Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #115

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

Hey folks, please pray for a little girl named Breigh Gallagher and ask others to pray for her as well. She really needs a miracle. And please keep her parents and family in your prayers as well. The email below was sent to me by one of the folks who receives this newsletter. She knows someone in this family personally.

“This past week Breigh underwent a treatment to ‘debread’ her skin. She had this done before back in Danville. The lesions that have developed could have become gangrenous. The procedure has left her with tremendous pain and the morphine is causing unbelievable itching. She has been diagnosed with a type of morphea. The doctors are puzzled because of the rarity of this disease. There is no cure and it is aggressive. She is so young, 10, and suffering so.

Today the doctors are going to talk with a doctor at Duke University to evaluate Breigh for a bone marrow transplant to see if she is even to be considered for this. It may be our only avenue. The emotional pain has been undescribable for our family, having lost Eddie to a rare form of cancer and now this. Where is the consolation?

I read an article of a child who prayed at the tomb of Pope John Paul II. I would take her but her condition is very bad. Could Jesus come to her? Yes, He can and may He be merciful. Please pray for our family. Eddie and Amy, Breigh’s parents, are good and strong for Breigh, but as any parents they hide their sorrow from her. Thank you. Elaine Gallagher”


This week is sort of a repeat of last week’s newsletter. Last week I sent the 1st half of the “Perspective from Scripture” in regards to Sola Fide. As I was writing the 2nd half, I just didn’t like the way the two halves fit together, so I re-wrote the first half. So, instead of giving you just the 2nd half of the “Perspective from Scripture,” I’ve included the whole thing – the re-write of the 1st half plus the 2nd half that I wrote this week.

For those familiar with my talk on Sola Fide, a lot of this may seem familiar, but this is an expanded version. I hope it flows well. By the way, it’s late in the day when I’m sending this and I need to get home, so I didn’t have time for a final proofread after I transferred everything from Word into the newsletter format. Sometimes things get messed up – fonts and margins and such – so if there are paragraphs out of whack and what not, please let me know.

Also, this one is a little long, because there is just so much Scripture that argues against Sola Fide. Someone made a good suggestion, which I’ll implement before I publish the book, to put some minor headings throughout the chapter to break things up a bit.


The Perspective Provided by Scripture:

The Catholic Church teaches that we are saved by God’s grace alone.  It also teaches, however, that the human response to God’s grace which is necessary for our salvation must include faith and works; but that the faith and the works necessary for our salvation are both the result of God’s grace.  We cannot do anything without God’s grace.  We cannot have faith without God’s grace.  We cannot accomplish good works without God’s grace.  

God will not, however, force faith upon us and will not force good works upon us.   Therefore, it can truly be said that faith and works are the works of man, but since they are done only be the grace of God, it can also be truly said that faith and works are the works of God – God working in and through man.   

Both faith and works are preceded by God’s grace, accompanied by God’s grace, and followed by God’s grace.  Again, both Catholic and Protestant believe in salvation by grace alone.  The major difference between the two theological systems is that those who champion the doctrine of Sola Fide believe that God’s righteousness is “imputed” to us, we are declared righteous in a legal sense, through our faith “alone”.   

The Catholic, though, believes that through faith, and the works that “perfect” faith (James 2:22 [KJV]), God doesn’t just declare us righteous, He actually makes us righteous.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 3:18, “We all…are being changed into His likeness from one degree of glory to another.”  It doesn’t say we have been legally declared His likeness, it says we are being changed into His likeness, changed until “Christ be formed in [us],” (Gal 4:19).    

We believe, therefore, that works are a necessary part of our salvation, but we do not teach a doctrine of “Salvation by Works” as Catholics are often accused of doing.  To quote a couple of sources that fairly represent the Church’s official teaching in this regard:

Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #161: “Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent Him is necessary for obtaining that salvation.  ‘Since without faith it is impossible to please [God] and to attain to the fellowship of His sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification.”   

Council of Trent: “We are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God…we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification,” (Denzinger, p. 252).

I could give many more quotes from Catholic teaching, but these two suffice to show that Catholics believe faith is necessary for salvation and that we do not believe we can “work” our way into Heaven.  We do not teach “Salvation by Works.”  Just as we do not teach, nor does the Bible, “Salvation by Faith Alone.”     

