The Truth Twins


#1

:shrug:

I’m not sure what to believe, but i’m not going to give up searching for certainty! I hope someone here can answer my questions and help me figure this out.

There are two statements in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans that appear to contradict each other. The first is this:

(1) God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. (Romans 2:7-8)biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=52&chapter=2&version=31The second is this:

(2) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5)biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=52&chapter=4&version=31A thoughtful Catholic at this forum suggested that Romans 2:7-8 means this:

(1a) God gives eternal life only to specific people because they do the good works He requires.Well-meaning Protestants, on the other hand, tell me that Romans 4:4-5 means this:

(2a) God gives eternal life only to specific people because they trust Him, but not because they trust in the good works He wants them to do. I imagine atheists will mock me and say, “You idiot! Are you still blind to the fact that your Book is full of contradictions? And you call yourself a Philosopher!”

There is a myth about the Roman nation starting from two twins Romulus and Remus who survived by suckling a wolf in the wild.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romulus_and_Remus

I feel as though (1a) is Romulus and (2a) is Remus and St. Paul is their father; and i do not know whether these two truths have the same mother of truth, or whether one is the bastard son of a lady of lies. Of course, if one is false, then i don’t know how i can trust Paul, or even put the St. next to his name.

There must be some way to show that both (1) and (2) are the offspring of the same truth. Please, will someone help me out here?


#2

“Works” of Christian charity.
The second is this:

”Works” of the Law.

To understand the writings of St Paul you need to keep in mind who he is (not one of the original Apostles, called by Jesus Himself, about six years after the resurrection), what his calling was (the Apostle to the gentiles, to those who didn’t follow the “works” of the Law), and what he’s referring to (“works” of the Law), and the strongest argument he has with the other Apostles about whether a person needed to follow the “works” of the Law. When Paul writes of “works” it is about “works of the Law”. Keep in mind the other Apostles were converting Jews, those who had already followed the “works” of the Law. Paul insists the “works of the Law” are not required (he even mentions some of those “works like circumcision). He is absolutely correct. He also says we DO need to do the “works” of Christian charity. Unfortunately the same word, “works” are used to describe both, which has confused many, Luther among them. These examples are a perfect way to show the difference between “works” of the Law and works of Christian charity. In the first example he is showing, yes you do indeed need to “do” something. In the second, he mentions “work” which is relating to “works of the Law”, NOT works of Christian charity. So he’s talking about two entirely different subjects. Yes we need to do “works” or “deeds” of Christian charity, but “works” of the Law are meaningless.


#3

A thoughtful Catholic at this forum suggested that Romans 2:7-8 means this:

(1a) God gives eternal life only to specific people because they do the good works He requires.

Tom’s answer is great, though I would add that the catholic church does not teach what the probably-well-intentioned and thoughtful catholic described above. The catholic church teaches that works are necessary for fullness of faith, that faith is necessary for grace, and that GRACE is what saves us.


#4

Here are 10 of the more than 200 works of the Jewish Law, Tom. Which of these works is a Roman Catholic not required to obey?

And God spoke all these words:

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
"You shall have no other gods before me.
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.
"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
"Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
"You shall not murder.
"You shall not commit adultery.
"You shall not steal.
"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
(Exodus 20:1-17)


#5

Yes, i agree it is God’s grace (that is, His undeserved love) that saves us, Promethius. :thumbsup:


#6

This means pretty much exactly what it says. God chooses freely to reward us for the things that we do in this life.

The second is this:

(2) Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5)

This passage means that we cannot obligate God to allow us into heaven by the things that we do.

We are saved by grace not by works.

God rewards our works, but he is not obligated in any way to do so.
Hope this helps. :tiphat:


#7

Thanks for the reply, RC. Yes i agree that we are saved by God’s undeserved love (or grace). I also believe that we receive that grace by repenting of our sin and putting our trust in Christ. I also agree that we are not saved from hell by the good things we say and do. I also agree that God rewards us for the good things we say and do, for Jesus Himself said

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”(Matthew 6:19-20)
Clearly there are degrees of reward in heaven just as there are degrees of punishment in hell.

At this point, however, i do not agree that eternal life is the reward of which Jesus was speaking, for He said, “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven” but He did not say, “store up for yourselves heaven as a treasure”.

What might help me, RC, would be for you to give me a passage of Scripture that teaches heaven (or eternal life) is a reward rather than an absolutely free gift.


#8

These are not “works” of the Law in the context which we are speaking. They are not things you “do”. They are commandments. A “work” of the Law would be ritual cleansing, circumcision, sacrifices, things of this nature.

