Sunday, October 29, 2006

Faith Alone - a Truly Biblical Doctrine

I have always maintained that people are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. It is true that I did not make this explicitly clear in a recent comment on another blog, and for that I do apologize. However, if you look at my comments on posts on this blog (or any other for that matter), you will see that I affirm the truth that man is saved by grace through faith (apart from works) in Christ whole-heartedly.

An objection to the doctrine of sola fide and sola scriptura was raised in this way, “Show me one verse in the Bible that says we are saved by "Faith alone" or that the "Bible Alone" is the sole rule of faith.”1 I answered it (or began to, anyway), in a comment that preceded his when I said, “While the exact phrase ‘faith alone’ appears only in James regarding false faith….”2 But in case this was missed, I will try again.

The exact phrase “faith alone” occurs only once, and it's in the book of James, and he says that faith without works is useless. And as for a verse that uses “Bible alone”, well the word Bible is not in the Bible so that is an easy one. But we do not get our vocabulary from just the Bible, nor do we, necessarily, get our doctrine out of “word for word” phrases in the Bible We (I) look at the whole of Scripture to see what it says about any one subject, and then we try as best as we can to articulate that as stated in a doctrine. Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura are two such articulations of doctrine. You also know that I affirm that salvation is in Christ alone, but the phrase “Christ alone” is not found anywhere in the Bible (except in the NLT which is less than a word for word translation). But you would not disagree (I hope) that salvation is, in fact, in Jesus Christ alone. It is not reckless, wrong, or ridiculous to use the statements that came out of the reformation to articulate the true gospel message.

In further dealing with the “trump card” of James 2:20 that seems to be played with no care of how recklessly it is wielded, we must go back and first understand (as Christ taught) that you can sum up the law and the prophets into two commandments:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Therefore we know that there is no work that can be considered to be “good” that doesn’t fall into either of these two categories. Any deed, whether it is circumcision, baptism, walking an aisle, signing a card, or any other action, does not save us. It does not bring us into a relationship with Christ nor does that action reconcile us to the Father. Therefore, when we are exhorted that we are saved apart from works of the law (Romans 3:20, 27-28; Galatians 2:16), apart from works (Ephesians 2:8,9; 2 Timothy 1:9), not of deeds done in righteousness (Titus 3:5) but we are saved by faith (Romans 3:22-31;4:5-16; 5:1,2; 9:30-33 Galatians 3:8-14, 22-26; Ephesians 2:8,9; 2 Timothy 3:15), it is by faith to the exclusion of anything else that our new relationship (being born again or born from above and being Justified) with God begins.

Obedience to the commands of God (good works) comes as a result of faith (Romans 1:5; Galatians 5:6, 22-23; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:4-5; Hebrews 11) and being evident, they (the fruit of good works), validate our claim of faith (James 2). True faith brings other things with it and produces love and good works (1 Corinthians 13:2; 2 Corinthians 10:15). Therefore, for whatever reason God decided to do this, faith (by the grace of God) is the instrument that God has chosen to use to connect sinful man with the righteousness of Christ.

The statement “works are not a prerequisite to justification but a natural consequence of it.”3 was made by Jeff S (an Episcopalian in transition to Catholicism), and Danny (my Catholic theology student friend) agreed with Jeff S’s summary of the Catholic understanding of faith and works by saying, “And Jeff S. has summed it up splendidly!”1

That statement affirms what I believe. All good works – every single one – are the out flowing of someone who has been Justified by God. This is the truth that I have been articulating all along. The grace of God works through men to produce faith in Christ – and that man is saved. This saved man will now go about performing good deeds, but all deeds done are the result of salvation, the do not assist with the attaining or the maintaining of it.

Baptism is not some ritual that makes us born from above or cleanses us from original sin and brings us into fellowship with God. It cannot since “works are not a prerequisite to justification but a natural consequence of it.”5

But if you still believe that baptism (water baptism as performed by sprinkling, dunking, etc) is either (a) a prerequisite of justification, or (b) the first step in someone’s spiritual life (forgive me, I do not know the correct Catholic ‘lingo’ to for baptismal regeneration) then we – most definitely – do not agree on how man is saved. And if Jeff S. or Danny believes that baptism fits either of these two above criteria, then they disagree with themselves.

Baptism is, at least, a deed done in righteousness whether it is understood to be the beginning of one’s spiritual life or one of the first acts of obedience by that person who has been saved. But baptism cannot play a role in our actual salvation, because it is a deed. We all should be baptized, I totally affirm and agree that all Christians should be baptized, but as seen by the thief on the cross; water baptism is not a prerequisite for salvation.

I trust that opponents to this affirmation of faith will take the time to read the texts that I cited which begin, at least, to articulate this doctrine. The only thing more compelling than the shear number of the texts that articulate or refer to the truth that man is saved by grace alone through faith alone (“alone” meaning that faith is apart from any works) are the texts themselves in how powerfully clear they are.



1 Comment by Danny Garland Jr. 10.28.06 - 10:07 pm

2 Comment by EJ 10.28.06 - 3:31 pm

3 Comment by Jeff S. 10.28.06 - 10:33 pm

4 Comment by Danny Garland Jr. 10.28.06 - 11:09 pm

5 Comment by Jeff S. 10.28.06 - 10:33 pm

31 comments:

Jeff said...

EJ,

I would like the complete context of my statement to be shown so that it will make sense to those who might read your blog. I am going to quote directly from Jimmy Akin's article on catholic.com about the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification for this if you don't mind:

"Lutherans have been suspicious for a long time that the Church's discussion of good works means that one must do good works in order to enter a state of justification. This has never been the case. In fact, in Catholic teaching, one is not capable of doing supernaturally good works outside of a state of justification because one does not have the virtue of charity in one's soul-the thing that makes good works good. Consequently, the Council of Trent taught "none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification" (DJ 8).

The Joint Declaration thus stresses that good works are a consequence of entering a state of justification, not the cause of entering it: "We confess together that good works-a Christian life lived in faith, hope, and love-follow justification and are its fruits. When the justified live in Christ and act in the grace they receive, they bring forth, in biblical terms, good fruit. . . .

