Monday, August 25, 2008

"I'm in the middle between being a Christian and a Catholic"...

Victoria was on The first hour of The Way of the Master Radio
last Thursday and the follow-up with Victoria "Vickie" went well.
At first she said she was a Christian but after she got off
the air with Ray Comfort she explained a little more...

"I go to Saint Patricks Cathedral a Catholic church
but I've been wanting to leave the Catholic faith
because I've been struggling through some of their beliefs...
so right now I'm in the middle between being a
Christian and a Catholic."

I had a guest join me from McKinney, TX.
Paige (below and right) listens to The Way of the Master Radio daily
and heard that I lived in area.
We had met briefly once before at Transformed in Dallas...
So she emailed me and we met at the mall really
for what seemed like the first time.
We hit it off right away. She and her husband own a
wonderful sub shop called New York Sub-Hub
and she took a break from a busy day at work
to drive over an hour just to join me for phone fishing.
We had a blast together! Paige helped to follow-up with Victoria
and did a wonderfully thorough job.

We made sure to communicate with Victoria the
seriousness of violating the commandments of God and
how she could be forgiven only by
repenting and putting her faith in Christ.

To listen to the broadcast you can click on August 21, 2008 - Hour 1
it starts about 40 minutes into the program.

16 comments:

Melissa Spence said...

Trish,
A few questions if you have time to answer. :-)
What denomination is your church Sovereign Joy? I ask because I wonder what denomination churches the people at the WOTM attend? I've asked my BIL if he thought there was "one right" Christian denomination. He replied he did not believe there was one true denomination out there but there is one true way to get to heaven. While I agree with the latter part of his statement I have to question why he thinks Jesus did not leave us with one true church here on Earth?

The reason for my above questions I guess is to get into how often I feel these guest speakers are "put on the spot" on the WOTM radio with questions like Ray asked this girl about what he needs to do only having 3 minutes to live after being stabbed in order to get to heaven. My thoughts are as "Christians": a person who believes in Jesus Christ; adherent of Christianity...that Ray already knows these person believe in that - so they feel like his questions are "trick questions" speaking of other topics not necessarily him wanting to hear the answer, "To accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior!". Does any of that make sense?

Lastly I am also wondering why good works AFTER being saved is never stressed? I hear often of repentance but not of "good works through the grace of God". Because it is certainly stressed in Scripture...

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24

..to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life...Rom 2:7

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. Rev 20:12

There's obviously many, many more verses that talk about Judgement and being judged by our works. Obviously I am well aware these "works" do not mean ones of our own doing, but ones I do only with the grace through God because I accepted Jesus as my Savior.

I truly believe Victoria was taught the correct message about our Salvation from the Catholic church she attends, because it is only through Jesus we are saved, but it was apparent she also learned the importance of our Faith and how we live after that acceptance. I pray she does not stray from the church and miss out on the fullness it gives her. I think it's great that you ran into her though and spoke to her. As a young teenage girl she needed to be refreshed and reminded of the sins we all do - and hopefully your talk will push her even further to strive to live a holy life.

I look forward to your response. :-)

LindaM said...

Melissa,

I know you really want an answer from Trish, but I couldn't help wanting to respond also.

1) Your brother-in-law is right. There is not just one true Christian denomination or non-denomination, but there is only one way to heaven. Individual churches and denominations, if they are truly Christian, may disagree on non-essentials or differ on style of worship, but should all be God-honoring and teaching the true gospel, not spreading Scripture twisting or heresy. I was struck by what Todd said one day about denoms. He said he thought maybe they were God's gift to us so we could disagree on some things and still be brothers and sisters in Christ and not get all bent out of shape about minor stuff (rough paraphrase!).

2) I think Ray gets into the 3-minutes-to-live to see whether that person really is a Christian and really understands the good news. Just because they say they believe in Jesus, it doesn't necessarily mean they are saved. I've been struck by how often that question not only helps Ray discern, but helps the person see that they aren't really a Christian because they don't know what it means to be a Christian--they can't explain it. Then they are open to the truth because they realize they don't already have/know it.

