Wednesday, January 27, 2010

“FAITH ALONE” (PART 2)

In part 1, we shared some basic thoughts on the doctrine of “Sola Fide” (faith alone). Today, we will focus on some common Catholic objections to this teaching and see how they hold up. So, let’s jump right in.

CATHOLIC CLAIM – THE DOCTRINE OF “FAITH ALONE” IS NOT FOUND IN THE BIBLE. IN FACT, THE ONLY TIME THE WORDS “FAITH” AND “ALONE” ARE USED TOGETHER IN THE BIBLE IS IN JAMES 2:24, WHERE IT SPECIFICALLY SAYS THAT A MAN IS JUSTIFIED BY WORKS, AND NOT BY FAITH ALONE.

James and Justification

At first, this sounds like a good argument. But the Apostle Paul tells us that a man is justified by faith APART FROM (i.e., WITHOUT) WORKS (Romans 3:28; 4:4-5). Are James and Paul contradicting each other, or is something else going on?

This can be easily cleared up by looking at the CONTEXT in each passage. James is dealing with members of the church who claim to be Christian, yet are not showing the evidence of it. He is asking, “Where is the demonstration of your Christianity? Are you ‘walking the walk’ or just ‘talking the talk’?” James is demanding PROOF of a man’s faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man SAYS he has faith but he has no works?" (Romans 2:14 NASV). "SHOW me your faith without the works, and I will SHOW you my faith by my works" (James 2:18 NASV). It's all about whether one's faith is a true (demonstrable) faith or a dead one.

On the other hand, Paul (in Romans chapter 3, 4, and 5) is specifically dealing with the issue of how a man can be made right in the eyes of God, i.e., how to become justified / saved. So, these are two different contexts altogether. Romans is about achieving justification, James is about demonstrating the proof of your justification.

But, what exactly IS James talking about in chapter 2, when he says a man is “justified” by works? In this context, “justified” means VINDICATED, or PROVEN, in the eyes of men, not God. God already knows if our faith is real. There may be someone in the church who claims to be a Christian, yet demonstrates no evidence of it. If there is no proof of his salvation, why should anyone believe that he is a Christian? But the person is justified in the eyes of man, i.e., vindicated, when he exhibits the fruit of the Spirit in his life (by good works) and other people can see this proof. This same word, “justify / justified” is used in this way (to mean “vindication”) elsewhere in Scripture (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29, 10:29, and 16:15), so Paul’s use of the term “justified” in this way in the context of James 2, makes perfect sense.


CATHOLIC CLAIM - BUT THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BIBLE VERSES THAT TIE SALVATION IN WITH WORKS. WHY DO PROTESTANTS ALWAYS TURN TO ROMANS 3, 4, AND 5?

The “Owner’s Manual” Analogy

Ok, let me ask a simple question. If you were having problems with the headlights on your car, to what section of the owner’s manual would you turn to fix the problem? Would you look under “Tires” or “Engine” or “Exhaust System”? No, of course not. You would go directly to the section on “Headlights” because that’s where the solution would most likely be found. Now, you might also find some relevant information on your headlight problem in other areas of the owner’s manual, like under “Fuses” or the “Electrical System”. But the most useful information, the most helpful, the most important info you would find would be under the section on headlights. To understand your headlights, this MAIN and primary section should be sought first and foremost, and all the other (secondary) sections that just touch on headlight information, would have to revolve around that main section.

In the same way, to understand justification (in the salvation sense), you would go to the section in the Bible that deals specifically and directly with that topic as a doctrine, and that would be Romans chapter 3, 4, and 5. This answers the question, “How is a person made right with God?” If there is any other section that mentions justification, it must be understood in light of those three chapters in Romans, because these chapters make up the most comprehensive, clearest, and longest-running, continuous passage in all of Scripture that SPECIFICALLY deals with how a man is made right with God. They DEFINE the doctrine of justification. Bible verses that specifically deal with a particular topic, in depth, have primacy over “passing reference” verses.

And the message of these chapters clearly indicates that justification is by faith, apart from works:

“Because BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW NO FLESH WILL BE JUSTIFIED in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.” (3:20)
“Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of WORKS? NO, but by a law of FAITH.” (3:27)
“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith APART FROM WORKS of the Law.” (3:28)
“For IF Abraham was justified BY WORKS, he has something to boast about; but NOT BEFORE GOD.” (4:2)
“Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. But TO THE ONE WHO DOES NOT WORK, BUT BELIEVES in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness. (4:4-5)
“Just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness APART FROM WORKS” (4:6)
“Therefore having been JUSTIFIED BY FAITH, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1)
Looking at these passages, it’s hard to ignore Paul’s message. Over and over, we see the same idea. God justifies man by faith and not by works. God justifies the Jew by faith [“apart from his works”], and He justifies the Gentile by faith [“apart from his works”, also]. (Romans 3:27-30) Very simple and very direct.


