Is Faith Alone Enough?

Is there any Biblical basis for the Faith Alone argument or is more needed? You might be surprised!

This post is post 4 in a series entitled Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs. While you certainly can read this post by itself, I highly encourage you to check out the rest of the series as well. You can also find more about this series and a list of all of posts here. *This post contains affiliate links.

Of all of the issues I’ve been researching during My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs, I think the issue of Faith vs. Works or Sola Fide is the one I’ve had to grapple with the most. Not because I have a hard time understanding or accepting the teachings of either side, but because it’s such a huge, messy and complex issue–it’s hard to really nail down.

What I mean is, with the Eucharist–it either is or is not the real Body and Blood. But with faith and works, figuring out exactly how the two mix together… and how much you need of both and why… well… it can get pretty tricky!

Protestant View: Faith Alone (Sola Fide)

Traditional Protestant belief (the way I was raised) would state that we are saved by faith ALONE. That while good works are nice and all, they have absolutely no bearing on our salvation. That we should do them, but if we don’t, it won’t affect our salvation at all.

As an analogy: When you get married, it is saying the words and signing the paper that actually make you married. Whether you are a good spouse or a bad spouse after the fact, it doesn’t change the fact that you are married. Being a good spouse will make your life happier and easier, but it won’t make you any more married than you were before.

Protestants base this belief off of Ephesians 2:8-9, which clearly states that we are saved by faith, not works.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Growing up, I never questioned this belief. After all, the verse is pretty clear and my analogy makes pretty good sense. But then I started on this journey, and I began to question everything.

Searching the Bible for Myself

So, in my questioning, I set out to search the Scriptures and see what the Bible REALLY says. At first I found a few verses that seemed to support the “faith alone” argument…

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” –Romans 3:28

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” –John 3:16

But then as I kept reading, I started to find more and more verses where some type of work or good deed was an integral part of the equation. The number was almost overwhelming.

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life…For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” –Romans 2:6-7, 13

“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.‘” –Matthew 19:16-17

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” –Matthew 19:29

And my favorite one of all…

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?… So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” –James 2:14, 17, 19, 21-26″

It’s easy to look at one verse of the Bible and come up with one conclusion, but when you look at the rest in context, another picture begins to emerge. And I’d say these verses make it pretty clear–works have to be a part of the equation somehow.

So, I set out to find out how.

The Truth About “Faith Alone” (Sola Fide)

You may be surprised to hear… nowhere in the original translation of the Bible do any of the writers teach “faith alone.” Rightly or wrongly, Martin Luther actually ADDED the word “alone” in his German translation of the Bible. It’s not in the original language. The verses say we need faith, but they do NOT say that faith is all we need, and they do not say what type of faith we need.

The devil’s in the details, right?

Clarification on Ephesians 2

What many people do not realize or understand about the text in Ephesians 2 is that Paul was NOT saying that NO works are necessary for salvation, but that you can’t earn your salvation yourself by being a “good person.”

If you start in verse 4, you read:

“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved).” –Ephesians 2:4-5

Paul isn’t talking about earning our ticket to heaven after we are already “saved;” he’s talking about our ability to make the decision to follow Christ in the very first place. We don’t choose Christ because we earned it through doing all the right things. God chose us and raised us up while we were still sinners. The fact that we are able to believe AT ALL and in the first place are both acts of grace–not things we earn.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t need to live up to our calling after the fact.

For an absolutely FANTASTIC explanation on this topic, I highly, highly recommend listening to this video clip of Francis Chan. He’s non-denominational by the way, not Catholic, so I can’t say that for sure that it is 100% Catholic-approved, but it seems spot-on to me.

(Fast Forward to 29 min, 30 seconds. The first half an hour is all internal budget stuff. Very interesting, but not really relevant)

So it IS faith that saves us, but not just any kind of faith. It’s an active, living faith that goes on to produce good works. The works themselves don’t save you, but they do show what kind of faith you have.

Clarification on Catholic Beliefs

Many people mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church teaches that people are saved by their works. This is not true. The Catholic church expressly denounces the idea that people can be saved by works, apart from faith. (They also denounce the idea that people can be saved by faith alone, apart from works.)

Because this is such a complex issue, I met with a Catholic priest to discuss the matter further, and we came to an agreement that was pretty much in line with what the video above states. That faith IS what saves us, but not just any kind of faith. It has to be an active, living faith that naturally results in good works. It doesn’t matter for our salvation if we produce one or one hundred (or even zero) good works over the course of our lifetime, as long as we have the kind of faith that is growing and bearing fruit in our lives. It’s not the number that matters, but the direction.

(We spoke about purgatory and indulgences briefly too, but I’ll cover that in the post on purgatory, coming March 18th.)

And really, doesn’t that just make sense? If you REALLY, TRULY believed in Jesus, wouldn’t you naturally WANT to follow him? And of course, by follow Him, I mean keep his commandments and teachings.

After all, even the demons believe in God, so clearly just believing can’t be enough. Or all the demons would be Christians and go to Heaven too–and that doesn’t make any sense at all!

So at the end of the day it turns out that my original beliefs weren’t so far off after all. Works don’t save us–faith does–but that doesn’t mean that works don’t matter. Instead, our works are a really great indication of what kind of faith we have–and if we even have faith at all.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions!! Leave me a note (or a book 🙂 ) in the comments section below!

Letting God Lead: My Journey Through Protestant and Catholic Beliefs: Great Series! Must read for any Christian!

Enjoyed this post? Don’t miss the rest of the posts in the series!

The Day I Realized My Religion Got it Wrong

10 Common Catholic Church Myths that Critics Believe

Is the Eucharist Really Just a Symbol?

Is Faith Alone Enough?

Who has the Ultimate Authority? A Biblical Look at Sola Scriptura

A Brief Look at the History of Christianity

What All Christians Should Know About Priests, the Pope and Confession

What Do Catholics Really Believe About Mary, Saints and Statues?

Infant Baptism or Believer’s Baptism? Which is Correct?

What is Purgatory? What are Indulgences?

Why Do Catholics….? Honest Answers to Your Burning Questions

Protestant and Catholic Beliefs Series Conclusion

Resources

I’m not asking you to believe because I say so. Please DON’T take my word for it! The purpose of this series is only to share what I’ve learned on my journey in order to inspire you to begin a journey of your own. Here are a few helpful resources to get you started.

The New Catholic Answer Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Surprised by Truth: 11 Converts Give Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic by Patrick Madrid

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A devoted Christian, wife and mother, Brittany loves helping other women grow in these roles as well. When she isn’t busy taking care of her growing family, you can find her at Equipping Godly Women, where she regularly shares tips, tricks and encouragement to help you be the amazing woman God created you to be. Brittany also has a thriving online community on Facebook as well.

129 Comments

Brittany, I hope you don’t mind a guy responding. I am a retired pastor and chaplain and I found your blog interesting. I can tell that you have a sincere heart with good noble intentions. However, when we study God’s Word, we look at it as a whole and also study the context carefully.

First, you’re correct that the words “faith alone” are not stringed together but once. However, there are at least 166 New Testament passages that say we’re saved by faith. The concept is there, even though these two words are not strung together. Also it was Jesus Himself who made it abundantly clear not only in John 3:16, but also John 5:24 that we are just saved by faith. In John 6:40 the “work of God,” is for us to believe in the One whom He has sent.

You brought up Romans 2. Again, we have to read in context. Paul is addressing those who think they can get into the Kingdom by the Law and right living. He is basically saying that you have to live a perfect life. Then in the following chapter, he says, no one can do it. Paul is showing the contrast. In fact in John 5:24, Jesus says that all those who trust or believe in Him will not be judged!

You quote: “And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.‘” –Matthew 19:16-17. What is the context here? No one can keep the commandments perfectly. In fact, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said if you even think these evils in your heart, you are already guilty. Jesus knew that this rich young ruler would never be saved by trying to keep the law. Jesus’ purpose was to show this man how sinful he really was. This young ruler was a religious and moral man. He was good enough to deceive himself and bad enough to damn himself. His “goodness” prevented him from knowing his badness.

Before a person is ready to be saved, he first must become lost. That is, he must recognize the lost condition of his soul (Romans 3:10-23). Before a man is ready for a cure, he must recognize how desperately sick he really is (Luke 5:30-32). The rich young ruler needed to understand the plague of his own heart (1 Kings 8:38). If Jesus was saying that everyone needed to keep all the law to be saved, He would have totally contradicted Himself and Paul in many passages of Scripture.

You mention: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” –Matthew 19:29. Of course this follows up the “rich young ruler.” “And shall inherit everlasting life”: The other evangelists add, “in the world to come”, which is infinitely best of all. For this is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, which fades not away, reserved in the heavens, when all other inheritances are corruptible, defiled, fading and perishing. This passage is teaching reward in the coming life.

Then you refer to probably the most debate passage in the New Testament, in James chapter two. What people fail to realize is that this passage has to be understood in the context in which it was written. First James calls them “brethren” at least 19 times. He believes in their salvation. Also the demons believe and tremble because there is nothing they can do about their fate. Jesus didn’t die for them. James two is a “get to work” passage. James speaks of a “dead faith.” This doesn’t mean the faith doesn’t exist, just that it is useless. In fact, in Romans, Paul says Abraham was justified by faith but if it had been works, he would have something to brag about: “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”

Going back to James chapter two, James is saying that it’s one thing to be justified before God, but we also need to be justified before men by our good witness. We need a faith that works! I know that this passage is extremely easy to get confused about.

You made this comment at the end of your article: “Works don’t save us–faith does–but that doesn’t mean that works don’t matter. Instead, our works are a really great indication of what kind of faith we have–and if we even have faith at all.” I partially agree: works do matter but not in regard to salvation, but in regard to rewards. However, to judge someone as lost because their works don’t reflect salvation is condemned in Scripture (Matthew 7:1-2).