3) Good works after being saved is not talked about primarily because you don't get to that until a person is saved. Ray does talk about having a new heart and new desires after being saved. The logical outworking of that is good works for the Lord. But first they have to be saved. And if you mix in good works before they get saved, you run the risk of inadvertently giving a works-righteousness message instead of grace alone.

4) I'm not sure if I understand your last point about the Catholic church. THe Roman Catholic church does not teach a correct understanding of salvation by grace alone by faith alone. In fact, the Catholic catechism says that anyone who teaches that is anathema (doomed to hell). The Catholic church uses a mixture of truth and error which results in error and teaching salvation by works, not faith. The Roman Catholic church does not offer fullness of life in Christ; it teaches heresy. (I know that sounds harsh, but so many people think they are going to heaven because they go to mass every Sunday, etc, and they are so wrong. I pray for them to know the truth and be saved.

I hope this helps.

Linda Martin

Fish with Trish said...

Melissa, thanks for the question. Linda, thanks for answering this--I'll be on a plane to California shortly (for the Ambassadors' Academy)--so your answer is timely.

Melissa Spence said...

Linda and Trish, thanks for your answers! I will still have to disagree that God did not want one true church here on Earth. Like you mentioned, the true gospel needs to be taught - so "who" determines which churches are teaching truthfully and which are not? Is that something left up to each individual to decide?

I understand what you're saying about Ray's 3 minute question, or rather a test. I guess I look at it like why not just be straight forward and ask the person what they believe it means to be a Christian and how are you saved? I believe a more clearer answer would be provided rather than one's where they are "stumbling around" trying to pass his question/test. You know what I mean?

Lastly I'm dissappointed to hear you feel the Catholic church teaches heresy, she does not. It's quite easy for you to misconceive or misunderstand her teachings by reading different inserts from the catechism. May I suggest you look up and read the "Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification" that the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic church declared together. You will surely see her teachings on salvation are quite contrary to what you say she teaches.

The Catholic church teaches truth (the Scriptures) and Tradition, which results in the teaching that we are saved through Christ only. You are correct in saying there are many Catholics (cafeteria Catholics) that honestly don't know much about their faith and feel their deed of attending Mass does save them, they are obviously wrong and I pray for them as well.

God bless, and thanks again for your response!

kmerian said...

Linda, you may want to actually learn what Catholicism teaches before you go on these boards saying what we believe.

We believe in salvation by grace, where we disagree with protestants is how that grace is transmitted to us.

The Catechism does not "anathematize" anyone. This statement reveals that you have not read it, but are instead going off of what someone has told you it says. They are mistaken.

And, you are right, anyone who thinks just going to Mass on sunday is going to save them is just as much in error as someone who thinks merely attending a Baptist church will save them.

The tone of this post, that Catholic and Christian are two different things is horrible.

Catholics ARE Christians. We believe in Jesus Christ and his atoning sacrifice of the cross. We believe we are saved only by the grace of God and not by any works.

The idea that heaven can be earned is condemned as HERESY in the Catholic Church.

Melissa Spence said...

Kmerian,
Your comment post was well said. You actually brought up something I wanted to address...the title of the post as well. ..."between being a Christian and a Catholic..." Yes Protestants need to know and understand Catholics ARE Christians. So saying Victoria is "in the middle between being" suggests Catholics are not part of the Christian faith, which is wrong.

Trish how is your trip in Cali going? If you see Mark, tell him I said hi! ;-)

LindaM said...

Kmerian and Melissa,

I'm not sure how best to respond to your comments. Please believe me that I don't want to "bash" or misrepresent anyone. I want to know and write the truth; God's word (the Bible) is truth. I think that is a standard we can both agree on. Am I correct?

My apologies. You are right about the catechism not having any anathemas. The paragraph I was referring to is actually in the canons of the Council of Trent. Canon 9 says "If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema."

Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone. (Eph 2:8-9)We cannot add to our salvation or merit it through any thing we do. It is absolutely UNmerited. Our sin against God is so great that God Himself had to come down, live as a sinless man, and suffer and die to pay the price of our sins. His last words were "It is finished." That can also be translated, "The debt has been paid [in full]." No further sacrifice is necessary and to add another sacrifice (or any work) to merit salvation is another gospel (Gal 1:8).

