Katholisch Leben!

The Jesus Brothers

Sola Fide?

 
Wir sind durch den Glauben gerechtfertigt - ein Glaube, der sich in Liebe zeigt - aber nicht durch den Glauben allein!
Prof. Dr. Scott Hahn



In gewisser Weise hatte Martin Luther recht: Wir sind durch den Glauben gerechtfertigt. In gewisser Weise kann man sogar sagen duch den Glauben alleine - sofern man diesen Glauben als das versteht, als das ihn die Bibel sieht.

In der Bibel wird der Glaube nie unabhängig von den Werken der Liebe gesehen, in denen er sich ausdrücken soll - und muss! Ein Glaube, der unabhängig von diesen Werken der Liebe meint, er wäre für sich alleine ausreichend, um - egal was man in seinem weiteren Leben tut - gerechtfertigt zu sein und eines Tages mit Jesus Mahl feiern zu dürfen, ist nicht der Glaube, den Gott von uns fordert.

Diese Werke der Liebe sind dabei nicht nur ein reiner "Ausfluss" des Glaubens, sondern untrennbar mit diesem verbunden. Die Katholische Kirche hat nie gelehrt, dass man aus eigener Kraft - allein durch die Verrichtung von irgendwelchen Werken - gerettet werden kann. Was wir jedoch tun, ist Gottes Gebot ernst zu nehmen: Ihn mit ganzem Herzen, mit unserem Körper und mit unserer Seele zu lieben und zu preisen. Anders ausgedrückt: Gott zu lieben, sowie unseren Nächsten (in dem wir Gott wiedererkennen) - und uns selbst. Auch Jesus hat uns darauf hingewiesen, dass das, was wir dem geringsten unserer Brüder tun, wir gleichzeitig Ihm tun. Wenn wir Gefangene besuchen, besuchen wir Jesus. Wenn wir Hungrige ernähren, ernähren wir Jesus.

Zu denken, man wäre ein für allemal "gerettet", allein aufgrund des Glaubens und völlig unabhängig von Werken, ist zutiefst unbiblisch.


 

Glaube

Manche Christen sind der Ansicht, wir seien alleine durch den Glauben ("sola fide") gerettet. In dem Moment, wo wir glauben (für manche Christen genübt hierfür ein einfaches Gebet, andere halten zumindest noch an der Taufe als Beginn des Lebens als Christ fest), wäre es unwichtig, welche (guten oder schlechten) Werke wir von nun an vollbringen - wir sind ja schon "gerettet". Gute werke seien höchstens noch als Ausfluss des Glaubens zu sehen. Sie sind ganz in Ordnung, aber nicht unbedingt notwendig.

Katholiken haben hier eine andere Auffassung. Ja, wir werden durch die Gnade Gottes und unseren Glauben gerettet - aber nicht durch den Glauben alleine. Ebenso warnt die Bibel ausdrücklich vor falscher Heilsgewissheit (also der Auffassung, es wäre egal, was wir ab dem Zeitpunkt, wo wir "gerettet" sind, tun).

Für Katholiken heißt "Glaube" aber nicht nur das, was wir verstandesmäßig erfassen (also etwa durch die bloße Aussage: "Ich glaube"). Es umfasst uns als ganze Menschen - mit all unseren Sinnen, mit unserem Verstand, aber auch mit unseren Taten. Am Beginn jeden Glaubens steht immer Gottes Gnade - diese muss aber durch uns beantwortet werden. Durch uns als Menschen im biblischen Sinn (das biblische Menschenbild umfasst den Körper, den spirituellen Teil und die Psyche). Durch unsere Worte wie unsere Taten. Glaube findet also nicht nur im Kopf statt, er findet seinen Ausdruck im Menschen als ganzen.

(Fortsetzung folgt)

 

Glaube und Gehorsam

Das erste Mal, dass Paulus im Römerbrief das Wort Glaube erwähnt, ist im 1. Kapitel im Vers 5, wo er vom "Gehorsam des Glaubens" spricht.

Das letzte Mal ist es im Kapitel 16 im Vers 26 - und wieder ist es der "Gehorsam des Glaubens"!

Solte uns das nicht zu denken geben?

(Frei nach Prof. Dr. Scott Hahn)

 

Ihr mit euren Werken! Jesus hat doch bereits alles Notwendige für unsere Errettung getan!

