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Friday, February 17, 2006
Today's Readings - Protestants Please Read
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February 17, 2006
Friday in the Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Memorial of the Seven Servite Founders

I was astonished by today's reading after my recent discussion with protestants like Aaron and Adam. If you a protestant, please read this post.

Here was the first reading at Mass:

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day,and one of you says to them,“Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God. See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. For just as a body without a spirit is dead,so also faith without works is dead. James 2:14-24, 26

It's all right there - we must have works. St. James makes it crystal clear. Without works we don't have faith. For faith is not enough as he remarks, even the devils believe. But is believing enough? No! It's not enough. If you confess Jesus is Lord you are not automatically saved. Salvation is a process, a journey with Christ. Faith is the cornerstone of our faith, but we must have works. We must be servants and followers of Christ. Faith by itself is not enough. You can clearly tell this by St. James.

Listen to today's Gospel reading:

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them,“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sakeand that of the Gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole worldand forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” He also said to them,“Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the Kingdom of God has come in power.” Mk 8:34–9:1

Jesus never said "Just believe and you shall be saved." He never said this. Don't believe anyone who says this. What did Jesus say? He said, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." We must follow Him and serve the Lord. These works include the Sacraments, which allow us to follow Him closer.

Works are a necessity to serving Christ. As St. James wrote, "Faith without works is dead." It's that simple.

8 comments:

del_button February 18, 2006 at 2:39 AM
adam said...

I won't spend a great deal of time on James 2, since we've talked about it before:
Yes, faith without works is dead. But the Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by faith alone by grace alone. The works that are a result of faith are not what gives salvation. To say that you must do works to be saved is saying that works save. This is to lessen the sacrifice of Jesus for us on the cross. He died once for all. Works will natually come with faith but they aren't what saves. If you want Bible passages I will find them, but it's 1:30 a.m. and I've talked on this before, so I'll focus on Mark 8.
vs. 34:
"deny himself"- before we were given faith we only had our old man (our sinful nature); that is what we were, that was our only essence, sinful and bent on evil. To deny oneself is to deny who we are which is belonging to sin. By faith and Jesus we have been freed from sin and sin is nolonger master over us. [Romans 6:1-14]
"take up his cross"- those who were sentenced to death on a cross had to carry his own cross out to the place of his death. "God has not promised skies always blue, flower strewn pathways all our lives through. God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain. But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the laborer, light for the way, grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undieing love." What I mean is that, believing in God is not a joy ride. We will suffer because of our faith. Taking up the cross is being willing to suffer for the LORD's sake to our death.
vs. 35
"save his life"- (physical life), those who try to save themselves and preserve their lives on this earth. Those who live for themselves.
"will lose it"- They will loose life in heaven for they did not believe. They lived for themselves and not for Christ.
"but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it"- We may lose our lives defending the faith, but we will have gained salvation in heaven because of the death and resurrection of Christ and by the faith we have been given.
"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"- What good are material possesions? They are only temporary. Those who put their trust in these things will not be in heaven because they do not have faith.
"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words..."- Those who are ashamed are those without faith. These people are concerned with themselves and their "adulterous and sinful generation". They live to please themselves and don't live lives of thanks to the LORD.

del_button February 18, 2006 at 1:07 PM
Aaron said...

i will comment more on this later, as we've already covered this a few times, but right now, just to get you thinking, i'll say look at the man hanging on the cross next to Jesus. A downright filthy criminal. "Today you will be with me in paradise." He had no time to do any "good works", and yet he went to heaven because he had faith. There's two ways you can get to heaven. Live a completely perfect, holy, not one sin life, which none of us can do. Or, believe in Jesus as your only Savior from sin, which can only be done by the work of the Holy Spirit. Look at Matthew 9:10-13 "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisses saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and "sinners"?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means:I desire mercy, not sacrifice. FOr I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." unquote. If you could be saved by works, Jesus wouldn't have had to come, and he didn't come to save those who can do it themselves. But the truth is, none of us can. That's why he died once for each and every one of us and for all. All business was taken care of in his life. I don't know if we've mentioned this yet, but that's why Jesus had to live a perfect life for us. We can't live anywhere near percect lives, so his life went in place of ours. THen he died in place of us. And then he rose to assure us of our resurrection into heaven. Don't you think God is powerful enough to take all your sins away? Clearly, the whole Bible, OT and NT, point to Jesus. The Law shows us we are reckless sinners, we can save ourselves. The gospel shows us who did it all for us.