Any works we do are out of gratitude to Him for His gracious lovingkindness in saving us from the wrath we deserve. Any works done for any other reason will be burned as wood, hay and straw (1 Cor 3:12-15).

Melissa, as I was re-reading your first post I thought of something else. Jesus did leave us with one true church. It is made up of Christians. But the true church worships with others who are not Christians, who are false converts. (They may think they are Christians, but they are not.) That is what the parable of the wheat and tares is about. And that is true of every congregation, no matter their label.

But the true church is here. You will know them by their fruits, by their obedience to Jesus. The Bible says that those who love Him follow His commandments.

1 Cor 13:5 says to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith--a good thing for all Christians to do from time to time. Todd Friel has a sermon available, based on 1 John, to help examine yourself; it is excellent. It is at the WOTM Radio website.

I hope this helps.

Melissa Spence said...

Linda, thanks for the apology and retracting your false statement..."My apologies. You are right about the catechism not having any anathemas."

I am glad you posted the Scripture verses you did because they bring up a good point about sola Scriptura and sola Fide. I'll try to be brief in my point. While I agree with most of your interpretations, one brought up contradicts another verse. And presents a clear danger of teaching only "justification by faith" and NOT stressing about our works done after being saved through God's grace - not of our own.

You brought up: "Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone. (Eph 2:8-9)". When I look up that passage in my New American Standard Bible this is what the passage says, "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." No where in that passage do I see the words "faith alone", what I do get from that passage is the warning that work done by ourselves (not through God's grace) will not save us. Where I do find in the Bible the words "faith alone" was a passage I posted before..."You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. James 2:24". I'll even give you the KJV version of that passage, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.". Do you see how this contradicts how you spoke of Eph 2:8-9?

What I keep experiencing here is a difference in "explanation" on how one is justified between Catholics and Protestants - but we ultimately agree on the same matters of Justification. You said, "Good works after being saved is not talked about primarily because you don't get to that until a person is saved. Ray does talk about having a new heart and new desires after being saved." While the Catholic church believes in stressing right away what we need to do through God's graces in order to not loose our free gift from Jesus. A gift can be lost can't it? Sure it can, in this world, with the temptations that surround us daily, we will continue to sin, and we must repent! Here's a great explanation from a Scripture Catholic website:

"First, Catholics ultimately believe that we are saved, not by faith or works, but by Jesus Christ and Him alone. Jesus Christ's death and Resurrection is the sole source of our justification (being in a right relationship with God) and salvation (sharing in God's divine life). But as a result of Christ's death and resurrection, we are now able to receive God's grace. Grace is God's own divine life which He infuses into our souls. It is what Adam initially lost for us, and Christ won back for us. This grace initially causes us to seek God and to believe in Him (the "faith" part). Non-Catholics generally stop here.

But God desires us to respond to His grace by putting our faith into action (the "works" part). This is why Jesus always taught about our salvation in the context of what we actually did during our earthly lives, and not how much faith we had ("whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did to Me." Matthew 25:40,45). When Jesus teaches about His second coming where He will separate the sheep from the goats, He bases salvation and damnation upon what we actually did ("works"), whether righteous or evil. Matthew 25:31-46. In James 2:14-26, James is similarly instructing us to put our faith into action by performing good works, and not just giving an intellectual assent of faith. James says such "faith apart from works is dead." James 2:17,26.

So we must do more than accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior. Even the demons believe Jesus is Savior, and yet "they tremble." James 2:19. We must also do good works. Faith is the beginning of a process that leads us toward justification, but faith alone never obtains the grace of justification. Faith and works acting together achieve our justification. Saint Paul says it best when he writes that we need "faith working in love." Galatians 5:6. We are not justified and saved by faith alone.