Sehen wir uns Jk 2,24-26 an: "Ihr seht, dass der Mensch aufgrund seiner Werke gerecht wird, nicht durch den Glauben allein. Wurde nicht ebenso auch die Dirne Rahab durch ihre Werke als gerecht anerkannt, weil sie die Boten bei sich aufnahm und dann auf einem anderen Weg entkommen ließ? Denn wie der Körper ohne den Geist tot ist, so ist auch der Glaube tot ohne Werke." (Einheitsübersetzung). Es bedarf also auch der Werke, wenn man an Jesus Christus glaubt. Die Lehre von der "sola fide" (allein durch den Glauben) ist also nicht biblisch. Im vorliegenden Fall handelt es sich übrigens um die einzige Stelle in der Bibel, wo die Wörter "Glaube" und "allein" in einem Satz vorkommen - und es steht ein "nicht" davor! Wer Glaubt, muss diesem Glauben also auch Taten folgen lassen - er muss aktiv werden und reiche Frucht bringen. Wenn er nichts Gutes vollbringt, ist unser Glaube schlichtweg tot. Was ist nun mit Gottes Gnade? Durch sie glauben wir überhaupt erst - und sie ermöglicht es uns auch, unseren Glauben auszuleben und ihm Taten folgen zu lassen.

(Quelle: www.saintjoe.com)

 

Nochmal: es kommt doch überhaupt nicht darauf an, was wir tun, da Jesus bereits alles Notwendige für unsere Erlösung getan hat!

Lesen wir Mt 7,21: "Nicht jeder, der zu mir sagt: Herr! Herr!, wird in das Himmelreich kommen, sondern nur, wer den Willen meines Vaters im Himmel erfüllt" (Einheitsübersetzung). Wir müssen also den Willen unseres Vaters im Himmel tun. Einfach nur zu sagen, Jesus ist unser Herr, ist nicht genug! Es reicht noch nicht einmal, Wunder iin Seinem Namen zu vollbringen oder das Evangelium zu verkünden. Es ist einfach eine Irrlehre, zu glauben, wir hätten einen festen Platz im Himmel! Wer so etwas glaubt, setzt tatsächlich seine Errettung auf's Spiel!

Nun zu Jn 14,21: "Wer meine Gebote hat und sie hält, der ist es, der mich liebt; wer mich aber liebt, wird von meinem Vater geliebt werden und auch ich werde ihn lieben und mich ihm offenbaren." (Einheitsübersetzung).

Wir müssen also Gottes Gebote halten! Die "einmal gerettet, immer gerettet"-Theologie ist nicht biblisch! Wie wir hier sehen, müssen wir mehr tun als nur Jesus als unseren persönlichen Herrn und Retter zu akzeptieren und das Sündergebet zu beten. Unsere Liebe zu Gott zeigt sich in dem, was wir tun, wie wir handeln, reden usw. Unsere Erlösung ist kein abgeschlossenenes und besiegeltes Geschäft! Ein Christ hat sein Kreuz zu tragen und Gutes zu tun: "Darum, liebe Brüder - ihr wart ja immer gehorsam, nicht nur in meiner Gegenwart, sondern noch viel mehr jetzt in meiner Abwesenheit-: müht euch mit Furcht und Zittern um euer Heil!" (Phil 2,12 - Einheitsübersetzung).

(Quelle: www.saintjoe.com)

 

Many Protestants believe we are saved by Faith Alone and they say Catholic believe they can “work” their way into Heaven. How do you answer that?

First of all, I ask them to show me where in the Catechism, the official teaching of the Catholic Church, does it teach that we can “work” our way into Heaven? They can’t, because it doesn’t. The Catholic Church does not now, nor has it ever, taught a doctrine of salvation by works...that we can “work” our way into Heaven.

Second, I ask them to show me where in the Bible does it teach that we are saved by “faith alone.” They can’t, because it doesn’t. The only place in all of Scripture where the phrase “Faith Alone” appears, is in James...James 2:24, where it says that we are not...not...justified (or saved) by faith alone.

So, one of the two main pillars of Protestantism...the doctrine of salvation by faith alone...not only doesn’t appear in the Bible, but the Bible actually says the exact opposite - that we are not saved by faith alone

Third, I ask them that if works have nothing to do with our salvation...then how come every passage in the N.T. that I know of that talks about judgment says we will be judged by our works, not by whether or not we have faith alone? We see this in Rom 2, Matthew 15 and 16, 1 Ptr 1, Rev 20 and 22, 2 Cor 5, and many, many more verses.

Fourth, I ask them that if we are saved by faith alone, why does 1 Cor 13:13 say that love is greater than faith? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

As Catholics we believe that we are saved by God’s grace alone. We can do nothing, apart from God’s grace, to receive the free gift of salvation. We also believe, however, that we have to respond to God’s grace. Protestants believe that, too. However, many Protestants believe that the only response necessary is an act of faith; whereas, Catholics believe a response of faith and works is necessary...or, as the Bible puts it in Galatians 5:6, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumsion is of any avail, but faith working through love...faith working through love...just as the Church teaches. 

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute#1. Used with permission)

James 2:26

I have your CD, “Apologetics for the Scripturally-Challenged,” and I really liked the “Twelve Questions for Protestants” at the end of it. Do you have any more questions along those same lines?

Indeed I do...many. One question, in particular, that I like to ask folks who believe in the dogma of Sola Fide - salvation by “faith alone” - has to do with James 2:26. James 2:26 reads as follows: “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”

With someone who believes in salvation by faith alone, I take them to this verse and simply ask: “Would you please explain to me what this verse means?”

