Ryan: I have to disagree with. If you strip everything away, the one thing that is left at the core is a persons faith in Christ. It’s a yes or no question that is simple enough to get into heaven.
Romans 10:9That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. 11As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
James 2:24 You see that a man is justified by works and NOT BY FAITH ALONE.
This is the only place is scripture that faith and alone appear together.
Once again, this is standard Protestant proof texting to make a point without considering how this verse needs to be in harmony with other verses in scripture. So when we find verses that seem to contradict each other it is our understanding that fabricates the contradiction. Our understanding must be expanded in order to assimilate all of scripture in such a way that contradiction is dissolved.
The Romans passage Ryan quotes is emphasizing a point about Justification. But Salvation is a multifaceted concept. We need to take all of Scripture into account so that we can comprehend all of its many facets. Otherwise our understanding may be accurate up to a point but get the big picture totally wrong.
This reminds me of the six blind men who described an elephant. One man found the tail and said an elephant is like a rope. Another found the leg and said an elephant is like a tree. A third found the trunk and said an elephant is like a snake. A fourth felt the ear and said an elephant is like a fan. The fifth insisted that an elephant is like a wall b/e he felt the side and the sixth, feeling its tusk said that an elephant is like a spear.
Since I was a Protestant for forty years and a diligent Bible student I am convinced that the Catholic Church gives us the big picture, the whole TRUTH. Below is more of the James 2 passage that does not fit well with Protestant Calvinism.
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder (Are the demons saved by Faith alone?) 20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and NOT by faith alone.
RYAN: I understand how you can justify doing works. Any Christian should not only feel obligated to do works, but should be actively participating in them to strengthen their walk with Christ and encourage and lead others. But I believe that we disagree in the fact that works can save a person from hell. If there is anything more that one must do besides believe in Christ and His resurrection, it completely takes away the purpose of Christ. Why would he come to save us if we can do it ourselves through works?
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
BFHU: James clearly says that we are NOT justified by faith alone. Jesus alone has atoned for the eternal consequences of our sin.
Ryan: But I believe that we disagree in the fact that works can save a person from hell.
BFHU: We DO NOT believe that our works save us. Christ saves us by his death and resurrection. The concept that Catholics believe they must work their way to Heaven is not true at all. So, we do agree on this after all.
Ryan: If there is anything more that one must do besides believe in Christ and His resurrection,
BFHU:We believe that our works help to purify us and help us to become more Holy by the grace of God. But we do not believe that our works are able to make God indebted to us and obligated to save us. NO. It is all of grace. The Protestant concept of Sanctification is very close to the Catholic idea of the necessity of Good works.
Ryan: it completely takes away the purpose of Christ. Why would he come to save us if we can do it ourselves through works?
BFHU:You have been taught to believe a false dichotomy. The fact that there is more that we must do does not in any way take away the purpose of Christ. He DID have to save us. We cannot do it ourselves. So, once again we agree that we are unable to save ourselves. But that does not mean we DO nothing.
Could David have defeated Goliath without God? Did David do it by himself? What would have happened if David did not DO anything?
The Israelites were saved from the angel of death in Egypt. How? By the grace of God. But what happened to those who did NOT DO anything? did not kill and eat a lamb and put its blood on the doorpost. Just like eating a lamb and putting blood on the doorpost is not a cause and effect slam dunk way of warding off the angel of death in general, their action DID effect their salvation by the command and grace of God.
Christ has done all that is necessary to offer salvation to ALL MEN. But not all men will be saved. Why? Because not all men will DO & Be what they must in order to access this great gift of salvation.
Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
God does His part and we have our part to do.