The question remains, though, as to why Protestants believe in “Salvation by Faith Alone?”  Why do they believe that it is faith, and faith alone, that saves us?  First, they believe in Sola Fide because that is their faith tradition, and traditions run deep – whether you are Catholic or Protestant.  But, as Catholics, we have to remember it is just that – a tradition.  A man-made tradition.  A man-made tradition that is only about 500-years old.  

The second reason Protestants believe in salvation by faith alone, is that there are several Scripture verses which, at first reading, seem to make a very good case for that particular doctrine.  They make such a good case, in fact, that they have been used over and over again to pull many Catholics out of the Church.  Here are a few of those verses:

Gal 3:11 “Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for He who through faith is righteous shall live.”    

(Note: the word “justified,” for our purposes here, essentially means the same thing as the word “saved”.  Justified = saved; justification = salvation.)

Gal 3:24 “…the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.”  

Rom 3:28 “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.”

Rom 10:9-10 “…because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  
Acts 16:30-31 “[And the jailer asked], ‘What must I do to be saved?’  And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…’”

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”  
1 Jn 5:13 “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”

Eph 2:8-9 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.”   

These passages, and several others, seem to shed a pretty dim light on the idea that works have anything to do with our salvation.  So, as Catholics, how should we respond when someone quotes one or more of these Scripture passages to us?  “AMEN!  I believe!”  As Catholics, we believe every single one of those Scripture passages.  Every single one!  However, notice very carefully, that nowhere – not one single time – in any of those passages does it say we are saved or justified by faith “alone,” or by believing “alone.”  That word “alone” is simply not there!  

So, as Catholics, while we do indeed believe each and every one of those verses, we do not, however, believe in the private, fallible, and non-authoritative interpretation of those verses that renders them as saying: faith “alone,” or believing “alone.”  

First of all, as I pointed out in the “Perspective Provided by Logic,” the doctrine of Sola Fide is patently absurd on the face of it since the act of believing is, in and of itself, a work.  Simple logic says so, but Scripture itself also says so.  John 6:27-29, “‘Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you’…Then they said to Him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him Whom He has sent.’”

Jesus tells His listeners that they should “labor” for the food which endures to eternal life.  If Sola Fide is true, why is He telling them to labor for anything in regard to eternal life?  Then, when they ask what they must “do” to be doing the works of God, what does Jesus say?  He says that believing in Him is the work of God that they must do.  Believing is a work, according to Jesus Christ.  

Some will say, “Wait a minute, John, Jesus says that believing is a work of God, not a work of man.”  Leaving aside for a moment the question of whose work it is, it needs to be pointed out that the Word of God very clearly states that the act of believing is a work.  Which is the point I’ve been making.  Now, once we’ve made the point, using the Bible, that believing is indeed a work, then the question becomes, whose work is it?  Is it a work of God, a work of man, or a work of God and man?  

It is indeed a work of God, but, as the context of John 6:27-29 clearly shows, it is a work that God does through man and with man’s cooperation.  Jesus tells the people to labor for the food that endures to eternal life.  The people obviously want to follow Jesus’ instructions, so they ask him what it is they have to do.  Did Jesus say, “Why do you ask what work you can do?  Do you not know that you can do no work to receive the food which endures to eternal life?”  No!  That would be a pretty ridiculous thing for Him to say right after He told them they needed to “labor” for that very food.  

So, this “work of God” being spoken of here, believing in Jesus Christ, is a work that man does.  The act of believing is a work of man, but a work of man by the grace of God.  God’s work through man; man’s work, by God.  

Secondly, after establishing, from Scripture, that the act of having faith – the act of believing – is itself a work, which thereby renders the doctrine of Sola Fide as being a logical contradiction, I wish to point out once more that in not a single one of the supposedly “Sola Fide” verses mentioned above – not in a single one of those verses – do we find the word “alone.”  Those verses talk about the necessity of faith, the necessity of believing, but they do not say “faith alone” or “believing alone.”  

In fact, nowhere in all of Scripture does it say that we are saved, or justified, by faith alone.  Nowhere!  This is a very important point to remember, especially in light of all of the following Scripture verses:

James 2:14; “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?  Can his faith save him?”  The Sola Fide answer is: “Yes!”  How does James answer this question?  Take a look at verse 17: “So faith, by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”  Dead!  Can dead faith save a person?  No, it can’t.  Yet, many Christians would answer James’ question here in chapter 2, verse14 by saying that, “Yes,” their faith can save them, even if they have no works.  

