Monday, March 5, 2007

Catholicism: Scriptures on Justification

Excerpts from Justification by Faith: An Examination of the Biblical Doctrine of Salvation
(see Part 1)

"The Roman Catholic doctrine of justification contradicts the Scriptures in several areas.

First, the biblical terms used to speak of justification, dikaioo, always means to declare righteous and never means to make righteous (see Lk. 7:29; 10:29; 16:15; Mt. 11:19; Rom. 3:4). Justification is a judicial, forensic term and is often contrasted in Scripture with judicial condemnation (see. Dt. 25:1; Pr. 17:15; Isa. 5:23; Job 34:17).

Second, when speaking of justification the Bible speaks of the imputation of righteousness and not the infusion of righteousness (see Rom. 4:12, 22-24).

Third, the Bible describes justification as something achieved in an instant of time. It is never described as a long process (see Jn. 5:24; Lk. 18:14; 23:43; Rom. 5:1).

Fourth, the Scriptures repeatedly declare that all that a person needs to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ. “Everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Ac. 13:39; cf. Ac. 16:31; Jn. 3:15-16; 5:24; 11:25-26; Rom. 10:9; 1 Th. 4:14).

Fifth, the apostle Paul says that God “justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). This proves that God does not justify people because they are personally righteous but because of the imputation of Christ’s perfect righteousness.

Sixth, God’s word makes a clear distinction between justification and sanctification. “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11). Justification deals with the guilt of sin and the merits needed for eternal life, while sanctification deals with the pollution of sin. Sanctification proves that a person has already been justified but does not contribute one iota to a person’s salvation.

Seventh, the Bible teaches that the good works of believers are tainted with sin and are non-meritorious (Is. 64:6; Lk. 17:10; Gal. 5:17; Rom. 7:15 ff.; Phil. 3:8-9). This side of heaven not one believer is without sin (1 Jn. 1:8).

Eighth, the Scriptures say that faith alone is the instrument which appropriates Jesus Christ and His saving work (Rom. 3:22, 25-31; 4:5-25; 5:1, 18; 9:30-32; Gal. 2:16; 3:11-13, 24; 5:1-4). After one is justified, the sacraments and other means of grace are used in order to help the believer grow spiritually (i.e., for sanctification not for justification).

Ninth, God’s word teaches that Jesus Christ actually accomplished a perfect redemption for His people, the elect (Mt. 1:21; Jn. 10:11-29; Ac. 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27). Romanism erroneously teaches that Christ merely made salvation a possibility if people cooperate with grace. But, as noted, such a view must presuppose that either Christ’s death was insufficient to save or that God is unjust by punishing the same sins twice. Both options are thoroughly unscriptural."

"The Roman Catholic system of salvation is a combination of biblical terminology and human invention. In their councils and catechisms there is much talk about the grace of God and the merits of Christ. Also, there are a few fairly evangelical-sounding statements, but the bottom line is that man must save himself: partly with Christ’s merits, partly with the merits of the saints, partly from the Mass, partly from his own merits, and partly from penance and purgatory. Buchanan says the papal church “did not recognize One only Mediator, and One only sacrifice for sin: it taught the merits and mediation of the saints,—the repetition of the one sacrifice on the Cross by the sacrifice on the Altar,—and addition satisfactions for sin in the austerities of penance, and the pains of purgatory. It made the pardon of sin dependent on the confession of the penitent and the absolution of the priest,—thereby placing the church in the room of Christ, and interposing the priest between the sinner and God: and when absolution was granted on condition of penance, or some other work of mere external obedience, it led men to look to something which they could themselves do or suffer, instead of relying by faith simply and solely on Christ and His finished work.”93 The beauty and perfection of Christ’s completed work are replaced by the filthy, stinking rags of human merit. Roman Catholicism offers a deadly mixture of faith and works in the matter of justification but labels this mixture “pure grace.” One can label a bottle of deadly poison anything he wants to, but the contents remain the same. To offer up a system of salvation by works and excuse the whole thing by saying it all flows from grace is contradictory and deceptive. Paul says that as soon as works of any kind enter the picture, grace is no more grace. “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt” (Rom. 4:4). “You who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4)."


Leo said...