And I point out to them that this verse is drawing a parallel between the body and the spirit on the one hand, and faith and works on the other hand. Faith is analogous to the body, and works are analogous to the spirit. The verse clearly expresses a simple truth, both body and spirit are necessary in order to have life - physical life. So, and I make sure to emphasize this point, for the analogy to hold, both faith and works are necessary to have life - spiritual life.

Which means the Protestant dogma of salvation by faith alone - Sola Fide - is one that will not lead to life. As the body alone, without the spirit, is dead, so faith alone, without works, is dead - as Scripture explicitly states in James 2:17. And dead faith does not lead to salvation.

Now, some defenders of the Sola Fide dogma will say that this verse, as well as all of the 2nd chapter of James, is simply saying that faith without works isn’t really faith. They will tell you that a “true” faith is a faith that works, but that the works have absolutely nothing to do with your eternal salvation. They say that works “show forth” your faith, but that it is faith alone that saves you - works have no impact whatsoever on your salvation.

If you hear that argument, then simply take their interpretation and try to plug it into this verse. Let’s try it: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works isn’t really faith.” What happened? The analogy between body/spirt and faith/works broke down. By plugging in the “sola fide” interpretation, you have radically altered the verse. In order to fix the analogy, we have to change the verse yet again: “For as the body without the spirit really isn’t a body, so faith without works really isn’t faith.”

By plugging in a sola fide interpretation, the verse becomes nonsensical. Are the bodies down at the morgue not really bodies? Of course they are! But they are dead bodies - without life. Just so, faith without works is really faith, but it is dead faith - without life. In other words, there is no such thing as salvation by faith alone - works are necessary to complete faith (James 2:22).

Another way you could read James 2:26, using a sola fide interpretation, is: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so works show forth faith.” Huh? No matter how you try to do it, forcing a sola fide meaning into this verse just doesn’t work. Faith and works are both necessary for spiritual life, just as body and spirit are both necessary for physical life. 

(Source: Bible Christian Society / John Martignoni. http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/apologetics/two_minute. Used with permission)

Sola Fide

Challenge/Response/Strategy


    Salvation By Faith...Alone?

    (The Doctrine of Sola Fide)



Introduction


Many Christians believe that a person is saved, or justified, by faith and faith alone.  All a person has to do is “accept Jesus Christ into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior,” and that’s it - they’re saved.  According to this belief, good works play no role whatsoever in a person’s salvation.  This belief is known as Sola Fide, or Faith Alone.  Catholic Christians, however, believe that both faith and works are necessary components of a person’s salvation.  Who’s right?  Let’s look at this situation from three perspectives: logical, scriptural, and historical.



1) The Logical Perspective


Sola Fide believers say that there is nothing we can do - no work, no act - in order to be saved.  Jesus did all that needed to be done for us through His death on the cross.  Over and over again it will be said that we can do nothing to “add to” Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  After all, John 19:30 has Jesus saying, “It is finished.”  Jesus’ last words, “It is finished.”  Sola Fide believers interpret those words to mean that Jesus was saying the work of salvation is finished.  “I have done all that can be done for your salvation,” Jesus is essentially saying, “nothing else is needed.”  The work of salvation is done...it’s over... it’s completed...all that needs to be done, has been done...period.   



How Then Am I Saved?


If the work of salvation was completed on the Cross some 2000 years ago, then how is it someone was “saved” by answering an altar call this past Sunday? Think about that.  How could anyone have been saved this past Sunday, or two weeks ago, or a month ago, or a year or ten or fifty years ago, if the work of salvation was completed 2000 years ago?  


To illustrate this point, let’s say that as of yesterday you had never believed in Christ.  You had never accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior.  You had never been born again.  Would you be considered “saved?”  The Sola Fide believer will say, “No, you would not be saved because you have not believed in Jesus.”    


But, if today, just one day later, you answered an altar call and said a sinner’s prayer and accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior and were born again, would you  then be considered “saved?” The Sola Fide believer will say, “Yes, you would be saved.”  


How can this be? What was the difference between your being “unsaved” yesterday and your being saved today?  Was it something you did that saved you?  “No, of course not,” the Sola Fide believer says, “you can do nothing that counts towards your salvation.”  Well then, it had to be something Jesus did for you today that He had not done for you as of yesterday.  But that can’t be, because Jesus’ work was finished 2000 years ago.  “It is finished,” He said.  


This is the dilemma: If the difference between being unsaved yesterday and being saved today could not have been due to something that you did; yet, on the other hand, Jesus didn’t do anything new for you today that He had not already done for you yesterday, how then are you saved?  


Here is where the logic of Sola Fide breaks down.  The correct answer, the Catholic answer, the scriptural answer, and the logical answer, is that you were saved by both something Jesus did and by something that you did.  You were indeed saved by Jesus’ death on the Cross 2000 years ago and by the fact that you finally believed it and acted upon that belief.  The problem is, Sola Fide has no room for such an answer.  It is blasphemy!  It is by faith alone that you are saved.  You can do nothing to contribute to your own salvation.  