I guess the influencing factor was rereading the Gospel of John. He writes in chapter 20:20-21, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” So this Gospel was written to lead folks to “eternal life.” In this twenty-one chapter book, there is no mention of Christian baptism, repentance of sins, just belief! After reading the Gospel of John, a light switch went off in my spirit. I began to realize that all glory goes to Jesus for our salvation! If I had any part in my salvation (works), then both Jesus and I could receive credit for eternal life! However, all glory, honor and power goes to Jesus alone! And yes, the teaching of “faith alone,” is threaded throughout the Gospel of John.

I don’t think we should teach anything that would take away His complete glory in saving us. As a matter of fact, if we believe works save us too, where is the peace that passes all understanding? We will never know if we’re saved because we’ll never know if we’ve done enough in this life to make the cut! God Bless!

Hi, Lee! I totally get what you are saying and I do welcome and appreciate your kind and in-depth response! I definitely agree that we have to read the Bible as a whole, and that all glory goes to God alone. I too was raised to believe in “faith alone” (whether those two words are actually strung together or not).

Once I really dug into the Bible though, there are just SO many verses that talk about the things we need to DO. Not to earn our salvation – not at all – but to walk in it …? I honestly don’t know. I don’t know where the line is or how the “formula” works — I just know that God has done His part, but we have a part to play too. We can’t just sit back and let Him do everything while we just go on sinning and doing whatever we want like nothing has changed. That’s not the gospel either. Where the line is — I don’t know.

And I’d venture to say even people who believe in “faith alone” believe we have a part to play too. After all, don’t we have to “accept” or “believe” or “trust?” Those are all verbs – things we DO. God doesn’t force us to be saved. He offers it to us and we have to – at the BARE minimum – take the action of accepting. And hopefully repenting and on down the line. The question is just where the line is — and that, honestly, I don’t know.

Hi to both and all of you,
When I read the Bible all along the stories of the old and new testaments… I can see one message: “faith and action” goes together. And it seems to me it is an unchangeable aspect of God and humbly I think that I could be right or wrong, but what I read, what I see and what I believe is that works are a requirement once believing.

Lee, you said: “We will never know if we’re saved because we’ll never know if we’ve done enough in this life to make the cut!”… by the same token, if such thinking is applied to the faith alone approach then one could also ask: If it is by faith only, then how much faith will be enough to be saved?

It seems to me that is neither extreme. it does require both. We are saved by Grace – through faith – that require works/deeds or action. not by any amounts but by a sincere heart, honest intentions and with a desire to “do” our Lords will.

That’s a really good question. And while I do not believe we can earn our salvation AT ALL, the more I read the Bible, the more I see that action has to be a part of it somehow. I have no idea how, but simply believing alone can’t possibly be enough. I keep finding more and more Scripture verses that indicate otherwise.

great article again. I have not yet watched the video but will this evening. I was just explaining this to a non-catholic friend of mine. I see it that we are initially saved by our faith through the grace of God. But to maintain that salvation we will grow in our faith in Him and in doing so be led to do wonderful things in His name.

Thanks, Chelsea! And you should definitely, definitely watch the video. I love all of Francis Chan’s sermons and can’t recommend them highly enough.

Not through works. It is a gift, you can not work for a gift. Romans 5:12-21, Romans 6:23, Romans 8:24, Romans 10:9-13 Before Jesus was crucified salvation was through works, but after his death it is THROUGH FAITH ALONE that you can be saved. The Bible makes that plain. As far as works, it is for a testimony to others that you are a changed creature (which God will bless and when you get to heaven expect crowns for it). But yes, I believe that a thief, murderer etc can still be saved (before & after crime). Look at the prisoner on the cross, he believed and Jesus accepted him into heaven, no good works, but he had faith. If it’s through works, why would Jesus have had to die? His sacrifice was enough. His blood is what covers our sins, we are all sinners, no matter how much “works” we do. His gift is given, we just have to accept with faith. There is no price for salvation, it was paid on the cross.

As Brittany wrote in her post: Martin Luther added the word “alone”. It’s not a conspiracy theory, but a fact that Luther himself wasn’t trying to hide. He just added it, it can’t be found in first translations. So the Bible doesn’t make that plain, Luther adds it.

There would be no salvation had Christ not died for us, that’s true. But it doesn’t guarantee automatical salvation to anyone who believes. His sacrifice is what makes salvation possible, but we have to be worthy of it.
Some people were not born into Christian families, some never had the oportunity to learn about Jesus. So what would happen to them if we were saved by faith ALONE? (it’s not a hypothetical question, I’m really interested in what Protestants think about this)

Also, the man on the cross next to Jesus says: “We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” He recognizes in that moment that his works were evil, but he doesn’t have a chance to change that. Had he lived, I believe he would stop what ever wrong things he was doing. Jesus also says on multiple occasions when people ask him for forgivness: “Now go, and sin no more!”

Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way; from now on sin no more”

Ever noticed that EVERY time Christ has told someone to go, and sin no more, or to not tell of what has happened, what has everyone done? They went and told! Christ knew that would happen, but he still has forgiven them.

My point was that Jesus, after he forgives them, tells them to sin no more, and not: I forgave you and I will forgive no matter what you do, now go and do whatever you want.
For example
: Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

and John 5:14
Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.”

He clearly says that their fate depends on their actions. Of course, people aren’t sinless, and God forgives if we repent. But how can someone say that they are sorry for their actions, continue doing it and at the same time expect forgivness?

P.S. I really wish someone answers this for me: Some people were not born into Christian families, some never had the oportunity to learn about Jesus. So what would happen to them if we were saved by faith ALONE?

I noticed that too!! What is up with all of these people??? lol. (BUT that doesn’t defend your point though, bc no one your number of works matters at all. Only that you have the kind of faith that produces them)

To answer your question about what Protestants think–I think it’s the same as what the Catholic church teaches. That believe in Jesus is the “normative” way, but God isn’t confined to the box if He wants to work outside it. For example, someone who grew up in Africa who never, ever heard about Jesus but lived an upright life and did their very best and *would have* believed if given the opportunity, they could still get in. (But here in America, we don’t really have much excuse)

I’ve wondered the same before. Not so much lately as more and more I’m learning (after a couple of years of hard apologetic studies) that what REALLY, really matters… is love.
1 Corinthians 3 talks about all the wonderful things a believer could do (or know for that matter)… and he plainly says at the end (verse 13) “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
also remember God has said that He has written His law in our hearts (Romans 2:15)
Finally – although I can’t exactly remember – I think the Bible also teach us that judgement is proportional (some how) to what we know.

So I tent to think that for people who hasn’t heard about our Lord Jesus Christ – or even those who to some extent have – the measure for their salvation is LOVE.
As it’s for us, at the end of the day is LOVE what counts. I must confess, know I rather want to move on the direction of (action) loving others rather than knowing more…

Hope it helps!

God bless!

I find your comment intriguing, especially after the simple and short explanation from Brittany on her search. Neyssa, you stated:
“THROUGH FAITH ALONE that you can be saved. The Bible makes that plain.”

I am not sure WHICH Bible you use, but there is not a single reputable translation that says that. Actually the Bible says the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you claim it says.
The ONLY PLACE in the whole Bible that the words ‘faith’ and ‘alone’ are together is in James 2. Let’s read it again:
“You see that a person is justified by works and NOT by FAITH ALONE.”
If I am a Bible believing Christian, Neyssa, what am I suppose to believe? Your claim, or the Bible? Sorry, but the Bible wins me over.

Actually the complete and proper definition, when taking ALL of scripture into account is:
We are saved by GRACE through Faith for Good Works. So, in the end, both faith and good works are essential/critical, but we are saved by Grace Alone.

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond!

Neyssa, NO ONE is saying that faith is earned through works. And no one is saying that someone sins can’t be forgiven and still go to Heaven. What we are saying is that it isn’t enough to just believe. After all, even the demons “just believe.” Satan “just believes.” Are they Christians then? If that’s all it takes? 🙂 Or is there a possibility that simply believing Jesus is who he says he is isn’t enough?

To give another analogy: Say you give me a free gift of a house plant. You give it to me no strings attached. I accept the plant and sit it in my window, but then just leave it there and don’t touch it again. Eventually, the plant will die. Yes, it was free and no strings attached, but it does come with a responsibility to take care of it if I want to keep it alive and well. (Don’t ever give me a plant. It really would die 🙂 )

Also, you listed Romans 8:28, which says “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?” This verse says we are hoping for something we don’t already have. In other words, maybe we don’t already “Have” salvation. We are given the *option* of salvation, but it isn’t fully ours yet.

Philippians 2:12 says: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” — How can we “work out” our salvation if we already have it? Why would we have “fear and trembling” if we were already assured salvation? Some food for thought 🙂

Did you watch the video??? (If not–go do it!) 🙂

I completely agree with every bit of this post. 🙂 if you say you have faith, but if is not visible in your life, that is no real faith at all! Now, of course, we are all on a journey, and can’t judge someone for not being farther along than you, but still, if you say you have faith yet don’t have any desire to follow God, you really need to question if that faith is real.

It should be noted that the direction is Christ, not good deeds. Just as faith without good deeds is dead, also good deeds without faith gets you no where.

I love Francis Chan! I stand in the belief that I can’t work my way to heaven, but sincere faith will produce the right works in me. Like in the marriage analogy, a sincere devotion to my husband will lead me to love him, serve him, be faithful in my marriage, spend time with him… If I were to discontinue doing these things, I would still be married to him, but our relationship would deteriorate.

In this day and age, the weeds and the wheat are growing together. And the Master has said to let it be until harvest time. We can’t possibly determine whether another person is having “marriage problems” with the Lord but still saved, or wasn’t saved at all and it was lip service? Or are they doing everything to look saved but are not? We can only look in our hearts and choose to let our faith and our works line up as we follow Him.

True faith means that the fruit of your spirit will bear good fruit. Faith and works are mutually tied together. Thank you for this post.

I’ve done a lot of research on this topic. Soteriology is my primary area of research. I come at it from a strictly biblical view, not one of man-made theologies or tradition like most protestant and Catholics do.