Other verses throughout Scripture that support this concept include:

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Galatians 2:16 – Knowing that a man is
not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Titus 3:5 -
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Romans 11:6 – But
if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. (All verses above from the NASV)


CATHOLIC CLAIM - BUT IN ROMANS (CHAPTERS 3, 4, AND 5), PAUL IS REFERRING TO “THE LAW,” THAT IS, THE CEREMONIAL WORKS OF THE OLD MOSAIC LAW. PAUL IS NOT SPEAKING HERE OF THE “MORAL LAW,” WHERE OUR GOOD WORKS OF MERCY ARE DONE IN THE STATE OF GRACE.

Works of the Law

The “works” that Paul spoke of did indeed include those Old Testament, ceremonial works, but were certainly NOT LIMITED to those. For example, in Romans 3, he mentions “the law” (v. 21 and v.31), and “the deeds [works] of the law” (v. 28). And immediately after, in 4:1, where the same context is continued, Paul speaks of Abraham, and how he was saved by faith, apart from “the law”.

But wait a minute! Abraham lived 430 years before the Mosaic Law existed! (Galatians 3:17) So Abraham was not under that law. So why would Paul mention Abraham’s works at all, if he was limiting “works of the law” to mean those of the Mosaic Law? It was because Paul was speaking of ALL works, and not just those ceremonial laws and rituals from Moses’ time.

Paul uses Abraham (4:1) as his first example of someone saved apart from works, and then he also uses David (4:6), who WAS under the Mosaic Law. So we see here that BOTH those who were under this Law (the Jews), and also those who were not under this Law (everyone else, including us today) were ALL saved by grace, through faith, and APART from their works. That is the whole point of Romans 3, 4, and 5.
So, we see that Paul's mention of Abraham and David in the same context refutes the idea that Paul alluded ONLY to the works of the old Mosaic Law. He was, in fact, speaking of ANYONE'S works throughout history, because he included:

1) Those BEFORE the Mosaic Law existed (like Abraham)
2) Those DURING the Mosaic Law (like David), and
3) Those AFTER the Mosaic Law (like the Christians to whom he is writing in the book of Romans).


CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT WHAT ABOUT THE TEN COMMANDMENTS? JESUS WARNED US THAT WE MUST OBEY THEM, DIDN’T HE? (MATTHEW 19:17; LUKE 10:25-28) THESE ARE GOOD WORKS DONE UNDER GOD’S SYSTEM OF GRACE. THIS IS “FAITH WORKING THROUGH LOVE” (GALATIANS 5:6)

The Ten Commandments
 
We will demonstrate that the Ten Commandments are indeed part of "the Law.” Romans 7:7 (NASV) says, "What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’" Obviously, this refers to the last one of the Ten Commandments.

Now read Romans 2:20-22 (NASV). "...having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?…" Again, these works are clearly referring to the Ten Commandments.

So here we see that the Ten Commandments ARE part of "the Law". So when Scripture speaks of works of "the Law", it refers to the WHOLE Law: the ceremonial law AND the moral law. The apostle Paul places them in the SAME category. If one saves, then they both save. If one does not save, then neither saves. If "the Law" does not save (and it doesn’t), then the Ten Commandments don't save either, and if the Ten Commandments don't save, then NO WORKS CAN SAVE, since they are God's highest standard.

So, there is no biblical distinction between “works that save” and “works that don't save,” contrary to what Catholics often assert. Therefore, justification "apart from the works of the Law" (Romans 3:28) means justification apart from ANY and ALL works. This doesn’t mean that we don’t ever do good works, it just means that our works don’t contribute to our justification.

Here is an interesting point. Romans 4:9-11 tells us that Abraham was NOT justified by his circumcision. But why not? After all, it was a God-ordained work of obedience, wasn’t it? (Genesis 17:10) It certainly was. But, the answer to this question is simply this: Abraham was not justified by circumcision, because circumcision is a WORK.


CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT WEREN’T THE PEOPLE IN MATTHEW 25:31-46 SAVED OR CONDEMNED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS, AND NOT THEIR FAITH? EVERY “JUDGMENT SCENE” IN THE BIBLE SHOWS US THAT THE FATE OF EACH PERSON IS DETERMINED BY HIS WORKS.