Secondly, it is important to distinguish between the "works" James taught about in James 2:24 and the "works of the law" Saint Paul taught about in Rom. 3:20,28; Gal. 2:16,21; 3:2,5,10; and Eph. 2:8-9. Protestants generally confuse James' "good works" from Paul's "works of the law" when they attempt to prove that "works" are irrelevant to justification and salvation. The "works of the law" Paul taught about in Ephesians 2:8-9 and elsewhere referred to the Mosaic law and their legal system that made God obligated to reward them for their works. They would thus “boast” about their works by attributing their works to themselves. Cf. Rom. 4:2; Eph. 2:9. Saint Paul taught that, with the coming of Christ, the Mosaic (moral, legal, and ceremonial) law which made God a debtor to us no longer justified a person. Instead, Paul taught that we are now justified and saved by grace (not legal obligation) through faith (not works of law). Eph. 2:5,8. Hence, we no longer “boast” by attributing our works to ourselves. We attribute them to God who gives everything to us freely by His grace.

Therefore, we are no longer required to fulfill the “works of law,” but to fulfill the “law of Christ” Gal. 6:2. This is why Paul writes that the “doers of the law (of Christ)” will be justified. Rom. 2:13. Of course, the “works of the law” Paul wrote about in Rom. 3:20,28; Gal. 2:16,21; 3:2,5,10 and Eph. 2:8-9 have nothing to do with the “good works” James is teaching in James 2:24 or the “law” Paul is teaching about in Rom. 2:13 (because they are part of the same Word of God which can never contradict itself)."

I'm sorry this has turned into a HUGE comment post - but I feel it's important to cover all this in our dialogue. :-)

You said, "But the true church is here. You will know them by their fruits, by their obedience to Jesus. The Bible says that those who love Him follow His commandments." When you made this statement and the one before of the Catholic church teaching heresy I then must assume you've NEVER come in contact with a Catholic who has "good fruits", shows obedience to Jesus, loves Him and tries to follow the commandments? That's a pretty bold thing to say of a church that has over 1,100,000,000 Adherents and to prove they are NOT part of the "true Christian church" you speak of.

Linda I have many brothers and sisters in Christ of different Christian denominations who I feel are true Christians as I. I do not believe because they are not Catholic they are not saved. Only God knows truly the hearts of all those that are saved. I'm just thankful that they are of a Christian faith and believe in Jesus.

You must not allow the things said by the Catholic church, like the Council of Trent in the 1500's, over the past 2000 years to determine that she must be teaching heresy. You can't just interperet one paragraph to determine that. You have to take into account what was going on during that time period, the many people falling away from the church - the Catholic church has always been known to have a strict approach. Sadly strictness is what's needed for the generations that live today.

I will leave you with this last explanation from a Stay Catholic website:

"One of the Catholic Church's most controversial teachings is the doctrine of "No Salvation outside the Church." The controversy stems from a misunderstanding of what the Church really means by this. The doctrine has been stated a number of times throughout Church History. One such time was in 1302 when Pope Boniface VIII wrote the following in "Unum Sanctum:" "That there is one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church we are compelled by faith to believe and hold, and we firmly believe in her and sincerely confess her, outside of whom there is neither salvation nor remission of sins…. In her there is 'one Lord, one faith, one baptism'" (Ephesians 4:5) (no. 1).

It appears that the Church is saying that only Catholics can go to heaven or that Catholics are better than everyone else. However, neither view would be correct. The Church is simply acknowledging the fact that Jesus formulated one plan of salvation. If that is true, then it follows that all other plans are false. The Church is merely declaring that she believes her teachings to be true. Certainly that should be expected of any religion. After all, if you didn't believe that your teachings were true, why would you believe them?

Ironically, many Bible Christians have their own version of "No Salvation outside the Church". And that would be those that disagree with sola Fide.

Peace be with you Linda, thanks for having this dialogue with me.

amontoya said...

Lindam,

Catholics do not believe that we can add to or merit our salvation on our own. The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly tells us this: "2007 With regard to God, there is no strict right to any merit on the part of man."