Looking at the soteriology of the prominent Protestant churches and Catholic Churches, none seem to line up with that of scripture. They like to read their own theologies into scripture to make it fit and make sense, rather than just looking at scripture and allowing it to speak for itself.

Some of my writings on Soteriology. I thought some of yall might be interested in some of my research.

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2013/08/an-argument-for-grace.html

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2014/12/a-defense-of-eternal-security-and-grace.html

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2014/04/is-repentance-required-for-salvation.html

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2014/02/an-atheist-and-calvinist-tale-of-two.html

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2014/01/do-good-worksfruits-validate-salvation.html

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-greatest-of-all-protestant-heresies.html

http://chaosman92.blogspot.com/2013/12/faith-without-works-is-dead_2.html

I think all of us our trying to do our best to find out what the Scriptures really say, but the problem is that by just reading the Scriptures by themselves, we are all coming up with different answers! Next week I’m talking about the Scriptures and the Church. I hope you’ll check back!

Just wanted to say that I did glimpse through some of your posts; not enough time to read them thoroughly. I thought it was interesting and overall good, but missing certain important elements and critical understanding of Catholic language and soteriology. Not to hold it against you, but this is a common thing.

Words in Catholic theology have different meaning and nuances than what is immediately perceived by the average reader. It takes a good amount of learning (some years) to get the jest of the meaning.

One thing that creates a dilemma for your position, Nick, is that long before the Bible was put together, Catholics already believed what they believe now, regarding salvation. What I mean is that you missed the obvious. The New Testament books were CHOSEN out of about 500 that were going around at the time, because they fitted the Sacred Tradition of the Catholic Church—this means her teaching. In other words. The CC only chose the books that fitted perfectly with what she believed and taught 1600 years ago, and nothing has changed on that area of salvation.

Not to sound offensive, but I was truly amused by your statement:
“I come at it from a strictly biblical view, not one of man-made theologies or tradition like most protestant and Catholics do”

So, Nick, your soteriology was not formulated by you (a man), therefore it is NOT a man-made soteriology, but was given fully developed by God to you?

Truly, I find this perspective/insight most interesting. And if this is the case, it does sound a bit like the Qu’ran and how the Muslims also claim to have received it. I do see a lot of parallelism here.

Anyway, some food for thought.

“So it IS faith that saves us, but not just any kind of faith. It’s an active, living faith that goes on to produce good works. The works themselves don’t save you, but they do show what kind of faith you have.” These words sum it up perfectly!

It’s all in the details that mothers seek. When we take grace, faith, and works the whole explanations would be: We are saved by GRACE (alone) through Faith for Good Works.

One passage in scripture that proves the fallacy of amazing faith, but no works is in the final judgment of the goats and the sheep, where the exact opposite takes place. The goats had faith to produce miracles (signs) and prophesy in the Name of Jesus, but they were condemned, while those that did the Works of Mercy went to Heaven (Matthew 25:31-46).
This passage is generally misunderstood in the fact that present experiences with fake televangelists or corrupt Christians that use gimmicks are envisioned as the goats and are shoved onto the text. This is flawed exegesis, and it is not in harmony with the text because the goats know Jesus and are not lying before Him. The signs (miracles) were real and they were performed because they had enough faith to ‘move mountains’ (1 Cor 13:2), and were filled with the spirit and prophesied, yet there was one striking difference between them and the sheep; these sheep were charitable, had loved their fellow man (1 Cor 13:2).

Mat 25:35-40: “…for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and …’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?…”

According to the text, they did even know the Lord Jesus, as we Christians ‘know Him’, because they had no knowledge of what every single Christian knows: “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do unto Me.”

Hope by bringing this extreme example helps in creating a better understanding of faith and love (good works).

Interesting! This is very, very similar to my belief and what many Protestant churches I’ve attended teach as well. So, I don’t believe it is just Catholicism that teaches it.

As a Christian I truly believe you must have faith to believe and enter into heaven. However because of your faith you will strive to also work. Work at your behavior, work at keeping the commandments, reading your bible and growing in The Lord. You will work to help others and show them the love of Christ. Faith and works go hand in hand in my opinion.

Good article. I’ve never dived into deep Protestant theology (just the surface level things they taught on Sundays!) so this is helpful in clarifying things.

Well, no, it’s not just a Catholic thing. But sometimes it’s easier to lump issues into groups a little bit just for ease of reference. (Only so many hours in the day!) 🙂

Another great Bible passage about faith and works is the parable of the vine.

John 15:“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.

9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Notice, Jesus is talking to those who ALREADY abide in Him. He warns that those who refuse to bear good fruit are thrown out and burned. He also states plainly that IF you keep His commandments, you will abide in His love. And you are His friend IF you do what He commands.

Another point to ponder: In virtually ALL passages discussing judgment, that judgment is based upon our WORKS. So we have to realize that when the Bible mentions believing in Jesus, it doesn’t mean a mental assent to Him. It means MUCH more. You “believe” in Him if you actually do as He commands.

Hi Brittany!

You tackle another great topic with much thought and research and I admire all the prayer, time, and questioning that you are putting into this journey…May it continue to bring forth much fruit and faith.

Just wanted to point out one typo that I must bring up since it is bothering me. In this line you wrote, “What I mean is, with the Eucharist–it either is or is not the real body and blood.” I think you need to capitalize “Body” and “Blood” because you are referring to Christ’s Body and Blood and anytime He is mentioned, His names are capitalized. I hope that makes sense and I hope I don’t sound like a “know it all” because that’s not my intentions. I just know that anytime the Eucharistic Christ is mentioned His Body and Blood is always in caps 🙂

Also, I’ve never heard of Francis Chan before so after I listened to part of his video, I googled a little about him and came up with this post that you might find interesting. I know I did: “How Francis Chan Helped Me Become Catholic” https://frontierruminations.wordpress.com/2014/06/06/how-francis-chan-helped-me-become-catholic/

God bless you on your continued journey to seek truth and understanding!

Fixed! Thank you. And no, you don’t sound like a “know it all” — that’s just one of those little details I haven’t learned yet. (And on a related note–loved that “what they don’t teach you in RCIA” article. I actually had heard most everything on the list, but that type of article is DEFINITELY needed. I wonder if I could find the same thing in book form? lol)

And thanks for the links 🙂

Thank you for tackling what can be an emotionally charged topic for many Christians.

As a cradle Catholic, I have always wondered what some Protestants believe: Can an ax murderer automatically go to heaven – no matter what he has done – by just “accepting Jesus as his Lord and Savior”? If that is true, why do we need the 10 Commandments? Why do we have any moral code if belief and acceptance is all it takes?

The important thing that I really appreciate you stressing is that Catholics do NOT believe good works earn you heaven. That is completely false. This is not a points system. It’s a hard concept to understand, but we have to be clear on that. So, thank you.

To be honest, this whole concept shows how differently people handle sin. From my experience, many Protestants believe that sin doesn’t separate us from God – that him dying on the cross was a one time deal and now we’re free to live our lives as we want. But the Catholic Church has a different concept bringing in the free will God gave us by which we can choose to accept his will for us or go against it.

Thank you for continuing this series – looking forward to upcoming posts!

Beliefs vary. Some protestants believe that once you are saved (“justified”), you are always saved no matter what since salvation rests on what God did, not what we do. Others believe that you could be saved, but then lose your salvation later if you turn your back on God. Others believe that if you later turn away, you were never really saved in the first place.

Growing up, I would have said that it depends. If the ax murderer was not a Christian, repented and became a Christian, he would go to Heaven. All his previous sins would not count against him anymore. If he was a Christian, but then he walked away and became an ax murderer, he probably would not. But I don’t know that I believe that your very last work will always trump everything else you did in your life before then (what if he was always a good Christian and then went crazy right at the very end?) — which is why God is the judge–not me!

Does that help at all?

Please feel free not to post this comment if I’m intruding myself in a conversation I shouldn’t be. I won’t be offended, for in full disclosure, I’m a man and a Protestant. These Catholic-Protestant conversations have fascinated me for years though, so this blog interests me. Having been raised in a Baptist/Presbyterian environment, I grew up believing (and still believe) in the principle of once saved/always saved–a principle Brittany accurately describes so far as I can tell. I wanted to also add to and support Brittany’s suggestion that such a principle doesn’t mean Protestants like me believe someone can live any way they want and still be considered a Christian. I do believe that if someone (we can call him John Doe) is in Christ, no sin can then cancel his salvation, as his salvation depends on the work of Christ, not his own. That said, the Bible is clear that Christians are known by their fruits. If John Doe claims to be in Christ then becomes an unrepentant axe murderer, I think it biblically fair to conclude that he never came to a truly saving knowledge of Christ in the first place. Of course, we have to also take into account possibilities of mental illness, etc., so it is difficult to truly know the heart of another in this life, but suffice it to say that Protestants in denominations like the ones I attend believe that our salvation depends on Christ’s work and cannot be cancelled by our sin, but that if we are truly Christian, the work of Christ in us will produce good works. If those good works are totally absent during the course of our lives, we have no right to assume we are in fact Christian and should re-examine our hearts. According to our beliefs, the source of our justification is God’s grace through Christ’s work, the vehicle is the faith that Christ awakens in us, and the evidence is the fruit that such faith produces. Hence, we conclude our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but that faith without works is indeed dead, as true faith inevitably produces good works. We just think that those good works don’t really contribute to our justification, which we hold is achieved by the work of Christ alone.

By, all means, comment away! I think this really helps clarify the belief–as I’ve heard Catholics ask before how Protestants can possibly believe they can just go do whatever they want and live however they want and still go to Heaven.

What do you say to 1 John 5:16-17, then, which says that some sins lead to death while others do not? “If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.”

