In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, we are posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic/Orthodox Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
James 2:24 - the phrase "faith alone" (the Greek "pisteos monon") only occurs once in the Bible. "Man is justified by works and NOT faith alone." Unlike what many Protestant churches teach, no where in Scripture does it say that man is justified or saved by "faith alone." To the contrary, man is not justified by faith alone. In Catholic theology, a person is justified by faith and works acting together, which comes solely from Gods divine grace. Faith alone never obtains the grace of justification (Council of Trent, chapter 8, canon 9). Also, the word justified (dikaiow) is the same word Paul uses for justification in Rom. 4:3 in regard to Abraham (so Protestants cannot argue James is not referring to justification in James 2:24 unless they argue Paul wasnt in Rom. 4:3 either).
Heb. 11:6 - faith is indeed the minimum requirement without which we cannot please God. But this is just the beginning of the process leading toward justification. Faith alone does not justify a person. Justification is only achieved by faith and works, as we see below. Also, this gratuitous gift of faith from God also includes the grace of hope and love the moment the person is justified.
Eph. 2:8-9 Paul teaches us that faith is the root of justification, and that faith excludes works of law. But Paul does not teach that faith excludes other kinds of works, as we will see below. The verse also does not say we are justified by faith alone. It only indicates that faith comes first. This, of course, must be true, because those who do works outside of faith are in a system of debt, not of grace (more on that later). But faith alone does not justify. A man is justified by works, and not by faith alone. James 2:24.
Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30 - the faith we have must be a repentant faith, not just an intellectual faith that believes in God. Repentance is not just a thought process (faith), but an act (work) by which we ask God for His mercy and forgiveness.
Psalm 51:17 this means we need a broken and contrite heart, not just an intellectual assent of faith. Faith in God is only the beginning.
John 3:36; Rom. 1:5, 6:17; 15:18; 16:26; 2 Cor. 9:13; 1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:11; 1 Peter 2:7-8; Heb. 5:9; cf. Rev. 3:10; Ex. 19:5 this faith must also be an obedient faith and a work of faith. Obedience means persevering in good works to the end.
2 Cor. 10:15 this faith must also increase as a result of our obedience, as Paul hopes for in this verse. Obedience is achieved not by faith alone, but by doing good works.
2 Cor. 13:5 Paul also admonishes us to examine ourselves, to see whether we are holding to our faith. This examination of conscience is a pious Catholic practice. Our faith, which is a gift from God, must be nurtured. Faith is not a one-time event that God bestows upon us.
Gal. 5:6 thus, the faith that justifies us is faith working through love, not faith alone. This is one of the best summaries of Catholic teaching. Faith and love (manifested by works) are always connected. Faith (a process of thought) and love (an action) are never separated in the Scriptures. Cf. Eph. 3:17; 1 Thess. 3:6,12-13; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 John 3:23; Rev. 2:4-5,19. Further, all faith (initial and perfected) are gratuitous gifts from God, and not earned or merited by any human action. God effects everything, both the willing and the achievement. But God also requires human action, which is necessary to perfect our faith.
James 1:22-25 - it's the "doers" who are justified, not the hearers. Justification is based on what we do, which means works. Notice that there is nothing about false faith. The hearers may have faith, but they need to accompany their faith by works, or they will not be justified. See also Rom. 2:13.
James 2:17,26 - James clearly teaches that faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. Works are a cause, not just an effect, of our justification because good works achieve and increase our justification before God. Scripture never says anything about saving faith. Protestants cannot show us from the Scriptures that works qualify the faith into saving faith. Instead, here and elsewhere, the Scriptures teach that justification is achieved only when faith and works act together. Scripture puts no qualifier on faith. Scripture also never says that faith leads to works. Faith is faith and works are works (James 2:18). They are distinct (mind and action), and yet must act together in order to receive Gods unmerited gift of justification.
James 2:19 - even the demons believe that Jesus is Lord. But they tremble. Faith is not enough. Works are also required.
James 2:20 - do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren? Good works in God's grace are required for justification. But there is nothing in the Scriptures about saving faith.
James 2:22 - faith is active with works and is completed by works. It does not stand alone. Faith needs works to effect our justification.
James 4:17 - in fact, James writes that the failure to do works is a sin! So works are absolutely necessary for our justification.
James 2:15-17 - here are the examples of the "works" to which James is referring - corporal works of mercy (giving food and shelter to those in need).
