Skip to comments.Saved by Faith or Works?
Posted on 03/08/2011 10:19:18 AM PST by NYer
Protestants say were saved by faith. Some Catholics say were saved by good works.
What does the Bible say?
This Sundays readings* are clear its neither. And its both. At the very same time.
First, lets define our terms. When St. Paul says works dont save us, he is really referring to two things. First of all, he is speaking about the works of the Mosaic Law, which include everything from keeping dietary regulations to observing the Ten Commandments. Secondly, he means good actions performed by willpower, without any particular help from God. Paul had thought that rigorous observance of the Law, carrying out its prescribed works, was the key to making a person right with God. But his attempts to observe the law met with frustration (see Romans 7:15-24). The Law made him aware of Gods will but did not enable him to carry it out. I cannot even understand my own actions. I do not do what I want to do but what I hate what a wretched man I am! His attempts at outward observance didnt change his heart. In fact his heart was so far from God that he cruelly persecuted the followers of Jesus, looking on in approval as St. Stephen was stoned to death.
In Romans 3:23 St. Paul lays it out: We have all sinned seriously. None of us, on our own steam and by our own merits, can ever do enough to earn Gods favor. So God has fixed the problem he gives us his favor as a free, undeserved gift in response to the sacrifice of Jesus, His son. We become pleasing to him, reconciled to him, not by our own efforts but by the cross of Christ. We receive this gift through the act of faith. So we are saved by faith, not by the works at least not by the works of the Mosaic Law, done by our own strength.
So the faith camp wins? Not so fast. Lets take a closer look at what the Bible means by faith.
Many people think that faith is belief. Belief that God exists that Jesus is the son of God that Jesus rose from the dead. Intellectual assent to all these truths is of course important, and is an indispensable part of the act of faith. Such belief often leads to religious actions the hanging of crucifixes in our home, the wearing of medals, the recitation of prayers. These acts of piety are also good.
But Sundays Gospel says that mere belief and acts of piety are not enough to save us. Those rejected by God in Matt 7:21-23 clearly believed in Jesus; in fact, they prophesied and worked miracles in Jesus name. Perhaps they also said novenas in his name. But he said to them out of my sight, you evil doers. One of the strongest lines in the gospels provides an explanation: None of those who cry out, Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
Biblical faith is not just belief. It is surrender. It is a complete entrusting of oneself to God in Christ and acceptance of his power, his will, and his plan. If we truly say yes to Him and let his grace into our hearts, well never be the same. His love begins to work through us and change our lives. His Spirit takes up residence within us, giving us the strength to do what we could never do on our own, even to begin to love like He loves.
So true biblical faith is not passive. It is active, dynamic and alive. Thats why St. James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:24-26). Abraham believed that an unknown God was calling him to leave civilization and march into the desert to find a land that this God has promised him. Abraham did not sit and contemplate this call or set up a shrine to this God. He got up and began walking (Genesis 12).
So we are justified by faith, if we mean the authentic biblical faith that causes us to walk in Gods ways. And we are justified by works, if we mean the works of charity that can only flow from faith and grace.
So really, its not faith vs. works. Its faith that works.
That’s true. Here’s another that is quite plain: Romans 6:17
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have OBEYED from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you”.
The ‘saving faith without moving a muscle’ sola scriptura crowd fully disobey the Lord in his command to be born again. They claim such commands as Mark 16:16, John 3:3-8, and Acts 2:38 are from God, but making them vague, optional sacraments, pointing to the forgiven thief, who was still under the Law (which Jesus Christ observed and commanded to be followed; as he ordered the healed leper to show himself to the priest, offering the things that Moses commanded).
The thief didn’t need to be born again. The Holy Ghost was not yet given, for Jesus Christ had not yet been glorified. But now, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. Romans 8:9
Obeying God’s call (commands) is not ‘our own works’. They are His ordinances; and He expects obedience (by faith) to them.
Have you actually read the Bible or do you just memorize the dozen or so verses your preacher gave you?
You are the one who has stated that Jesus is not sufficient, not I.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29
Actually it was Paul, in the Bible, You have read it correct: Col 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,. Obviously your issue is with Paul.
You have taken Col 1:24 out of context by thinking this verse refers to individual salvation. Paul is talking about how he must suffer in order for the gospel to be spread around the world - to increase the body - the church.
Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for salvation, but the suffering of missionaries is needed in order to bring the Gospel to unbelievers.