What’s the Difference?


Yet, one cannot argue the fact that the only difference between being unsaved yesterday, and being saved today, is something that you did - not something that Jesus did for you today that He had not done for you as of yesterday.  Again, according to Sola Fide adherents, Jesus’ work was finished two thousand years ago.  “It is finished,” He said from the Cross.    


Now, Sola Fide folks will say that believing in Jesus - having faith in Jesus - is not a work, it is simply an act of faith.  Indeed.  It is an act of faith.  An act.  Think about that.  “So,” they will say, “a person is indeed saved today by Jesus’ death on the Cross 2000 years ago, but the benefits of Jesus’ atonement are not applied to us until such time as we come to have faith in Christ.” Well, whether you want to admit that the act of believing is a work or not, you simply cannot get around the fact that the only difference between a person being unsaved one day, and being saved the next, is not something new that Jesus did - He wasn’t re-crucified - rather it is something new that person did.


So, to claim that there is nothing one can do that contributes to one’s salvation is a logical absurdity when one considers that Jesus died for all men, yet not all men are saved.  Which means, that the only possible difference between the saved and the unsaved is that the saved did something that the unsaved did not do.


Sola Fide fails the test of logic.



2) The Scriptural Perspective


The biggest problem with the doctrine of Sola Fide from this perspective, is that nowhere in the Bible does it say that a person is saved, or justified, by faith alone.  Nowhere! That passage simply does not exist.  In fact, there is only one place in the Bible where the phrase “faith alone” appears, and that verse says, “We are justified by works and not by faith alone,” (James 2:24).  The Bible does, however, very clearly support the Catholic Church’s teaching that it is both faith and works that play a role in our salvation as we shall see.  



What’s Love Got to Do With It?


The Tina Turner song from the 80's, “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” presents a very difficult question for those who believe in salvation by faith alone.  Does love have any role in our salvation?  Yes or no?  Well, if love plays a role in our salvation then, quite obviously, we cannot say that we are saved by faith alone, we would have to say that we are saved by faith and love.  So, if we are indeed saved by faith, and faith alone, then the answer has to be, “No, love plays no role in our salvation.”     


But that doesn’t make any sense, either from a logical perspective or from a scriptural perspective.  Logically, one has to ask: Can we get to Heaven even if we don’t love God or love our fellow man?  Well, if it’s salvation by faith alone, then the answer to that question is, “Yes, we can get to Heaven even if we don’t love God or our fellow man...as long as we have faith.” Does that make any sense whatsoever?  No!


Scripturally, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, for instance, we are told, “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” But, if salvation is the greatest thing a human being can  reach - which it is - and if salvation can be reached only through faith alone, then why isn’t faith greater than love?  1 Corinthians 13:13 makes no sense, at least, not in Sola Fide theology.  


Furthermore, in Galatians 5:6, we are told, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.”  The context here is one of salvation and justification.  Faith working through love.  Faith and love are  both important for one’s salvation, at least, according to the Bible.


In James 1:12 and 2:5, Scripture says that God has promised the “crown of life” and “the Kingdom,” respectively, to “those who love Him.”  Obviously, then, the opposite is true: those who do not love God do not receive the “crown of life” and do not inherit “the Kingdom.”  In other words, they are not saved.


1 John 3:14, “He who does not love remains in death.”  If one remains in death - and it’s speaking of spiritual death here - then one is not saved.  Which means that this passage, as well as the others just mentioned, all point to the fact that love is necessary for salvation.  What’s love got to do with it?  Everything.  Without love, there is no salvation.  Salvation by faith alone?   



Faith and Works?


We know that faith is necessary for salvation, for “without faith it is impossible to please God,” (Heb 11:6), but what about works - do works play a role in our salvation?  The Sola Fide believer says, “No, they do not.”  Yet, as we have just seen,  love is necessary for salvation.   How, though, does love manifest itself?  Through works. We see this, for example, in the Judgment passage from Matthew 25.  Those who did something - fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and so on - inherited the Kingdom - while those who did nothing, suffered eternal punishment.  


This is why we have passages such as Romans 2:6-7, “For [God] will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing [good works] seek for glory and honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”  Eternal life is given to those who do good works!  At least, that’s what the Bible says.  But, is it given to those who do good works but don’t have faith?  No.  Faith is necessary for salvation.  Is it given to those who do good works out of selfish motives?  No.  The Bible says love is necessary for salvation.  


This is why the Bible says that “faith working through love” is of avail.  We must have faith, and we must have love, and love works.  This is why the Catholic Church teaches that faith and works both play a role in one’s salvation, because good works are a manifestation of one’s love.  So we are saved, not by faith alone, but by faith working through love, and all by the grace of God.


The doctrine of Sola Fide fails the test of Scripture.