"When Catholics affirm the 'meritorious' character of good works, they wish to say that, according to the biblical witness, a reward in heaven is promised to these works. Their intention is to emphasize the responsibility of persons for their actions, not to contest the character of those works as gifts, or far less to deny that justification always remains the unmerited gift of grace"

EJ said...

Unless I am missing something, it seems that the Catholic church (in this document) is affirming the Protestant understanding of Sola Fide and works.

Am I missing something?

Jeff said...

The document as written affirms sola gratia but not sola fide. Here is the link to the official document at the Vatican:

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

The Catechism of the Catholic Church does not agree with sola fide. I will quote paragraph 1815 of the Catechism here. The source material for this paragraph is taken from the Council of Trent.

"The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it. But 'faith apart from works is dead': when it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of his body."

I fully admit that I have not explained this as clearly as I could have. The Council of Trent is the best place to study a Catholic understanding of justification.

Here is another link by Jimmy Akin that may be of use. It explains the difference between sola fide and sola fide formata (faith formed in charity). He explains it a lot better than I can. I am in complete agreement with 'sola fide formata'.

http://www.ewtn.com/library/ANSWERS/SOLAFIDE.htm

jeff b said...

to jeff (regarding comments above),

I sense that you have an understanding of justification by faith alone as wonderfully expounded by the reformers. It is that doctrine that Rome has rejected and they pronounced anathema/condemnation on the reformers.

Rome's very definition of justification is still inconsistent with the biblical doctrine. They see it as not only the remission of sins, but the renewal of the interior man. So Rome confounds the doctrine of justification with sanctification. This is not merely a matter of semantics. It is the difference between the infusion of righteousness (as Rome maintains) and the imputation of righteousness (as protestantism maintains).

Rome states one is justified by water baptism (reformed theology denies this). Rome further states that one can lose the grace of justification by committing a mortal sin (reformed theology denies this). Rome states that one can regain justification through the sacrament of penance (we again deny this). Justification is still a work in the Catholic system. Of course, Rome redefines what a "work" is and claims it is not a work.

Biblical Protestantism maintains that justification is an event. It is a decree by God on the sinner: Not guilty. It is by faith and faith alone. When we believe, we are forever justified and given the righteousness of Christ. It is imputed or reckoned to our account. It is not based on some "decision for Christ", "praying a prayer", "walking an aisle", "signing a card". Saving faith is the gift from God. When a person is giving this gift, it is then, when he first truly believes that he is justified freely forever.

I stronly encourage you to study what Rome's official teaching is. They have never (to my knowledge) released a statement saying they were wrong to condemn the Reformers and that their (the reformers) theology was right.

I pray you will truly consider more study. Rome has not changed and cannot. Her teachings are declared (by her) as infallible. To state she was wrong at Trent on the doctrine of justification by faith alone would be to unravel her whole system. And that is what must happen if she is to truly reform.

Consider reading:

The Great Exchange: Justification by faith alone - in light of recent thought by Philip H. Eveson

Faith Alone - R.C. Sproul

There are many, many other books, but these are helpful starts.

And lastly, be in the Word. It will be the light unto your path.

jeff b said...

jeff,

the battle cry of the reformation was justification by faith alone.

As Luther said, it's by faith alone, but not a faith that is alone.

In other words, good works are the natural RESULT of them who are justified. But the works do not justify. Rome anathematized the reformers for saying that works are merely the fruits of those justified. Read the canons that came out of Trent on this.

Again, Rome's definition of justification is NOT the biblical definition of justification. The biblical term is forensic in nature. It is a decree, a legal pronouncement of God on the sinner: NOT GUILTY. What a marvelous truth it is that God justifies the ungodly. No works (baptism, penance, charity, etc) justifiy us in God's sight. The only work that justifies is Christ's work on Calvary. We are united to that work by faith alone. And that faith is the gift of God so noone may boast.

Jeff said...

Actually I don't understand justification in the sense expounded by the Reformers. The meaning of faith during that time period was 'intellectual belief' which is different from how people interpret the word 'faith' today. Most Protestants would at least agree that intellectual belief must be combined with hope (trust in Jesus Christ for one's salvation). Rome was condemning 'intellectual assent' in the Council of Trent when they pronounced their anathemas.

So you are right in that Rome did not change, but it didn't have to since the meaning of the word 'faith' has changed over time.

To argue that imputed righteousness is 'biblical' while infused righteousness is 'non-biblical' is a flawed argument. You can find verses that support infused righteousness in the Bible easily. It is my understanding that the Orthodox Churches affirm infused righteousness as well.

As to imputed righteousness, the Greek word used in regards to justification is not forensic in nature either the other 40 times or so it is used in the New Testament.

As for loss of justification, not all Protestants would agree with you that this is impossible. John Wesley (to use a prominent example) also taught that one could fall from grace and lose one's justification.

As for baptism, Jesus himself said you had to do it during his conversation with Nicodemus (one must be born of water and the Spirit). Are you saying that someone like R.C. Sproul is a higher authority than Jesus Christ?

doc said...

To be born of water and the spirit has nothing to do with Baptism. Water refers to cleansing, yes, but when combined with "and the spirit," Jesus is calling for a spiritual cleansing which can only be accomplished by grace through faith in what Christ Himself accomplished on the cross. Christ certainly would not have told Nicodemous that he must be baptized in order to be saved since He is clear that the only way to heaven is through Him and His shed blood. Any example of being baptized in the Bible is done after the person has first believed.
Hebrews 11:1 is a wonderful example of what faith is. Then the whole chapter is filled with people who were justified by their faith.
When defining words, you must seek the Bible to know what words mean. We cannot follow how the culture defines faith to come to our definition of it. The Bible is clear in its message: how we are saved, how we stay saved, and how we cannot be unsaved. The Bible is also clear that we are not saved according to works that we do, rather works are an outpouring of our true faith. And we also know that faith is a gift of God--so that we cannot boast. Therefore, we can do nothing to merit salvation. God has given us the means of salvation and He has given us the faith to believe in that salvation.