You still haven’t indicated how you can reconcile all of the other Bible passages that clearly indicate the atonement of Christ was complete and sufficient.
I disagree and since you don't have a defining authority supporting you my opinion is just as valid as yours.
Jesus sacrifice was sufficient for salvation, but the suffering of missionaries is needed in order to bring the Gospel to unbelievers.
I'm sorry bringing the gospel to unbelievers is classified as a work and is adding to Christ's sacrifice, you have just contradicted yourself twice in one sentence.
You still havent indicated how you can reconcile all of the other Bible passages that clearly indicate the atonement of Christ was complete and sufficient.I have you just refuse to see the truth. Father of five and I have both shown you more than enough evidence.
When Paul was on his second mission trip and talking to the Phillippians and he was talking about work out your salvation it was not a reference to earn ones salvation but his expression of ones salvation in spiritual growth and development. Salvation is a gift received once and for all, it is however expressed as an ongoing process where the believer is actively involved. Fear and trembling is not doubt and anxiety but in reference to active reverence and spinelessness purpose of response to Gods Grace.
When Paul was preaching to the Gentiles he had all mannor of physical suffering (may had to do with his prison time). What he is talking about here is not a deficiency of the Cross but his own personal physical sufferings that he suffered as he preached the Good News. He preached that Christ suffered on the Cross to atone for sin. Paul is preaching he accepts his physical ailments while preaching on behalf of Christ.
What’s your defining authority for your interpretation of Col 1:24? Please cite your reference.
Suffering of missionaries is not a necessary component of individual salvation - you are confusing what is needed in order for a person to be redeemed. This passage clearly is saying that servants of Christ will suffer on this earth because of the evil opposition to the Gospel.
You seem to be suggesting that if a missionary doesn’t face suffering every time he/she presents the Gospel then the listeners will not be able to become believers because the formula for salvation is Christ’s suffering plus the suffering of the missionary.
“I have you just refuse to see the truth. Father of five and I have both shown you more than enough evidence.”
Neither you nor Father of five have offered an interpretation of Hebrews 9:12, which states that Jesus secured our redemption forever. I’m interested in discussing Bible verses and understanding where other viewpoints are coming from.
What does the clear literal meaning of Col. 1:24 say.
Just read it donm’t go through the mental gymnastics
I told you what Col 1:24 says in its proper context - servants of Christ will suffer on this earth in order to futher the Gospel message.
By what authority do you claim your interpretation is any more valid?
What does the clear literal meaning of Hebrews 9:12 say? Why won’t you offer an interpretation for that verse?
Here we come to an important point... what is suffering? I would suggest to you on behalf of the Church that suffering is love in action. What is love without self-giving... what is self-giving without self-denial... what is self-denial without sacrifice? By this definition, we come to know God (Who is Love) by taking up our crosses to follow Jesus... as Jesus admonished us to do.
Therefore, being followers of Christ who are called to lives of suffering, I would submit to you that here are the works called for by the Church. They are not "earning" salvation, they are growing in knowledge of God. Taking the opposite approach is selfishness and failing to grow... and only dead things fail to grow. We are the Body of Christ on Earth through our union with His Bride, the Church. In this, we carry on His earthly mission to call all peoples to Himself. There is much work to be done and a just God Who will reward our efforts. What is lacking in the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross? Our own sacrifice (love) joined with His.
It has been said on here (repeatedly) that Christ's sacrifice is once and for all. Yes... but not all will come to Him. Many are being lost around us every day for a lack of understanding. Just as the prodigal son squandered his inheritance, so too can we squander the grace of God to our own ruin. God stands ready to receive us when we return... but failing to return can cost us our eternal reward. We are not simply sinners forgiven or the fallen raised up... we are sons and daughters of God by the New Covenant through baptism in His Name. As sons and daughters we will be judged more harshly for failing to use His Grace for the accomplishment of His Will than will the poor man who never knew. Baptism is an oath (sacramentum) we take with both blessing and curse (as laid before our forebears through Moses). Blessing in obedience... curse in repudiation.
So many times verses from Romans are bandied about to show that works have no place in our salvation. However, that is a misreading of Romans. Throughout Romans, St Paul is talking about the works of the Law. Clearly, these were not sufficient for our salvation because we still needed Christ on the Cross. Using these verses out of context has been a great source of friction between Catholic and Protestant for too long.