Sheep and Goats

Does anyone think that here, Jesus is providing a specific list of things to do to get saved? As a Catholic, one could not believe this, since things like faith, partaking of the Eucharist, baptism (and other sacraments), etc., are not mentioned here.

No, Jesus is speaking in a general sense, describing, on the one hand, the “sheep” as the type of people whose hearts were right, which then caused them to follow through with good works; and on the other hand, the “goats,” as those whose hearts were not right, and neglected God’s will.

The works mentioned here are not PREscribed (as criteria for salvation), but rather, they DEscribe (give a description of) the type of person in each category. The context is NOT how a person is made right with God. This whole chapter is about faithfulness, not justification. And the reason God points to their works in every “judgment scene” is because their works of obedience are the PROOF of their faithfulness, the evidence of what was already in their hearts, by faith. Wouldn’t these works in Matthew 25 be considered “works of righteousness”? Absolutely. But NO ONE is justified (in the “saving” sense) by works of righteousness (Titus 3:5)…
Remember, we WILL be rewarded for our good works, but justification is something totally different. It is strictly a GIFT. Again, it is not “works that save” versus “works that don’t save.” And neither are we justified by the works that God does THROUGH us, but only by the work that He has done on the cross. Nothing else.

See how great a love God has for His children! We DON’T have to try to gain enough “points” from our works and our sufferings to finally make it into Heaven. We must simply trust in His work at the cross. Let us rejoice in the simplicity of the gospel!

Stay with us as we conclude our series with the next post.

23 comments:

  1. R: James and Justification

    N: Please don't assume James 2 is the only or even the 'best' Catholic argument against SF. The best Catholic arguments against SF come from Rom 3-5, Eph 2, Phil 3, and Gal 3.

    R: At first, this sounds like a good argument. But the Apostle Paul tells us that a man is justified by faith APART FROM (i.e., WITHOUT) WORKS (Romans 3:28; 4:4-5). Are James and Paul contradicting each other, or is something else going on?

    N: Yes, something else is going on. Paul is talking about "works of the Law" while James is talking about Christian good works. The former do not save, the latter do save.

    R: James is dealing with members of the church who claim to be Christian, yet are not showing the evidence of it.

    N: False. James is dealing with Christians who've turned to sin (e.g. 2:1,6a). James uses Abraham as his example, yet Abraham wasn't claiming to be a believer nor was anyone questioning his faith nor did Abraham prove himself before men.

    R: James is demanding PROOF of a man’s faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man SAYS he has faith but he has no works?" (Romans 2:14 NASV).

    N: No, he isn't looking for proof of man's faith, rather he is asking, 2:14, "will that faith by itself save him?" (future tense). It would be utterly absurd for James to say: "Brothers, if a man says he believes, but doesn't really believe, will he be saved?" The answer is obvious; James is not asking "will fake faith save?"

    R: "SHOW me your faith without the works, and I will SHOW you my faith by my works" (James 2:18 NASV). It's all about whether one's faith is a true (demonstrable) faith or a dead one.

    N: Did James start performing good works in front of them to prove he was saved? No. He turned to Abraham and said "you see" and "you want proof", meaning the "show" is not talking of visible proof but rather proof of one's argument. And Abraham was *not* doing what he did before men, but first and foremost for God to see (Gen 22:1,5,9-12). James picked the *worst* example possible of showing oneself before men - that is, if that what he was really getting at.

    R: In this context, “justified” means VINDICATED, or PROVEN, in the eyes of men, not God. God already knows if our faith is real.

    N: This changing the meaning of "justify" is assumed and your next sentence directly contradicts James 2:21 which quotes Gen 22:9-12.

    R: There may be someone in the church who claims to be a Christian, yet demonstrates no evidence of it. If there is no proof of his salvation, why should anyone believe that he is a Christian?

    N: Was someone questioning Abraham's faith? Would anyone deny Gen 15:6 was genuine faith? No, thus your argument makes no sense. Further, Gen 22:1ff happened years after Gen 15:6, so Abraham didn't have to prove himself till years later, in private? The fact we know Gen 15:6 is justification, and the fact James quotes it, shows the context is saving justification, and this indeed goes back to 2:14 where James uses the term "save".

    R: CATHOLIC CLAIM - BUT THERE ARE SO MANY OTHER BIBLE VERSES THAT TIE SALVATION IN WITH WORKS. WHY DO PROTESTANTS ALWAYS TURN TO ROMANS 3, 4, AND 5?