I would have to research those verses in 1 John more to give a good answer, but a quick scan of commentary suggests that some Protestants interpret “a sin that leads to death” as referring to complete and total rejection of Christ and His Gospel. Not in the sense of someone who simply meets a missionary and doesn’t believe, but in the sense of someone who knew about the faith, outwardly accepted the faith and was part of the visible church, then turned from outward profession of faith with eyes wide open. Such an act deliberately rejects the only path to life and truly does lead to death. Indeed, this sin would be different than that of a believer who, though justified by Christ, is struggling with a sin and whose heart is drawn to repentance because Christ is in his or her life. Based on the view of once saved/always saved, we could not have confidence that the first person will gain spiritual life, because he or she apparently didn’t have it in the first place despite temporary outward profession, has rejected the only path to life, and is on the path of death. For the second person, we could pray with confidence for God to grant them life, because if they are indeed a child of God, He will lead them to repentance of whatever sin they are struggling with. I admit, though, that I may be mistaken in my opinion on these verses in 1 John, as I’ve not studied the verses there very deeply and acknowledge my thoughts as expressed could be flawed and could misrepresent the Baptist/Presbyterian view I’m attempting to express. What would the Catholic interpretation of these verses be?

I believe it is used to point out that some sins (mortal sins) can separate us from the body of Christ and put our salvation at risk, while others (venial sins) do not. Mortal sins have to be serious, you know that they are wrong, and you are doing them of your own free will. Examples: murder, adultery, robbery. Venial sins are any sins that don’t meet one or more of those three qualifications, such as telling a white lie to protect your spouse’s feelings, cheating on a test, losing your temper.

While you wouldn’t want to commit any sin, it only makes sense that some sins are more serious than others. A child stealing a cookie cannot possibly be the same amount of wrong as a serial killer intentionally murdering several people.

DCal90 this quote from your reply: “I … believe that our salvation depends on Christ’s work”
Catholics believe this too 100%

“and cannot be cancelled by our sin”
This is very unbiblical, and contradicts what Jesus says in certain instances, and especially what Paul tells us, along with 1 John.
A huge chunk of Paul’s letters is dealing with Christians that have fallen into sin. He makes a very clear list of those that “will not inherit the Kingdom of God”, after they have fallen into sin. All those sins in that list ARE Mortal sins that 1 John mentions, since Paul makes it very clear that those people will NOT inherit salvation.
The OSAS as is normally called (Once Saved Always Saved) is one of the most dangerous late development beliefs within Protestantism because it creates a false assurance. Some, both Catholic and Protestant, go so far as to say that it is totally diabolical (personally, I agree).

If we sin, but do NOT REPENT, we may think we are ‘saved’ and ‘be assured’ that we are saved, and yet reach the end-of-the-line and find ourselves going down instead of up. Even repentance has different levels. Someone may have a complete change of life, while others continue to struggle with the sin and need to be continuously repenting and praying until they can overcome it and “sin no more”.

“but that if we are truly Christian, the work of Christ in us will produce good works.”
Catholics also believe this 100%.

Brittany and Antonio, thank you so much for your thoughtful replies and your patience with my comments. I realize I come to this blog as an outsider, and naturally, as a Protestant, I disagree with some of the distinction between mortal and venial sins in regard to justification. My understanding of the New Testament and, indeed, the Old, is that any sin whatsoever separates us from our perfect God, unless it is covered by the blood of Christ. Hence the rigidity of Old Testament law, which pointed Israel (and, by implication, us) to our need for Christ due to inability to keep it, and hence the teachings of Christ Himself, where we learn that even thoughts of adultery or hateful insults make us guilty in the eyes of God. That said, I do agree that some sins are more hardened and more serious than others and evidence a more open rejection of Christ than others. Antonio, I know we’ll disagree on some of my statements above, but I did want to note a few points too where I think we agree more than perhaps either of us realize. I fully subscribe to the once saved/always saved view, but I agree with you that this is taken by some Protestants to an extreme. Too often, some Protestants convey, either deliberately or inadvertently, the idea that anyone who has prayed the sinner’s prayer is in Christ, whatever the rest of that person’s life looks like. Like you, I absolutely stand against that idea, as the New Testament is clear that the fruits in someone’s life are evidence for or against their salvation. I think where we disagree is in our interpretation of a fruitless life. I would hold that when Paul and others in the Bible speak of those in the visible church who will not go to Heaven, they are speaking of those who were, whatever their outward professions, never truly Christian in the first place. As their lives progress, their true identity manifests itself. No unrepentant sinner can ever be confident in his salvation, even if, in some point in the past, he has prayed the sinner’s prayer. And I think we also agree that repentance is something that should continue in a Christian’s life–every time he or she sins. That repentance is further evidence of Christ’s work in a person’s life, and when a person remains unrepentant and unconcerned by their sin, we should question whether or not they are truly in Christ. The once saved/always saved view is one that does teach security for a Christian in regard to his or her salvation, but it should never be used to imply that a Christian need not be concerned about sin.

I have really enjoyed this conversations and appreciate that we can do it in love..I am a Protestant and will share from my view. There seems to be a misconception that someone can say a magical prayer and now there and can live any old way they choose.This is simply not true.Man is spiritually dead,a slave to sin,no capacity in his will to come to Him. We must be drawn,granted,given life.People are elected Eph. 1, Rom 9 ,
The 10 commandments are given to show us we are law breakers, and that it is impossible to keep them. But Our Savior fulfilled the Law. So the law points us to the perfect Savior who could keep all the commandments.
If Abraham was justified by faith, and this is what we see in Eph. 2:8,9 Then it’s not by any works of the law, any deeds do not get us saved or keep us saved. We have been forgiven as far as the east is from the West.What sins of tomorrow did Jesus not die for? We all would agree we will sin until the day we die. God does not weigh our good and bad on a scale . They have been paid in Full.If a man is converted,Born again, He is a new creation. He cannot and will not be the same. Perfect? no but will live in a new direction.He will have fruits showing that he has been saved. A person who claims Christ but has no fruits will not be saved.I am honestly just trying to follow god and His Word. Not to a burden on man that he has to “do” to make God happy or pleased. He is completely pleased in Christ. If we are in Him then he is pleased with us. Again if we have been given life we now live as a new creation for His Glory not FOR good works,but since we have been saved we will bring forth works.If I am wrong I want to be corrected. i don’t want to hold to a false Gospel if it’s not true. Thanks for listening to my rambles.

Sounds like we’re on the same page here! yay!! 🙂

(Catholics would say *for* good works. That’s not a hill I’m willing to die on 🙂 We are saved. We naturally good good works as a result. If we aren’t–something’s wrong. We don’t do them to earn salvation/justification (which we already have), but because our faith naturally produces them as a result/we WANT to.)

Love this post and love Francis Chan. I am another one who believes we are saved by faith alone, but that faith should produce good works in your life. I know people who say they “believe”, but really don’t show it by the way they live and I find myself questioning that.

I do too. I mean, I know we are all guilty of not doing all of the good works we should. But if someone shows NO evidence that they believe and it makes NO difference in their life–do they really believe? I think it has to manifest in some way to count.

The best way to put all three elements together, Grace, Faith, and Works (Love) is by understanding that everything is started by God’s grace and depends on my response to that grace. My free-will provides the critical element to whether I choose to cooperate or not. If I cooperate with God, I am allowing His grace to move and transform me, and faith (trust in God no matter what) is critical for me to take the plunge and cooperate with Him, especially in things that are difficult to understand.

The more I cooperate with God’s grace, the greater the transformation that takes place within me (God’s work), and God perfects/sanctifies me (Mat 5:48) . This change leads me to do good works (be charitable to others), and all of it is caused by God’s Grace.

Just as I mentioned about the metaphysical change that took place with the Incorruptibles in the previous Eucharist talk, who don’t decay after death, this is solely accomplished by God’s Grace.

So the full understanding of Catholicism in a sentence is:
BY THE GRACE OF GOD, we are saved through our faith; this faith entails by its very nature, good works, always enabled by prior grace, without which it is dead.

As I was reading this my mind was blown. (Grew up catholic, switched to Methodist, just recently went back to Catholic Church.) Then I remembered the teaching of crowns. Build up your crowns in heaven, there are lots of verses. It’s taught with great care in the Methodist church, so as to not be mistaken for works. But I think it can relate and the verses you point out bring it full circle. Thanks for this series!

Mind-blowing, huh? That’s the best compliment I’ve had on this series yet 🙂 I’m not sure how you could separate works from doing things to get crowns…. but I’ll have to investigate the verses more. And you’re welcome!

I came across this in morning prayer today: “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.” Matthew 16:27

Read also Matthew 25:31-46. Super powerful. Those who did not give food to the hungry, clothe the naked, care for the ill and visit the imprisoned will “go off to eternal punishment.” Those are strong word from Jesus about our faith expecting to be active with works.

Still reading along with your series here, Brittany, and enjoying taking the journey with you. It is interesting to me that so much of the divide between Protestants and Catholics that you are exploring here remains in the ‘misunderstood’, ‘misquoted’, and ‘misinterpreted’. The Sola Scriptura approach is broken open when we learn things like “Luther just added the word *alone* on his own”. And the misnomer of working your way to Heaven is broken open when we look at the heart of all things that are authentically married to each other – faith and works being no different. It might seem funny, but the phrase that was called to mind when you wrote “faith IS what saves us, but not just any kind of faith. It has to be an active, living faith that naturally results in good works”…. was one from America’s founding fathers: “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”. That good works would naturally arise from a living faith seems to make sense in that context for me. Anyhow, thank you again for thinking “out loud” on this one.

It’s amazing what you learn when you actually dive in for yourself instead of just taking people’s word for things! Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Hope, something that catches my attention about the “sola scripta” approach is that… it is not in scripture.
If such concept intents to establish that concepts out of scripture are not valid… then it ends up ruling itself out. I believe that’s called a circular thinking. Yet another reason I found hard to swallow the Sola Scripta approach.

Hope it helps on the journey for truth. Self reading and praying with a Humble mind and a humble heart… and God will keep His promise to meet us.

I definitely think that if we really truly love God, our lives will show it. The Bible says that you can tell a person’s heart by their fruits. God bless! 🙂

Having gone through my own journey from Catholicism (including seeking a priest’s counsel), I read this with great interest. Thank you for sharing. I will be back for the purgatory post!

