I'm not exactly sure how there is still any
support for the idea that we are saved by both faith and works (with
grace, of course) when it is clear in these
verses that we are saved by the grace of Christ
through faith alone. Note: I checked these verses in a Catholic
It is true that works are a contribution, but not
a independent factor, working in the same degree
as faith. In other words, works cannot justify for faith
in salvation, but faith can justify works. In the Catholic interpretation of this teaching, it seems as if
a mass murder can go to Heaven by having faith. With that interpretation, you are missing the
essence of justification by faith alone.
Salvation by faith alone defines a believers
willing act to follow Jesus as a result of faith.
Thus one is justified by the grace of God through
faith in Jesus.
The sole idea is that, if you have faith, then
you live according to faith. It is not the idea
that having faith justifies a person no matter
what one does to destroy ones testimony of faith. I read your article about works concerning James
2:24, yet you left out the detail mentioned by Hebrews 11:17.
17 by faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered
up Isaac: and he that had received the promises
offered up his only begotten son.
The significance of the verses in Hebrews 11 shows
that all works for God are done by faith, which
is concluded in Hebrews 12:1-3.
1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed
about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let
us lay aside every weight, and the sin which
doth so easily beset us, and let us run with
patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher
of our faith; who for the joy that was set
before him endured the cross, despising the
shame, and is set down at the right hand of
the throne of God. 3 For consider him that endured such contradiction
of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied
and faint in your minds.
Taking note that Abraham offered his son
to God as a result of Faith, we can effectively
gain a conclusion from James
18. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and
I have works: shew me thy faith without thy
works, and I will shew thee my faith
by my works. 19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou
doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith
without works is dead? 21. Was not Abraham our father justified
by works, when he had offered Isaac his son
upon the altar? 22. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works,
and by works was faith made perfect? 23. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith,
Abraham believed God, and it was imputed
unto him for righteousness: and he
was called the Friend of God. 24. Ye see then how that by works a man is
justified, and not by faith only.
25. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot
justified by works, when she had received the
messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26. For as the body without the spirit
is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
When James asks, Can faith save him? He
is referring to whether the faith is real or
counterfeit. Faith, manifested in Good Works,
or counterfeit faith, doing good works.
There is no contradiction between Paul's writing most
notably Romans and James. Paul insists
that it is the man that worketh not,
but believeth that is justified by Jesus
Christ, but he also describes the character
of true faith. Faith worked by love.
It clear that Paul and James use the word justification in different senses. In the Bible, the word justification is often used in the legal sense. To justify denotes a judge declaring a person righteous.
This is the opposite of to condemn which means
to declare guilty.
Deuteronomy 25:1; Job 13:18; Isaiah 50:7-8;
Matthew 12:37; Luke 18:14; etc. Paul often uses
the word justification in this legal sense. To justify is also used in a declarative sense.
A person who tries to show himself that he is
in the right is said to be trying to justify
Job 32:2; Luke 10:28-29; 16:14-15.
James has this aspect of justification in mind.
We have seen that his concern is to show the
reality of the faith professed by the individual.
Now taking a look at James 2:23 above, it is evident
that righteousness came from God and not from
Abraham. In fact, it was credited onto [unto]
Abraham as good works. Yet, from this we can
see that there is no righteousness that comes
from works. But he was justified by his works,
because his faith was real.
Notably, all the support given by the Bible
that show works as justification were the result
of first having faith.
Works cannot play an independent role for salvation.
James insists that a man is not justified by
faith only. That is because faith that
is alone is dead. Profession of
faith is not enough. Acknowledgment to the Gospel
truths is not enough. One must have living faith,
and that is manifest by good works. Good
works declares that he and his faith are genuine.
Good works is an expression
of heart-felt gratitude for Jesus Christ and
what he did for us. Here is an analogy to help
clarify the understanding:
I love my parents
very much but I don't love them in order
to gain some favor from them.
love them because I appreciate how much
they suffered and worked hard for my sake. It
is the same with the Christian's relation to
his Savior. "We love Him, because He first
loved us." (1 John 4:19).
So as a Christian, I don't try to earn
salvation by my works. I strive to
live as righteously as the reasonable response
to the mercy of God. It's my way of saying Thank
you! On the other hand, he who believes and
continues to live in sin is deceiving himself
and remains lost in his sin regardless of what
Still, James 2 fails to prove how one must achieve
certain goals in order to achieve salvation.
Neither does it contradict Sola Fide. James 2 helps reveal the true characteristic of having
Now concerning Salvation by grace through faith
Martin Luther's addition of the word
alone was not required, as the following
already reveals salvation is by grace alone:
We are not justified because of faith,
as if faith has any merit in itself. We are justified by and through faith
— resting, relying, depending, trusting in another.