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Jeff,
you said:
"They have never (to my knowledge) released a statement saying they were wrong to condemn the Reformers and that their (the reformers) theology was right."

Why would they? They weren't wrong to condemn the Reformers because the Reformers taught heresy.

Steph,
you said:
"The Bible is clear in its message: how we are saved, how we stay saved, and how we cannot be unsaved."

If the Bible tells us how to stay saved (which it does and you affirm above), that very statment applies we can lose our salvation. For the only purpose of knowing how to STAY saved, is because we have the ability to not be saved after we have initially been saved.
The Bible never says we cannot be unsaved for that matter as well. You contradict yourself in your own sentence.
The Bible does however, tell us how we CAN lose our salvation.

Danny Garland Jr. said...

And as for the whole of Jeff's quote that Eric took out of context, here it is:

"Grace is the ultimate cause of our salvation, and faith and works are our response to God's grace that calls us to Him. And we have been created specifically for the purpose of good works (as you will see a couple verses down from Eph 2:8-9). If you read that article I posted it is clear in stating that works are not a prerequisite to justification but a natural consequence of it."

You can see it does not affirm sola fide.

Danny Garland Jr. said...

Also, if you go by the Bible alone, it should explicitly state that the Bible (or Scripture) is the sole rule of faith. However it doesn't even say it implicitly.

I also love how you fail to mention James explicitly saying that we "are not saved by faith alone." And Faith without works (Faith alone) is not just useless, it is dead!
Maybe that's why all the "Faith Aloners" have split into thousands of different denominations which all disagree with each other on fundamental doctrines of the faith, yet all claim to be using the Bible Alone. Interesting.

EJ said...

Danny - (quotations from Danny are in bold)

“For the only purpose of knowing how to STAY saved, is because we have the ability to not be saved after we have initially been saved.”

Steph said, "The Bible is clear in its message: how we are saved, how we stay saved, and how we cannot be unsaved." She did not say, “The Bible is clear in its message: how we are saved, how to stay saved, and how we cannot be unsaved."

Much ado about nothing? Perhaps. But the understanding that we have is that it is Christ Himself who keeps the believer saved, and saying “how we stay saved” is in Christ. It is in His holding and keeping the believer where security is found. But saying “how to stay saved” might imply some continuing work that my salvation is contingent upon. That is not what she was saying, and I invite her to correct me if I am mischaracterizing her thoughts and words.

“The Bible never says we cannot be unsaved for that matter as well.”

You know how much I disagree with this above statement, but instead of arguing, I want to know how you deal with the following passages referring to the security of the one who is found in Christ, born again, who has been justified.

Here they are: John 10:27-30 and Romans 8:29-30.

Next, you said that I took Jeff’s quote out of context. I read it, reread it, and read it again and I fail to see how using the last phrase was out of context.

“Grace is the ultimate cause of our salvation” - I totally agree that God’s grace is where all salvation emanates from.

“and faith and works are our response to God's grace that calls us to Him.” – I agree that faith and all works done after salvation are only able because of God’s grace and provision. However, knowing the Catholic source (Jeff S), I was initially hesitant at what he might have meant by this phrase. But, it was clarified later…

“And we have been created specifically for the purpose of good works (as you will see a couple verses down from Eph 2:8-9).” - I have never denied this. It may have been a statement made out of thinking that I deny that Christians should perform good works – a thought that I have never espoused.

“If you read that article I posted it is clear in stating that works are not a prerequisite to justification but a natural consequence of it.” - As I said initially – I whole heartedly affirm this statement. It was this statement that clarified the “faith and works” one that I was initially hesitant about. And it is an affirmation of the doctrine of sola fide to say that works, all works, follow justification. I did not take it out of context. The use of this statement as a summary of the whole paragraph was not unfair since the only other option for me was to say that Jeff S said first “you need to do some work to be justified” and then ended by saying “works are not a prerequisite to justification”.

“You can see it does not affirm sola fide.” – Unless he didn’t mean what he said at the end, I think it does.

“Also, if you go by the Bible alone, it should explicitly state that the Bible (or Scripture) is the sole rule of faith. However it doesn't even say it implicitly.”

I disagree that the Bible doesn’t make a clear case for Sola Scriptura implicitly. Without getting into the whole debate, 2 Tim 3:16 is a good place to start. Timothy was brought up in the scriptures (obviously the O.T.), but it doesn’t mention the teachings of the Rabbis, only Scripture. In Matthew 4, Christ quotes Scripture (not rabbinic teaching) and used it’s authority to oppose the Devil’s lies and attacks. These are a few of the places that I would look to in order to set the authority for the Scripture alone.

“I also love how you fail to mention James explicitly saying that we ‘are not saved by faith alone.’ And Faith without works (Faith alone) is not just useless, it is dead!” - Perhaps you just didn’t read my blog entry. I said, very clearly, “The exact phrase “faith alone” occurs only once, and it's in the book of James, and he says that faith without works is useless.”

“Maybe that's why all the "Faith Aloners" have split into thousands of different denominations which all disagree with each other on fundamental doctrines of the faith, yet all claim to be using the Bible Alone. Interesting.”

I agree that it is disturbing at the huge amount of different denominations. It is a concern, and it deserves some investigation to find out what they believe and why the split.

Also, I think that if one is going to discuss this issue with a Roman Catholic, it would be germane to talk about the various inabilities of the RCC to control its congregations. If the RCC is so impotent that Arch Bishops, dioceses, colleges, and seminaries are able to be so opposed to the clear teaching of the bible (the classic one today deals with homosexuals and their role in the church) and the stance of the RCC without being disciplined (kicked out of their post, excommunicated, defrocked, etc) how much faith can one have that the other things will be enforced.
I’ve said this before, but comments have been made here and on Danny’s blog that we can’t understand/interpret the Bible – that is the church’s role. We need to go to the RCC to be instructed on what the Bible says and means.