Great post, Brittany!

One thing you may want to explore in a follow-up post is the Catholic teaching of Justification vs Sanctification. It may clear in some confusion as to why the Church teaches we are not saved by faith alone.

I unfortunately can’t look up the verses and Catechism paragraphs right now, but I’ll summarize it best I can:

We are JUSTIFIED by faith. When we accept Christ and receive the Holy Spirit (normally through water baptism) we are made completely new. All stain of original sin and any sins we have committed are washed away. This is entirely through faith. This is what St. Paul is usually talking about when he says we are saved by faith.

What now begins is the ongoing process of SANCTIFICATION. This is the grace we merit for ourselves, but only because God has promised I’d we do these things He will bless us. This is what St. James refers to in his epistle. People had taken Paul’s words out of their original context, so James needed to address them and remind them of what faith means.

Paul wrote primarily against the Judaizers who preached you had to be circumcised before you could believe. This was clearly wrong, as Christ had instituted baptism as the new circumcision.

James wrote to people who said they could know live however they wanted because they had faith.

I see this issue relating to man’s condition that we have inherited from Adam. It is fallen, it is in slavery,it is dead and cannot and will not submit to God.(1 Corth. 2:14)He has His Chosen people that He chose before the creation of the world.(Eph.1:4)The Father gave the Son those whom He would die for and then in His time draw them and grant them eternal life.( John 6:44:65 When Christ died he made a propitiation for His elect.( this is a actual buying back)and a promise of glorification (Rom.8:30) This is why I believe faith is a Gift,salvation is a gift and God alone receives the glory and not me. Thanks

Brian, your first comment was very good, but this last one (if it is the same Brian) sounds too much like full blown Double-Predestination (DP), which is not Catholicism, but Calvinism. We are allowed a moderate sense of DP, but not to the extent that Calvin formulated his.

Anyway, Jimmy Akin probably does one of the best jobs balancing the whole topic. Here is a link to TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/TULIP.htm

Antonio,
Thanks for your feedback . Yes I am a different Brian and a protestant . I speak in love and enjoy sharing what i believe. Everything I wrote is backed up with scripture . Man’s spiritual state is depraved it does need to be drawn and granted new life.John 3 tells us we must be born again (born from above) John 1;13 tells us our blood line or our own will causes this transformation it is of God.Romans 9 we see God having mercy on whom he wills (15) .Making some for a honor and some for dishonor ( 21) Some for destruction and others for His glory prepared from beforehand.( 22,23)I am not a big fan of following systems of what man has come up with but what God has revealed in His Word.. I want God to receive Glory and that is my desire. Not to give half to man and half to God.I would love to hear where my error is and I do want to be humble and teachable . Thanks

P.S Correction in my last post about Jojn 1:13.Our blood line and our own wills do not cause this new birth it is God. Thanks

Just one question, Brian.
Here are some things to be aware of, just in case you didn’t know.
1. The extreme form of double-predestination doctrine, which is Calvinism, and also based on some of the earlier work of St Augustine (a great theologian and philosopher, but only ONE bishop amidst many in the Catholic Church) is believed by the Reformed churches, which include Presbyterians, some Baptists, etc.
2. It is accepted my a very small percentage of Christians in the world.
3. It is ‘based’ on Scripture.
4. The vast, majority of Christians in the world also use Scripture, and arrive at a different theology, which is also totally backed up, or ‘based’ on Scripture.

So, at the end, we come to realize that there are some passages in Scripture that support one theology, while other passages support another theology.

Well, hopefully as you continue reading through this series you’ll be able to see if what you believe is correct or not! That’s what I’m trying to do for myself as well. And saying that man has to do his part doesn’t mean that we get half the glory. We know that without God, we really couldn’t do anything at all. God is the sole reason that we are able to have faith in the first place. But then, once we have it, we have a responsibility to live it out. As I shared in the post, when Jesus called people, he didn’t ask them to believe, but to act. We need to do the same today (well, both). Not to earn our salvation, but in response to the free gift we are given.

Brittany,
I have been enjoying your posts very much. These are good things to think about. I also believe God is the sole reason why I have faith and am a Christian.Now that I have this faith I am a new man the old one is gone.I once was the natural man who did not and could not receive the things of God.( 1Corth .2:14) He has made me alive in Christ. We are to call on Him ,believe on Him and trust Him.He grants us new life so we want to live for Him. My new nature is real one that hates sin and now loves Christ like never before. I have been baught with a price.The new man will walk in a new way because he has been saved. Not because he is hoping to be saved one day.Does scripture tell us that for salvation it depends on man? part man? Or does He elect? draw? grant life? I have to go with what I see in scripture. He is a true Savior indeed. thanks

Thanks, Brian. I am still trying to figure out all the semantics myself, but I *think* it falls along the lines of:

1. The ability to have faith in the first place is a gift from God.
2. We can’t earn our salvation by just being good people or by keeping the laws. We are given it just because God loves us and chooses to do so.
3. Salvation isn’t a “one and done” type of deal. We can accept it in a one-time type thing, but then we have to continue “working out our salvation” (Phil. 2:12)
4. Some action MUST be required on our part. Not for us to “get saved,” but for our salvation to remain valid. We have a responsibility. There are just too many verses in the Bible that say that we must act to say that our actions don’t count for something. NOT that they are what saves us–we already are–but that we hold up our end of the responsibility as well, if that makes sense.

I gave someone else this analogy–if you give me a plant as a gift, it’s a free gift. I don’t have to pay you for it. BUT then I have the responsibility of tending to it if I want to keep it alive. Otherwise, if I accept it and sit it in a corner somewhere and never pay attention to it again, it will die. (Don’t ever give me a plant. It really would die, lol) Does that make sense?

It doesn’t rest on us. If it wasn’t for God, we wouldn’t be able to have any faith or works or anything in the first place. BUT we have to hold up our end of the bargain as well. That’s what I see in Scripture (reading to the best of my ability).

Do you believe then that you play absolutely zero part in it, then? That you can pray the sinner’s prayer, and then go on and live your life however you please?

If you mean do we play a part in our salvation I would say no. I don’t believe in a sinners prayer or living like any old way after salvation . I have been saved by grace Eph. 2:8,9 for Good works that HE HAS PREPARED beforehand.( 10)We hear the message that we are sinners, and we have broken his laws. We are slaves to sin and need to be freed. we are dead in sins, the natural man who needs His freeing grace(.Everything I quote are from scriptures telling me our condition.)God draws us, opens our eyes ,imparts life to our dead spiritual souls and now we are alive. Wanting to serve Him, love Him,for what he has DONE.(Rom 8;29) Praise God for His grace. Thanks

Brittany,
Thanks for your feed back.I will address your points from your 2-11 post. #1 The ability to have faith is a gift from God. I agree ,man is born dead in sin,wanting to please himself and cannot seek or please God ..God seeks us,He appoints us, grants us,elects us,draws us to come to Him.( all biblical terms)God takes out our stoney heart and gives us a new one and it was not done with our free will but His.(John 1:13)#2 we cannot earn salvation I agree and He chooses to give salvation to His elect.Does God love all equally and is TRYing His best to save all? Or does scripture teach (John 6) All that the Father gives to Me will come and He will lose none? #3 If you look at your first two points,God gives faith,and you cannot earn salvation, then it is a one time event.Scripture says He made us Alive in Christ,The old man is gone and the new has come,as far as the east is from the west your sins are forgiven. These and many more passages show Jesus came to save His people from there sins,not just make a opening now you maintain it or you will lose it.This would show that your salvation depends on You and how you lived. I don’t know about you I still sin daily and I hate it,But I thank God for His grace that covers all my sin.#4 your plant analogy In my mind would be more biblical if you show God providing daily water and sun fro growth and will never let it die.He never leaves us, nothing can snatch us, He prepared before the World who would come to Him.When I see in scripture my condition and How big God is I am so thankful for His saving Grace. Thanks

I agree with the vast majority of what you said. Though I still feel as though we must play some part in our salvation. I mean, first of all, there’s the fact that we have to choose to accept it. We have free will and God doesn’t force it on us, so right there, there is something that we DO. Not saying that we earn it AT ALL. Just that surely we must be responsible for playing some part. I found too many verses where Jesus told the people to go DO something to think it can just be something that is done to us. Yes, there are a few verses that support that, but taken as a whole… I just keep seeing actions again and again and again. Not sure how they work together, but they must have some bearing somehow.

Brittany,
Thanks again for all your comments I enjoy this series. Picture a man chained up in a burning house unable to free himself. He needs someone to come in unchain him and bring him to safety .Can you imagine him saying ” Just throw me the keys to these locks and leave some water and I will do the rest.Now to make this more biblical I would say the man does not even think the House is burning or in chains. He is mad at the man who claims he needs to be saved and says “leave me alone” . All this is to say man does not participate in salvation or even seeks God.I would never think Of God forcing anything,but He free’s us so then we can believe. God grants life( Acts. 11:18),gives repentance( Acts (5:31)appoints people for salvation(Acts 13:48)Grants people to believe(Phil.1:29). Man cannot understand the things of God.( 1 Corth.2:14)The Son chooses whom He will reveal Himself.( Math. 11:27)Man is unable( John 8:43) also so much more in Romans 8 :7;8 Your free will (our dead nature) cannot please God.We have a will and that was a will we inherited from Adam and it is free only to do what a dead will can do. God gives us a new heart( Ezek.36:26)God enables us to come to Him( John 6:65)John 1:13 tells us we are not born( spiritually) by decent,decision or will.not my desire but God’s mercy( Rom.9:16) All this to say I believe there is a Gospel that saves and another that requires man that won’t.Any time you see action ask yourself is this FOR salvation. Or someone who is saved. These are some things I have been blessed by, Thanks

I like your analogy. Except that I would say, God doesn’t unlock us, pick us up, and drag us out kicking and screaming. He unlocks us, takes our hand and says “let’s go!” It’s still up the individual to 1. accept salvation (which is an action), and then stay out of the burning house in the future. And I agree, we don’t work FOR our salvation, we work BECAUSE of our salvation. We’re already saved. But now we need to act like it.