Faith is what unites us to Christ, the Source
of every spiritual blessing. The believer is
justified because of His sacrifice and righteousness.
The Bible also states that a man is justified:
from the deeds of the law. (Romans
- God imputes (credits) righteousness apart
from works (Romans 4:6)
is not attained by the works of the law (Romans
- a man is not justified by the
works of the law and “by the works
of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians
- if righteousness comes through
the law, then Christ died in vain (Galatians
- no one is justified by the law
in the sight of God (Galatians 3:11)
- a man is not justified on account of his own
righteousness, which is from the law” (Philippians 3:9).
The context justifies the ideas implied by the
verses. Please refer to your Bible and study
these verses and the surrounding contexts.
The question I have is this:
- If you ask a thousands people to thoroughly read
the verses noted above, as well as both Hebrews
11-12, John 3:16, and James 2:18-26, what percent
would actually come to the conclusion that
salvation comes from both faith and works working
Despite the hundreds of Catholic articles concerning
this subject, I have yet to see proofs of how
works and faith justify for salvation. I'm open
to any responses, and I encourage them greatly.
Personally, after comparing the Church according
to the Bible and the Catholic Church, there are
major differences between them, and it seems
that if you were to put them both in the same
time period it would be Protestant versus Catholic
all over again.
I would also like proof on how
the Catholic Church is, in anyway, similar to the
Church as defined by the Testimony of the Twelve Apostles
of Jesus, or, in short, The New Testament.
Why does the Church teach we are saved by faith and works when we are saved by faith alone? }
Fr. Francis replied:
In response to our enquirer I will not go into a long list of Scripture
verses which he may or may not desire. I have no interest in endless and
pointless arguments that have been repeated over and over again since 1517,
attempting to convince either Catholic Christians or Protestant Christians
of the truth of their particular position.
It is enough to state that the Catholic Church has never taught the doctrine
of justification by works which repeatedly has been ascribed to us. We
hold as inspired Scripture Saint Paul's Letters, especially Galatians and
Romans. I would remind our enquirer that Paul's greatest Letter, Romans
was written precisely to the Church in Rome — that Church with which all
Catholics are still in communion! We have held Paul's Letter as well as
the witness of his very life (he was martyred and buried in Rome) and still maintain
his teaching. That teaching is this:
21 But now the Justice (Righteousness) of God has been manifested
apart from the Law, even though both Law and the Prophets bear witness
to it 22 that Justice (Righteousness) of God which works through faith
in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
23 All men have sinned and are deprived of the Glory of God. All men are
now undeservedly 24 Justified by the Gift (grace) of God, through the Redemption
wrought in Christ Jesus.
25 Through His Blood, God made Him the means of expiation for all who believe,
remitting sins committed in the past- to manifest His Justice (Righteousness)
in the present, by way of forbearance, 26 so that He might be Just (Righteous)
and might Justify (make righteous) those who believe in Jesus".
I repeat, the Catholic Church has always taught the Gospel according to
which God makes us righteous through the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ!
It is not that we have loved God, as Saint John reminds us in his First
Letter, but that God has first loved us and sent His Son as an expiation
for our sins. It is all grace! All a Gift! We agree with:
- Paul, as he defended
the Gospel against the Judaizers, and
- the distinguished and the great Father
of the Church, Saint Augustine, as he preserved this Gospel against the
subtle arguments of the British monk, Pelagius
that salvation cannot be
earned, won, etc. by mankind. As Saint Paul teaches plainly in Ephesians:
"But God is rich in mercy; because of His great love for us, He
brought us to life with Christ while we were dead in sin. By His favor
(grace) you were saved. Both with and in Christ Jesus He raised us up
and gave us a place in the heavens, that in the ages to come He might
display the great wealth of his favor (grace), manifested by His kindness
to us in Christ Jesus."
Then, to prevent us from missing the point, Paul writes,
it is owing to His favor (grace) that salvation is yours through faith."
It is through grace that we have been saved! It is all Gift! Yet,
notice that while the grace comes from God it comes through Jesus Christ.
While the Giver of the Gift is Divine, there needs to be a response. The
Gift had already been spurned in the Garden of Eden by Adam, no son of
Adam can now respond to that great Gift of Love. The Father however, in
His great mercy, and out of love for this world has [provided, given] the
One Who Himself could respond to this great Gift — His only begotten Son
Jesus Christ. From the first moment of His Incarnation in the Womb of the
Blessed Virgin, (both titles given to Mary are in Saint Luke's Gospel), Christ
has responded to the Father's love. Hebrews teaches us:
1 Since the Law had only a shadow of the good things to come and
no real image of them, it was never able to perfect the worshippers by
the same sacrifices offered continually year after year. 2 Were matters
otherwise, the priests would have stopped offering them, for the worshippers,
once cleansed would have no sin on their conscience. 3 But through those
sacrifices there came only a yearly recalling of sins, 4 because it is
impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take sins away.