    N: The uninformed Catholic does this, not the informed. Romans 3-5 go against SF so solidly that Protestants are stunned when I show them.

    R: And the message of these chapters clearly indicates that justification is by faith, apart from works:

    N: Again, Paul is speaking of "works of the Law," not "any and all works" done anytime in one's life.

    (part 1 of 3)

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  2. (3 of 3)

    R: Here is an interesting point. Romans 4:9-11 tells us that Abraham was NOT justified by his circumcision. But why not? After all, it was a God-ordained work of obedience, wasn’t it? (Genesis 17:10) It certainly was. But, the answer to this question is simply this: Abraham was not justified by circumcision, because circumcision is a WORK.

    N: Paul's POINT is that the promise of salvation wasn't attached to circumcision and Law (Rom 4:13 + Gal3:15-18). The point was God's promise to save was not through the Mosaic Covenant (Gal 4:21ff). Jesus himself went VOLUNTARILY under the (Mosaic) Law, but he was not born automatically under the Law didn't have to (Gal 4:4b-5a). Jesus was only under the Mosaic Covenant after circumcision.

    R: CATHOLIC CLAIM – BUT WEREN’T THE PEOPLE IN MATTHEW 25:31-46 SAVED OR CONDEMNED ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS, AND NOT THEIR FAITH? EVERY “JUDGMENT SCENE” IN THE BIBLE SHOWS US THAT THE FATE OF EACH PERSON IS DETERMINED BY HIS WORKS.

    N: Yes! This is very problematic for Protestants, because the text should read (if SF is true) that it is because of Christ's works that they enter Heaven.

    R: Does anyone think that here, Jesus is providing a specific list of things to do to get saved?

    N: It is a general list, by no means exhaustive.

    R: The works mentioned here are not PREscribed (as criteria for salvation), but rather, they DEscribe (give a description of) the type of person in each category. The context is NOT how a person is made right with God. This whole chapter is about faithfulness, not justification. And the reason God points to their works in every “judgment scene” is because their works of obedience are the PROOF of their faithfulness, the evidence of what was already in their hearts, by faith.

    N: This in no way solves the Protestant dilemma. One can freely state God's grace caused all those good works to flow from the believer, the point remains that it was those works God judged and used as criteria for entering Heaven. This directly contradicts SF which states God looks solely at Christ's works done for the believer as criteria for entering Heaven.

    R: Remember, we WILL be rewarded for our good works, but justification is something totally different.

    N: The solution here is that you're confusing conversion with post-conversion; you've falsely assumed "justified" means "entitled to Heaven," THAT'S the heart of this problem.

    Consider this example:
    (1) A stranger comes to McDonalds and works *unhired*; the Boss at BURGER KING is in no way entitled to pay him.
    (2) The stranger becomes hired at Burger King.
    (3) The Burger King Boss has freely chosen to pay the new employee a paycheck for his obedience.
    NOTE the THREE stages the man was in here.
    They CANNOT be confused without serious problems following (e.g. the stranger cannot also be on the payroll).
    Protestants CONFLATE these THREE stages, especially #2 and #3.
    #3 is speaking of Heaven, #2 is NOT. #2 is conversion/justification, #3 is post-conversion. *THIS* is the key. The work done in state #1 is of no avail, only the work in state #3 is. To say all works at all time are excluded is a serious fallacy. The works of #1 (Mosaic Law) never paid and never will, even if they are similar to #3 Burger King works (Christian good works).

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  3. (2 of 3)


    R: CATHOLIC CLAIM - BUT IN ROMANS (CHAPTERS 3, 4, AND 5), PAUL IS REFERRING TO “THE LAW,” THAT IS, THE CEREMONIAL WORKS OF THE OLD MOSAIC LAW. PAUL IS NOT SPEAKING HERE OF THE “MORAL LAW,” WHERE OUR GOOD WORKS OF MERCY ARE DONE IN THE STATE OF GRACE.

    N: ***PARTLY*** True. Paul is speaking of the Mosaic Law - BUT - is NOT limiting himself to ceremonial works. Paul is speaking of the WHOLE Mosaic Law, the Mosaic Covenant.

    R: But wait a minute! Abraham lived 430 years before the Mosaic Law existed! (Galatians 3:17) So Abraham was not under that law. So why would Paul mention Abraham’s works at all, if he was limiting “works of the law” to mean those of the Mosaic Law? It was because Paul was speaking of ALL works, and not just those ceremonial laws and rituals from Moses’ time.