However, we also have found that rogue Roman Catholic Priests have taught things that the RCC doesn’t agree with. So, how can you trust that any Priest is telling you what is right according to the RCC? Well, then you may have to ask the bishop, right? Well, with Arch Bishop Flynn being so off on the biblical teaching concerning those who practice fornication or homosexuality and being part of an organization pressing for “time when Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Catholics are affirmed and experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality with their sexuality, and as beloved persons of God participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and Society.”

(source) how can you trust those under his authority and diocese when he is their overseer? Furthermore, you, Danny, take it further and condemn a Cardinal when you said, “By the way I agree with Mother Angelica; Cardinal Mahoney is crap!” (source)

Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that you trust the broken system of the RCC which doesn’t admit fault (because it cannot) and it cannot keep the different parishes in line. Or, you do as Christians have done for millenia – you stick with a group as long as they adhere to the clear teaching of Scripture. When things begin to unravel, try to salvage them out of a love for the brethren and a desire for unity. However, if it is not possible to remain together because the body that you’re with is apostate, you must separate and be faithful to God and to Scripture. Both sides have their problems. One admits it, the other doesn’t. There is no perfect system on the earth now. It will only be perfect when He comes and sin is fully and finally dealt with when the heavens and earth are remade.

Jeff B said...

jeff,

Luther, Calvin and the other reformers believed we are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Works naturally flow from those who are justified.

A work of water baptism does not justify. A work of penance does not justify. Faith alone justifies. And again, the reformers wholeheartedly maintained that faith is not just mere intellectual assent. Saving faith is a trusting wholeheartedly in Christ. In other terms, it consists of knowledge, assent and trust in the person and work of Christ.


you stated,

"As to imputed righteousness, the Greek word used in regards to justification is not forensic in nature either the other 40 times or so it is used in the New Testament."

You are simply in error. I trust you have looked up the greek words in a greek lexicon. Paul deals at length on justification and uses the word justify/justification/justified, etc in a forensic sense in Romans.

Romans 2:13
Romans 3:4
Romans 3:20
Romans 3:24
Romans 3:26
Romans 3:28
Romans 3:30
Romans 4:2
Romans 4:5
Romans 4:25
Romans 5:1
Romans 5:9
Romans 5:16
Romans 5:18
Romans 8:30
Romans 8:33

Justification is the opposite of condemnation. Carefully study verse 8:33. A judge does not make a person inherently righteous or just. He declares us to be so. Romans 8:33 and others deal with this. Also consider the old testament use of justification (hebrew transliterated htsdyq, or sedeq).


Also you stated,

"As for baptism, Jesus himself said you had to do it during his conversation with Nicodemus (one must be born of water and the Spirit). Are you saying that someone like R.C. Sproul is a higher authority than Jesus Christ?"

He is not referring to water baptism in this context. The meaning is much more personal for Nicodemus. He is told that even He needs spiritual cleansing. This would have been shocking for Nicodemus, being a/the preeminent teacher of Isreal. Also, since you even admit you need to "do" this, by your own admission it is a work. We are not justified by works.

We deny that one is justified by water baptism. We deny that one can lose justification. Rome teaches one can lose justification by committing a mortal sin. Then you are really in no better state than the first Adam. If you must keep yourself in the state of salvation by sacraments, good deeds, not committing evil deeds etc, you have turned the gospel into a work.

The law says "Do this and live."

The glorious gospel says "It is finished in Christ, believe it."

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

If Christ sets you free, you are free indeed.

Laura said...

About the Church:
"The Church has a divine and a human component to it. Just as Jesus was both divine and human, so is his Body, the Church. However, we are not without sin and infirmity as was he. The Church has been given the authority of teaching office. This authority of truth does not mean that Jesus will guard their every action. The Pope today goes to Mass weekly because he knows his sin and frailty. However, he also knows his authority to speak for God within the bounds of his office. He has the authority to bind and to lose, to forgive or to retain. Someone or thing must have this authority or we have the scandalous confusion in Christendom we see today. Luther would cringe and weep if he saw the result of his schism!

Luther wrote to Pope Leo X, "I never approved of a schism, nor will I approve of it for all eternity, . . . That the Roman Church is more honored by God than all others is not to be doubted, . . . Though nowadays everything is in a wretched state, it is no ground for separating from the Church. On the contrary, the worse things are going, the more should we hold close to her, for it is not by separating from the Church that we can make her better. . . . There is no sin, no amount of evil, which should be permitted to dissolve the bond of charity or break the bond of unity of the body? (letter of Martin Luther to Pope Leo X, January 6, 1519, more than a year after the Ninety-Five Theses; quoted in The Facts about Luther, 356).

Jesus nor the Church have claimed to mirror God in everything. Do you function impeccably as a father? Will your kids say that you perfectly reflect God? Are some good Christian dads so weak that they actually lose their kids? I know many such fathers. You have a flawed view of what the Church should be. The Church is a hospital for sinners, only secondarily a sanctuary of saints. You may be infallible as a father, but does that mean you are perfectly reflecting the Heavenly Father. Our kids grow up understanding you are the authority, but you are imperfectly so in your actions. Christians are taught the same thing about the Church and they can refuse to understand or perceive the teaching and if they leave it is to their own peril, just as it will be if your children do the same with you."

Paul was not perfect, he poorly reflected God. In Acts 13 he and Barnabas were called by the Holy Spirit with the words, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

Yet, not long hence we read in Acts 15: 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus. 40But Paul chose Silas and left, being committed by the brethren to the grace of the Lord.”

Yet Paul was speaking infallible for God while setting a bad example. He taught that we are no longer under the sacrificial system of the Jews, yet, in Acts 21 we read, “Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.”

Why do you believe Paul and his infallible teaching when he has shown himself to be such a bad example in various ways? Why do you hold his successors to a higher standard?"


From Steve Ray's "Does the Church have to be Perfect to be Infallible?"

Nate J. said...

Laura,
Your comment illustrates precisely why we only look to Scripture for our authority - it alone is without error and totally trustworthy. If the pope and the church can be wrong and imperfect as you have just admitted, you are proving the point that the only totally trustworthy authority we have is God's written word - the Bible.

Laura said...