3) The Historical Perspective


In the Introduction to his book, “An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine,” John Henry Cardinal Newman - a famous 19th century convert to the Catholic Church from Protestantism -  wrote the following:


“To be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant.  And this utter incongruity between Protestantism and historical Christianity is a plain fact, whether [Christianity] be considered in its earlier or in its later centuries.”


In other words, the doctrine of Sola Fide, as well as all the other distinctively Protestant doctrines, is nowhere to be found in the writings of the early Christians.  Nowhere is it found in the records of the Church Councils.  Nowhere is it found in historical Christianity before the 1500's.  Christians did not believe it, they did not teach it, and they did not practice it.  


Think about this: The Catholic Church has battled against the followers of many and varied doctrines that it considered heresies throughout its history - the Gnostics, Nicolaitians, Ebionites, Montanists, Arians, Donatists, Marcionites, Pelagians, Albigensians, and a whole host of others.  The errors believed and taught by these people, and how these errors were refuted by the Christian apologists of the times, are detailed in the writings of Christians throughout the centuries of the Church and in the records of the Church Councils.  The first time, though, that we see the Catholic Church responding to the doctrine of Sola Fide, is in the 1500's.


This has to lead one to ask why Christian writers of the early and middle centuries of  Christianity do not mention the supposedly fundamental doctrine of salvation by “faith alone,” either in favor of it or as being opposed to it.  If it is the fundamental teaching of Christianity, why no mention of it for the first 1500 years of Christianity?    


It wasn’t mentioned, because it did not exist.  What history is telling us is that the doctrine of Sola Fide is only about five hundred-years old.  Christianity, however, is almost two thousand-years old.


The doctrine of Sola Fide fails the test of history.



Conclusion


So we see that the doctrine of Sola Fide fails the test from all three perspectives - logical, scriptural, and historical.  This is a doctrine that is relatively new to Christianity (only 500 years old) and it is a doctrine that is quite contrary to what Scripture actually says.  Salvation by faith alone?  No.  Salvation by faith working through love, all by the grace of God?  Yes indeed!



Summary


I hope all of you have a great week.  And, please don't forget to tune in this coming Wednesday to Balaam's Ride, my new radio show on WQOH 1480 AM in Birmingham, or at www.queenofheavenradio.com anywhere else in the world.  It airs every Wednesday from 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Central (1700 - 1800 Greenwich time).  So far the reviews that have come in have been good, so I hope you'll enjoy it...


(Source: John Martignoni / Bible Christian Society: http://www.biblechristiansociety.com/home.php. Used with permission)

Salvation - Sola Fide (Salvation by Faith...Alone?)


The Second Pillar of Protestantism

In the last chapter we talked about Sola Scriptura, which I believe to be the one Protestant doctrine accepted universally throughout Protestantism.  Which is why I call it the first pillar of Protestantism.  In this chapter, I want to talk to you about the doctrine of Sola Fide - or Faith Alone.  Sola Fide, the belief that we are justified, or saved, by faith, and by faith alone - is the second pillar of Protestantism.  Sola Fide, the belief that faith alone saves us - that works play no role whatsoever in our salvation - is a belief held by the vast majority of Protestants - whether they call themselves Baptists, Evangelicals, Methodists, Lutheran, non-Denominational, and so on.  This is not, however, a universal belief in Protestantism, as there are some folks - like the Church of Christ and at least some of the Pentecostals I’ve come across - who do not hold to this doctrine.  


 


Now, what exactly does Sola Fide mean?  I have often heard the doctrine of Sola Fide expressed in this way: We are saved by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  It is God’s grace alone that saves us, but we have access to that grace only through faith alone...faith that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and that it is His actions, and His alone, that play any role in our salvation.  No works that we do can ever play a role - any role - in our salvation.  


 



A person is said to be saved by faith alone when they make a profession of faith in Christ, either through a “sinner’s prayer” or by accepting Jesus Christ into their heart as their “personal Lord and Savior.”  Once that is done, then that person is “saved,” they have been “born again.”   


 


Protestants, however, do not view works as completely non-essential.  They tell you that if you truly have faith, you will do works.  Or, as Martin Luther basically said, “We are saved by faith alone, but faith is never alone.”  Sola Fide believers will often say that if a man does not have works to accompany his faith, then that shows he really doesn’t have faith.  Faith without works, they will claim, really isn’t faith.  Works are, in essence, a natural by-product of faith, but, the main point is, that for the believer in salvation by faith alone, works play no role whatsoever in a man’s justification, in his salvation, and one most definitely cannot merit an increase in justification through works, as Catholics believe, and which I’ll talk about later in this chapter.


 


So, I will examine this doctrine of Sola Fide in the same manner I examined the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, from three different perspectives – the perspective provided by logic, the perspective provided by history, and the perspective provided by scripture – and show that it fails the test in all three of these areas.  As I go through these different perspectives, I will be comparing and contrasting this Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide, with Catholic teaching on salvation.