Moving on a few more verses to James 2:19-20, “You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe – and shudder.  Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren?”  Or, as the KJV puts it, “…faith without works is dead?”  Notice what it says: “Even the demons believe.”  Does believing alone save the demons?  No!  And, think about this as well: If faith without works is barren, or dead, as it tells us in this passage, then aren’t works therefore necessary to complete faith or to perfect faith?  

James 2:22 tells us they are.  James 2:21-23: “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’” Faith and works.

Please take note: Scripture tells us that faith is completed by works.  Or, again, as the KJV states it, faith is “made perfect” by works.  If faith alone is necessary, then how can faith be completed, or perfected, by works?  Wouldn’t we need a complete faith, a perfect faith, rather than an incomplete or imperfect faith to be saved?  And do you see how verse 21 says Abraham was justified by works and verse 23 says “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness?”  He believed and he did.   Verse 21 is not in opposition to verse 23, it complements it.  Faith and works.

Continuing on in James chapter 2, verse 24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”  This is the only place in all of Scripture where the words “faith” and “alone” appear together, and it is to say that we are NOT justified by faith alone.  How can anyone say that they believe in Scripture as the sole authority of faith; yet, they don’t believe Scripture when it very plainly says we are not justified by faith alone?!  Why would the Holy Spirit have Scripture record the exact opposite of what He really means to say?  

James 2:25-26, “And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works..?”  How can she be justified by works, if works have no role in our salvation?

Are you starting to get an idea of why Martin Luther threw the Book of James out of his version of the Bible?  And, even after he put it back in, he referred to it as an “epistle of straw”.  Can you imagine what non-Catholic Christians would say if the Pope referred to any book of the Bible as an “epistle of straw”?  Yet, that’s exactly what Martin Luther did.

Now, in order to get around these passages from the Book of James, passages which very directly and very thoroughly refute the doctrine of “Salvation by Faith Alone”, a false distinction is often made by Sola Fide believers between the “faith” James is talking about and the “faith” Paul is talking about in the Book of Romans.  They call the faith Paul is talking about a “true” faith, a “saving” faith, a “justifying” faith; whereas, they say the faith James is talking about is either an “intellectual” faith, one which does not save; or, they might say it is a “sanctifying” faith – which is a purifying faith, but not a “justifying” faith – which is a saving faith.  

Your first question, should you ever hear that distinction being made between the “faith” of James and the “faith” of Paul, should be, “Where in the Bible does it say that?”  Quick answer – it doesn’t.  Your second question should be, “If James is talking about a sanctifying faith, then why does he use the word justify?”  Didn’t he know the difference?  As a matter of fact, we can be sure that James and Paul are talking about the same type of faith because they both quote the same O.T. passage about Abraham’s faith – Gen 15:6.  They are both talking about the same kind of faith Abraham had.  Paul in Rom 4:3, and James in Ch. 2, verse 23.  

Another way many try to get around the second chapter of James is by pointing to James 2:14, which says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?”  They’ll say, “See, James is talking about a man who “says” he has faith, but really doesn’t.”  They argue that faith is always accompanied by works and so if one doesn’t have the works to “show forth” their faith, then they really don’t have faith.  

You see, even though many Protestants believe in salvation by faith alone, they still believe works are very important.  They believe, quite rightly, that works “show forth” one’s faith.  They also believe, however, that having faith always leads to a person doing good works.  If the person doesn’t do good works, then it’s a sign that they don’t really have faith.  As they say, “Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone.”  

To respond to this argument, you need to first note that nowhere does James say that this man really doesn’t have faith.  That is an interpretation that is not supported by the text.  After all, do the following verses talk about someone who doesn’t have faith -  someone who doesn’t really believe?  No.  The following verses talk about those that have faith, or those that believe – just like the demons believe – but have not works.  In context, verse 14 is not referring to someone who “says” he has faith but really doesn’t, it is referring to someone who has faith, but who doesn’t have works.  

The second point to make, is that nowhere does the Bible say that faith without works really isn’t faith.  In fact, the Bible actually tells us the exact opposite, right there in James, chapter 2.  Does verse 17 say that faith without works really isn’t faith?  No!  It says that faith without works is “dead.”  In the KJV, verse 17 states that faith, “being alone,” is dead.  The KJV states very plainly that faith alone is dead faith, it cannot save you.  

Staying with the KJV, verse 20, as I’ve already mentioned, says that faith, without works, is dead.  It doesn’t say faith without works isn’t really faith, it says it is dead faith.  

That brings us to verse 26.  I absolutely love James 2:26.  This is a verse that every Catholic ought to have memorized: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”  This is a nifty little analogy that I love pointing out to anyone who says that faith without works really isn’t faith.  

