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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Faith or Works or Both?

Faith or Works or Both?

Too often in the faith/works debate, the participants selectively quote Scripture to prove their point. Any realistic interpretation must be consistent with all of Scripture.

Salvation by Faith (Alone?)

For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. (Rm 3:28) 
NB: this is the passage for which Luther took the editorial liberty of inserting "alone" after "faith".

So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (Rm 11:5-6)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-- not because of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit (Tit 3:5)

who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not in virtue of our works but in virtue of his own purpose and the grace which he gave us in Christ Jesus ages ago, (2 Tim 1:9)

NB: In Romans, Paul is talking about "works of the law," that is the Jewish law.

Works Required

"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Mt 7:21)

Mt 25:31-44-- At the Last Judgement, the Lord judges the sheep and the goats based on what they have done.

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Lk 6:45)

Jesus answered him, "If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (Jn 14:23)

``For he will render to every man according to his works'' (Rm 2:6)

There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. (Rm 2:11)

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love. (Gal 5:6)

to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Col 1:10)

Take care, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ``today,'' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if only we hold to our first confidence firm to the end,... (Hebrews 3:13-14)

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. (James 2:24)

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us. (1 Jn 3:23-24)

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. (Rev 20:12)

Grace Alone

While "faith alone" is invalid, "grace alone" still applies: the works we do are originate in God and are energised by him. This is entirely distinct from the "man clawing himself into heaven" works envisioned by Protestants quoting Eph 2:8-9.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:

1996 Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. [Cf. Jn 1:12-18 ; Jn 17:3 ; Rom 8:14-17 ; 2Pet 1:3-4.]

1997 Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an "adopted son" he can henceforth call God "Father," in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church.

A Betrayal of the Gospel :Statement by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Regarding the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification. http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/a/faith_works.html