 


Sola Fide: The Perspective Provided by Logic

Sola Fide believers say that there is nothing we can do to impact our salvation.  Jesus did all that needed to be done for us through His death on the cross.  I have heard over and over and over again that we can do nothing to “add” to Jesus’ finished work on the cross.  Folks will point to John 19:30, to make their case.  John 19:30 says, “When Jesus had received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished,’ and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  Jesus’ last words...“It is finished.”  Sola Fide believers interpret those words to mean that Jesus was saying the work of salvation is finished.  “I have done all that can be done for your salvation,” Jesus is essentially saying, “Nothing else is needed.”  The work of salvation is done...it’s over... it’s completed...all that needs to be done, has been done...period.   


 


First, and I’ll cover this particular argument more in depth under the “Perspective Provided by Scripture,” to give those dying words of Jesus a “Sola Fide” interpretation, is just that...an interpretation.  A fallible, man-made interpretation.  And it’s a bad interpretation, as I will show in just a little bit.    


 


Second, I want to bring one of our Four Strategies into play here - the “How to Be Offensive (Aw-Fensive) Without Being Offensive (Uh-fensive)” strategy.  Again, that strategy is nothing more than learning how to ask questions - questions that make folks stop and think about what it is they believe and why they believe it.  


 


So, here is a question you can ask someone who believes in the Protestant doctrine of Sola Fide:  If, on March 12th, 2015, I had never believed in Christ; I had never accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior; I had never been born again...would I be “saved?”  The Sola Fide believer will say, “No, you would not be saved.”  Okay, then, as a follow-up you can ask: Well, if one day later, March 13th, 2015, I answered an altar call; I said a sinner’s prayer; I accepted Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior; I was born again...would I then be saved?  The Sola Fide believer will say, “Yes, you would be saved.”  


 


Well, now I’m a little confused.  I’m confused because I was unsaved on March 12th, 2015.  But I was “saved” on March 13th, 2015.  What was the difference between my being unsaved on March 12th and my being saved on March 13th?  Was it something I did on March 13, 2015 that saved me, or was it something that Jesus did on March 13, 2015, that saved me?  Did Jesus do something that day...that very day...that saved me, that He didn’t do for me the day before?  Was He crucified on the cross again for me?   


 


According to the doctrine of Sola Fide, Jesus’ work was finished two thousand years ago on the Cross.  “It is finished,” He said from the Cross.  So, it can’t be something Jesus did that caused me to be saved in 2015.  His work was done, complete, finito, over, accomplished - on the Cross - 2000 years ago.  Yet, also according to the doctrine of Sola Fide, there is nothing that I can do during my lifetime that counts towards my salvation.  So, it cannot be something that I did.  How then was I unsaved on March 12, 2015, and saved on March 13, 2015?  How?!  Was it something I did, or was it something Jesus did?


 


The correct answer, the Catholic answer, the scriptural answer, the logical answer, is both.  I was saved by both something Jesus did and by something that I did, but the logical dilemma for the folks who believe in Sola Fide, is that it can’t be both.  Sola Fide does not allow for anyone to do something, to do any work, that leads to one’s salvation.  


 


“Wait a minute,” the Sola Fide folks will say, “Yes, Jesus’ work of salvation was finished on the Cross 2000 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you can claim you did some work today that saved you.  It is not by your work that you were saved today, it is by your faith that you were saved today.  You were saved by having faith..by believing in Jesus’ finished work of salvation for you on the Cross 2000 years ago.  So, it’s not some work that saved you, because believing is not a work.”   


 


Here is where the logic of Sola Fide has a problem.  We have to “do” something - I have to “do” something - profess belief; make an act of faith - in order to be saved.  But, they cannot call this something that we have to “do”...for our salvation...a “work.”  After all, that would be against their religion.  So, they’ll say that believing isn’t a work, it’s merely an act of faith in someone else’s work - in Jesus’ work.


 


Believing isn’t a work?  Do I not have to “confess” Jesus?  Do I not have to make an “act” of faith?  Do I not have to “accept” Jesus into my heart as my personal Lord and Savior?  Aren’t all of these things actions that have to take place in order for me to be saved?  What is a “work”?  A work is simply an action...an action that we do.  Believing is an action. It is something we do. Saying a sinner’s prayer is an action. It is something we do.  Accepting Jesus into our heart is an action.  It is something we do.  Confessing Jesus with our lips is an action.  It is something we do. So, believing is indeed a work...an action...it is something that we need to do in order to be saved. Jesus doesn’t do it for us and He will not force us to do it.  We do it by the grace of God, but we do it.  It is a work we do. And, as I’ll show in a few minutes, the Bible backs me up on this.