5 Wherefore, on coming into the world, Jesus said, "Sacrifice and
offering You did not desire, but a Body You prepared for Me; 6 Holocausts
and sin offerings You took no delight in.
7 Then I said, "As is written of me in the Book I have come to do
Your will, O God
First He says, 8 "Sacrifices and offerings, holocausts and sin offerings,
You neither desired nor delighted in" (These are offered according to the prescriptions
of the Law) 9 Then He says "I have come to do your will"
In other words, He takes away the First Covenant to establish the Second. 10 By this "will" we have been sanctified through the offering
of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Finally, a response appropriate to the infinitely merciful Gift of the
Father has been found —
the response is the Gift of Self of Jesus Christ,
true God and true Man. His whole Life was marked by doing the Father's
will and culminated in His obedience unto death, death on the Cross (Philippines 2) His obedience finally was the appropriate response, satisfaction
to the Father's infinitely great and merciful Gift (grace). Notice here
that there are two wills — the Divine and human, (as taught by the Third Council
of Constantinople), in Jesus Christ. This extension of the Principle of
the Incarnation gives us the foundation of the Scriptural and Catholic
understanding of our response to the gift-grace of salvation.
In the Incarnation, Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ we see that there is a synergy — a cooperation,
participation, between Divine and Human. It is not simply one or the other.
It is not either or but both and! God has revealed His righteousness
apart from the Law, as Saint Paul told the Church in Rome, and has revealed
it in the Gift of His Son Jesus Christ, God and man. God has revealed that
in His merciful love He desires more than his own activity. He desires
a human response, the response of a human heart fashioned after His own.
That Heart is Jesus Christ's! That Heart reveals both the depth of God's
mercy and man's grateful and obedient response. It is in Jesus Christ and
His Heart that the new Covenant is revealed, prophesied by Jeremiah:
"This is the covenant I will make with them after those days, says
I will put my laws in their hearts and I will write them on their minds"
(Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 10:16)
We are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. His whole Life is an obedient
Gift of Self (sacrifice) to the Father, but we too need to respond. Here
is where it gets real interesting.
Those who would claim that we are saved
through faith alone forget something.
Faith itself is a human response,
no matter how one translates or understands the word faith.
are not scandalized by the need for a human response. We have stated all
along that people need to respond and that response to the grace of Jesus
Christ begins with faith!
You see it is not grace alone because the
grace-gift needs to be received in some way. Thus it is grace and . . . it is faith! but Jesus Himself teaches faith alone is not enough. In the Sermon on the Mount, He teaches that it is not enough to say "Lord,
Lord" but instead one must do the will of the Father. Paul teaches
the same thing, speaking in Galatians of faith working through love.
after his long dissertation on faith concluding with the teaching on love
Romans 12-14 and in 1 Corinthians he shows that it is love even more
than faith that is permanent.
It is through faith that we are united to — adhere to Christ and, in doing
so, enter into the Mystery of His Gift of Self. We can do so only by our
own gift of self. This gift of self begins with faith but is not limited
to it. In faith we follow Jesus into the Mystery of His Death and Resurrection
in the waters of Baptism. (See Romans 6) We participate in this Paschal
Mystery, uniting our own self gift with His in the Eucharist and are fed
with His Gift of Self, His Flesh and Blood, our true Food and true
Drink (John 6), so that it is no longer we who live our natural lives
but Christ living in us. See Galatians 2.
To sum things up then, we are saved by the grace of God coming to us through
the whole life of Christ, concluding with His Death and Resurrection! It
is through grace that we are saved. However this Divine Gift needs a human
response — it is a both and response!!! This human response begins with
faith and continues and is perfected in love. Even our human response — faith
works, and love itself is the result of God's grace, but it remains human as well!
[The Principle of the Incarnation]
One last comment.
- If one believes
in Christ's promise: To remain with His Church
(Matthew 28) and His Promise of the Spirit
of Truth Who would remain with the Church guiding
the Church into the fullness of truth (see
John 16) are real and true, which I am
sure our enquirer and other Christians would
maintain, how is it that the Church lost its
way for fifteen hundred years between the death
of Jesus and Paul and 1517 when Martin Luther wrote
Dear AJ AQ —
I would also like proof on how the Catholic Church is, in anyway, similar to the Church as defined by the Testimony of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, or, in short, The New Testament.
My new web site should provide more proof then you need. The proof comes from the writings of the Early Church Fathers, the very first Christians. Check out my books section too.
Here's my favorite quote.