Our salvation is there for us to receive by the once for all sacrifice of Christ... but we must follow where He leads (the Cross) and do as He commanded to truly be one of His. Those are the works of a Christian and they are part of our salvation.
I agree with almost of all what you said except for your last statement, “Those are the works of a Christian and they are part of our salvation.”
A true Christian will bear fruit and will demonstrate love in action as you mentioned. I think we can all agree with that. There are too many people who have claimed to have said the “Sinner’s Prayer” but have never shown any evidence of an inward change of heart. I believe that is what James meant when he said faith without works is dead. If a person claims to be a Christian but their lifestyle doesn’t confirm that then it is likely they don’t really have a true faith.
Therefore, I would still argue that a true belief is what brings salvation to a person and not a combination of works or love in action. The good works are a response to salvation and demonstrate that a person has been truly regenerate as a new creature - born from above. The work of Jesus was sufficient to obtain our salvation; all we have to do is believe. But, if we do believe then all will know it by our actions.
This "failed to regenerate" argument is nonsense and a convenient talking point to avoid the real issues. When a man fails in his Christian walk, we simply say it was obvious that he was never a Christian to begin with... hogwash. God never made us into robots... we still have our free will. That free will also gives us the ability to reject our salvation. Don't forget that Lucifer made such a choice after being the brightest among the angels... and Adam made that choice to precipitate the Fall. Before those horrible choices, these beings were with God.
Before you say Hogwash - go back and read the parable of the soils again. Jesus categorizes different types of people. Some will hear the word and accept it but fall away quickly, some will accept it but will be pulled away by worries of this world, and some will accept it and will perservere in the faith.
Jesus commanded us to be born again or as some translate it to be born from above. That is a supernatural occurance where a person becomes a new creature as the Bible describes it. Jesus also said in the parable of the Good Shepherd that those that are truly His hear His voice and follow Him and no one can snatch them out of His hand.
There are true believers that have been born again who will never truly fall. They may stumble from time to time as all humans do, but a person who has a spritual new birth is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and will never lose their faith.
You completely ignored my post to you. What then do you make of Lucifer and Adam? Were they created by God with a design flaw?
I would submit that we work for the Kingdom because we are Saved not to be Saved.
It is because we are Saved that we are willing to “work” as commanded.
No, I didn’t ignore your post - you are comparing apples to oranges. I don’t think it’s reasonable to compare our situation with Satan’s since he is a fallen angel, but neverless both Adam and Satan did have direct communion with God but were not indwelled by the Holy Spirit as a born again Christian is.
Ephesians 4:30 says “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
The Holy Spirit seals a Christian just as the Bible says.
And I suggest to you that we work to become that new creation. Baptism is our beginning and the work is our process. God could give all that every man needs (see the Garden of Eden) why then do so many have nothing? Why are there poor people in the world despite our efforts to raise them up? Christ said we would always have them... why? Because without the poor, we will never get to exercise charity. Without the lame, we will never get to exercise compassion. This work we do is for Christ's Kingdom, yes... but it is also for us and our own spiritual growth.
Once again, Christ's sacrifice on the Cross is not only sufficient for our salvation... it is so sufficient that it can be replicated in us.
How many good works are enough? How does a person know if they have committed enough good works to become that new creature? Doesn’t working in order to become a new creature directly contradict Ephesians 2:8-9?
No, all have fallen short of the Glory of God and all need forgiveness of sins... even those born again. And if we can still sin, we can still commit the very failures which caused our Fall in the first place. Your position is illogical.
All it takes is small change in perspective... Read Eph 2:4-7... we do not boast in our work and our work is not of our own doing. It is by the work God accomplishes through us that He is building us to maturity in the Spirit (Eph 4). We do not labor to achieve salvation... we labor to discipline our flesh in obedience to the Spirit. From here we will likely launch into a discussion of concupiscence where the fleshly appetites are still weak and we have to be diligent.
You are contradicting yourself and trying to have it both ways. You previously stated, “...Those are the works of a Christian and they are part of our salvation.” Now, you are saying, “We do not labor to achieve salvation....”
So which is it? Is salvation a free gift of grace which is obtained through faith as Ephesians 2 teaches, or is there an additional requirement of human effort on top of Christ’s atonement?
Wrong - and quite arrogant. You do not know the “heart”. God does. God deals with individuals, not “groups”. He saves individually. That’s what concerns me about the RCC. It tells people that as long as they are in the system and do all of these “actions”, they will be saved. Nothing Scriptural about that.