Thanks for the thoughts Antonio.I try to be consistent In what I believe.I try not to base it on percentages and what the vast might think.It’s what scriptures teach.In what I presented so far can you see where I could be off? I do realize many will come to different conclusions at the end of the day. I see both sides can’t be right and there is only one true meaning of a passage. Maybe some different applications but one meaning. Like James 2:14 and following ,some want to show this as proof that we have to have works for salvation. If we read this closely it is talking about a true faith verses a false one. Faith that is followed with good works is a true faith given by God.A false one who does not show the fruit is of yourself.. We need to be born again.(that’s the start of true faith) We need to be the new man and the old one gone. We need to have passed through darkness into the light. There is a actual change in who you are and your sins forgiven as far as the East is from the West.. My Tomorrow sins are covered by Christ’s Atonement. That’s why He can” Save His people from there sins” it’s not a potential thing and it’s not based on how well I work with Him.it’s by His grace( Eph.2:8,9) what do you think?

I’m not Antonio, but I think this all sounds right. This is my understanding:

1. It is because of God’s grace that we can have faith in the first place.
2. We cannot earn our salvation; it is a gift.
3. There is a real faith and a dead faith. A real faith is one that naturally produces good works. The person is already justified, so it’s not for their salvation, it’s just the natural result of a true faith.
4. We don’t have to keep the OT Laws of Moses, but we do need to follow NT Laws. NOT for salvation, but bc it’s the mark of a real faith.
5. We are justified, but we aren’t perfect. We still struggle with sin and will until we die. We need to keep working out our salvation every day.

Does this help?

Brittany,
1.Yes if this is God’s grace alone to save a dead sinner.It is all His grace void of our works.

2. If salvation is a gift,like a debt we owed was completely paid in full ,then there is nothing we can do to maintain it or add to earn it . It is a gift,

3.The real faith is caused by God and kept by Him. Works do not help or maintain this real faith given to us. The dead faith will try to reject grace and do something to “help” God out.

4.What are these NT laws? Doing good? feeding the needy? Don’t put a requirement on what is not given. The new man,born again, will do what you might say are required.The mark of a real faith is born in a man by God. This cannot be by rejecting His grace alone to save us and then “try” helping Him out.”He who began a good work in you will complete it”.

5. If we are justified then we are secure in Christ. What sin did he not pay for? We need to press on, yes,We need to work OUT and not work For our salvation..Do you believe in election? His drawing power,converting the soul?

What does the Catholic church say about someone like me who holds to faith alone?

Thanks

5. I agree we will sin until we die. If we are in Christ then we are secure

Hey, thanks for all this sharing. I’m curious to know what kind of protestant background you were from? As far as I know, the teachings about faith being enough and works being irrelevant were very charismatic-movement sort of teachings that I grew up with, but that I later came to realise were insufficient and incomplete because of the precise verses you pointed out. An active faith that manifests in works seemed more aligned with what the bible taught. However, I never saw this as a protestant vs Catholic point of difference but rather as truth that has been diluted by the shallow teachings that prevail today. I have come to realise that many protestants who study the bible seriously do indeed know the importance of works as a reflection of faith.

Hi, Joy! We switched churches several times growing up so I don’t know that I can tie my beliefs to one denomination in particular, but I did spend a lot of time in both the Baptist and Missionary denominations–both of which I learned after the fact are supposed to be very anti-Catholic. (I never knew! Preachers don’t really preach “boo Catholic church” from the pulpit, lol). I’ve just heard and seen the sentiment a lot.

I’m really enjoying this series, THANK YOU! One item I rarely see in a conversation about faith and works is the distinction between good deeds and works of the law. Works of the law are about keeping the Mosaic law… keeping kosher, keeping the Jewish feasts- all 613 laws the Jews were required to follow. When Paul says we are not saved by works, he is often specifically speaking about the 613 works of the law.

I have lurked through this series so far, but feel I need to throw my opinion in here also. I am a cradle Catholic, I have been exposed to scripture my whole life. Not to single out Baptists from other Protestant religions but my husband and I are great friends with a Baptist couple. They fairly recently introduced me to the “by faith alone” line of thinking and asked me about it. It had never occurred to me prior to that. I have pondered it based on my knowledge of the stories of the Gospels/Acts/etc rather than just this or that passage but there are a few passages which come to mind and actually have been noted in previous comments on this thread. I agree heartily that by faith alone are we saved. I also agree and firmly believe, that if we do have this faith, we cannot NOT act/do works/whatever you want to call it. Yes, I did just write a double negative and I meant it that way. If you pull in the “love one another as I have loved you”, and “do this in remembrance of me” passages, it is very obvious to me that if I have faith–meaning accepting Christ as my personal savior (another phrase I had never heard when I was a child), I MUST do works of sacrifice. It isn’t the work that gets me to heaven, it is the faith. Add in “faith without works is dead”, which to me means its not really faith unless one lives it in action.

Thoughts??

I agree completely. And I get the “never occured to me” feeling. I had several of those in RCIA. Like the lack of assurance in Salvation. Growing up, I was always taught it was a sure thing and we didn’t have to worry about it. I thought it was so strange that Catholics worried so much. (I mean, yes, go do good things because it’s the right thing to do, but to worry?)

I know by now we’re already two articles removed, but I’ll chime in again anyway to respond to the other Brian:

First, the Catholic Church agrees Salvation is from God through faith. The moment we accept Him, we are indeed saved. Our Baptism – which is the Christian form of circumcision which brings us into the Kingdom – makes it that way by God’ grace. If we cannot receive the traditional water-baptism that does not mean we are not and cannot be saved. The Church also recognizes Baptism by Blood (martyrdom) and Baptism by Desire (examples: infants who cannot know it’s importance, or RCIA student who dies before receiving it) as being sufficient.

But once we are in the Kingdom (saved) we want to stay in the Kingdom. Following your logic (one-and-done) this doesn’t require anything. In fact, I don’t have to obey any rules at all because if something would really keep me from God He will somehow prevent me from doing it. I can go ahead and rape, pillage and murder to my heart’s content. I don’t think either of us would consider that person a Christian. The difference is that “once-saved-always-saved” thinkers would say that person was never saved to begin with, while Catholics and others who share similar views of salvation would say that individual lost the gift of salvation and has to get it back.

That’s why our actions are so important. Like anything else, faith is a habit. If I want to quit smoking, I have to continue to not smoke. If I want my life to be a reflection of God, I have to continually choose Him in all my actions. Every time I do, I grow a little bit. With that growth it becomes harder and harder for me to choose to turn away from Him because my habits are geared towards Him.

It’s also important in any discussion of salvation to ask where love is in the equation. God is love, and because He loves us He has given us free will. He wants us to choose Him, but won’t force us to. If He forced us to remain in Him after that initial choice, it wouldn’t be love. It would be like a man who started dating someone and then refused to let her leave him. It’s one thing to continue to fight for that person, but it’s another to force that person to remain with you. One is love, the other is highly distorted love.

Finally, I want to recommend you listen to the Nov. 9, 2014 UMD Newman Catholic Campus Ministry podcast titled, “The Kingdom: The Temple.” Fr. Mike explains how we remain in the Kingdom after our baptism. I’d summarize, but he does such a great job. It’s 30 minutes you won’t regret 😉

Bryan,
Thanks for your thoughts on this all important subject.I believe we have different thoughts on the word “saved”I would say the Bible teaches we are saved by grace not works(eph.2:8)This means we are rescued.Can you imagine a man jumps from a plane and forgets his chute.Another man with a chute jumps and holds on to him and saves his fall.We would laugh if we thought he was saved only when the man got to him in the air and then said you need to flap your hands and arms and that’s what is expected for him to be saved. We dont have salvation and cross from darkness into light,from the old man to a new man,and a lost ,redeemed,saved,alive in Christ person to losing it because we did not keep up our faith and good works man.He elects us and draws us,justifies and glorifies us( Rom. 8:29)

You mention and one-and done) belief.This is unbiblical and the bible does not teach this. Again a proper look at man show’s his condition, He is dead in sin,does not seek God nor can he,he cannot please God,he is a slave to sin needs to be drawn,granted life,given a new heart,and the list goes on. How can man have ultimate free will when we are taught the opposite?When a person has been granted life you see a conversion happen.A person at one time is not a lover of God(loves his sin)and is awakened,born again which for sure cause new life. Not perfection but a new life filled with fruits and good works BECAUSE of salvation not to earn salvation. Christs’ righteousness imputed to man. and on that we are saved and secure. His perfection covers all our sins.So yes a man claming to be a Christian but has no fruit of conversion is not saved. Neither a man who rejects Christ’ work on the cross to be sufficient to pay for and redeem His elect and say I need to help with something will here “i never new you.”Math 7
We both agree we will never be perfect and have anything to lay at our Lord’s feet saying . So what is the standard? How good do you have to be? My faith says I will for sure have good works being produced from my changed life..You can never no if your saved and will keep trying to be good before God. He see’s His Son as perfection covering us or not covering us. Which are you?

Love is defined by the way He defines it. Not by man’s free will having a choice. But our God coming and giving His life as a ransom for many..As you can see in my previous post that I have shown clearly man does not have a free will in the sense that it can choose outside it’s dead nature.It does not seek God will not come to Christ..( I won;t go over it all again)
I will look at the stuff you posted and please look at all that I have said as about election,drawn, dead will ect. I have not heard anyone respond to those scriptures which I believe proves my point. Thanks so much.

Brian,

First, I’m sorry If I’m misunderstanding something. The way the post is formatted on my screen is making some things run together that I’m not sure you meant to.

I like your parachute analogy, except for a couple of things. I’m not an expert, and I can’t understand why anyone would ever jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but from what I’ve seen, read and heard about it, the first person would still have to listen to rescuer and do exactly as he says when he says or neither will survive.