Nate,
No, what I was saying is that God uses imperfect human beings to do His perfect work. He used the apostles, he used Paul. They were all fallible, but yet, you accept that they could do the infallible- write the scriptures. Why accept THEIR infallibility and yet reject the Church's- which Christ established on one of his apostles, Peter? The CHURCH is the foundation and bullwark of the Truth...and was around for centuries before the Bible was. The WORD is more than just the Bible- the Word is Jesus- and includes ALL that He passed on- what got written down AND what was passed on orally. You accept that the Church could infallibly choose which scriptures to include in the Bible and then say that it is unable to interpret them correctly. That doesn't make any sense.

Jeff B said...

When a system so clearly teaches a view of justification foreign to the bible, we must reject that system.

How one is made right before a Just and Holy God will be the most important question you will ever ponder.

Sacramentalism and it's commands to "do this and live" is works based (baptism, penance, etc). Yes there is the element of faith, but the addition of "doing" something to be justified (as Rome clearly teaches) negates grace.

The imputed righteousness of Christ that is ours by faith alone is our only grounds for approval at the bar of God's perfect justice. It is Christ who perfectly fulfilled the law which we could not. It is Christ who paid the debt for sin that we could not. We must believe he is the perfect substitute for us. This is indeed foolishness to men, but this is indeed the good news.

The law says, "do this and live."

Rome maintains: join the church, be baptized, do penance to be justified, etc.

The gospel says, "it is finished in Christ at Calvary."

Believe in Christ and His perfect work. Do not believe your works (baptism, penance) make you justified in God's sight." God has approved the vehicle of faith unto justification of life. The doctrine of justification by faith alone magnifies the finished work of Christ.

Laura said...

I want to make sure I've got this right, please correct me if I've got it wrong:
If I have faith in Jesus I am justified. If I am justified I am justified forever no matter what.

EJ said...

If you have true faith in Christ, you have been justified. I say true faith, because there is a belief that doesn't amount to real faith that doesn't justify.

True faith is evidenced by good works(after the fact) and repentance (the initial "turning" from sin and the ongoing war against it). But yes, if you have true saving faith where you trust in Christ alone for salvation and place trust only in the completed work of Christ (perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection), and no trust in any contemporary work (water baptism, good deeds, etc) have been justified.

The security of the believer is not a license to sin, but that question should come up as it did in Romans. But, if one does continue in willful and rebellious sin, it shows that the "faith" that this person had was never true faith. "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." (1 John 2:19)

If you have been justified, you will not and cannot be unjustified.

Laura said...

So after I am justified and I sin (say that I gossiped), do I have to do anything or is my relationship with God the same as it was before I sinned?

EJ said...

Great question.

The short answer is that your eternal relationship is not affected, but your temporal relationship with God (as well as the crowns that you might receive in heaven) and your evangelistic witness are affected.


When one is justified (born again/from above), all of their sins - past, present, and future - have been forgiven by God. The response of a person who sins after being justified should be similar to Paul in Romans 7.

"For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:19,24)

Another good understanding of how a justified person should respond when he or she sins comes from how Christ and the Church (by Church I believe that the Bible refers to the "called out ones", all people who have been justified by Christ. I realize this differs from the RCC definition, but that is not surprising) are symbolically described as a husband and wife. Christ, the Bride-groom, and the Church as the Bride.

If my wife were to commits adultery, I will not divorce her. She knows this, I have told her so. But she, knowing my patience, love, and forgiveness, does not take this lightly. And if she is truly agonized by her sin (as all people who have been truly justified will be when they sin), her response will not be (a) to sweep it under the rug and not do it again, (b) laugh about it, and be somewhat light-hearted but still try not to do it again, or (c) go out and purposefully commit adultery day after day because she is “secure” in our marriage.

She will come to me and plead for forgiveness, and acknowledge her sin and be horrified at the thought of ever doing that again. It is in that way that our relationship will begin to be restored.

Now, knowing that all analogies limp a little bit, this is a pretty good example of the reaction of the justified person to sinning. The Catholic idea of confession is also not all bad. The distinction is that the act of confession doesn’t accomplish the maintaining or re-attaining of the justified position. It simply is the proper response to the horrible offense that was committed against God.

But again, the justified cannot become unjustified. And the response of a truly justified person will be in ongoing confession and repentance. The sign of someone who has not been justified is to sin willfully without true repentance towards God.

Anonymous said...

One comment I will make on the subject of translating from the Greek. A lexicon is naturally going to reflect the views of the person translating the Greek words to English in order to create the lexicon. You will get different English words depending on whether a Protestant, Catholic, or an ecumenical organization generates the lexicon.

If you were to look up those words from the verses you cite in a Catholic or ecumenical lexicon you would probably see a different English word. Translation is not an exact science. It certainly would be much easier for all of us if it were.

Laura said...

Okay, so you're not considering confession/repentance a work? I don't either.
And I also don't consider the other sacraments to be works. They are the ways in which God imparts His Grace. There is nothing in them about what we do- it's all about Him with the sacraments. They are the "proper response[s]...of a truly justified person." They build up and strengthen our relationship with God.

EJ said...

As a non-Catholic, I am not exactly sure what you meant when you referred to the sacraments by saying, “They are the ways in which God imparts His Grace.”

I am not even concerned (at this point) how you view things after salvation. But do you believe that a person must be sprinkled with or immersed in water in order to be saved? Is this a pre-requisite for Justification? In other words, does a person have this done to them in an unregenerate state and then emerges from this ceremony in a regenerate state?

If you believe the above, it is a works-righteous system. That sounds harsh, but there is no other way to say it softer. In the book of Acts, the word “baptize” (or a form of it) occurs about 19 times, and it seems that the act of baptism either is virtually simultaneous with belief or it follows belief and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Infant baptism as practiced by the RCC puts baptism prior to belief necessarily because babies express belief.

I know that one objection to my premise is that whole households were baptized and that could have or did in fact include children. My response to that objection is not to dismiss it out of hand, but to say that (at the very least), those passages do not say that children were baptized, so it is ambiguous and we must use non-ambiguous passages to clarify the issue.