The analogy is that works are to faith, as the spirit is to the body.  Just as a body without a spirit is a dead body, so faith without works is a dead faith.  I always ask the question, “Are the bodies down at the morgue real bodies or not?”  Yes, they are real bodies, but they are real dead bodies.  Just so faith without works is indeed real faith, but it is real dead faith.  This verse makes abundantly clear, as both body and spirit are necessary for physical life, then, for the analogy to hold, both faith and works are necessary for spiritual life.  Just as the body alone does not give physical life, so faith alone does not give spiritual life.  

I have asked dozens upon dozens of Sola Fide adherents to give me their interpretation of James 2:26 without ever receiving a single response.  I have even tried to make it  easy for them by giving them the interpretation I think they would make, based upon our dialogues, and simply asked them to say, “Yes, that’s how I would interpret that verse,” or “No, that’s not how I would interpret that verse.”  They will not even give me a “yes” or a “no.”  

I’ll ask them, for example, does this verse mean: “Just as the body without the spirit is a pseudo-body, but not a real body, so faith without works is an intellectual faith but not a real faith?”  Or: “Just as the spirit shows forth the body so works show forth faith?”  Or: “Just as a man says he has a body but if he doesn’t have a spirit then he doesn’t really have a body, so if a man says he has faith but has no works he doesn’t really have faith?”  In other words, I take their own words, when they try to explain away what it says in James 2:17, 20, 21, 22, 24, and 25, and I do my best to fit those words into the analogy in James 2:26.  As you can see, they don’t fit so well.  On the other hand, the Catholic interpretation of all of these verses fits perfectly into the analogy in James 2:26.  

Let’s now venture outside of the Letter of James and look to see if there are other Scriptures that refute this doctrine of Sola Fide.    

1 Cor 13:13, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”  Under a Sola Fide theological system, that verse makes no sense.  If salvation is the greatest thing we can achieve, and the only way we can achieve it is through faith alone, then shouldn’t faith be greater than love?  If love is greater than faith, how can anyone say we are saved by faith alone?  

This question is especially pertinent in light of 1 Cor 13:2, which says: “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing!”  How can he be “nothing” if he has all faith?  Isn’t he then a child of God?  Isn’t he saved?  No, Paul makes it very clear here, and in other places, that love is necessary for salvation.  And if love is necessary for salvation, then we cannot be saved by faith alone!

Gal 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.”  Faith working through love.  Again, we see love is necessary for salvation, and that faith “works” through love.  Faith and works, just as the Catholic Church teaches.

1 Jn 3:23-24, “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…”  We have to believe (faith) and love one another (works)!  And remember, this is His commandment!  It is not His suggestion.  It is not optional.  Faith and works, just as the Catholic Church teaches.

Mt 6:15, “…but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”  Ask someone who believes in Sola Fide if they can be saved if their sins are not forgiven.  They should say, “No.”  Then ask them if forgiving the sins that others commit against you is a work or an act of faith.  They should say, “It’s a work.”  Then take them to Matthew 6:15 and put it all together.  Jesus says our sins will not be forgiven unless we forgive the sins of others, which is a work.  If our sins are not forgiven, we cannot be saved.  Which means we cannot be saved if we do not do the work of forgiving others of the sins they have committed against us.  Salvation by faith alone?  Not here.  

Mt 7:21, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father…” Wait a minute, that’s not right, is it?  I thought it was faith alone that gets us into Heaven?  What is all this about doing the will of the Father?  That would fall in the category of works, would it not?

Rom 2:6-7, “For He will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”  I do believe “patience in well-doing,” which Paul says leads to eternal life, would fall into the category of works.  

Lk 9:23,  “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up His cross daily and follow me.”  Where is Jesus?  In Heaven.  If we want to follow after Him to Heaven, what do we have to do – just have faith alone?  No.  We have to: 1) deny ourselves – a work, and; 2) take up our cross daily – a whole lot of works!  

Mt 19:16-17, “And behold, one came up to [Jesus] saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?…’If you would enter life [Jesus said], keep the commandments.’”  The only time Jesus is directly asked the question about what a person must do to have eternal life, and what does He say?  “Believe in Me?”  No.  “Have faith in Me?”  No.  “You can do no good deeds to inherit eternal life?”  No.  Jesus said, “Keep the commandments.”  Works.  