You are right that works we do are out of gratitude to God, but that does not mean that they are unnecessary. Not only does Ephesians 2:8-9 not say we are saved by faith alone, but if we keep reading to verse ten, we see that we are created to do good works. We can also read in James 2 that we are justified by our works and not by faith alone. In Matthew 25 we read that we are judged by what we do, or our "works." In Romans 2 we read that God gives to us eternal life according to what we have done. We can easily see from these verses that our works are indeed necessary. However, neither our faith nor our works, by themselves, merit anything. As the Catechism says, "2008...Man's merit, moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actions proceed in Christ," and again, "2011 The charity of Christ is the source in us of all our merits before God. Grace, by uniting us to Christ in active love, ensures the supernatural quality of our acts and consequently their merit before God and before men. The saints have always had a lively awareness that their merits were pure grace." You see, it is the gift of God's grace that gives our works merit.

Doing good works or offering sacrifices to God takes nothing away from Christ's perfect sacrifice on the cross, and the Bible makes that clear. Malachi 1:11 says, "My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty." In Romans 12, Paul urges us to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. In Colossians 1 Paul says, "I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions." Now, because Christ's sacrifice is perfect there is nothing lacking, but Paul's suffering and sacrifice still has value while taking nothing away from God. This is why Catholics sacrifice and work. God gives us grace to believe, grace to obey, and rewards us with grace for our obedience. It is all grace.

God bless you!

kmerian said...

Lindam, thank you for you apology. As for the Canons of Trent, you should read Canon 1 on justification:
"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."

As you can see, the Catholic church also condemns the notion of salvation by works.

And you are right, salvation is by grace alone, but not by faith alone do we receive that grace. The Bible tells us that even the demons believe Jesus is Lord, but that does not save them.

As a matter of fact, the phrase "faith alone" appears only once in the Bible, and that one time is to say that we are NOT justified by faith alone.

It is by our total submission to God that we are saved, and no other way.

Linda Martin said...

Melissa, Kmerian and AMontoya,

This week has made me realize I don't have enough time! But I wanted to try to respond to you at least one more time.

I think we are all hitting on what is probably the main issue separating Protestants and Catholics--the issue of justification, what is it and how do we get it? The Protestant view, and I would say Biblical view, is that justification is a one time event. We are justified (treated as though we have the righteousness of Christ--imputed, not imparted, righteousness) when we are saved. That is what salvation is. It is a free gift, and we cannot earn it. Once it is given, it cannot be taken away, not because we are so good, but because God is so good and He keeps His promises. (The doctrine of assurance is a contentious one in Protestant circles as well, but I think the Bible is clear that if we are saved, no one can take us out of the Father's hand (John 10:27-30).

No kind of works can be required for salvation because then it would not be a free gift, it would be a debt. There is no way God is in debt to us because of our works. Look at Romans 4 where Paul talks about Abraham. Abraham believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Specifically, he was saved before circumcision (which was a work of obedience). In other words, Abraham was saved by grace through faith in God and the Messiah to come, not by any works he did.

I am currently studying Romans using Ray Comfort's workbook, "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Righteousness." Romans 4:4 says "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due." Ray says, "It is ludicrous to think that God is in debt to humanity because we have done "good" works. Even if we were without sin, He is under no obligation to grant us eternal life. In His goodness He created us, and in His goodness He could terminate us....We haven't entered into any contract with Him to work for anything. He owes humanity nothing but wrath."

Romans 4:5 says "And to the one who does not work but trusts Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness." Note, faith is counted as righteousness, not that we are without sin or that Christ's righteousness is infused into us. We are given credit for something we do not have (Christ's righteousness). Ray's comment is an analogy:

"A man is 4000 feet under water. His lifeline is the air hose connecting him with the world above. Imagine if he is given a choice--he could either try and suck each breath from the air hose himself, or he could ask a faithful friend to pump air to him.
He is lacking in understanding if he thinks he has the ability to suck each breath through a 4000 foot hose, and his lack of knowledge will be the death of him. Better to trust his faithful friend and have the life-giving air sent down to him, then he won't have to work for each breath to live; it will make its own way to him from above.

