Saturday, May 14, 2011

Faith and Works

The other day this question came up in a discussion (I paraphrase):

"Evangelicals say that Catholics have a work-based salvation. I know that this is not true -- that it is presumptuous to say that once saved, always saved, being that a person may become a traitor. But my question is: does it sound that Catholics are working their way to heaven? What words do you say to Evangelicals when explaining the Catholic position?"

The scriptures refute this Protestant error. Consider:

James 2:17: "So faith also, if it have not works, is dead in itself."

James 2:26: "For even as the body without the spirit is dead: so also faith without works is dead."

Thus, if one thinks he can get to Heaven without good works, he denies the New Testament teaching.

When the Apostles talked about works not being able to save you, they were talking specifically about the ritualistic works of the Old Covenant. Thus, the old work of Circumcision does not save; it is Faith that saves.

But not a formless Faith; rather, what saves is Faith manifested in acts of adoration for the Almighty and works of charity and love of Truth and self-sacrifice for the sake of the Kingdom. That is why St. James wrote in the same epistle:

James 2:9: "You believe that there is one God. You do well: the devils also believe and tremble."

Faith or belief alone, the Scriptures tell us, is inadequate for salvation.

Our Lord Himself also warned that there would be those who professed His name but whom He will reject:

Matthew 7:22-23: "Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in your name, and cast out devils in your name, and done many miracles in your name? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity."

Works without Charity is condemned here, just as Faith without works is condemned elsewhere. We must have Faith to be saved, and this Faith must be manifested in works of Hope and Charity.

I Corinthians 13:13: "And now there remain faith, hope, and charity, these three: but the greatest of these is charity."

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