So if you jump first, and I follow and catch you, I need you to remain calm and not be flapping around everywhere. I may also need you to pull the cord, because I’m a little preoccupied holding you. Depending on the type of jump and the equipment we’re using, I may have to tell you when to actually pull the cord.

In this example, you’re not really saved until you’re safely on the ground. There are still a number of things you could do which might prevent me from getting to you safely, and it may be too late by the time I’m there for a chute to properly deploy and slow our descent enough. Even if we have time, I’ve already mentioned some of the things which could still go wrong even if I don’t lose my grip (because we both agree, God wouldn’t lose His grip on us).

I also strongly dispute your idea that we cannot choose outside our dead nature.

Would you agree that it’s objectively good for me to help an elderly woman bring in her groceries? What about when I choose to reject immoral behavior (especially sexual immorality)? If I’m understanding your argument correctly, I should not be able to do these things until AFTER I’m saved because my dead nature makes it impossible.

Conversely, after the moment of our salvation, it should be impossible for me to REFUSE to do these things because I’m a new man.

Yet the reality, as we both know and agree, is that doesn’t happen. For you, the argument is the person was never saved to begin with. For me, he was saved but chose to go against God for a moment which broke his relationship with God. In order to reach Heaven, he must repair the relationship.

This is because of free will.

Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood, but your argument makes it impossible for me to know if I’m saved, because according to you God has chosen his elect and only they will be saved. Under that system, nothing I do good or bad truly matters. I’m either saved or I’m not. I can’t choose it because God chose it.

I mentioned some Catholic terms earlier that you might have missed…JUSTIFICATION and SANCTIFICATION.

We are JUSTIFIED – made completely right with God – the moment of our Baptism (see my previous post about Baptism by Blood/Desire). We are imparted with grace which cleanses us from all sin (original and personal). The process of SANCTIFICATION now begins.

As I said before, baptism has brought us into the Kingdom just as circumcision did for the Jews. But what keeps us in the Kingdom is the Temple. For Christians, the Temple is Christ’s body. Every time we partake of the Eucharist, we receive grace which strengthens us to remain on the narrow path. Every time we participate in building the Kingdom through works of mercy, we draw closer to God and it becomes easier to choose the good.

It’s important to note this grace I’m talking about only comes through faith, and is only possible because of Christ. He still covers us, He just gave us a detailed roadmap of how.

Bryan,
Thanks for your comments and with such a great name you have to be pretty cool.

So what I was trying to say with my plane analogy was that man plays no part of helping God or allowing Him to do anything .We need to be acted upon someone (God) outside of us. If we are slaves to sin we need to be freed.(Ezek.36:26)(John 1:13)We cannot please God with our wills.( Rom 8:7)(1Corth 2:14)

Having a dead will does not mean you can’t do good in the eyes of men.People from all faiths can “do” Good.This in no way is pleasing to God for salvation or maintaining salvation( if it is something needed to be done for salvation).So people can with stand sin and that does not mean they are not dead in sin. If they are not born again they are not in the faith and what they do is in sin.

If a man has become the new man this does not mean he is not going to sin. It does mean he won’t practice sin the same as when He was the dead man.He will be growing in sanctification through the power of the Spirit.

Our relationship with God is not severed if we sin. We will sin everyday. Does that mean I could lose my salvation daily if I am not keeping up my end of the deal?He promises to never leave us,never snatched from His hand,as far as the East is from the West our sins are forgiven. What sins of mine did He NOT pay for?Read Rom 8:29 what promises to you see?
I never see in scripture that we are justified by baptism.I never see we are just imparted with some faith and now we must do something to maintain our salvation.

Circumcision never saved anyone, it was faith. What are we told about Abraham? It was faith. This was even before the law.

Keeping the works of the law never saved anyone. Grace has always been shown why one is saved.If you say grace only comes through faith and this is from Christ. This is something you never had before.(saving faith and Grace) but now you must do something to maintain this? Remember conversion? being born again? the new nature? This is why one has works because of the radical change God does.

Works will be apart of the believers life but not for salvation but because of salvation. ( Eph.2:10)

Remember you are accountable for your sins, you can never say” you made me this way”see (Rom 9:19)Also God has ordained all things. We can’t grasp this but scriptures show God ordaining and man’s will working together. Pharaoh,Joseph,birth place of Christ, Those who took Jesus to the Cross.They all had free wills but God ordained it that way and that mean it would for sure happen.correct?
We can know we are saved ,scriptures say the Spirit will testify to this.We can see a Love for God and a hatred for sin. You will see a desire for prayer and scripture reading,belonging to a body of Christ and baptism.Most of all a complete trust in Christ alone for salvation and sanctification .Thanks

Thank you! I now understand your point much better.

I think we’re close to agreeing, which I’m not surprised about. How’s the old saying go, “We share 90 percent of the same beliefs, but it’s the 10 percent that divides us”?

Where do we agree…I agree with you that we cannot be saved by good works alone. I agree with you that the Law, especially circumcision, never saved anyone. I agree with you that we need God to act in us. I agree that good works will come naturally as a result of living faith.

I’ll start with your question on Baptism. There are many Scripture verses which attest to the importance of Baptism for salvation. Here’s a collection that demonstrate the graces we receive from this Sacrament: Acts 2:38, 22:16; Rom. 6:1–4; 1 Cor. 6:11, 12:13; Gal. 3:26–27; Eph. 5:25-27; Col. 2:11–12; Titus 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:18–22.

From these verses, it’s clear that baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:18-22) by uniting us with Christ’s death (Romans 6) through one Spirit into the one Body of Believers (1 Cor 12:13). This Baptism has also replaced circumcision as the outward sign of our faith (Col. 2:11-12).

Just to reiterate, this grace comes to us not because of our merits, but those of Christ.

But it is not enough to be baptized and then go about our life thinking we can do whatever we want. You and I both agree this person is lacking faith. We agree that our old ways will continue to tempt us, and we also agree we are now capable because of the grace we receive from Christ to choose Him over ourselves.

The difference in our viewpoints, as I understand it (so again please correct me if I’m wrong), is you believe this person can never lose salvation no matter what he does. While I believe that some actions can cause salvation to be lost (murder, for example). Do we commit small sins everyday? Absolutely. The Church refers to these as “venial sins,” and while they harm our relationship with God they do not break it. Collect too many of these with no desire or attempt to change, and you may have a problem. But most faithful people don’t have to worry about them. Most of us realize them and turn to God for forgiveness (side note: Catholic teaching is these sins do not have to be confessed to a priest. confession to God and genuine sorrow is enough).

Mortal sins are those of a serious nature (like murder) which do cause us to be completely separated from God’s grace. These are the sins Catholics are called to confess to a priest (1 John 1:9, John 20:21-23) before receiving the Eucharist (1 Cor 11:27-29).

Again, parallels…Circumcision made someone Jewish, but Temple worship kept you Jewish. Baptism makes you Christian, but the Eucharist – the Temple of the Lord’s body and blood (John 2:21) – keeps you Christian.

The works we do matter. It’s important, though, to distinguish between works of the law and works in general. While we do have to keep the Commandments, we are also not under the ceremonial laws such as dietary law or laws about which fabrics to wear. The law we are to abide by is the Law of Christ, summarized as “love God…and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31)

Like I said, we agree that our works, by themselves, are meaningless with regard to salvation. But we are also told in Scripture that our works matter (James 2:14-26, 1 Cor 6:12-20, Rom 2:6-8, Rom 6:16, Phil 2:12-13, 1 Cor 3:12-15)

Again, we agree these works do not save us in the sense that they merit salvation for us. The Catholic Church condemned that belief as heresy (see: Pelagianism). But we still have to continue in Christ in order to, “work out (our) own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Phil 2:12)

Bryan,
I would say we are not saved by works at all.Good works come from only a regenerate person.God must act on us and when He does it’s all we need to justification. With our new natures we will live for His good pleasure.This is not to maintain what He started. What did Christ’s death accomplish?

Baptism Is something one does after he is saved to identify with our old natures being buried and risen With Christ.When you look closely at those passages you will see someone believing and then baptism, Never babies .

I see you denying the power of Christ converting the soul and providing what one needs for growth. If Our sins are removed,cleansed,forgiven then we are secure in Christ. We will have new natures that have been sealed by the Spirit.. We don’t need anymore graces that will help for salvation . Since we have been elected,drawn,granted and given a promise for glorification I can’t see what else we need.

We have not been given any laws to follow. We have been given life. We have the Spirit of the Living God within us.All works are meaningless if you think in any way they help with maintaining what has already been given freely. Works only flow from the believer for His glory not anything else.Remember to Work out your salvation, NOT work FOR your salvation.

Both sides agree that we do NOT work for or earn our salvation–so don’t worry about that. We all agree that is our faith (which we have because of God) that saves us. BUT with SO many verses where Jesus tells people that they need to go do something in order to see Heaven–I just can’t see that it doesn’t play some sort of role somehow. I *think* it is the natural outpouring of a faith that is real… so AFTER we are already saved and BECAUSE we are saved, not in order to become saved. Otherwise, how would you explain allll of the verses I shared in the post? (I’d love a good explanation! I really don’t know!)

As far as graces-they don’t make us any more or less saved, they just strengthen our faith and draw us closer to God. Like a marriage. Once you are married, you can’t be any more married, but you can certainly build a much stronger, more fulfilling marriage that better represents what a marriage is supposed to look like. Buying your wife flowers is one way to do that in a marriage; doing good deeds is one way to do that with God.

Brittany,
I don’t believe both sides would agree that salvation is faith alone by God’s grace alone. I think Rome rejects this view . Is that correct? What verses do you think show that works are needed for heaven? I do believe that the saved regenerate person WILL produce works. This is only because of salvation.. So because of salvation I am justified. Nothing more is required for salvation from me. His Spirit now resides in me..

In marriage we are in a contract with our spouse. I agree we should do things for each other.But if I don’t it does not make me divorced by the lack of not doing enough.God makes the a covenant with His elect. He will cause salvation and maintain all we need.for sanctification .and glorification .