Imagine asking a Protestant minister who believes in Sola Fide the question, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  Do you think that minister would ever answer you as Jesus answered the rich young man in Matthew?  No, he wouldn’t.  Which means that minister is not on the same page as Jesus.  

I’ll get into even more Scripture verses momentarily, but I want to pause here and go  back to the verses that I gave you earlier which seem to suggest the Protestant doctrine of Salvation by Faith Alone, and pair each of those verses with another Scripture verse so that you can get a feel for why the Church teaches both faith and works, rather than just faith alone.  And remember, Scripture cannot contradict itself.  These passsages  complement, not contradict, each other.  You have to take all of the Bible into consideration to get the full context of any particular verse or passage:

1) Gal 3:11, “Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’”  

2) Rom 2:13, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”    Faith and Works!

1) Gal 3:24, “…the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.”

2) James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”  Faith and Works!

1) Rom 3:28, “For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law.”

2) James 2:20, “Do you want to be shown, you foolish fellow, that faith apart from works is barren?  Faith and Works!

1) Rom 10:9-10, “…because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

2) Mt 7:21, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father…” Faith and Works!

1) Acts 16:30-31, “[And the jailer asked], ‘What must I do to be saved?’  And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…’”

2) Mt 19:16-17, “And behold, one came up to [Jesus] saying, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?…If you would enter life [Jesus said], keep the commandments.”  Faith and Works!

1) Jn 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

2) Heb 12:14,“Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”  Faith and Works!

1) 1 Jn 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life…”

2) Phil 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…”  Faith and Works!

1) Eph 2:8-9, “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.

People tend to overlook the fact that Paul, who wrote Eph 2:8-9, also wrote Eph 2:10.

2) Eph 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  Faith and Works!

I want to expand on these last two from Ephesians, chapter 2.  Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9 are probably the two verses I hear the most when someone is trying to justify Sola Fide from the Bible.  “See,” they say, “we are saved through faith, and not because of works – faith alone!”  

As Catholics, we have nothing at all to fear from these verses.  First of all, as the quote from the Council of Trent that I mentioned earlier states, Catholics believe that we are saved by grace, through faith, and not because of works.  The quote from Trent says that nothing that comes before our justification, whether faith or works, merits the grace of justification.  In other words, neither our faith saves us nor our works, but only God’s grace.  We have access to this grace through faith – our own faith as adults, or our parents’ faith as children.  So we cannot boast of something that we did for our salvation, but only of something that God did for our salvation.  We did not save ourselves, He saved us.  Ephesians 2:8-9, perfectly states Catholic teaching.  

However, as Ephesians 2:10 points out, God has prepared good works for us beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Or, as it says in the KJV, “…unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  God has ordained that we do these good works He has prepared for us.  It is His will that we do these good works.  The question is: What if we don’t do them?  Are we still saved?  Not according to Matthew 7:21, “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.”  

God’s will is that we perform these good works that He has prepared for us beforehand.  We must do the will of God in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Therefore, if we do not do these good works that He has prepared for us, we do not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  It’s just that simple.  

Two more sets of Scripture verses that I want to mention in regards to this topic.  Ask any one who believes we are saved by faith alone this question: “Is whether or not we have faith the sole criteria that God uses to judge us as worthy of salvation?  Yes or no?”  

If they answer, “No,” then they obviously agree with you that faith alone doesn’t cut it.  If they answer, “Yes,” however, then ask them why there are so many passages in the Bible that speak of God judging us according to our works, and in which faith is never even mentioned?  For example:

Rev 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every man for what he has done.”

Rev 20:13, “And the sea gave up the dead in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead in them, and all were judged by what they had done.”  

Mt 3:10, “Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Mt 7:19, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

Mt 25:31-46, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”  Those condemned to eternal fire did none of these things.

1 Ptr 1:17, “And if you invoke as Father Him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.”

Rom 2:6, “For He will render to every man according to his works…”

James 2:12-13, “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.  For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy…”

Mt 16:27, “For the Son of Man is to come with His angels in the glory of His Father, and then He will repay every man for what he has done.”

Mt 12:36-37, “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.”

Mt 7:1-2, “Judge not, that you may not be judged.  For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged…”

2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.”

I haven’t gone back and checked every single instance in the New Testament where the word “faith” is used, but I do not recall of any instance where the Scripture tells us that we will be judged by our faith.  Of course, in all of these instances, faith is assumed – as James said, “I by my works will show you my faith” – but isn’t it curious that faith is never specifically mentioned in these passages about judgment, if faith is the sole criteria by which our salvation or damnation is judged?  Why, in all of these passages, and this is not an exhaustive list, are we judged by our works, or lack thereof?  Faith and works, folks, faith and works.  