    N: ***PARTLY*** correct. Abraham did live before the Law, and that's Paul's fundamental argument in Gal 3:15-18, but Paul is focused specifically on circumcision in Rom 4, hence Rom 3:30; 4:9-10.

    R: Paul uses Abraham (4:1) as his first example of someone saved apart from works, and then he also uses David (4:6), who WAS under the Mosaic Law.

    N: Abraham walked with God long before Gen 15:6, and David walked with God before falling into sin and writing Psalm 32, so the Protestant is in a bind here. The Protestant must say neither were saved until Gen 15:6 and Ps32, yet that contradicts Scripture which says they were believers long before. This is the strongest (but not only) rebuttal to Sola Fide in Romans.

    So we see here that BOTH those who were under this Law (the Jews), and also those who were not under this Law (everyone else, including us today) were ALL saved by grace, through faith, and APART from their works. That is the whole point of Romans 3, 4, and 5.

    N: Paul was focused primarily on circumcision in Romans 4, in which Abraham was yet to be circumcised (hence 4:9-10!!) and David essentially repudiated his circumcision and put himself outside the Law when he gravely sinned (cf Rom 2:25b).

    R: We will demonstrate that the Ten Commandments are indeed part of "the Law.” ... So when Scripture speaks of works of "the Law", it refers to the WHOLE Law:

    N: This is moot because no *informed* Catholic would say otherwise.

    R: If "the Law" does not save (and it doesn’t), then the Ten Commandments don't save either, and if the Ten Commandments don't save, then NO WORKS CAN SAVE, since they are God's highest standard.

    N: This is where you get ahead of yourself, jumping from Law & Ten Commandments to ALL WORKS. Mark 10:2-12 explicitly proves the Mosaic Law (10 Commandments) are God's highest standard, for under the Mosaic Law one could divorce without it being adultery, yet under Christ's new standard divorce wasn't an option. Matthew 5:21ff and other places say the same.

    R: So, there is no biblical distinction between “works that save” and “works that don't save,” contrary to what Catholics often assert.

    N: Yes, there is, but you've incorrectly jumped to conclusions on the Mosaic Law.

    R: Therefore, justification "apart from the works of the Law" (Romans 3:28) means justification apart from ANY and ALL works.

    N: This is false. Works of the Law are those of the whole Mosaic Law, but that is not equivalent to any and all works at any time!

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  4. Not to post too much, and I apologize if I have, but **PLEASE** don't mistakenly think that you've addressed the **best** Catholic apologetics arguments against SF. There are many other just as powerful arguments, for example Psalm 106:30-31.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Nick,

    (Part 1 of 2)

    You said:

    “R: James is dealing with members of the church who claim to be Christian, yet are not showing the evidence of it.

    N: False. James is dealing with Christians who've turned to sin (e.g. 2:1,6a). James uses Abraham as his example, yet Abraham wasn't claiming to be a believer nor was anyone questioning his faith nor did Abraham prove himself before men.”

    I never said that anyone questioned Abraham’s faith. But obviously, James is questioning the faith of some in the church. And James uses Abraham (v. 21) and Rahab (v. 25) as examples… NOT of someone who “turned to sin,” or who avoided “turning to sin”… but as examples of those who showed that their faith was true. It is undeniable that James 2:14-26 is about the DEMONSTRATION of the type of one’s faith (v. 14, 16, 18, 20-26). It is about true faith versus dead faith. The extent that Catholics will go to in denying this is very telling.

    You said:

    “R: James is demanding PROOF of a man’s faith: “What use is it, my brethren, if a man SAYS he has faith but he has no works?" (Romans 2:14 NASV).

    N: No, he isn't looking for proof of man's faith, rather he is asking, 2:14, "will that faith by itself save him?" (future tense). It would be utterly absurd for James to say: "Brothers, if a man says he believes, but doesn't really believe, will he be saved?" The answer is obvious; James is not asking ‘will fake faith save?’”

    You say that James is not asking, “Will fake faith save?” But that is EXACTLY what
    he’s asking. The very reason that a man’s faith would be “by itself” (that is, having no works with it) is because it is not true saving faith. If his faith does not produce good works, then it is a dead faith (2:17). That’s James’ whole point. Once again, he is contrasting true faith with dead faith.

    You said:

    “R: "SHOW me your faith without the works, and I will SHOW you my faith by my works" (James 2:18 NASV). It's all about whether one's faith is a true (demonstrable) faith or a dead one.

