith plus Works”, the simply means that we don’t have to earn salvation…we just have to not screw it up. What it really comes down to is…do Sacred Scriptures teach that you can lose salvation? (Which is kinda the main point Saint Paul was confusing me about) I know what the Church teaches, but to my simple mind it seems to contridict because I can’t understand Saint Paul.

By turning away from God, which is what happens when we sin, we can lose Salvation.

You see, God loves us so much, that He gives us what we want. If we wish to be with Him in this life, we can be with Him in the after-life. If we choose to live without Him in this life, we will be without Him in the afterlife.

But, back to your question, our good works do give us Actual Graces, which can lessen our time in Purgatory. BUT they do not put us originally in a sanctified state. Only Baptism can do this. You see, when John gave us John 3:16, " ***For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life", you have to reconcile this with John 3:36, “***Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” There are two types of people, those who believe (and thus they obey) and those who disobey ( and thus they disbelieve). If you believe, then you will want to obey. If you disobey, it’s because you do not believe. What does obedience mean? Loving one another, keeping His Commandments, doing good works, etc.

Notworthy

[quote=NotWorthy]When Paul is saying Works of the Law, or just the Law, he is talking about the Deuteronomic Law. Eating Kosher foods is not a testament to someone’s faith. Being Circumcised does not make someone holier. If it had, there would have been far fewer converts to Christianity, something the Judaists would have preferred, and the Church would have never gone much further than backwater Israel.

Notworthy
[/quote]

Notworthy:

Well said…

St. Paul is deliberately using a RABBINICAL TERM that hasn’t translated over, and that term is what you’ve described, Works of the Law - Temple Sacrifices, Circumcision, Keeping Kosher, Strict Observance of the Sabbath etc.

Part of the point of the First Council of Jerusalem was establishing the distinction between these Works of the Law, and the keeping of the commandments of God, which are expressed in “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

If you can understand this, that question will be permanently resolved.

For those who just want a good, integrated Study Bible for this section of Scripture:

The Ignatius Study Bible: Letters of St. Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians

Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch present insights and inspiring commentary on the Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians in this 8th volume of the new Ignatius Study Bible series. Containing Bible study helps and tools, in addition to the Hahn-Mitch notes, they include insights from the Church Fathers, topical essays, word studies and charts, study questions, maps, and a cross-reference section.

Availability: In Stock
ISBN: 1586170902
Length: 125 pages
Edition: Paperback
Code: CSB:GE-P
Your Price: $9.95

ignatius.com/ViewProduct.aspx?SID=1&Product_ID=2554&Category_ID=182&

In Christ, Michael

[quote=Unfinished]So when I hear from others that the Catholic church is “Faith plus Works”, the simply means that we don’t have to earn salvation…we just have to not screw it up. What it really comes down to is…do Sacred Scriptures teach that you can lose salvation? (Which is kinda the main point Saint Paul was confusing me about) I know what the Church teaches, but to my simple mind it seems to contridict because I can’t understand Saint Paul.
[/quote]

Unfinished:

The Catholic Church doesn’t teach “Once Saved Always Saved”, and never has. It also never taught that we ccan do anything to earn our Salvation (if we could, the Old Covenant would have been fine).

Even St. Paul told the Philippians to, *"…Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.

Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, 13 among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain."* Phi; 2:12-16 NAB

The only reason to hold onto something is if there is a way you can also lose it…

And then this:

Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. I Cor 6:9-10 NAB

*So what am I saying? That meat sacrificed to idols is anything? Or that an idol is anything?

No, I mean that what they sacrifice, (they sacrifice) to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to become participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and also the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or are we provoking the Lord to jealous anger? Are we stronger than he?* I Cor 10:19-22 NAB

*For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying.

If we discerned ourselves, we would not be under judgment; but since we are judged by (the) Lord, we are being disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.* I Cor:11:29-32 NAB

I seem to recall quite a few of the Great Saints of the Church had real problems understanding “Doctor St. Paul”, so you’re not the only one.

I strongly suggest that book from Ignatius Press, as well as two others you’ll see when you go to the URL I linked, and the one Della linked looks like a must do as well.

You also might want to look into a Bible study group - just make sure that the leaders are Catholic and hold to Church teaching.

I hope this all helps.

In Christ, Michael

WAIT.

I think I got it.

The Protestants these days have made the term “faith” out to be a statement of fact. “I am a sinner, Jesus Christ died for me, and he is Lord and my Savior.” So in this sense, Paul makes no sense to me because I was thinking that faith = just believing.

But, according to the CCC 143, faith is completly submitting you intellect and will to God. Faith is not a statement of fact. It is an action - which would imply good works automatically.

Am I right?

Now I just gotta figure out how to explain this to someone else!