The other set of Scripture verses I want to discuss, involve verses you will probably be told demonstrate Sola Fide at work in the Bible:  

Luke 23:39-43.  The “good thief” is mentioned in these verses.  He defends Jesus when He is verbally assaulted by the other thief.  Jesus tells him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.”  “See, the good thief did no works, yet he is going to be with Jesus in paradise.  The thief did no works, he wasn’t baptized, or anything else of that nature.  This is a perfect example of salvation by faith alone.”  

Two things to remember: 1) The Old Covenant was still in effect, which means Baptism was not yet necessary for the Jew to be in covenant with God.  Circumcision, however, which was the Old Testament shadow of Baptism, was necessary.  This thief  undoubtedly being a Jew, he was undoubtedly circumcised.

2) What the good thief did on the cross was indeed a work – an extraordinary work!  In excruciating pain; having to push himself up on feet that had a nail running through them in order to take a breath; his lungs filling with fluid; yet he defends Christ against the other thief.  What would have happened if he had kept silent?  Would he still have been saved?  Faith alone?  Not here.

Luke 7:50 – the repentant woman: “Your faith has saved you, go in peace.”  “See, her faith saved her.  Another example of salvation by faith alone.”  If you read this verse in context, however, you will see that her sins were forgiven “for she loved much.”  Is that not a work?  She washed, kissed, and anointed Jesus’ feet with oil.  Are those not works?  If it was her faith alone that saved her, then she should have been saved before she even left her house to seek out Jesus.  Faith alone?  Not here.

Luke 8:48 – the woman with the issue of blood: “Daughter, your faith has made you well.”  Another example of faith alone?  Not hardly.  If she had just stayed at home and believed that Jesus could heal her would she have been healed?  No.  It was only after she put her faith into action, fighting the crowds and actually touching Jesus’ garments that she was made well.  Faith alone?  Not here.  

Mark 2:5 – the healing of the paralytic – “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Forgiveness of sins by faith alone?  No.  The verse says that when Jesus “saw” their faith, He then forgave the man’s sins.  If it was faith alone, then the man’s sins would have been forgiven before his friends carried him down to see Jesus.  It was only after they put their faith into action that their friend’s sins were forgiven.  Faith alone?  Not here. 

Finally, I want to take a look at the verse mentioned in the “Perspective Provided by Logic” – John 19:30.  John 19:30 says the following: “When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished;’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  As I mentioned earlier, many Protestants will point to this verse and say, “See, the work of salvation is finished according to the words of Jesus Himself!”  They reason that since the work is finished, we can do no works to add to what Jesus has done for us, so it has to be faith alone that saves us – our works are of no consequence to our salvation.
However, as I also mentioned previously, this is an interpretation of Jesus’ words – a private, fallible, non-authoritative interpretation – and it is an interpretation that does not fit well with the rest of Scripture.  If this interpretation is correct, then what they are saying is that the Resurrection was not necessary for our salvation!  The Resurrection had not yet taken place; yet, Scripture says in Rom 4:24-25: “…Jesus our Lord, who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”  Jesus had to be raised in order for us to be justified, so, when He said, “It is finished”, He could not have meant, as many Protestants interpret it, that everything necessary for our salvation was finished – because it wasn’t.  Also, 1 Cor 15:17 – “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.”  Christ had to be raised.  The Sola Fide interpretation of this passage, therefore, has to be wrong.

For an interpretation of John 19:30 which fits perfectly with all of Scripture, Old Testament and New, I encourage you to acquire a talk by Dr. Scott Hahn, on CD or DVD, entitled, “The Fourth Cup.”  In this talk, Dr. Hahn explains John 19:30 in light of the Passover meal – Christ’s death on the cross being the fulfillment of the Passover meal.  The sacrificial lamb, none of whose bones were broken, being offered for the salvation of the people.  The “fourth cup” of the Passover meal being the cup Jesus received on the cross right before He said, “It is finished.”  This is an eye-opening, heart-rending, faith-inspiring discourse from Dr. Hahn.  I showed the DVD of this talk to a group of men in a diaconate formation class, and their wives with them, and they gave the DVD a standing ovation!

In Conclusion

As always, your comments are appreciated and will be read and mulled over, even though I will probably not respond to them directly – too many come in for me to give individual responses.

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Apologetics for the Masses