And God spoke all these words:

  1. "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
  2. "You shall have no other gods before me.
  3. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.
  4. "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
  5. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
  6. "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
  7. "You shall not murder.
  8. "You shall not commit adultery.
  9. "You shall not steal.
  10. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
  11. "You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
  12. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
    (Exodus 20:1-17)

#9

Romans 4 is dealing with those who claimed that they were delivered from the eternal debt, power, and contagion of sin and became righteous before God (i.e. justification) though observance of the Law of Moses. We cannot deliver oursleves from sin and earn God’s forgiveness through works. The Law raised awareness of our sins, but was powerless in delivering us from those sins. That could only be done by the work of Christ on the Cross. Romans 2:7 has nothing to do with the reception of what Catholics call sanctifying grace. Romans 2:7 refers to our obligation after freely receiving gift of righteousness. We are no longer under the Law (i.e. Mosaic Law), but under the Law of Christ. The Law of Christ is love and by this law we shall be judged.

God Bless,
Michael


#10

I haven’t searched the scriptures, but here are some good passages from the Catechism to consider in the meantime:

**1716 **The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ preaching. They take up the promises made to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory, but to the Kingdom of heaven:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward is great in heaven.

**1821 **We can therefore hope in the glory of heaven promised by God to those who love him and do his will. In every circumstance, each one of us should hope, with the grace of God, to persevere “to the end” and to obtain the joy of heaven, as God’s eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ. In hope, the Church prays for “all men to be saved.” She longs to be united with Christ, her Bridegroom, in the glory of heaven:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

**2550 **On this way of perfection, the Spirit and the Bride call whoever hears to perfect communion with God:

There will true glory be, where no one will be praised by mistake or flattery; true honor will not be refused to the worthy, nor granted to the unworthy; likewise, no one unworthy will pretend to be worthy, where only those who are worthy will be admitted. There true peace will reign, where no one will experience opposition either from self or others. God himself will be virtue’s reward; he gives virtue and has promised to give himself as the best and greatest reward that could exist. . . . "I shall be their God and they will be my people. . . . " This is also the meaning of the Apostle’s words: “So that God may be all in all.” God himself will be the goal of our desires; we shall contemplate him without end, love him without surfeit, praise him without weariness. This gift, this state, this act, like eternal life itself, will assuredly be common to all.


#11

Thank you, Tom; now i’m beginning to see from where you are coming. You are interpreting the good works of the Jewish moral law in an extremely narrow sense; in contrast, i am interpreting them in a broad sense. Let me be sure i am not misunderstanding you. When St. Paul wrote

Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

(Romans 4:4-5)
Are you saying that St. Paul merely means

(1a) When a Jewish man circumcises himself and does not eat pork or lobster, his wages (or reward) are not credited to him (by God) as a gift, but as an obligation

(2a) But when a Roman Catholic man does not circumcise himself, nor abstain from eating pork and lobster, his faith (or trust in God) is credited (to him by God) as righteousness.

therefore

(10a) What St. Paul was saying is that circumcision and abstaining from certain foods is not a requirement to receive the gift of eternal life

and

(11a) Doing other things, like obeying the 10 commandments, is a requirement to receive the gift of eternal life.

Please correct me if i’m not correctly comprehending what you are conveying.


#12

Yes, Michael, i completely agree with these two premises, but i also believe other premises are taught by Scripture, so that i think we hold different conclusions. Let me show you the line of reasoning i’m considering to be the truth. I hope that you will then explain which of my premises is untrue or should be reworded to lead to a different conclusions:

(1b) When a man trusts in his good works, he falsely believes his wages (or reward) are not credited to him by God as a gift, but as an obligation(2b) But the truth is that when a man does not trust in his own good works, but instead trusts in God who justifies the wicked, this trust in God is credited to him by God as righteousness.(3b) The Jewish moral Law, which includes the 10 commandments, raises awareness of how wrong our sins are, but this knowledge is powerless to deliver us from the temptation to commit the sins that we agree are wrong to commit.(4b) We cannot deliver ourselves from the power of our desire to sin and earn God’s forgiveness through good works (e.g., through avoiding temptation and saying and doing good things).(5b) Eternal life is a gift we can receive but not a reward we can earn.(6b) We cannot deliver ourselves from sin and earn eternal life as a reward by working for it (i.e. resisting temptation and saying and doing good things).(7b) Genuine saving faith is impossible without repentance.(8b) Those who repent will do good works, because a change of attitude results in a change of action. therefore(20b) What St. Paul was saying is that doing good works is not what causes God to give us the gift of eternal life.and(21b) However, everyone who does receive the gift of eternal life will do good works; i.e., he will show he has the gift by what he says and does.


#13

Thanks, RC! I will read those quotes from the Catechism later, when i have time, and try to determine if they agree with Scripture and how they apply.