The person who thinks he can work for his own justification is trying to suck air 400,000,000 miles through a 1/4 inch hose. He will be destroyed through lack of knowledge. It would be far, far better to let a faithful Creator send His Grace from Heaven above. He can then breathe easy, because his salvation is not dependent on his works, but merely on the fact that he keeps the hose of faith connected. He can enter the 'rest of faith,' knowing that God's promise to keep the air of Grace coming is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast."

Habakkuk 2:4 says "The just shall live by faith." The books of Romans, Galatians and Hebrews all cite this verse and can be seen as commentary on this whole issue. I urge you to read and study Romans, Galatians and Hebrews.

As for James, he was not saying that works are required for salvation as that would contradict all of Scripture. He is saying that if you have faith, if you are saved and have been justified, it will show in your works (which, indeed, God has prepared for us). But those works are not part of our salvation.

You also mentioned the sheep and goats judgment (Matt 25:31-46). This judgment is not the same as the Bema seat judgment (for believers) or the Great White Throne judgment (for non-believers) at the end of the Millennium. There is debate among Protestants about the sheep and goats judgment, but it seems to take place at the beginning of the Millennium (the 1000 year reign of Christ before the final judgment and coming of the new heavens and new earth). John MacArthur says (in the commentary in his study Bible), "This judgment precedes Christ's millennial reign and the subjects seem to be only those who are alive at His coming..[The sheep] are "believers. The are given the place at 'His right hand'--the place of favor. [The goats] represent unbelievers, consigned to the place of dishonor and rejection."

"'Prepared for you' (Matt 25:34) underscores that their salvation is a gracious gift of God, not something merited by the deeds described...Before 'the foundation of the world,' they were chosen by God and ordained to be holy (Eph 1:4)--predestined to be conformed to Christ's image (Rom 8:29). So the good deeds commended in vv. 35-36 are the fruit, not the root of their salvation. The deeds are not the basis for their entrance into the kingdom, but merely manifestations of God's grace in their lives. They are the objective criteria for judgment, because they are the evidence of a saving faith (cf. James 2:14-26)."

The Bible is obviously our guide. However, if you would like to read more about justification, you might be interested in "The God Who Justifies: The Doctrine of Justification" by James White.

I appreciate the spirit of this discussion and I hope that these comments are at least somewhat helpful. It is an extremely important issue.

amontoya said...

Linda,

That is what salvation is. It is a free gift, and we cannot earn it.

The Catholic Church teaches, and Catholics believe, that salvation is indeed a gift that cannot be earned!

Once it is given, it cannot be taken away, not because we are so good, but because God is so good and He keeps His promises. (The doctrine of assurance is a contentious one in Protestant circles as well, but I think the Bible is clear that if we are saved, no one can take us out of the Father's hand (John 10:27-30).

No one can take us out of His hand, but we can choose to leave His hand. "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off," Romans 11:22. Paul is speaking to Christians who have been saved and warning them to remain in God's grace, so they will not lose their salvation.

There is no way God is in debt to us because of our works.

Catholics do not believe that God is indebted to us! I've already quoted a passage from the Catechism that states unequivocally that man has no right to any merit with regard to God. Everything is a gift from Him!

Abraham believed, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Specifically, he was saved before circumcision (which was a work of obedience).

Would God have continued to count Abraham's faith as righteousness if he had disobeyed Him by rejecting circumcision?

He can then breathe easy, because his salvation is not dependent on his works, but merely on the fact that he keeps the hose of faith connected.

How does he keep this hose connected without "doing" something? If his "faithful friend" gave him instructions on how to keep his hose connected and the man did not obey those instructions, would he still receive the air his friend offers? If his salvation is dependent upon his keeping the "hose of faith" connected, could he not choose to disconnect the hose? This whole analogy actually teaches what Catholics believe! Catholics know we can't take God's grace from Him by what we do, but we know that we must obey His instructions to continue to receive the grace He freely offers.

Habakkuk 2:4 says "The just shall live by faith." The books of Romans, Galatians and Hebrews all cite this verse and can be seen as commentary on this whole issue. I urge you to read and study Romans, Galatians and Hebrews.