The phrase "faith alone" is found in only one place in the Bible, and oddly enough, it is refuting the Protestant view that man is justified by faith alone. The phrase comes from the second chapter of the epistle of St. James which states "you see that by works a man is justified and not by faith alone?". I'm sure that this topic has been very well covered by much better authors than myself, but as also, the error of sola fide is ongoing and still remains a big issue for Protestants, so, again, I'll treat this topic with the scripture, the Fathers, and from the Church pronouncements.

It is for good reason that Our Lord says "Every tree that brings forth not good fruits shall be cut down and shall be cast into the fire" (Matt. 7.19) because it is important for the faithful to understand that they must yield good fruit in order to be numbered among the elect. Our Lord is here giving warning to the faithful that faith without works is not enough to be saved. and, therefore, he adds: "Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven".

But, first of all, before we get carried away, just what is a "good work"? Good works are actions that are performed, while in the state of sanctifying grace, according to God's will. These are actions inspired by faith, and they are necessary for salvation, as they are the manifestation of faith, and are what is referred to in the gospel as "good fruit". This is not to say, of course, that a man may work his way into heaven, but that these works are a bi-product of faith. Christ explicitly states that those [souls] who yield not forth good fruit [works as a manifestation of their faith] shall be cut down and cast into the fire (damned). It is therefore, a great error for one to perceive that they may attain salvation simply because they yield not forth bad fruit [commit no evil].
Thus, those who do neither good nor evil, shall not see salvation, as heaven is the reward of those who have performed well, and if no good work has been done, then they may not expect a reward, as St. Ambrose illustrates in his 41st Letter: "And so He first bestows on us a gift by baptism, and afterwards gives more abundantly to those who serve Him faithfully. So, then, the benefits of Christ are... rewards of virtue"; so, we see that He only gives to those who serve him, and serve Him faithfully, and also, that the rewards of Christ are a consequence of virtue.

The Holy Ghost is the sanctifier, who sanctifies the world and men, but men can only be sanctified if they comply with that grace of the Holy Spirit through faith, hope, and love of God and his neighbor; and he must also perform other "works". It is a dogma of the Church that we must, in union with the Holy Ghost, of course, "merit" heaven by his "good works".

We see from St. Paul that God rewards good works: "If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward" (I Cor. 3:14); and "Do not therefore lose your confidence which hath a great reward. For patience is necessary for you: that, doing the will of God, you may receive the promise." (Heb. 10:35-36) , and still more, he exhorts us to do good works in these words: "... run that you may obtain" (I Cor. 9:24); he describes this life as a fight, a fight that we must win in order to be saved, which means doing and not simply being: "Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold on eternal life..." (I Tim. 6:12), and encourages St. Timothy, which applies to all of us, "To do good, to be rich in good work, to give easily, to communicate to others" (I Tim. 6:18), that we may attain eternal life.

Now we have seen that works are necessary, but we must also understand that it is not simply works, nor is it simply faith, as we shall now cover. We know that we cannot work our way into heaven, no matter how holy we are. This entails that one must have faith, but what if we have faith, what if we have faith enough to move the mountains, is faith all we need to be saved?
The Holy Spirit, speaking through St. James in his epistle, says "What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?
So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself" (James 2:14-17). This clearly shows how faith without works is not sufficient for salvation. He goes on to say: "Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:19-20). Once again reiterating the fact that faith without works is dead, but he also adds that the devils believe and tremble, showing once again that faith is not all that is required. St. James goes on to say: "Do you see that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only?...For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead." (James 2:24-26). He states that faith without works is dead, but then adds "not by faith only" meaning that it [salvation] is by works, through faith, meaning both, he certainly does not say works only, and he does not say faith only, but that they are one, and must be done in unison with faith. Apparently we must not only believe, but we must "fight the good fight" so to speak. St. Paul says "Workout thy salvation" now we know that we can't work our way into heaven so what does St. Paul mean? He means we must not only believe BUT we must also as St. Paul says: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast: and hold the traditions, which you have learned, whether by word or by our epistle... Exhort your hearts and confirm you in every good work and word." which means that we must hold the faith and keep it alive in everything we do, and do good works in faith. St. James further illustrates this: "But be ye doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if a man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he shall be compared to a man beholding his own countenance in a glass. But he that hath looked into the perfect law of liberty and hath continued therein, not becoming a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work: this man shall be blessed in his deed. " (James 1:22-25). This is simply further driving home the point that we must be a doer of the word and not simply a hearer, and that the doer will be blessed in his deed.