 


Here’s another way to illustrate the logical dilemma of Sola Fide: I often draw a big circle for folks on a piece of paper.  Just imagine this big circle.  I tell them that the circle represents the set of all people who were redeemed by Christ’s death on the cross.  In other words, the circle represents all of humanity, because Jesus died for all men...that all men might be saved.  1 Timothy 4:10 says that Jesus is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.  Which means not that all men are definitely saved, but that all men can be saved.  And they can be saved because Jesus paid the price for all men’s sins - He has redeemed all of mankind.  All of humanity is redeemed by Jesus’ death on the Cross.  But, not all of humanity is saved.   


 


So, I next draw a smaller circle within the first circle.  Big circle...smaller circle inside the big circle.  I tell them that this second circle represents the subset of those who have not only been redeemed, but who have also been saved.  Which means that those outside of that second circle represent the redeemed and unsaved.  I then ask, “What is the difference between the two circles - between the redeemed and unsaved and the redeemed and saved - is it something Jesus did, or is it something that the saved persons did?    


 


Whenever I ask that question, I can almost hear the first thought that goes through their heads, I know they’re thinking, “It’s something the saved did.”  Because that’s the logical response.  I know they’re thinking that because they generally give me this really strange look as they try to think of a “correct” response.  They know they can’t say it’s something Jesus did, because they have just finished telling me that Jesus’ work was finished on the cross some two thousand years ago.  Besides, Jesus did the same thing for all men - He died on the Cross for their sins.  So, the difference between the redeemed and saved and the redeemed and unsaved cannot be something Jesus did, because He did the same thing for all men.


 


They also realize, however, that they cannot answer the question by saying it’s something the saved did, because they also just finished telling me that we can do nothing to “add to” Jesus’ finished work of salvation on the Cross.  We can do no work that affects our salvation.  Jesus did all that needs to be done.  Hmm...we’ve got a problem.  The difference between the redeemed and saved and the redeemed and unsaved can’t be what Jesus did, but it can’t be something the saved did, either.  Then what is it?  

Again, for the Catholic, the answer to the dilemma is obvious.  Both groups are redeemed.  Jesus has already died for both groups of people - the saved and the unsaved.  So the only possible difference between the redeemed and saved and the redeemed and unsaved, is something the saved “do”.  Now, they do it by the grace of God - which we have access to because of Jesus’ death on the Cross - but the saved do it and the unsaved don’t do it.  They confess their sins.  They ask for forgiveness.  They make an act of faith.  They say a sinner’s prayer.  They accept Jesus into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior.  


 


All of these are things that each individual believer does.  They are verbs...action verbs.  They are “acts” of faith.  They are “acts” of believing.  They involve our body, our mind, and our will.  We “confess” with our lips that Jesus is Lord.  We “accept” Him into our hearts as our personal Lord and Savior.  It is an act of the mind to understand that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  It is an act of the will to accept that understanding and have it give our lives meaning.  We “make” a commitment to Christ.  Actions!  Works!


 


This is the true irony of the doctrine of Sola Fide, the very act of having faith, the act of believing, is itself a work.  It is something we do.  We do it by the grace of God, but we indeed do it.  It is not forced upon us, it is a decision we make.  It is not done on our behalf without our involvement, but rather it is done through our cooperation with God’s grace.  As one of the saints said, “God created us without our consent, but He will not save us without our consent.”  


 


So, the doctrine of Sola Fide is a logical contradiction.  You cannot be saved by faith alone, when the act of having faith is a work in and of itself.  It is something the believer does that sets him apart from the unbeliever, because Jesus has died for both.  


 


Sola Fide fails the test of logic.


 (www.biblechristiansociety.com)


Sola Fide and the Four Strategies


1) The Ignorant Catholic


Protestant Argument:

In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible says that we are saved by grace, through faith, and that works have nothing at all to do with our salvation.  But Catholics believe that they can work their way into Heaven.  Why do you believe what your church says rather than what the Word of God says?


 


Catholic Response:

Wow.  That’s a good question.  And, I'm going to have to be honest with you and tell you that I don't know the answer to your question right now, but, I tell ya what I’m going to do...I’m going to do a little research and find out the answer, and I’ll get back to you on that once I do.  


 


2) How to Be Offensive (Aw-fensive) Without Being Offensive (Uh-fensive)


Protestant Argument:

John 3:16 says that all those who believe in Jesus will be saved.  It doesn’t say anything about works or working your way into Heaven.  It is faith and faith alone that saves us.  Why does your church teach something that is so obviously contrary to the Bible?


 


Catholic Responses:

Catholics believe that we have to have faith in order to be saved, but does John 3:16 say that believing alone is what saves us?  I mean, think about this: Do we need to love God in order to be saved? [Easy question, right? Ask that of a person who believes in salvation by faith alone - Sola Fide - and see what they say.  Think about it.  If we are indeed saved by faith alone - Sola Fide - then the correct answer is, “No, we don’t need to love God in order to be saved.”  Because if we need to love God in order to be saved, then we are not saved by faith “alone.”  It would be faith AND love that saves us. So, if we need to love God in order to be saved, then Sola Fide is false.  But, the other option they have is to say we can get into Heaven without loving God, or, without loving our neighbor.  Really?!  What Christian in their right mind would say you don’t have to love God or neighbor in order to be saved?  That doesn’t  make any sense.  Either way they go, they’ve got a problem.]