The passages in which the verse is cited, and the verse in its original context mean that if you have faith, you will live by it. If you live by your faith, does that imply static belief, or are there actions associated with living? If I say I live by a code of honor, does that mean that I merely acknowledge the code exists, or do I obey the code in my thoughts and actions? If I don't obey the code of honor, can I still say I live by it?

As for James, he was not saying that works are required for salvation as that would contradict all of Scripture. He is saying that if you have faith, if you are saved and have been justified, it will show in your works (which, indeed, God has prepared for us).

I'm sorry, but that statement directly contradicts James 2:24. You say that if you are already justified it will show in your works, but James says you are justified by your works. You can't be justified by something if you've already been justified by something else.

But those works are not part of our salvation.

James draws a very clear analogy for us, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." (James 2:26) Just as the body and spirit are required for physical life, so are faith and works required for spiritual life. If those works are not part of our salvation, why would they be necessary for life?

So the good deeds commended in vv. 35-36 are the fruit, not the root of their salvation.

Catholics don't believe that works are the root of salvation! The root of salvation is grace!

The deeds are not the basis for their entrance into the kingdom, but merely manifestations of God's grace in their lives. They are the objective criteria for judgment, because they are the evidence of a saving faith (cf. James 2:14-26)

These are two seemingly contradictory statements. To say the deeds are not the basis for entrance, but they are the objective criteria for judgement, makes no sense. After all, what are they being judged for, if not entrance to the kingdom? Jesus does not separate them into believers and unbelievers, but rather into those who obeyed and those who did not. You can believe and not obey(faith alone) just as James says the demons believe, but that does not make them saved or justified. True "saving faith" is faith accompanied by works, what Paul referred to as the "obedience of faith."

For an in depth look at the Catholic view of justification, I recommend The Salvation Controversy by James Akin.

God bless you!

Dude! said...

I suggest that the catholic ladies check out www.justforcatholics.org

Linda Martin said...

Melissa,

If you would like to continue to dialog about justification or other issues, please email me. I don't know if you got all your questions answered and I'd like to help if I can.

Linda
lindamartin9262@sbcglobal.net

Vilmain Digital Media said...

I have done a lot of studying on the catholic faith, its beginnings, history, beliefs, etc. I won't go into too much of what I've discovered, because Linda has done a great job of addressing these issues, and I feel she's approached it in a loving manner.

There is one true church on earth, but as stated earlier, that one true church is not any particular denomination, but is purely made up of believers; Followers of Christ. If anyone tells you that you must belong to a certain denomination (catholic, baptist, whatever...) it is a lie from the enemy.

The bottom line is that you must go to the Word of God for answers, and ask for the Holy Spirit to help you discern Truth from the enemy's twisted version of it. Remember that the devil masquerades as an angel of light. It may sound good, and be very close to the truth, but if it makes the salvation issue even a BIT fuzzy--beware.

Also, as you can look at the "fruit" of individuals, to see if they are truly walking with God, I believe you can also look at the "fruit" of different denominations to help you determine the health of that denomination. What is the "fruit" of the catholic religion throughout history? There is much evidence to determine how closely "she" aligns with God's Word.

We are saved through grace, not by works, so that no man can boast.

Blessings to you all as you discern His Truth... I'll keep praying for discernment as well! : )

Sarah

amontoya said...

Sarah,

"I have done a lot of studying on the catholic faith, its beginnings, history, beliefs, etc."

Have you been studying the Catholic Faith from a Catholic perspective, or are you getting all of your information only from Protestant sources? If its the latter, what you are learning, may be a bit skewed.

"There is one true church on earth"

Agreed. Please read paragraphs 748-870 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"Remember that the devil masquerades as an angel of light. It may sound good, and be very close to the truth, but if it makes the salvation issue even a BIT fuzzy--beware."

Agreed.

"What is the "fruit" of the catholic religion throughout history?"

The proclaimation of the Gospel of the Jesus Christ for 2000 years.

"We are saved through grace, not by works, so that no man can boast."

Agreed. This is what the Catholic Church teaches.

Please continue to research the Catholic Church to discover the Truth in her teachings.

God bless you!