If no “good” act is not one that is honoring/loving God or loving our neighbor and thus falling under the umbrella of the Law, and man is not justified by works of the Law, then baptism cannot and does not do anything…it is simply a symbolic way of identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection and saying to the world that I need to be in Christ because of my sin.

Laura said...

EJ,
I'll try to answer your questions.

"Do you believe that a person MUST be sprinkled with or immersed in water in order to be saved?"

No, and the Catholic Church does not teach this. You can use the thief on the cross example -a favorite of all of yours! ;-) The Church teaches that if there are severe impediments to you receiving the sacrament of baptism, like being hung on a cross, but you still desire to be baptized, there is a 'baptism of intent.' If you were on your way to be baptized and then got hit by a bus and died while crossing the street, you're still in the club. The intent is there. However, if you KNOW that you should be baptized and have the opportunity to, you must. (see CCC #1257: The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments, 1271, 1272, 1213: "Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word." 1277 Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.)

CCC 1213 answers your question about regeneration.

“If you believe the above, it is a works-righteous system.”

No, and here’s why: (a story from Jimmy Akin http://www.cin.org/users/james/questions/q021.htm)
A physician came to us (his wife and him) and said, "Renee, there are a lot of malignant tumors, and they will kill you if we don't do something about them. I have found a treatment which will take them all away. It is a very, very costly treatment, and I know you don't have the ability to pay, so I will pay the fees for you out of my own pocket. All you have to do is let us lower you into a tank of medicinal fluid and all of those tumors will melt away, and you will live."
Would we say that Renee had earned her healing merely by allowing herself to be bathed in healing waters? She hadn't paid the doctor one red cent. In fact, he paid all the fees out of his own pocket! Renee merely submitted to the treatment. The whole idea that she had earned her healing would be absurd.
How much more absurd is it to say that baptism earns salvation when Jesus, the Great Physician, comes to us and says, "Friend, you have multiple sins clinging to your soul, and they will cause you to be lost if we do not do something about them. I have a treatment which will take them all away. It is a very, very costly treatment, and I know that you do not have the ability to pay. So I--Jesus--will pay the entire price myself. All you have to do is allow yourself to be lowered into a tank of water and all those sins will melt away, and you will live forever."
Simply getting wet does not in any way pay for or earn eternal life. Eternal life is a gift--a gift which Christ has chosen to bestow on us through baptism. Allowing ourselves to be baptized is a passive act; one does not baptize oneself, after all, symbolizing that eternal life is something given to you from outside, not something you reach out and take. It is simply the way we submit to Christ and receive his gift. Baptism earns nothing, and the idea it does is patently absurd. The very structure of baptism is set up to heighten the sense of humility and submission to God and his gift. Only a person with a big, BIG doctrinal ax to grind could possibly twist it into some kind of self-righteous attempt to "earn" salvation by the force of our works.

//Because I can’t baptize myself, it’s not something that I do. It is God’s Grace being poured out on me in the form of water. God loves using the physical world to show us about himself. He does it all the time- and baptism is one such instance.

Babies can be baptized because they have original sin. They have not yet committed any sins, but they are born with the stain of original sin. Baptism washes away this original sin. It is of course VERY important that the child is then brought up in a Christian home and taught the faith- for there will come a time when the child will be able to make a personal commitment to follow Jesus. (seen officially in the sacrament of confirmation)

“[baptism] is simply a symbolic way of identifying with Christ in His death and resurrection and saying to the world that I need to be in Christ because of my sin.”

Yes-ish. Baptism is a sacrament- but not “simply symbolic”..it is VERY real. Sacraments are outward signs of inward grace, instituted by Christ for our sanctification. Baptism identifies us as Christ’s Own Forever and washes away our sin. It’s not our showing up for our baptism that does something- it’s Christ’s Grace flowing through the water that does it all. No work on our part. He does it all.

Another site to look at is this one, on "being saved": http://www.cin.org/users/james/questions/q022.htm

EJ said...

Laura,

First of all, let me tell you that I truly appreciate the attitude that you bring to our discussion. The only way that ideas and theologies can be discussed intelligently is when those involved in the discussion are fair, honest, and willing to give-and-take while looking at the issues. So, thank you. This is enjoyable.

That being said, I want to address a few of the things that you said in your comment, but I would like to preface it with this question. When the bible uses the word baptize, is it always talking about the water ceremony that we practice today by sprinkling with or immersing in water? I only ask this because it is crucial to our contemporary understanding of the role of baptism.

Again, I will address the issues that you raised from the CCC in your previous comment, but I would like to have you answer the baptism question first, please.

Laura said...

Thanks, EJ.

Is the Bible always talking about baptism with water? Yes.

Mark 10:38-39,
38: But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?"
39: And they said to him, "We are able." And Jesus said to them, "The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized;"

He is relating his death and resurrection to what baptism with water (and the Holy Spirit) is- dying to sin/ourselves and rising again in new life with him.

Romans 6:3-9 goes into this:
3: Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
4: We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5: For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
6: We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
7: For he who has died is freed from sin.
8: But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
9: For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.

In all the cases of people being baptized (and there are lots!), it is always done with water.

EJ said...

Laura,

I have almost completed my response. Thank you for your patience.

EJ said...

Laura,

On Mark 10 and the use of “baptize”:

Jesus was referring to His suffering and death in Mark 10:39, but he used the term baptism. First of all, He wasn’t referring to being dipped into water in Jerusalem (He had already been baptized in water by John). Secondly, the disciples (I believe) had already been baptized at this time. So, without going further than this, the biblical texts do use the word baptize primarily as referring to the act that we call baptism, but not exclusively. I say this to make only this point at this time – to say that the word “baptize” always means a water ceremony is not true. So, with that we need to investigate the word further.

Furthermore, if baptism always means a water ceremony, then how will Christ “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16)? How is one to be immersed in fire that is a water ceremony? I do not understand the verse in that way, but that is partially because I understand that the word “baptize” doesn’t always refer specifically to the water ceremony of dipping someone in water. Also, I say this not to be silly, but if we are to believe and understand that “baptism” always…always…always refers to a water ceremony, then we must come to that conclusion at the extreme torture of the clear meaning of (at least) these texts.