James 1:27 - another example of "works" is visiting orphans and widows in their affliction. Otherwise, if they do not perform these good works, their religion is in vain.
James 2:25 - another example of "works" is when Rahab assisted the spies in their escape. Good works increase our justification and perfect our faith.
Joshua 2:9-11 - Rahab's fellow citizens had faith in God, but in Joshua 6:22-25, Rahab alone acted and was saved. This is faith in action.
James 2:18 - to avoid the truth of the Catholic position that we are justified by both faith and works, Protestants argue the justification that James is referring to in James 2 is "before men" and not "before God." Scripture disproves their claim.
James 2:14 - James asks, "Can faith save him?" Salvation comes from God. This proves the justification James is referring to is before God, not men.
James 2:19 - also, James reminds us that even the demons believe and tremble. This refers to our relationship with God, not with men. Thus, our justification that requires works and not faith alone relates to our status before God, not men.
James 2:21 - James also appeals to the example of Abraham. Abraham's justification refers to his position before God, not men. This proves justification is before God, not men.
Acts. 10:35 Peter teaches that anyone who fears the Lord and does what is right is acceptable to Him. It is both fear and works, not fear alone.
Rom. 2:7,10 - to those who by patience and good works will be granted glory and honor and peace from the Lord.
Rom. 2:13 for it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Paul is referring to the law of Christ in Gal.6:2, not works of the law in Rom. 3:20,28; Gal. 2:16; 3:2,5,10; and Eph. 2:8-9. The law of Christ is faith in Christ and works based on grace (God owes us nothing) and works of the law mean no faith in Christ, and legal works based on debt (God owes us something).
Rom. 4:5-6 to him who does not work but believes, his faith is accounted to him as righteousness, like David, who was righteous apart from works. Here, Paul is emphasizing that works must be done in faith, not outside of faith. If they are done outside of faith, we are in a system of debt (God owes us). If they are done in faith (as James requires), we are in a system of grace (God rewards us). Hence, Paul accepts the works performed under Gods forbearance (grace) in Rom. 2:7,10,13 (see also Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:12-17; and 2 Corinthians 5:10) which lead to justification and eternal life. These verses have nothing to do with faith alone. Paul uses the word alone three times in Rom. 4:12,16,23, but never uses it with faith. Certainly, if he wanted to teach faith alone, he would have done so.
Rom. 6:16 - obedience leads to righteousness. Obedience is a good "work," an act of the will, which leads to righteousness before God.
2 Cor. 9:8 - Paul teaches that God will bless us so that we may provide in abundance for "every good work." Good works are encouraged to complete our faith.
Eph. 6:8 - whatever good anyone does will receive the same again from the Lord. God rewards good works done in grace.
Phil. 4:17 Paul says I seek the fruit which increases to your credit. Fruits (good works) increase our justification. Paul says these works increase our credit, which is also called merit. These merits bring forth more graces from God, furthering increasing our justification as we are so disposed. But the fruits, works, and merits are all borne from Gods unmerited and undeserved mercy won for us by Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:8 - good deeds are excellent and profitable to men (just like the Old Testament Scriptures in 2 Tim. 3:16). Good deeds further justify us before God. This verse should be contrasted with Titus 3:5, where we are not saved by works of righteousness we have done. As further discussed below, in this verse what we have done refers to a work of law or obligation for which we seek payment. But verse 5 also says the washing of regeneration in reference to baptism saves, which is a work of grace, for which we are rewarded by God in Christ. There is a distinction between works of law or obligation and works of grace.
1 Peter 2:7-8; John 3:36 - shows that belief in Jesus means obeying Jesus. Having faith means being faithful, which requires good works as well. Hence, obeying Jesus means doing works of love, not just having faith alone.
Just a quick comment...I'm not here to stir the pot or anything but just an observation...
I think a lot of the confusion between many protestants and catholics is how the works are looked at in terms of value. I'm a protestant that obviously understands that works flow with and in faith - a living faith...If I am a follower of Christ then I know that to please him I should do as he commands which is to do good works, prepared by Him, for my fellow brothers, it pleases God and yes I do believe He looks favorably on me for pleasing him......I do admit some protestants go so far as to say I believe therefore I don't have to have a living faith, etc...anyway, I had a good conversation with Jo kus about a year ago around this and we ended up finding out that we were saying the EXACT same thing but in a different sentence style...that's all I got...
Blessings to all here and who will be speaking on this topic...