Romans 3:21 - 4:8. Saved by Works & Faith

21But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.** 28For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law**. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Romans 4

Abraham Justified by Faith

1What then shall we say was gained by[d] Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? **2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. **5And to the one who does not work but believes in[e] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
8blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

If Catholics use James 2:21 to talk about how Abraham was justified by works, this like says no, he wasn’t. Can someone help me learn about saved by Faith AND Deed. Please help.

Here you go

To be just or righteous is to be sinless-and we can’t earn or deserve forgiveness of sin. But although God does forgive our sins due to Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, we’re still to “go, and sin no more.” So contrary to how some read scripture, what we do counts.

But the Law (doing the right thing) is not to be our master-meaning we’re no longer “under the Law” (Rom 3:19) as per the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant God truly becomes our God again, and He writes His Laws on our hearts and in our minds, as per Jer 31:

**33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the LORD.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
34 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the LORD.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” **

God becomes our master again, a relationship that was lost to all mankind at the Fall, and a situation that mere external obedience to the Law cannot rectify. And He does the “writing” by molding us, with our cooperation, into beings who love, because “love fulfills the Law” (Rom 13:8-10), which is why Jesus could sum up the Law with the greatest commandments, to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. In this way our justice doesn’t come from our own efforts at obeying the Law, rather it come from God. And Jesus won for us the reconciliation with God necessary in order to usher in this New Covenant and begin this work of salvation in us.

Phil 3:4-11sheds light on this from another angle:
**If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.

7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. **

Apart from God, mans’ righteousness is his own-it’s not “the righteousness that comes from God”. So when we turn back to God in faith (faith in God being the first virtue lost at the Fall, which is why we’re born without faith), then we’re beginning to place ourselves back in subjugation to Him again-i.e. He becomes our God again. Only with the Holy Spirit indwelling man can man become truly righteous-this is how it was always meant to be.

Pope Benedict XVI on Paul on Faith and Works

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081119_en.html

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2008/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20081126_en.html

(the second one there starts off otherwise…but keep reading)

:thumbsup: Yes, read this for a “fleshed out” and mature understanding of the matter. You’ll rarely if ever get this depth of understanding outside the CC.

So, what this is saying, we are saved by faith, working through love? Not by faith alone.

Yes, the CC teaches were not saved by faith alone. If we want to qualify “faith” to mean a faith that works in love and towards love, which is not necessarily what the reformers meant at all, then we might be able to say we’re justified by faith alone. But as it is even demons believe as James tells us, and even “if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing”, as Paul tells us in I Cor 13:2 tell us.

Read the Parable of the Talents, todays’ reading- God expects us to invest the talents-the gifts-we’re given. It could easily be said, and correctly so, that love alone justifies a person, but not faith alone, because faith can exist without love whereas love by its nature contains the virtues of faith as well as hope. Faith is the beginning of our walk with God, the proper means or vehicle towards becoming just-but it does not constitute our justice, in and of itself

It is good to read the texts of Pope Benedict XVI again and again…

and also read this:

vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2006/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20061108_en.html

It all depends on what one is speaking of when using the various terms …

Ask yourself this:

Paul says we are justified by faith apart from works, to what end? To what end is this justification?

For James and Paul to not conflict, they must be speaking of different ends for the justification.

James 2:24:

“For you see, man is judged by Works and not by faith alone”

I think I would rather go with an un-changed Bible verse than a verse Martin Luther changed during his “reformation”

How about the promise of eternal life vs the realization of it?

Ok, I cheated-I see you’ve migrated from the “Other Side” at CF. It’s fairly easy to think Paul is saying that faith alone justifies us-as if having the virtue of faith in God actually constituted man’s justice (even though man’s justice is summed up by the greatest commandments), or, alternatively, that God decided, 2000 yrs ago, to let man off the hook so to speak and demand nothing more than faith in order to be deemed just (which is more or less what the Reformers were saying), but Paul, while emphasizing the role of faith in reaction to legalism, still knew that faith is the starting point (after grace) and vehicle for our justification and not the sole means to it. Aside from the many places where Paul and others exhort believers to persevere, work out their salvation, abide in the Spirit, keep oil in their lamps, invest their talents, do good deeds, feed the poor, clothe the naked, in order to gain eternal life, Phil 3:9 tells us that the righteousness of God comes on the basis of faith.

OK, I’ll try to help. The very first thing you need to understand is this thing called salvation, what it is and what it is not.

The Catholic understanding of salvation is that it is a process that has a beginning (initial salvation), a middle (ongoing salvation), and an end (final salvation). If you try to reconcile biblical verses that are referring to one aspect of salvation - ie our initiation into salvation - with other verses which speak of wither of the other aspects of salvation then you are going to have apparent contradictions.
Initial salvation is by faith and involves no works* . God accomplishes this without any deeds: it is by Grace through faith. Here is an example of Paul speaking of our initial salvation from Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works…Note how he uses the PAST TENSE “have been” to describe a past event that has occured. He is not speaking of ONGOING salvation, nor is he discussing FINAL salvation.

Ongoing salvation is, basically, our Christian walk. It covers the time from initial salvation until the completion of our earthly life. It is the down and dirty of loving God and neighbor by taking up our cross and following Christ. James Chapter 2 has this aspect of salvation in mind: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” Please note that Jame’s letter is to “brothers” which is a code word for “Christian”; these folks have already “believed in Jesus”, and, as such they “have been” saved (ie intitial salvation). James addresses remaining in that state, and he is emphatic that it is not by faith “alone”. If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead." Faith without works* in our ongoing salvation* is dead, incomplete and does not save us. He even goes on to discuss Abraham and how his faith was completed by works and that that is why he was justified. James is talking about remaining united to the vine by producing fruit (ongoing salvation/christian walk) In order to reconcile his comments with Paul’s above, we must simply realize that they are talking about two different aspects of the process of salvation.

Final salvation is the time of judgement by God, after our earthly lives have ended. This too, like ongoing salvation involves an assessment of whether we persevered in faith loving God through love of neighbor. Christ speaks forcefully of the need to love others in Matt 25: When the Son of Man comes in his glory…all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you…? And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41* j Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels… Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46l
I hope this clears up some of the confusion for you. To summarize, salvation is a process with distinct phases. Biblical authors discuss the different phases under the same name of “salvation”, being “saved”, being “justified”, etc. By recognizing which phase of salvation is being discussed, it will eliminate the apparent contradictions in Scripture.

Blessings!

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