Furthermore, the Romans passage that you quoted is a truly glorious passage! I love it. For here, we see the beauty of the gospel that if we have been baptized into His death, we shall certainly be united with Him in resurrection! Paul is making a distinction here, because all people will be resurrected (some to be condemned and some to go to eternal life), but if we are with Christ – we will be in heaven. We can be sure of it – that is our salvation - and the Bible is clear about it!

I asked, “But do you believe that a person must be sprinkled with or immersed in water in order to be saved?” And you verified later that the word “baptism” is always referring to a water ceremony.

You answered, “No, and the Catholic Church does not teach this.” You then went on to discuss the theif on the cross and baptism by intent.

But – you then quoted the CCC “The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.” (1257) Furthermore, it also puts baptism as the response to the hearing, and necessarily having faith in, the gospel. Even more bold is the statement, “The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude.” (1257) If baptism “assures” eternal life (I don’t know what other meaning the “eternal beatitude” can have) then all of those who have been baptized into the Catholic Church as infants, children, or adults have no worries what-so-ever of hell. Because they are assured of heaven!

I believe that once a person is saved, that person will never lose salvation, but I always understood this to be a hated protestant doctrine that Catholics disagree with. But how can one come to any other conclusion than a secure salvation with CCC 1257 and Romans 6:3-9 (just using your citations, no others). But if we are saved and securely saved and assured of heaven because baptism (usually done to infants), then you are indeed saved by works because, “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word. (1277) Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.”

While I understand your objection to calling Roman Catholicism a works-righteous system, I will maintain the stance. A good working definition of “works righteousness“ is defined as the belief that “one's standing before God is founded and maintained by works of merit.” And the work of baptism falls under this category. And it seems to be a fair representation of how the RCC views baptism based on the CCC.

Laura said...

EJ,

"how will Christ “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16)?"

When John the Baptist baptised on the banks of the Jordan River, he was preaching the Baptism of water which is a Baptism of repentance. [Mt. 3:6] In that case, the Baptism was an outward sign, a profession of faith, on the part of the believer that he was repenting of his sins, giving his life to God. (C.C.C. # 720)

John preached that the Baptism of Jesus would be a Baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire. [Mt. 3:11] The Baptism of Jesus that includes water, the Holy Spirit and fire, represent four things that happen in the following order:

First of all, the Sacrament of Baptism by water reflects the believer's sincere repentance, his turning away from sin and giving his life to God. It is the public profession of faith that one now belongs to Jesus. (C.C.C. # 1427)

Secondly, through faith in Jesus Christ and the Sacrament of Baptism, the believer receives his new heart and spirit in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This happens at the moment when the Priest baptizes the new convert by saying the baptismal words and sprinkling the water. At this moment, a supernatural event takes place within the person, the old heart and human spirit being replaced by the new creation. [Gal. 6:15] This is the most beautiful gift that a person can receive during his life!

Thirdly, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit has descended on the Christian to dwell within his physical body, coexisting with the new heart and spirit. Now the believer begins to feel a growing burning desire for Jesus, being drawn towards God by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, through the Baptism by fire, the new Christian accepts the purification of the Holy Spirit. (C.C.C. # 1227) This process of being purified provides the new creation with the necessary additional strength to gain control of the physical body. During this process of sanctification, the Christian shines in the fruit of the Holy Spirit through Jesus, displaying love towards God and others.

Following the receiving of the Sacrament of Baptism, many things happen such as the believer receiving the fruit of the Spirit, one or more spiritual gifts, being justified, receiving moral virtues and theological virtues to know God (C.C.C. # 1266), all of these being received from the Holy Spirit.
(from http://www.catholicdoors.com/courses/baptism.htm)

Also, Those who have held that "water" in the Gospel text is to be taken metaphorically, appeal to the words of the Precursor (Matthew 3, "He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost and fire". As "fire" must certainly be only a figure of speech here, so must "water" in the other texts. To this objection, it may be replied that the Christian Church, or at least the Apostles themselves, must have understood what was prescribed to be taken literally and what figuratively. The New Testament and church history prove that they never looked on fire as a material for baptism, while they certainly did require water. Outside of the insignificant sects of Seleucians and Hermians, not even heretics took the word "fire" in this text in its literal meaning. We may remark, however, that some of the Fathers, as St. John Damascene, concede this statement of the Baptist to have a literal fulfillment in the Pentecostal fiery tongues. They do not refer it, however, literally to baptism. That water alone is the necessary matter of this sacrament depends of course on the will of Him Who instituted it, although theologians discover many reasons why it should have been chosen in preference to other liquids. The most obvious of these is that water cleanses and purifies more perfectly than the others, and hence the symbolism is more natural.
(from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02258b.htm)

And...CCC 696 Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who "arose like fire" and whose "word burned like a torch," brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a "figure" of the fire of the Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes "before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah," proclaims Christ as the one who "will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Jesus will say of the Spirit: "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!" In the form of tongues "as of fire," the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit's actions. "Do not quench the Spirit."

//
"If baptism “assures” eternal life (I don’t know what other meaning the “eternal beatitude” can have) then all of those who have been baptized into the Catholic Church as infants, children, or adults have no worries what-so-ever of hell. Because they are assured of heaven!"

This is contingent on being in the grace of God (not in unrepented mortal sin) when you die.

CCC 1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire." The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

CCC 1854 Sins are rightly evaluated according to their gravity. The distinction between mortal and venial sin, already evident in Scripture, became part of the tradition of the Church. It is corroborated by human experience.

CCC 1874 To choose deliberately - that is, both knowing it and willing it - something gravely contrary to the divine law and to the ultimate end of man is to commit a mortal sin. This destroys in us the charity without which eternal beatitude is impossible. Unrepented, it brings eternal death.

Baptism washes away Original Sin and all sins committed prior to the baptism, but you still have to repent of the sins you commit afterwards to stay in the friendship of God.

