Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Justification is by faith. But not by faith alone.

Faith alone is dead. Scripture tells us so.

James 2:17
King James Version (KJV)
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

But faith is the basis for justification.

Hebrews 11:6
King James Version (KJV)
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

In order to prove our faith, we must act upon it. In other words, faith in God is expressed by our obedience to His commands:

Romans 6:16
King James Version (KJV)
16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?

Keeping the Commandments is what St. James calls justification by faith and works.

James 2:24
King James Version (KJV)
24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

St. Paul refers to it as "doers are justified":

Romans 2:13
King James Version (KJV)
13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.
Protestants get confused with that justification which occurs in the Sacraments and which St. Paul calls "justified by faith apart from works". This is not "faith alone". 

It seems every Catholic understands the distinction, but not one Protestant with which I have spoken seems to understand what I'm saying.

Let me try a different tact.

In the Old Testament, all were justified by faith AND WORKS. God expected all His faithful people to obey Him and keep the Commandments:

Deuteronomy 7:9
Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Jesus didn't change that part of God's plan of salvation. Remember what He said:

Matthew 5:18
King James Version (KJV)
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

God's law consists of the Ten Words which He wrote with His own finger upon two stone slabs:

Deuteronomy 4:13
And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

What Jesus did was make God's plan more stringent while at the same time, easier to achieve. I know that sounds impossible but bear with me.

Jesus made God's plan of salvation more stringent. Here He mentions it Himself:

Matthew 5:20
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Do you want an example? Keep reading Matthew 5.

21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
etc. etc.

The Faith of Christ is far more stringent than the Faith of Moses. 

Yet, at the same time, it is far easier to achieve salvation in the New Covenant in the Blood of Christ than it ever was in the Old Covenant. Why? Because the Old Covenant was judged by faith and works, alone. Yes, you heard me right. Faith and works together and alone. There was no other system for the Jews to receive justification from God. Except for a few exceptional souls, the Jews were not justified until Christ died on the Cross and descended into hell in order to bring them into heaven. Let me show you:

Hebrews 11
King James Version (KJV)
11 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
5 By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Keep reading. These, faithful Old Covenant Jews, acted upon their faith and obeyed God. Yet they did not receive the promises of God. They could not receive them until Jesus died on the Cross. Jesus then established a vehicle for us to receive the grace of salvation. The Sacraments.

The first Sacrament is Baptism. When we receive Baptism, we are born again children of God and at that point we are given the right to do what none of the Old Covenant Jews could do until Jesus Christ died on the Cross. We then walk with the Saints:

Hebrews 12:21-25
King James Version (KJV)
21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake
22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

It is through the Sacraments that Jesus Christ bestows upon us His grace. Not by our works. We don't wash our own souls. God washes our souls. But He only washes the souls of those who, like the Old Covenant Jews, express their faith in their works of love. In other words, by keeping the Commandments.

And that is what St. Paul means to be justified by faith apart from works. The Jews were justified by faith and works and had to wait until the end of their lives, in the afterlife, until the death of Our Lord on the Cross, before they were judged worthy to enter heaven.

But we receive the same grace when we receive the Sacraments in the proper disposition of faith, believing in God and having complete trust in God. Otherwise, if we reject the Sacraments and accept only the Law of the Old Covenant, Christ died in vain. 

Galatians 2:21
King James Version (KJV)
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

I hope that makes sense.


De Maria


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