Catholics don’t believe we are saved by works either. Just that a real faith WILL produce good works. I think we are all in agreement on this. They aren’t saying your works EARN you salvation–but that if you don’t have the works to show for it AFTER you are saved–then your faith maybe isn’t real. If you say you are “saved” but your life doesn’t change at all and you’re still living however you want… maybe you aren’t saved after all.

(Did you watch the video? Francis Chan is nondenominational, but does a GREAT job of explaining it)

But one thing that surprised me was that Catholics don’t see your salvation as a sure thing until you are actually in Heaven. As a Protestant, our assurance was always a given. But Catholics teach that we aren’t actually “saved” until we’re in Heaven. Justified, yes, but there’s always that chance we could walk away at any time.

Are there any verses that speak to our assurance of salvation? (I’m asking because I really don’t know and would love to if you know of any!) I know there is the “nothing can separate us from God’s love” one–but that talks about God’s love, not our salvation. In other words, God will never stop loving us, no matter what we do, which is true. Not that we can go to Heaven no matter what we do. And then I know there is a “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” one, which supports the Catholic position.

That’s the same thing I originally said in RCIA too. They disagreed, lol.

Brittany,
I am trying to follow you here. You don’t believe in works salvation.That means you believe Eph.2 :8..You are imputed with God’s righteousness.You were elected,drawn,granted life. You did not cause salvation nor can did you maintain it.If Christ payed for and secured your salvation That means your works have nothing to do with salvation.
I did watch Francis Chan. I have some books of his. Watch at 39 min. in.It’s all about a living faith verses a dead faith.Not faith needing to come up with works along side it for salvation..Your saved apart from the works of the law.
If you have a “chance” to walk away then it would be based upon YOU. What you did do that was wrong or something did not do that was not enough. If God saves us then it’s not partial it is total..
I explained Rom 8:28 to the end of the chapter before.It cannot be looked at asGod’s general love.33 says “who can bring a charge against God’s elect.also”He who began a good work in you will complete it on that day”” All that the father gives to Me will come to Me and I will lose none”, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” None can snatched from my hand.” As far as the East is from the West so is your transgression.” These verses and much more show show God’s assurance for His elect. If it was not that way then it’s YOU not doing your part and that means you deny faith alone and God’s grace alone.

We both agree true faith must have action. My faith imputed by God will produce works.This is because it is a living faith.You say we must have works also but grace alone is not enough which makes your faith +works =salvation.
A person has 5 minutes left to live. He is crying out What must I do to be saved? I say believe on the Lord and you will be saved!! If God has elected him, and is drawing him then he will be saved. If God is not he has no true faith. What would you say to that person with 5 minutes left? Is there any true hope for him? How do baptism,works,mass play into that?God imputing grace is our only hope not works of man but works of Jesus alone on the cross.

This was a good explanation of how I too see it. When looking at the total picture, I feel this sums it up. Thank you Brian for sharing with us.

The Catholic Church teaches that if you die in a state of mortal sin, you necessarily go to hell. I have faith in the death and resurrection of Christ. Because of my faith, much of my life is informed and inspired by supernatural grace – charity. Alas, there have been a number of occasions since becoming a Christian that I have fallen into what the Catholic Church would call a state of mortal sin. I have committed mortal sin in the last week in fact. I haven’t been to confession so technically speaking, I’ve effectively condemned myself to hell – if I don’t make confession before I die.

I’m sorry, but like Martin Luther, I’ve realized over time that I can’t live out a life that will assure me of salvation. I’ve realized that it is Jesus Christ who covers me in his saving grace, and that when the Father sees me, he sees his beloved son Jesus. This has humbled me greatly. I now “get” the gospel. Righteous conduct can only stem from pure mercy. “A little leaven leavens the whole dough”. Adding works to the gospel spoils the whole gospel. Saying that we need to cooperate with grace in the hope of salvation can never make one righteous. Outwardly righteous perhaps, but not inwardly. I realized that as a Catholic, I was a righteous hypocrite – living the “clean” life but doing it from a place of self righteous pride, and fear.

“Work out your salvation with fear and trembling”. When I realized I was saved perfectly by what Christ did for me on the cross, I recognized what this statement means. “Fear and trembling” is the deeply humbling realization of just how much God loves you. It is a feeling of intense awe. It breaks your heart in the best way. Salvation comes when you realize that Christ is it. Nothing else.

No, YOU can’t “live out a life that will assure me of salvation.” I’m not talking about salvation through works here. What I’m saying is just believe in Jesus isn’t enough. If you truly, truly believe, then your actions will automatically follow as a result. If they aren’t, then maybe you don’t really believe.

Oh, yes, and as for verses, all the ones I put in the post:

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life… For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” –Romans 2:6-7, 13

“And behold, a man came up to him, saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.‘” –Matthew 19:16-17

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” –Matthew 19:29

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?… So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!…Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” –James 2:14, 17, 19, 21-26

That’s a lot of verses telling us to do things for eternal life for works to be inconsequential…

The demons don’t have a saving faith. A saving faith will naturally produce fruit. There are plenty of people who claim to believe and do good things but if their faith is not really true, their works are worthless. And if the faith is real, they will naturally produce fruit and be sanctified over time. So in the end it comes back to the faith. I wrote a blog on the same topic. I’ve attached the link here for a different perspective and I think a valid explanation. 🙂

http://theentrepreneurialwife.com/2014/12/19/grace-through-faith-or-grace-through-faith-and-works-what-the-bible-teaches/

I read your post–very well done! Except that I hate to break it to you–what you are arguing is pretty much exactly what the Catholic church argues 🙂 That the works don’t save us, but that if you have a REAL faith, it WILL produce good works or you probably didn’t really have faith at all. Sounds like we all agree?

No, I’m not saying you HAVE to do good works or that good works are what get you into Heaven at all. You could do 0 good works or 1,000 good works–the number makes absolutely no difference at all. What I’m saying is that it isn’t enough to just believe and then continue on with your life as normal. Like I mentioned in the post, even Satan and his demons believe–so simply knowing isn’t enough. As for the thief on the cross, he never had a chance to change his life one way or the other, but Jesus knew his heart and knew that it was truly changed. I believe, if given a chance, he would have come down from that cross a different man. It’s a tricky distinction, but does that make sense?

You should really look into the Ancient Orthodox Christian faith. It is the fullness of Christianity and more and more Americans are discovering it. God bless you. OrthodoxMom blog.

Great piece! Many accuse Mormons of also believing that you are saved by works.

But, I think something you need to look into Brittany is the difference between justification and sanctification. Works would justify us. That is how the Mosaic law was set up – on the laws of justice. However, we all fail and come short. Which is where we need the mercy and grace of gos to actually save us, as we cannot save ourselves.

Now sanctification is different than justification. I am not personally 100% clear on the differences, but they are different. Just as exaltation is different from both justification and sanctification.

Faith alone will not save. But works alone will not save. One scripture you did not mention is when Christ talks about many who will say unto him Lord, Lord, and he will know them not. This is exactly what Christ said on the matter! Belief alone will not save. It is the foot in the door. It is the first step. But where is the commitment? God wants us to love and serve him more than all, and obey his commandments. Ignoring works is blasphemous.

Thanks, Katelyn! I can definitely see how this concept trips up people on both sides. You really have to be clear when talking about it and explain all of the different nuances or it’s way to easy to jump to the wrong conclusions if both sides aren’t really discussing and listening.

I *think* justification means that we are made right in terms of payment, and sanctification means we are atually made right internally or washed clean so to speak? (Okay, I just looked it up to make sure before I hit publish and that’s right lol)

I have really been studying on this and struggling to understand. I have always believed once saved always saved unless you deny Christ as the savior. I understand that works should be the product of belief and it is in fact a long journey for most of us. It isn’t like you get saved and are instantly transformed and completely change. It takes time. Transformation is really a process. I guess the part I struggle with is that we are all going to go through things, seasons, and sometimes fall away in some cases. In those seasons, I do not think we are damned if we die while still in the growing process…. if that makes sense. But I do not know. And truly, I think only God can possibly judge that. I hope we all make it <3 It can be very confusing really.

It IS confusing and I can definitely see how both sides get into fights over it! I agree with you, too, that there will be seasons. But God knows where our heart is ultimately, and if it really is going away or if it’s just a season.

I believe that we are saved by God’s grace ( a free GIFT) but after the initial belief in Christ we must maintain our salvation.

Hmm…. I think that would still count as us relying on our own effort though – if we were the ones responsible for maintaining.

The best way I’ve heard it explained is simply that we are saved by faith, but that it’s an active faith – a faith that naturally produces good works.

It’s definitely a tricky subject! How much is us? How much is God? Where do you draw the line?

Thanks for your thoughts!

If the good works of unsavede are like a filthy rags in front of God than why should I act good.. troubling myself knowing that there is no benefits for the unsaved people like me.. As the scripture is quite clear that definitely I will be contempt for eternal Bcoz i fail to av faith in Jesua..?? Pls help me is there any benefits perform by the unsaved people are of any good towards God???

Yes, our “works” (the thing we try to do to make ourselves “good enough”) are like filthy rags BUT that doesn’t mean WE are filthy rags! It just means we could never measure up on our own strength. But the beauty of the Gospel is that we don’t have to! Romans 5:8 tells us “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The Bible is FULL of verses that say how much God LOVES us and adores us. Not because we deserve it, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who HE is. God is love, and He has chosen to pour that love out on us! All we have to do is accept it.

Romans 3:23: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[a] Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 10:9 “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

This doesn’t mean that our actions don’t matter at all though. We are saved through God’s love, mercy and grace. BUT then we have a responsibility to behave like it after the fact. (Not in order to earn our salvation — we cant — but because once we are Christians, that should be our natural response)

These articles may help you as well:

https://equippinggodlywomen.com/faith/are-you-a-christian-are-you-sure/
https://equippinggodlywomen.com/faith/faith-alone-enough/

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