    N: Did James start performing good works in front of them to prove he was saved? No. He turned to Abraham and said "you see" and "you want proof", meaning the "show" is not talking of visible proof but rather proof of one's argument. And Abraham was *not* doing what he did before men, but first and foremost for God to see (Gen 22:1,5,9-12). James picked the *worst* example possible of showing oneself before men - that is, if that what he was really getting at.”

    I’m sorry, Nick, but you saying that the “show” in James 2 was not speaking of visible proof, but “proof of one’s argument” doesn’t make any sense to me. What is the argument if it isn’t whether or not someone has true faith proven by good works?

    As far as Abraham doing the work before God, and not before men… you are mistaken. It was not only in the sight of God and Abraham, but ISAAC, his son, was certainly there (since he was about to be sacrificed). But doing works in front of the maximum possible number of people was not James’ point, nor is it mine.

    And do you really think that God DIDN’T know what Abraham was going to do, and the test was for His (God’s) sake? The test was directed to Abraham. “Now I know that you fear God” (Genesis 22:12) was simply a rhetorical device. Abraham was not giving God any information that He didn’t already have.

    (CONTINUED)

    ReplyDelete
  6. (Part 2 of 2)

    You said:

    “R: In this context, “justified” means VINDICATED, or PROVEN, in the eyes of men, not God. God already knows if our faith is real.

    N: This changing the meaning of "justify" is assumed and your next sentence directly contradicts James 2:21 which quotes Gen 22:9-12.”

    I’m letting the context speak for itself. Just as the word “justify” means “vindication” or “proof” in other places in the New Testament where the context demands (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:29; 10:29; 16:15), the concept of “vindication” makes perfect sense in this context. And my statement, “God already knows if our faith is real” does not contradict James 2:21 or Genesis 22:9-12, as explained just above.

    Nick, one other point I want to address is what you termed one of the many “powerful arguments” against Sola Fide, like Psalm 106:30-31. Here is the passage:

    v. 29 – “Thus they provoked Him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.”
    v. 30 – “Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.”
    v. 31 – “And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.”

    The background of this event is in Numbers chapter 25, where some of the children of Israel were committing fornication with the women of Moab, causing a plague to come over Israel. Then Phinehas valiantly takes up a spear and drives it through a couple in the act of fornication, killing them both. Because of his zeal for righteousness, he obtained mercy from God, stopped the plague, and his act of justice “was counted unto him for righteousness.”

    Ok, Catholics will sometimes try to use this passage to disprove Sola Fide (“Faith Alone”) and will say, “See, it’s not just faith that counts for righteousness, because this ACT / WORK of Phinehas was ALSO counted for righteousness.”

    If this event were mentioned in the “Philippian jailer” scenario (Acts 16), or in Romans 3-5, then I could see your point. But Paul never mentioned the event in either passage, and of course, did not tell the Philippian jailer to run a spear through anyone, or do ANY other work to be saved. But the context in Psalm 106 (and Numbers 25) is NOT “How to get right with God,” as it is in Romans 3 thru 5. The Psalmist is simply saying that Phinehas’ act was considered righteous and he would be blessed for it and remembered in every generation.

    Much of the remainder of Nick’s response has already been discussed by Nick and I at Dr. Joe Mizzi’s blog. See our discussion in the “comments” section of his article “Catholics Misunderstand Sola Fide”: http://evangeliku.blogspot.com/search?q=sola+fide

    ReplyDelete
  7. Russell,

    I am glad this discussion can continue. My goal is to keep things brief and avoid repeating things so as to avoid misusing eachoter's time.

    (1) I deny James was questioning the faith of some in the church, unless that was a more important issue than the believers turning to sin throughout the Epistle. Also, nobody is questioning Abe's faith, and it's obvious his faith is real, thus James applying his "test for true faith" to Abraham is nonsesne.

    (2) I don't think anyone would agree with your assertion that James is asking the question "Brothers, can fake faith save?" That doesn't even align with James' analogy of 'just as a body without a soul is dead, so is faith without works is dead'. To say "fake faith" would be analogous to saying the body was fake. No, instead all human bodies are real, just as all faith is real, though each can be 'dead' if it lacks the life force that animates them. Protestants are under the impression James is comparing two 'brands' of faith, just as if someone were comparing a PC to a Mac. In reality, James is examining one type of faith under the conditions of living and dead, just as if someone were comparing a human body under living versus dead conditions, or a PC with the power on versus no power.

    (3) The argument is whether faith by itself is sufficient, and James goes onto "prove" his case by calling witnesses Abraham and Rahab. James didn't say "look at all these good works I've done, see I, James, am saved!" Yet that is precisely what your saying we should see.
    The text of Gen 22:1,9-12 is clear, this was done primarily for God's sight, irregardless of what Isaac saw. The status/role of Isaac is not mentioned, thus you're engaging in pure speculation while I'm examining the explicit testimony of Scripture.