Talents - shared or otherwise - won’t get one into Heaven. Only God’s sacrifice, only His grace has that power.
Exactly right! What arrogance to believe we must “add” something to Christ’s sacrifice because the Almighty isn’t powerful enough to complete the job! Thank God I don’t serve an impotent God!
We work for the Kingdom because we are Saved by Grace, not to earn Salvation.
When our bodies fail, we have the privilege to join God Almighty for Eternity.”
AMEN and AMEN!! Thank GOD we don’t have to “earn” something we could never earn!! Sin is too powerful a blight in God’s eyes for us in our human flesh to be able to wash that stain away!! It’s why He sent His son.
No, I'm not. Salvation is God's free gift. However, it is a process God is working through us, not a single event. We are still sinners in need of forgiveness and it is ongoing as we live our lives.
Protestants like to tell us that we need to say the "sinner's prayer" and then we are "regenerated" into a new creation and it's "once saved, always saved." If a man should fail, well... he was never really regenerated to begin with. I say that Protestantism is contradicting itself with this view... is it a free gift? If so... why are some not truly gifted?
Rather, Christ didn't command us to say a "sinner's prayer"... He commanded us to baptize in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to make men sons and daughters of God. As sons and daughters, God is raising us up to know Him through the works He accomplishes through us. Refusing to cooperate with God is rejecting the salvation He gives.
“The thief didnt need to be born again.”
“Verily, verily I say unto thee: Except a man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
Yes, even the thief needed saving. Everyone does. Hence, Christ’s sacrifice.
Added: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that that is born of the Spirit is spirit” John 3:6 - a clear deferentiation between the two.
Also John 3:15 - “That whosoever BELIEVETH in Him, should not perish but have eternal life.”
Here is another distinction between Catholics and Protestants... Protestants see Christ's sacrifice on the Cross as removing all sins... and yet, we still sin. Catholics see it for what it was... the sacrificial offering of the New Covenant. What was lost in Adam's obedience was restored by Christ on the Cross.
Some see Original Sin as a stain on one's soul. How is this stain passed from generation to generation? Beats me. Rather, the Church sees it better as something that was lost... our family relationship with God. In the Creation story, God rested on the seventh day... because He was tired? No. He sealed His creation with a covenant (Shiva--seven). A covenant is a family bond. Adam broke that bond in his disobedience. Just as the neighbor kids can't adopt themselves into my family, so we couldn't reforge that bond with God. Only God could make us family again and He did so by making the New Covenant with Christ as His sacrificial offering.
Original Sin wasn't a stain that was removed, it was a missing bond that was restored.
“...why are some not truly gifted?”
That, my FRiend, is a whole other question and deals with the doctrine of the elect. Better discussed on another thread.
In the meantime, salvation IS a free gift, and no, Protestants don’t say “all you have to do is say the sinner’s prayer”. I don’t know of ANY Protestant who says or has said such a silly thing. Clearly it is God who regenerates the heart. It is God’s work, not ours and nothing we can do to earn it or lose it. He does the work in us. He puts His Spirit into us (hence regeneration). Just because one does an action: be it Baptism, confession, Lord’s Supper/Communion, and yes, even recites the Sinner’s Prayer, doesn’t mean they are saved. God alone can save. We cannot save ourselves or hope to do so.
“The Holy Spirit seals a Christian just as the Bible says.”
AMEN!! And Thank God it is so!
Protestants don’t believe the atonement removed all sin. Instead, Jesus’ sacrifice removed the penalty of sin - that’s a big difference.
Christians have 2 natures. As Paul points out when one is born again, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but the “old man” or flesh nature is still present in the believer at war with the Holy Spirit. Everyone still sins because we still have the flesh nature within us, which will remain until we get to Heaven.
Well said! The Parable of the Sower is not speaking of believers and those who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit when it speaks of those who “fall away”. A careful reading of that passage in context makes that clear.
I explained earlier that some who claim the “sinner’s prayer” and fall away are like those in the parable of the soils whose hearts aren’t pure and whose faith withered away. It is a free gift - some just don’t receive the gift with a true heart.
“He commanded us to baptize in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to make men sons and daughters of God.” You have mixed up the sequence of commands....We are to first make diciples (new believers in Jesus); then they are to be baptized. we weren’t commanded to baptize unbelievers then teach them about Christ.
You seem hung up on the command to make disciples and baptize. What about Jesus’ statement that unless one is born again (or born from above) they cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. You can teach people and baptize them all you want, but unless that person has been born again, they will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
By what authority do you claim your interpretation is any more valid? Mine makes more sense then yours does, and the literal meaning of each word validates my point more taqhtn yours.
What does the clear literal meaning of Hebrews 9:12 say? Why wont you offer an interpretation for that verse?
Tell me if these verses are literal or a metaphor Matt. 26:26-28 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, 16 and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.
So we are still in our sin... just not liable for penalty? What of the "regenerated" Christian who commits murder (and please don't deny that there have been some in history)?
Christians have 2 natures. As Paul points out when one is born again, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, but the old man or flesh nature is still present in the believer at war with the Holy Spirit. Everyone still sins because we still have the flesh nature within us, which will remain until we get to Heaven.
And what if we give in to the "flesh nature"...?
and of course you have an official Vatican document verifying this claim.
As for sin from generation to generation: Romans 3:10-12: As it is written, ‘There is NONE righteous, no not one. There is none that understandeth: there is is none that seeketh God. They have all gone out of the way; they have been made altogether unprofitable; there is NONE that doeth good, no not one.”
And again in Romans 3:20- “Therefore by the works of the Law shall NO flesh be justified in his sight; for by the Law cometh the knowledge of sin.”
Romans 3:22-26, 27-28 - “To wit, the righteousness of God by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all who BELIEVE. For there is no difference: for all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. And are JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE, through the REDEMPTION that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God hath set forth to be a RECONCILIATION THROUGH FAITH in his blood to declare his righteousness by the forgiveness of the sins that are passed. “
“Where is then the rejoicing? It is excluded. By what Law of works? Nay, but by the Law of FAITH. Therefore we conclude that a man is JUSTIFIED BY FAITH without the works of the Law.”
All men have sinned, all are Hell-bound upon entry into this world. It is Christ alone who can change this. Nothing we do, nothing we CAN do, can earn our salvation. Any “works” are a RESULT of regeneration and the saving faith we possess. It is part of the sanctification process - not the Justification - which, as Paul says here clearly, is accomplished through faith alone in Christ’s sacrifice. He is sufficient and He alone can do what we cannot in our flesh, being creatures of sin.
Nope. Just a knowledge that, as seen clearly in this thread, there is a firm belief in Confession before death, Baptism and numerous other “acts” in order to gain entrance to Heaven. As for needing anything from the vatican to prove that God deals with individuals and saves individually, the vatican is no authority on God. I’ll go to Scripture for that, thanks.
No more so than Jesus. Do a search in Bible Gateway for the words "baptism", "baptize" and "baptizing" and you will find that this is a major theme of the Gospels. No one is suggesting baptizing those unaffiliated with Christ as the Mormons do. Of course, you baptize those who come to Christ or (in their unknowing) you take the responsibility to raise others in the knowledge of Christ who can't come to know first of their own accord... infants, mentally impaired, et al.
What about Jesus statement that unless one is born again (or born from above) they cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Nicodemus had a hard time with this too. John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Catholics see this as occurring in baptism and confirmation just as His Disciples were baptized during His Life and received the Spirit at Pentecost.
I’m not sure what point you were trying to make... but nothing you posted here contradicts what I’ve said.
There is the final distinction... authority. To whom has it been given and how do we know? It was given to the Apostles by Christ and we can see it in the New Testament as they wielded it. They were not commanded by Christ to write a book so the faithful would have something to follow (and be patient for Guttenberg to come along 1,500 years later so everyone can finally have one). They were commanded to grow Christ's Church and this Church has authority (1 Tim 3:15) as shown by the Epistles--letters written for reproof, correction, and encouragement.
We can see in the beginning of Acts that the Apostles had the authority to bestow Apostleship to replenish their numbers and they had the authority to define doctrine (Acts 15) binding on the whole Church. This is the basic nature of the Catholic Church you spurn and the authority it still bears.
not interested in your games.....
I was hoping to have a serious discussion on Bible verses, but it seems you would rather obfuscate. You don’t seem willing to stay on topic of the sufficiency of the atonement, when I asked about Hebrews 9:12.
The Bible must be interpreted in its proper context. There are times when the context calls for a literal meaning and other times when the context is clearly figurative.