Yes, you got it!!! How do you adress this with them, show them where Faith = obedience. John has several quotes to this effect:

You have to reconcile this “faith” with John 3:36,*** “***Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.” Once again, you either believe (and obey), or you disobey (and not believe).

Notworthy

NotWorthy, Ang, and everyone else, thanks for being patient with me and helping me understand. :thumbsup:

[quote=Unfinished]I am having trouble with Saint Paul’s teachings in his letter to the Romans and the Galatians.

In Galatians, chapter 3, in verse 5 it appears Paul is supporting the Catholic view of things, that all good deeds come from God’s grace, not from observing the law. Am I correct?

Down in verse 10 he is saying that you must follow the law, but then in verse 11 he says it does not justify you. Is he saying you must follow the law but also have faith in Jesus? He then goes on to confuse me all the way to chapter 4. To include Gal 3:24. He is saying that the law is just a guardian of faith, but that by faith you are justified. Then in 25, he says you no longer need the law (works?). But then in in verse 27 he mentions baptism, which is something that must be done. So what is he saying here? I am so confused!

And as for Romans, he starts out mentioning that faith is obedience. He seems to agree with this in chapter 2 by mentioning that doing wicked deeds they are storing up wrath - thus they must continue to do good deeds even with faith. And in verse 16, “…God will judge people’s hidden works through Jesus Christ”.

But then in chapter 3, he builds up to verses 24-28, in which it seems that you will become rightous just by faith in Christ. But then in verse 31 doing this is just supporting the law? Huh?

He continues to confuse me even up to the big Protestant proof text, Romans 10:9-10. Saint Paul, what do you mean? Can anyone tell me?

I am at a loss here…Can someone please explain Paul’s message to me?
[/quote]

When reading Paul’s letters, I always find it helpful to try to follow when he is talking about the “law” as in the old covenant, and when he is talking about the “law” as in good deeds under the new covenant. This can usually be deduced from context. Sorry I can’t be more helpful, but it really is a very complicated issue. I echo the earlier suggestion that you get a good Catholic commentary on this.

[quote=Traditional Ang]Notworthy:

Well said…

St. Paul is deliberately using a RABBINICAL TERM that hasn’t translated over, and that term is what you’ve described, Works of the Law - Temple Sacrifices, Circumcision, Keeping Kosher, Strict Observance of the Sabbath etc.

Part of the point of the First Council of Jerusalem was establishing the distinction between these Works of the Law, and the keeping of the commandments of God, which are expressed in “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

If you can understand this, that question will be permanently resolved.

For those who just want a good, integrated Study Bible for this section of Scripture:

The Ignatius Study Bible: Letters of St. Paul to the Galatians and Ephesians

Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch present insights and inspiring commentary on the Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians in this 8th volume of the new Ignatius Study Bible series. Containing Bible study helps and tools, in addition to the Hahn-Mitch notes, they include insights from the Church Fathers, topical essays, word studies and charts, study questions, maps, and a cross-reference section.

Availability: In Stock
ISBN: 1586170902
Length: 125 pages
Edition: Paperback
Code: CSB:GE-P
Your Price: $9.95

ignatius.com/ViewProduct.aspx?SID=1&Product_ID=2554&Category_ID=182&

In Christ, Michael
[/quote]

When Paul says that we are not justified by works or by the law, he is referring to any and all kinds of work done by man, not just certain kinds of work. These works include all the moral, civil, and ceremonial laws of the OT as well as any such laws of the age we are now in.

This debate over what “works of the law” actually means goes back at least as far as Jerome and Augustine. Jerome believed that the “works of the law” which will not justify refers only to the ceremonial law. Augustine believed that “works of the law” refers to any ceremonial or moral law.

The Council of Trent seems to me to settle this issue because it does not distinguish between ceremonial or moral law in its decrees on justification. This council makes a firm statement that the works Paul understood as those that do not justify us refers to all and any works, not just particular kinds of works.

For example, in the councils first decree on justification we see:
“If anyone shall say that man can be justifed before God by his own works, which are done either by his own natural powers, or through the teaching of the law, and without divine grace through Christ Jesus: let him be anathema” (Session 6, Canon 1). We can see from this declaration that the council made no distinction between works.

I think we all agree that the ceremonial law will not save us so I won’t spend time disputing that but will move on to the moral law.

Let’s take Romans 7:6-8 for example:
**Romans 7:6-8 **
6 But now we are loosed from the law of death wherein we were detained; so that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. 7 What shall we say, then? Is the law sin? God forbid! But I do not know sin, but by the law. For I had not known concupiscence, if the law did not say: Thou shalt not covet. 8 But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.

The law that shows us that coveting is sin is taken from the 9th and 10th commandments, which of coruse are part of the moral law and not the ceremonial law.

If anyone is interested in reading more about this matter I would suggest “Not By Faith Alone” by Sungenis or reading the following link:
catholicintl.com/epologetics/articles/justification/works1.htm

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