 


If salvation by faith alone is the most central and most important Christian doctrine, then why does the phrase "faith alone" appear only once in all of Scripture, and that is to say that we are notjustified, or saved, by "faith alone" (James 2:24)?  [Do you realize that?  The phrase “faith alone” appears in Scripture just once, and that is to say that we are NOT justified, or saved, by faith alone.  You will see some pretty fancy verbal and scriptural gymnastics as folks try to get around that one.  The Word of God says that we are not justified by faith alone; yet most Protestants believe that we are justified by faith alone.  Can you imagine what folks would say if there was a verse in the Bible that stated, very plainly and bluntly, the Eucharist is merely a symbol, but Catholics tried to say, “Oh, no, that doesn’t really mean what it says.”  I don’t think that would fly too well, but that is, essentially, what Sola Fide believers do.]

    

 


So, if we’re saved by faith alone, then do we have to forgive others in order to get into Heaven?  “No.  We should forgive others, but our salvation isn’t dependent upon that.”  But doesn’t Jesus tell us in Matthew 6:15 that if we don’t forgive others of their trespasses, then the Father won’t forgive us of our trespasses?  “Well, yeah, I guess so.  So what?”  Well, that means if we don’t forgive others of their sins against us, God won’t forgive us of our sins against Him.  Can we get into Heaven if our sins are NOT forgiven?  “No, but...”  So, we dohave to forgive others of their sins in order to get into Heaven.  Since that's something we do, isn’t that a work? 


 


If salvation is the greatest thing we can achieve, which it is; and the only thing necessary for salvation is faith, according to you; then why does 1 Corinthians 13:13 say that love is greater than faith?  How can love be greater than faith, if it is faith alone that gets us the greatest thing we can ever hope to have - salvation?


 


3) It's the Principle of the Thing!


Protestant Argument:

In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible says that we are saved by grace, through faith, and that works have nothing at all to do with our salvation.  But Catholics believe that they can work their way into Heaven.  Why do you believe what your church says rather than what the Word of God says?


 


Catholic responses:

If you keep reading just one more verse, to Ephesians 2:10, you will see that we were created “for good works.”  Furthermore, it says that God has prepared certain good works for each of us, “that we SHOULD walk in them.”



Catholic Scriptural Principle: It is God’s will that we should do the good works which He has prepared for us to do.   


 


In Matthew 7:21, it says that not everyone who cries, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the will of God the Father.



Catholic Scriptural Principle: If you don’t do the will of God, you don’t get into Heaven.


 


Conclusion: If you don’t do the will of God, by not doing the works that He has prepared for you that you should walk in them (Eph 2:10), then you will not get into Heaven (Matthew 7:21).  Therefore, salvation by faith alone is not true.    


 


4) But That's My Interpretation!

    

Protestant Argument:

In Ephesians 2:8-9, the Bible says that we are saved by grace, through faith, and that works have nothing at all to do with our salvation.  But Catholics believe that they can work their way into Heaven.  Why do you believe what your church says rather than what the Word of God says?


 


Catholic response:

I will be happy to continue talking to you about all of these things and to answer your questions, but before we go further, there is an issue that is fundamental to all of this that we need to get out on the table: I need to know if you are infallible in your interpretation of the Bible?   {Pause and wait for answer.}

 


If the answer is, "No, I'm not infallible": Then, just so we're clear on this, everything you're telling me about what this or that passage of the Bible means, could be wrong, right?  I mean, since you're not infallible in your interpretation of the Bible, you could be wrong some of the time, or even all of the time, couldn't you?  So, essentially, the best you can do in this conversation, is to offer your fallible interpretation of the Bible vs. my fallible interpretation of the Bible, right?  And I know you'll say your fallible interpretation is better than my fallible interpretation, but you won't be able to be absolutely sure of that, will you...since you're not infallible?

 


If the answer is, "Yes, I am infallible": You are infallible?!  Really?!  Well, then, could you provide me with some evidence that tells me you are indeed infallible?  Does the Bible mention your name as being infallible?  Have you received a vision from God telling you that you're infallible?  How do you know that you are infallible?  What would you say if I claimed to be infallible?  If you're infallible, why can't the Pope be infallible, as well?

Summary


Thus ends chapter 5.  If you've noticed the repetition in Strategy 1 and Strategy 4 from chapter 4 to chapter 5, that is quite intentional.  By repeating these things, you will learn them and get comfortable with them.  I'll start chapter 6 in the next newsletter.  I hope all of you have a great week. 


(www.biblechristiansociety.com)


John Martignoni: How Are We Justified? By Faith Alone?

 

John Martignoni:

If a man has faith but has not works, can his faith save him?

 

John Martignoni / Bible Christian Society

 

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