    (4) As for "justify" in this chapter, I am letting context speak: James 2:21 quotes Genesis 15:6. Is Genesis 15:6 (faith counted as righteousness) about soteric-justification? Yes. Thus I have very solid grounds to say "justify" is soteric in James 2, especially given James in v14 is speaking of "save" and answering that inquiry in v24.

    (5) Regarding Ps 106:30f, it doesn't matter if Paul quoted this or not, it's inspired Scripture. Surely you wouldn't suggest as John Murray does that Paul deliberately avoided using the Psalm because it would have contradicted his thesis (see here). I believe the context of Gen 15:6 was no more or less about "getting right with God" as Ps 106.
    The most important admission here is your claim: "The Psalmist is simply saying that Phinehas’ act was considered righteous." Well, if "credited as righteousness" means "act considered righteous," why can it *NOT* mean in Gen 15:6 Abe's act of faith was "considered a righteous act"? That's the real difficulty here, the Protestant must assign two radically different meanings to "counted as righteousness," when one meaning fits both.

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    1. Sorry Nick,

      For a complete refutation of your argument, see this article:

      http://www.reformedapologeticsministries.com/2014/03/justification-is-by-faith-alone-issues.html

      Sorry to tell you this, but, your apologetics smells. Be an apologist without an apology!

      Jesse

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  8. Nick,

    I would respond to your comments, but much of it would simply be repetition. So, let's let the reader decide whose arguments are more reasonable.

    Thanks again for the discussion.

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    1. No Russell,

      You were REEEEFUUUUUTTEDDDD!!! ...Not by faith only..." James 2:24-26

      X

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    2. Hi again Russell,

      I've got a new bible verse for you to handle! Luke 18:18-20 refutes sola fide!

      X

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  9. Hello X,

    Concerning Luke 18:18-20, this does not refute “Sola Fide.” Here, Jesus is not suggesting that the rich, young ruler could earn Heaven if he would follow the law (the Ten Commandments). Notice that 1) the young man did not (could not) obey the law perfectly. In fact, Jesus implies that it was not possible (v. 27). And 2) Notice that the story just before this one (v. 9-14) demonstrates that it is not one’s WORKS that save, but his humble surrender to God’s will. The humble publican is the one who went home justified (v. 14), not the works-oriented Pharisee.

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    1. Russell,

      What about 1 Corinthians 13:2?

      X

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  10. Hello X,

    You asked about 1 Corinthians 13:2 as to whether it contradicts Faith Alone.

    Since you gave about a half dozen comments on Part 1 of this series (Faith Alone), I was assuming that you had at least read that particular article (Part 1) before you commented on it. But it seems that you must have not read it, because I already answered your question in that article. Here is what I had said:

    [First off, we want to say that the term “faith alone” is not a perfectly accurate term, in the sense that faith is not the only thing present at the moment of conversion. Along with faith, there will certainly be joy, thankfulness, sorrow for one’s sins, a love for God and a willingness to serve Him, etc.]

    So, once again. Salvation by “Faith Alone” does not mean that there are no feelings, emotions, or fruit of the Spirit present. It is not faith apart from the presence of emotions / feelings, etc. It means faith apart from the MERIT of works.

    You seem to be either ignoring the things I said, or purposely misrepresenting me. Neither one of these helps your argument.



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    1. Beans Russell,

      Why did you ignore Nick's comments on Matthew 25:31-46?

      X

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  11. Hello again X,

    I was not ignoring Nick’s comments on Matthew 25. If you go back and look at the part in the article that deals with this passage, you will see that Nick’s comments don’t fit the context.

    Nick claims that Matthew 25 is about salvation by works, but Nick has not proven his assertion. But the CONTEXT proves otherwise, as shown in the article. I specifically mentioned that these works (in Matthew 25) are DE-scriptive, that is, these works describe (and prove) the type of people who are Christians and whose hearts are right. Nick admitted that these works were not a specific list to be followed for salvation. So, Jesus was speaking IN GENERAL of 1) the type of good people (Christians) who do good works, and 2) the type of bad people whose hearts are not right and reject God, and therefore, do NOT do these works.

    Nick stated that I had falsely assumed that “justified” means “entitled to Heaven.” But that is exactly what it means. X, if you get justified before God and you immediately walk across the street where a bus hits and kills you, aren’t you “entitled to Heaven” at this point? Aren’t you saved? Would God withhold Heaven from you just because you haven’t yet gone through the list of works mentioned in Matthew 25? Of course not.