We also notice that when eternal life is promised it is always in the future.
It is not that "we are saved" but that "we shall be saved". So, we may not in truth say "I am saved" for he is a liar unless he be in the company of the Blessed. "Which some promising, have erred concerning the faith". The Council of Trent speaks thus of this error: "If any one saith, that it is necessary for every one, for the obtaining the remission of sins, that he believe for certain, and without any wavering arising from his own infirmity and disposition, that his sins are forgiven him; let him be anathema." (sess. VI, Can. XIII) and "If any one saith, that man is truly absolved from his sins and justified, because that he assuredly believed himself absolved and justified; or, that no one is truly justified but he who believes himself justified; and that, by this faith alone, absolution and justification are effected; let him be anathema." (Sess. VI, Can. XIV). It is said by St. Paul "That thou keep the commandment without spot, blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." and "But thanks be to God, that you ...have obeyed from the heart unto that form of doctrine into which you have been delivered" meaning that we must hold the faith [that means live the faith and believe it inviolately], and not simply believe. For not even the great St. Paul was assured of his salvation, he too had to "run the Race" and "fight the good fight" even though he had been so great an apostle, even though the Holy Spirit had spake through him and delivered to us many epistles in the new testament.
We must not say to ourselves that because we read scripture and sing a couple of hymns and clap our hands and listen to a pastor provide us with his private interpretation of scripture that we are going to see God no matter what. We must practice virtue and be obedient to the traditions which God has given us. We must rely on His mercy and fulfill God's requests.

It is a great error for one to perceive that it is possible to work one's way into heaven, as defined by the Council of Trent: "If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema." (Sess. VI, Can. I) Thus we see, that the Protestant perception that Catholics believe that they can work their way to salvation is complete and totally false, but that Catholics hold that one must work by grace, through faith.
The council goes on to proclaim that it is error for one to assume that he may attain salvation without observing the commandments of God: "If any one saith, that the man who is justified and how perfect soever, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church, but only to believe; as if indeed the Gospel were a bare and absolute promise of eternal life, without the condition of observing the commandments ; let him be anathema." (Sess. VI, Can. XX).

We know that it is impossible to please God without faith, and therefore, without it will not be saved (Heb. 11:6), Justification is accomplished by faith and works. Protestants will argue against this by citing Eph. 2.9 which states that it is not by works that we are saved, but who is saying that we are saved by works, the Catholic Church does not say this, so where do they get the idea that Catholic believe that we are saved by works? St. Paul there says that faith is a gift from God that does not include "works of the Law". But according to this Protestant logic, St. Paul contradicts himself as shown above he says we must do good works in order to attain salvation as shown above, so obviously, the interpretation that the Protestants give this is not the correct context that this verse is to be understood by. In Galations Ch. 5 we see the context that this is to be read by "faith that worketh" meaning that faith is what drives the works, it is faith that powers them, and gives them life. This verse goes on to say "faith that worketh by charity" meaning that we have faith, by love, and St. Paul also says that faith without charity is nothing, meaning, that faith is accomplished by charity, which is an act and faith, which is an act of the will, are one; thus charitable works, it's why we have charities. Faith is a gift of God, and it is not achieved by men, and it is God who causes all of this, but, however, He requires of us actions on our part in order to perfect that faith that he has so graciously given us (James 2:22). St. James says that the man who know that he must do works and does them not is a sinner, (James 4:17) meaning that it is sin not to do good works. Faith and works are to be one, to be united as the body and the spirit are one as once again St. James tells us "For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead" (James 2:26) as St. Irenaeus, one of the most illustrious of the Early Church Fathers says: "For these two, faith and good works, rejoice in each other's company, and agree together and fight side by side to set man in the Presence of God".

All of this means that we must have both faith and works, and not simply one or the other.
We see how the argument that the Protestants use, that is the either or, is a faulty argument and falls short of a correct understanding of the scriptures according to the context they were written in. The Bible must be read as one, not simply taking verses and placing them to stand all by themselves as to serve as a rule, without a measurement, context, by which to read the rule.

Leo said...

