No Work Makes For A Dead Faith

Last month I wrote about how Catholics do not accept the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (meaning scripture alone) as truth.

Now I’d like to move to another “Sola” that is perhaps the one of the biggest rifts separating Catholicism and Protestantism: Sola Fide.

Sola Fide translates to “faith alone”. Adherents of Sola Fide express that it is only through faith in Christ that we are saved, rejecting the idea that works are vital to our salvation.

The Catholic Church does not accept this as truth. Quite frankly, for the first 1500 years of Christianity, no one did. Sola Fide, like Sola Scriptura, is a product of the Protestant Reformation.

So, lets take look at this doctrine so that we can further understand its flaws.

More often than not, the most common Bible verse used to support Sola Fide is Ephesians 2:8

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Now, at a first glance, that verse may seem like a solid argument in favor of a “faith alone” salvation, but if we read, literally, the next line of text (Eph 2:10) it says:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

What this verse means is that yes, the grace of God and faith save us…initially.

The works mentioned in Eph 2:8 refer to the works of Mosaic Law—i.e the law of the Jewish people, the Old Covenant. Christ, however, through is death established the New Covenant. No longer do people have to follow the Jewish tradition for salvation.

This is specified in Galatians when Paul writes:

We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified

This, however, is no excuse to avoid good works of faith.  Eph 2:10 it tells us just that. That we are meant to do good works for God, and the New Testament is filled with scripture that attests to this belief.

James 2:26 tells us that faith without works is dead.

Matthew 2:21 says: Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but rather he who does the will of my Father.

And In Romans 2:6, Paul tells us that God will repay everyone according to their works with eternal life.

Any time the Bible mentions being saved through faith and not by works, it specifically addresses works of the law (Romans 3:20; 28). In fact, the only time the words “faith” and “alone” are found together in Scripture is James 2:24 where it says: “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.

 So what exactly do we mean by good works?

 The works of mercy are a good place to start:

* Feed the hungry

* Give drink to the thirsty

* Clothe the naked

* Shelter the homeless

* Visit the sick

* Visit the imprisoned

* Bury the dead

We also have the commands to evangelize, love, spread the Word of God, and turn away from sin; and for Catholics, we have the obligation to attend Mass and partake in the Sacraments.

Much of these good works were brought to light by Christ in Matthew 25: 31-46 when he described Judgment Day, and the time he will separate the sheep from the goats. 

Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

It’s a misconception that salvation is a one time event made up of a simple profession of faith or a single prayer. Salvation is a lifelong journey, an ongoing challenge that lasts from the moment we accept Christ to the moment we stop breathing.  Let’s take advice from the Apostle Paul and “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” — Phillipians 2:12

 

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