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    1. Hi Russell and "X",

      We do not need any more arguments because I can resolve this issue (I hope).

      When Matthew 25:31-46 is used as an argument against Sola Fide, I usually cite 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 as a rebuttal. The Corinthians passage shows us that we are NOT saved by any works. Russell, 1 Corinthians 3 is a complementary text to Matthew 25 because both passages have the same context (a "judgment scene"). I believe that this is absolutely critical!

      You said, "But wait a minute! Abraham lived 430 years before the Mosaic Law existed! (Galatians 3:17) So Abraham was not under that law. So why would Paul mention Abraham’s works at all, if he was limiting “works of the law” to mean those of the Mosaic Law? It was because Paul was speaking of ALL works, and not just those ceremonial laws and rituals from Moses’ time."

      Your claim that Paul was saying that "ALL works" are incapable of saving us (not just the works of the Mosaic Law) is PROVEN by Acts 13:38-39. The Acts 13 Scripture passage also refutes the Catholic attempt to distinguish between "works" and "works of the law". In other words, it is a great supplement to several other supportive texts for Sola Fide (Romans 3:20-28,Galatians 2:16-21,Philippians 3:9,etc).

      It really upsets me that Scripture passages such as 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Luke 18:9:14, Hebrews 10:10-18, 2 Timothy 1:9, and Acts 13:38-39 are scarcely(never) used in justification debates. After all, these passages are much stronger than Romans chapters three through five and could be used to demolish those Catholic arguments.

      I would appreciate your comments on my thoughts.

      Jesse

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  12. Good job Jesse,

    Looks like you’ve been doing your homework. These look like good verses to use. If you are successful in sharing the gospel and promoting Sola Fide using these passages, then go for it.

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    1. Thanks Russell,

      Do you think that 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 and Romans 1:16 are supportive texts for Sola Fide?

      Jesse

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  13. Jesse,

    I believe these two passages could possibly be supportive of Sola Fide. Especially Romans 1:16, if you use it together with the next verse: 17) “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” This implies faith “apart from works.”

    You’re asking about passages that support Sola Fide (Faith Alone). Any verse that stresses faith can SUPPORT Faith Alone, but Jesse, just remember, when you are debating this topic, the important word here is “alone.” You want a passage that emphasizes the “alone” aspect to prove your point. There are hundreds of verses that call for FAITH, but the best ones to use in this debate are passages that specifically de-emphasize works.

    If the verse(s) you want to use only emphasizes faith, I would tend to not use it, unless it was in conjunction with verses that had strong “faith ALONE” implications. I hope this helps you.

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    1. Hi Russell,

      Are Romans 1:16-17 and John 5:47-48 good supporting texts for Sola Scriptura?

      I think that 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 can be used with Galatians 1:8-9 to condemn a "works-based" salvation (since both Scripture passages mention the gospel). Would you not agree?

      Jesse

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    2. Hello again Russell,

      I forgot to ask you a question.

      I noticed that Catholic Nick claims that Scripture passages such as Ephesians chapter 2 and Romans chapters 3 through 5 supposedly "contradicts" the biblical principle of Sola Fide. However, I honestly do not see how these passages in any way "refute" justification by faith apart from meritorious works. Could you explain to me how Nick thinks these texts are supposed to be good arguments against Sola Fide?

      I truly do appreciate your support!

      Jesse

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  14. Hello Jesse,

    Sorry to get back to you so late, but I’ve been busy lately.

    You mentioned Romans 1:16-17, John 5:47-48, 1 Corinthians 15:1-6, and Galatians 1:8-9. What I said just above in my last comment still applies: If (and ONLY if) it emphasizes the “alone” aspect, then I believe it can be used. If not, then you may be wasting your time trying to argue its use. This applies to any and all possible verses.

    Concerning Nick’s arguments on Ephesians 2, I can only guess that he may be referring to verse 10, which mentions that God has good works for us to do. I’m not sure. If you really want to know, then maybe ask Nick, himself.

    Concerning Romans 3-5, any serious student of the Bible can easily see the context supports Sola Fide (Faith Alone). You’d have to do some real apologetic gymnastics to say the OPPOSITE, like Nick does.

    But Jesse, that’s what we’re dealing with when we debate hardcore Catholics. They are blinded by their own traditions and they can’t possibly allow “Mother Church” to be wrong. For them, the stakes are too high. Like the guy who says, “Don’t confuse me with the facts!”

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