Protestants love to cite Romans 3:20, which states "Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him. For by the law is the knowledge of sin." and then again by the verse Galations 2:16: "But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." The Protestant takes these two verses out of context, but how? The Protestant would have us believe that works are not necessary for justification and that we are justified by faith alone, but, then that would be a contradiction wouldn't it? We know St. James says "Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble" meaning that faith alone is not good enough, so, does scripture contradict itself? If the scripture can contradict itself, then it cannot be divinlely inspired, and thus, the basis for atheism, that the Bible is full of contradictions. In order to understand this, we'll need to know what St. Paul and St. James were writing about.

At the beginning of Romans III we notice this: "What advantage then hath the Jew: or what is the profit of circumcision?" Okay, we know that the Jews continued to follow the old law, and continued in the works of the old law such as circumcision. What was happening was there were some christians who were following some of the rituals of the old law as if it were necessary, and St. Paul is here clarifying for them that they do not need to do this. We know that the works of the old law don't contribute to salvation as it was defined by the Council of Florence: "The Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and teaches that the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic Law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to divine worship at that time, after our Lord's coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally. Yet it does not deny that after the passion of Christ up to the promulgation of the Gospel they could have been observed until they were believed to be in no way necessary for salvation; but after the promulgation of the Gospel it asserts that they cannot be observed without the loss of eternal salvation. All, therefore, who after that time (the promulgation of the Gospel) observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors." (Sess. 11, Feb. 4. 1442) This further clarifies what St. Paul meant by the works of the old law, the "matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic Law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments" which some continued to follow , and St. Paul was telling them that that was an error, and that they no longer needed to place themselves under the works of the old law to obtain salvation. This is the theme throughout the whole of the same chapter [Romans 3]; but the Protestants again would have us believe otherwise. In Galations 2 we see exactly what we saw in the council of Florence: "But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified." that the old law is not salvific, and we can not put our faith in the functions of the old law for our salvation, but in Christ. We will now compare the two [Council of florence in italics, and Galations in normal font]:

"that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally."

"But knowing that man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, we also believe in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified."

and now Florence and Romans:

"what is the profit of circumcision?... Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him."

"the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic Law... All, therefore, who after that time (the promulgation of the Gospel) observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation.."

And also, we seek clarification from the Bible. Later in Galations 3, we see this "Is he the God of the Jews only?" clarifying that it is not by the law which the Jews follow, the mosaic law, by which the Jews followed as required in the Old Testament, we see works of the law, and circumcision, and Jews, all of this refers to the old law, by which we are not saved, but by the faith in Jesus Christ as confirmed by the Gospel "he who does not believe shall not be saved".
The Council of Florence confirms this by stating that no one who follows the requirements of the law can be saved, this is exactly what St. Paul it telling the Romans and the Galations.
Clearly, St. Paul and St. James are talking about two different things, St. Paul is talking about the functions of the old law, and St. James is talking about good works such as feeding the hungry, and visiting the sick ect. Nowhere do we see faith alone in this issue, it is not in the scriptures.

For instance, if we take into consideration Romans 4:9 , which further clarifies what is meant by works of the law and circumcision , we notice the context which St. Paul intended his earlier statement to be read by. And, as circumcision was a work of the old law reuired for the justification of the people of Israel, so he states that one no longer needs the works of the old law to find justification before God. Nowhere does he mention good works, such as feeding the hungry ect.

Also, another weapon of the Protestants is Ep. 28-9 which states: "For by grace you are saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God. Not of works, that no man may glory." which simply means that we are saved by the free gift of grace from God, and not by our own works, done without that grace. Again, this does not mean "Faith alone ", it means that we are saved through faith, by grace, not by any works tht we do all by ourselves without the grace of God, because we can do nothing without God. Protestants misquote this in order for them to legitametize their claims that the Catholic Traditions contradict the Bible. Paul simply means that we are not saved by the operations of the Law, but by Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul means that we cannot do anything of ourselves that we might attribute to our own selves, and not to God, that he means that we can only produce salutary works by faith in the Lord, by His Graces bestowed upon us. This is why in Romans Ch. 4, he states that if by works Abraham was justified, he would have been able to attribute it to himself, that he should be able to boast it. This does not, however, negate the words of St. James which states that we must have good works done by faith through grace to be justified, we know that these we must have; and since they be done by God's grace that their fruitfulness is attributed to God's grace.