//
"But if we are saved and securely saved and assured of heaven because baptism (usually done to infants), then you are indeed saved by works because, “Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word. (1277) Baptism is birth into the new life in Christ. In accordance with the Lord's will, it is necessary for salvation, as is the Church herself, which we enter by Baptism.”

I'm not sure how you consider this to still be a work. Jesus said "Get baptized!" (in a few more words.. :-)) So...we get baptized. But we do not baptize ourselves- it is done by someone else, who is merely working through God. Did you read the analogy by Jimmy Akin? Where did that break down for you that you still think that baptism is a work? I mean, I was 9 when I was baptized. I just stood there, and God did the work. I accepted Jesus and believed that He is my Savior. I was born again as one of his disciples.
//

"A good working definition of “works righteousness“ is defined as the belief that “one's standing before God is founded and maintained by works of merit.” And the work of baptism falls under this category."

How did I merit baptism? I didn't! I was and am a sinner...but God, through His Grace, has decided to let me become a member of His family. I didn't baptize myself- God baptized me! I was merely following Jesus' command when I stood there that day and was baptized with water and His Holy Spirit.
Nowhere does the Catholic Church teach that we are saved by works. If that's what you see, then...well, I don't know what else to tell you. We are saved by God's Grace Alone. And His Grace was imparted to me and all others who were baptized in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

EJ said...

Laura,

Thank you kindly for your response, I only wish that others with whom I have dialogued would be as fair and open in a discussion as you have been.

However, you did not address the fact that Christ said that He was going to be baptized and was referring to His literal death…not being dipped in water. I assume that the Catholic answer is that this is an exception and we are to see it as a metaphor and not actually as the water ceremony.

It is possible that the stressing of the effectual aspect of the ceremony is what brings out the accusation of works righteousness. I believe that man is justified by faith, and that the supernatural work of God done in saving sinners is not bound to any physical act other than the actual and singular historic event of Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection. Baptism, the Eucharist, and other sacraments don’t “do” anything, all of the “doing” has been completed in the past by the work of Christ.

I just finished a bible study on the book of Titus. Basically, Titus is a great extended Pauline admonition for Titus and the Christians under his care to do good deeds. You could summarize the book by looking at Titus 3:8 “This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”

In the book, there are only a handful of verses (less than 10) that don’t explicitly or implicitly refer to outward good works. However, Paul says that if you’re pure, all that you do is pure, but if you’re defiled and unbelieving (as the Judaizers to whom he was referring to were not pure) noting is pure (Titus 1:15). Then he makes a statement about those teachers and says that they deny Him by their deeds (v.16) because their mind and consciences are defiled…not the other way around. And if it were unclear about the cause of salvation, Paul makes it clear that we are not saved by deeds done in righteousness (I still hold that Baptism – if it is the means by which one is saved – is a deed done in righteousness, because it would be a good or pleasing deed), but by mercy (Titus 3:5).

If Paul were going to make the point that we are not justified by faith alone, but by our faith working through love, then one of the main theological “nuggets” in this otherwise applicational book would logically have been geared more like James 2 because the whole book is about the “works” of those who are saved.

I know that I am not going to convince you, because it is only God that can open anyone’s eyes. I do appreciate you articulating how you understand Catholicism, and what it teaches about the sacraments.

I firmly believe with all of my heart that if anyone believes that saving grace is distributed by actions done by humans (you or another person working for or with you), then grace is not grace. And if one believes that it is through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the other sacraments that one is saved and kept in Christ, then it seems to me that this same person is not saved. For we are justified by faith, and it is by faith that the believer has peace with God (Romans 5:1 and also see the many references on the main article here to see the weight of the Bible’s stress on faith alone in salvation).

I say this in Christian love, for nothing is more loving that the truth. It is never fun to be told that you are wrong or to be told that the path that you are on seems to be the wide road leading to destruction where many will cry, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

Those who hold on to what they have done and try to claim that before God will find that their works as well as the faith that they had were not saving.

Laura said...

“However, you did not address the fact that Christ said that He was going to be baptized and was referring to His literal death…not being dipped in water. I assume that the Catholic answer is that this is an exception and we are to see it as a metaphor and not actually as the water ceremony.”

Sorry, I thought I had addressed it earlier. Just as Jesus had no real need to be baptized, for He was without sin, He was showing us what happens in baptism. (Water and the Holy Spirit) It is the same thing when He talks about baptism relating to His death- we die to our sins (like Jesus’ actual death for our sins) and rise again to new life with Him (the Resurrection). Being submersed in the water is dying to our sins, and rising out of the water we have new life, cleansed with the water and Holy Spirit, through Jesus’ blood spilled on the cross.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?
By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
For he who has died is freed from sin.
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.
For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him.
The death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God.
Romans 6:1-10

//
“I believe that man is justified by faith” and

“I firmly believe with all of my heart that if anyone believes that saving grace is distributed by actions done by humans (you or another person working for or with you), then grace is not grace. And if one believes that it is through the Sacrament of Baptism, the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and the other sacraments that one is saved and kept in Christ, then it seems to me that this same person is not saved. For we are justified by faith, and it is by faith that the believer has peace with God (Romans 5:1 and also see the many references on the main article here to see the weight of the Bible’s stress on faith alone in salvation).”

Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the Holy Ghost. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, whomsoever the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:38-39

And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name. Acts 22:16

I will pour upon you clean water, and you shall be cleansed from all your filthiness Ezekiel 36:25

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16

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,
which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Titus 3:5-7

Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." John 3:5

…But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. 1 Cor 6:11

Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ 1 Peter 3:21

What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?
If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food,
and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?
So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But some one will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe -- and shudder.
Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
James 2:14-26

Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood… Romans 5:9

"Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day." John 6:54

I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. Matthew 12:36-37

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 2:13

It appears that we are justified by MORE than just our faith. Of course faith has something to do with it…but there is more!

I must bow out here..I've got a lot to do the rest of the week and weekend. And you're right, you won't convince me of your position. I'm going to stick with the 2000 years of clear teaching from the Catholic Church- the pillar and bullwark of the Truth.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson