Welcome to part 2 of our response to Catholics Come Home website concerning the topic of Faith Alone for Salvation vs. Faith Plus Works for Salvation. In todays’ Berean Perspective Podcast we focus on the specific verses cited from Catholics Come Home website in regards to one doing works for salvation. In our last podcast we focused on demonstrating that the gospel of the Roman Catholic Church is clearly a works gospel by them instituting their sacraments for salvation, which is a false gospel message. If you have not listened to the part 1 podcast we encourage you to do so to get the whole context of our responses, and why we believe this is an eternal matter.
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Part 2 on Catholics Come Home – Salvation
Just as our previous podcast focused on the first question concerning Salvation, we will focus again on Salvation by Faith Alone or Faith Plus Works for Salvation. Again, as with our last podcast I will be quoting from the New American Bible, which is a Catholic Translation of the Scriptures. My reason for quoting the New American Bible is to be on the same page with the discussion at hand, thus so I am not accused of using a biased Translation of the Scriptures.
- Quote from Catholics Come Home – “Second, I ask them to show me where in the Bible does it teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” They can’t, because it doesn’t. The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “Faith Alone” appears, is in James…James 2:24, where it says that we are not…not…justified (or saved) by faith alone.”
James 2:14-26 below…
14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, 16 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? 17 So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. 19 You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. 20 Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. 23 Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” 24 See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? 26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (NAB James 2)
A few points of observation from James 2 on faith and works. Notice how it is not about doing works for salvation, but about an authentic faith operating in love, not in favouritism. True believers in Christ should live lives that reflect the love of God in their hearts to those around them, that is the message from James 2:1-26. Those whom claim to be followers of Jesus that do not demonstrate a genuine love in their lives should be concerned. The reason is that they are functioning in a self deceived faith apart from Christ, thus in turn that means they are not truly of Christ.
Quotes from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops website with footnotes on James 2
[2:1–13] In the Christian community there must be no discrimination or favoritism based on status or wealth (Jas 2:2–4; cf. Mt 5:3; 11:5; 23:6; 1 Cor 1:27–29). Divine favor rather consists in God’s election and promises (Jas 2:5). The rich who oppress the poor blaspheme the name of Christ (Jas 2:6–7). By violating one law of love of neighbor, they offend against the whole law (Jas 2:8–11). On the other hand, conscious awareness of the final judgment helps the faithful to fulfill the whole law (Jas 2:12) (from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site)
[2:14–26] The theme of these verses is the relationship of faith and works (deeds). It has been argued that the teaching here contradicts that of Paul (see especially Rom 4:5–6). The problem can only be understood if the different viewpoints of the two authors are seen. Paul argues against those who claim to participate in God’s salvation because of their good deeds as well as because they have committed themselves to trust in God through Jesus Christ (Paul’s concept of faith). Paul certainly understands, however, the implications of true faith for a life of love and generosity (see Gal 5:6,13–15). The author of James is well aware that proper conduct can only come about with an authentic commitment to God in faith (Jas 2:18, 26). Many think he was seeking to correct a misunderstanding of Paul’s view. (from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site)
- Quote from Catholics Come Home – “Fourth, I ask them that if we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Cor 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 below…
1 If I speak in human and angelic tongues* but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.a2And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.b3If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. 4* Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,d5it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,e6it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
9For we know partially and we prophesy partially,10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.11When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.12At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.g13* So faith, hope, love remain, these three;h but the greatest of these is love. (NAB 1 Corinthians 13)
The question of “love” being greater has to do with what love produces. From love faith comes forth, from love hope comes forth, from love we truly represent Jesus Christ to those around us. That is why in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 Paul contrasts many things to love, which all of them mean nothing without love. Genuine believers in Christ Jesus are to ministers of love, even as Jesus said in John 13:35.
34 I give you a new commandment:* love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (NAB John 13)
Quote from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site concerning 1 Corinthians 13:13
[13:13] In speaking of love, Paul is led by spontaneous association to mention faith and hope as well. They are already a well-known triad (cf. 1 Thes 1:3), three interrelated (cf. 1 Cor 13:7) features of Christian life, more fundamental than any particular charism. The greatest…is love: love is operative even within the other members of the triad (7), so that it has a certain primacy among them. Or, if the perspective is temporal, love will remain (cf. “never fails,” 1 Cor 13:8) even when faith has yielded to sight and hope to possession. (from USCCB site)
- Quote from Catholics Come Home – “As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith and works is necessary…or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumsion is of any avail, but faith working through love…faith working through love…just as the Church teaches.”
Galatians 5:4-10 below…
4 You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we await the hope of righteousness.6 For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7You were running well; who hindered you from following [the] truth?8 That enticement does not come from the one who called you. 9 A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough.10 I am confident of you in the Lord that you will not take a different view, and that the one who is troubling you will bear the condemnation, whoever he may be. (NAB Galatians 5)
Galatians 5 is focusing on true freedom in Christ by faith for salvation, not by doing works! Specifically verse 6 focuses on a faith that is lived through love, that is of God, not the flesh. If a person looks back at Galatians 1:6-9, Galatians 2:16-21, and Galatians 3:1-7, they will see the context of Paul’s message to the Christians was to not be lead astray believing they had to do some form of works to attain and keep their salvation. True salvation in Jesus Christ is by faith that is lived out through the love of God in their hearts.
Quote from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site from Galatians 5 (USCCB link)
[5:1–6] Paul begins the exhortations, continuing through Gal 6:10, with an appeal to the Galatians to side with freedom instead of slavery (Gal 5:1). He reiterates his message of justification or righteousness by faith instead of law and circumcision (Gal 5:2–5); cf. Gal 2:16; 3:3. Faith, not circumcision, is what counts (Gal 5:6).
[5:6] Cf. Rom 2:25–26; 1 Cor 7:19; Gal 6:15. The Greek for faith working through love or “faith expressing itself through love” can also be rendered as “faith energized by (God’s) love.”
[5:7–12] Paul addresses the Galatians directly: with questions (Gal 5:7, 11), a proverb (Gal 5:9), a statement (Gal 5:8), and biting sarcasm (Gal 5:12), seeking to persuade the Galatians to break with those trying to add law and circumcision to Christ as a basis for salvation.
Check out Galatians 3:1-7!
Quote from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site from Galatians 3
[3:1–14] Paul’s contention that justification comes not through the law or the works of the law but by faith in Christ and in his death (Gal 2:16, 21) is supported by appeals to Christian experience (Gal 3:1–5) and to scripture (Gal 3:6–14). The gift of God’s Spirit to the Galatians came from the gospel received in faith, not from doing what the law enjoins. The story of Abraham shows that faith in God brings righteousness (Gal 3:6; Gn 15:6). The promise to Abraham (Gal 3:8; Gn 12:3) extends to the Gentiles (Gal 3:14) (USCCB link)
– In conclusion to todays Berean Perspective Podcast, the Scriptures cited by Catholics Come Home website for their position on Salvation by Faith Plus Works are inaccurate and present false gospel message. Our hope is that you take the time to examine these Scriptures for yourselves, be a Berean, and test what you hear with the Word of God. If you have any comments or questions please share them with us.
17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (2 Peter 3 NASB)