Saturday, June 25, 2016

Which is more Biblical? 2

Protestants say that we are justified by faith alone.  The Catholic Church teaches that we are justified by faith and works.

Which is more Biblical?

Let's see what the Bible says.

Does the Bible say that we are justified by faith alone?  

The quick answer is, "No."

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

That's the quick answer.  Is there another?  

Yes, its a bit more complex.  The Bible also says:
Romans 3:28King James Version (KJV)28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
 This is the verse that Martin Luther interpreted in his Bible to say, "a man is justified by faith ALONE.

So, Martin Luther equated the words, "without the deeds of the law" with "alone".

Did Martin Luther have a point?  

The Catholic Church says, "No."

Why?  Doesn't "apart from works of the law" sound like "alone".  What else is there?

The Sacraments.  Protestants equate the Sacraments with works of man.  But they are not.  They are works of God.

740 These "mighty works of God," offered to believers in the sacraments of the Church, bear their fruit in the new life in Christ, according to the Spirit. ....

And the Protestant might ask, "But aren't the Sacraments, righteous works?"  

Because in another place, the Bible says, "not by righteous works".  But actually, it says, "not by righteous works which we have done...":

Titus 3:5King James Version (KJV)Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
But the Sacraments are works of God.  Not works which we have done.

Is that the only argument against Martin Luther's interpretation?  

No.  There is also this.
Galatians 5:6King James Version (KJV)For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
The way I understand that verse is like this.  Circumcision is a symbol of the Mosaic law.  Uncircumcision is a symbol of the Christian religion.  So, what St. Paul is saying is, if you claim to keep all Ten Commandments.  But you have not love.  You are nothing.
And if you have yourself baptized and have all the Sacraments.  But have not love.  You are nothing.
Does that sound familiar?  That's because he said it very eloquently in another verse:
1 Corinthians 13King James Version (KJV)Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Bottomline.  Without faith working by love, we are not saved.  Without faith working by love, we should not be baptized.  That is the bedrock of our faith.  That is why non-Catholics and non-Christians can be saved, even if they are never baptized, if they obey the law of love which is written in every man's heart:
Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

So, there are two arguments against justification by faith alone.  The first, justification by faith and the Sacraments.  This is what happens in Baptism and afterwards, in every other Sacrament.  Those who believe God will be justified by their faith without the Mosaic law.

However, there is an even more basic form of justification which is summarized in these words:
James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Is that what the Catholic Church teaches?  Yes.

837 "Fully incorporated into the society of the Church are those who, possessing the Spirit of Christ, accept all the means of salvation given to the Church together with her entire organization, and who - by the bonds constituted by the profession of faith, the sacraments, ecclesiastical government, and communion - are joined in the visible structure of the Church of Christ, who rules her through the Supreme Pontiff and the bishops. Even though incorporated into the Church, one who does not however persevere in charity is not saved. He remains indeed in the bosom of the Church, but 'in body' not 'in heart.'"321 
Calling yourself Catholic is not a magic bullet for salvation.  As the Scripture also says:
Matthew 7:21King James Version (KJV)21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Ok, so, that's a lot to think about.  Let's try to sort this out.
Does the Bible teach that we are justified by faith alone?  No.  The Bible explicitly denies that teaching.
Does the Bible teach that we are justified by faith and works?  Yes.  The Bible explicitly says so:
James 2:20 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.
So, what is justification by faith apart from deeds of the law?   First, it is not justification by faith alone.  It is the justification in the Sacraments.  Those of us who believe God and do His will, will request Baptism and believing God's promises, will be washed of our sins.

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