:slight_smile:


#14

First, the term “good works” are not used in Scripture when referring to the Mosaic Law. The “good” is only used, as far as I’ve seen, in reference to, doing deeds or works which Christ instructs us to do. When he is referring to works of the Law he doesn’t use the “good”.

Paul is making several points in Romans:
[LIST]
*] To follow the Mosaic (Old) Law will not bring justification.
*] Those who are gentile converts are not judged by, and did not need to follow, the Mosaic Law. Remember the Jewish converts often looked down on the gentile converts because they didn’t follow the Mosaic Law. Peter not eating with them strikes me. To judge a person for not following the Mosaic Law brings condemnation on yourself (Rm 2, 1-12)
*] Jesus is the fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, it is He who we must follow (2,16).
*] “observing” the Law, be it following Jesus, or the Mosaic Law out of rote, or without having the law in their heart (with genuine love), (Romans 2, 13-15) will also be meaningless.
*] We must “do”, not simply hear (Romans 2, 13) We must follow Him with our heart, not simply go through the motions.
*] If you follow the Mosaic Law, you will be judged by the Mosaic Law.
[/LIST]


#15

I know this wasn’t addressed to me, hope you don’t mind my opinion.
An overall opinion of the list is that it was written by well intentioned people who were trying to impress upon the reader that they should put their trust in Jesus. I can’t think of any Christian who would argue that idea. However, it creates a false dichotomy: you shouldn’t do anything (works), but only trust in God. The problem there is, in not doing anything, you’re NOT trusting God, because God tells you to get off your duff and “do”, pick up your cross. The path to heaven is narrow, it’s not as easy as simply having faith, you need to put your faith into action.

I’m a little confused in this “trust” in good works. I trust that Jesus wants me to “do” not just hear. I don’t trust in the works themselves as “earning” me anything, I’m simply obeying. Does my obedience constitute putting trust in good works?
If a person believes he can “earn” his way into heaven he is wrong.


#16

An overall opinion of the list is that it was written by well intentioned people who were trying to impress upon the reader that they should put their trust in Jesus. I can’t think of any Christian who would argue that idea. However, it creates a false dichotomy: you shouldn’t do anything (works), but only trust in God. The problem there is, in not doing anything, you’re NOT trusting God, because God tells you to get off your duff and “do”, pick up your cross. The path to heaven is narrow, it’s not as easy as simply having faith, you need to put your faith into action.

I’m a little confused in this “trust” in good works. I trust that Jesus wants me to “do” not just hear. I don’t trust in the works themselves as “earning” me anything, I’m simply obeying. Does my obedience constitute putting trust in good works?
If a person believes he can “earn” his way into heaven he is wrong. Similarilly, if a person believes having faith (alone), and stubbornly refuses to do what Jesus clearly teaches you to do, well, you’ll be sharing rooms with the person who thought they could earn their way into heaven. Pack lightly, I hear it’s warm down there.


#17

As above, I trust in the Words of Jesus, which instruct me to do these “good works”. There is no false dichotomy I trust in God who tells me to do the good works. To refuse to do the things that Jesus clearly teaches, because someone might think I’m trying to earn my way into heaven, is to place my trust in a mans interpretation and not God.


#18

Absolutely agree

Absolutely disagree, see below (6b)

Agree, but we can lose it by refusing to follow His teaching, can’t we?

Here (and 4b above) is where the problem creeps in, they use truth to interject falsehood. You and I cannot “deliver ourselves from sin and earn eternal life as a reward by working for it”. Then they add the falsehood, that resisting temptation, saying and doing good things” are of no avail. Do you really believe God is telling you that you need not resist temptation? That is ludicrous. Do you really think God is teaching you can say anything you want without punishment? Aren’t we to be judged on every word we speak? Do you really think God won’t mind if you stubbornly refuse to love your neighbor? Do you really believe Jesus teaches us to sit back and relax, just have faith, or does He tell you:

[quote=www.drbo.org] (Matthew 25,35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? 39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? 40 And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
[/quote]


#19

Isn’t “repentance” a form of “work” or “deed”? Seems a little contradictory doesn’t it? You don’t need to resist temptation (I kind of like that one, I can imagine the sins and error this teaching will usher in) you can say any horrible thing you want, you can hate your neighbor, but you need to “repent”?


#20

Obviously not if we don’t need to resist temptation! I know many people who truly believe, repent, and refuse, absolutely to do any good works, lest they be seen as trying to “earn” their salvation. Now, I understand that was not the intent of the authors of this list, but it is the result of this, and similar lists.
In an attempt to proive the Catholic Church wrong they’ve led millions away from the teachings of Jesus.


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