del_button February 18, 2006 at 5:48 PM
Moneybags said...

Adam,

"But the Bible clearly teaches that we are saved by faith alone"

No it doesn't. Look here:

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

"Works will natually come with faith but they aren't what saves"

You're right that the Work of Christ did everything. We, however, must "pick up our Cross and follow Him." We must obey the Commandments. That is a work!

""but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it"- We may lose our lives defending the faith, but we will have gained salvation in heaven because of the death and resurrection of Christ and by the faith we have been given."

Giving up our life is a work!

Let me explain:

There are some that are saved without works - for example, the good thief. He died just after his confession. He couldn't have done any works other than 1 - confess his faith publically. That is his work.

If we are not able to do works do to any reason, then they can't be counted against us. However, if we can do works we must. We must love our neighbor. That requires works.

Please explain how we don't need works in context with this: James 2:24, "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone."

del_button February 19, 2006 at 8:48 PM
Moneybags said...

This is Adam's Reply, I moved it from it's placement because it didn't fit that post's topic:

I'll post my comment about James 2 here since it's your latest post:
I believe that God is changeless. God is perfect and cannot sin. God is holy. God's being changeless means that what He says at one time lasts forever. When he says in Ephesians 2, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.", it stays in effect forever. God does not change His mind because He is changeless from eternity. So if God says in context that I'm saved through faith and not by works I'm going to believe it. So when I take James 2:24 out of context, I see that it says that we justified not by faith alone. But this is because I took it out of context. God says in Ephesians that it is by faith alone by grace James 2 out of context can't be true because God does not change.
So when I look at James 2 in context, I see the section is saying that if you don't have works your faith is dead. Works will naturally come out of faith because of our motivation for Christ. But this section says that without works faith is dead. Well if you don't have the motivation of Christ's death and resurrection you won't have works, and faith is dead because you don't believe in Christ. The whole section is not clearly saying that we are justified by works. It's clearly saying that without works faith is dead. So when it says, "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone," it must relate to the entire section. And the section doesn't talk about justification by works. It says faith without good works (or fruits of the spirit) is dead. James 2:24 is saying that if you don't have works you don't have faith, and if you don't have faith you won't receive the gift of salvation. How can James 2:24 be saying that we are justified by works if the entire section (vs. 14-26) is not talking about being justified by works? And how can James 2:24 be saying that we are justified by works if Ephesians 2 clearly very very very clearly says that we are saved by grace alone by faith alone, remembering that God is Holy and changeless.
You referenced the theif on the cross as an "exception" to being justified by works because he didn't have time to do them. God doesn't make exceptions. He's changeless. In His holiness, to save us, He demanded that someone must live a perfect life and die to save everyone and that believing in that person we might be saved. In His holiness God also demanded that this person must be a human. We'll since no human could live a perfect life He sent Jesus(God's Son) because He was God and perfect but He was also true man. In God's Holiness He had one plan for salvation. And He's never made an exception to that ever. Everyone from the beginning of the earth who was saved was saved by believing in Jesus as their Savior from all of their sins. It's through faith that all who have been saved have been saved.
John 3:16 also refered to as the Gospel in a nutshell says, "... that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." This is also a passage that coresponds to being saved just by believing. Just by having faith.
"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"-Numbers 23:19

del_button February 19, 2006 at 10:30 PM
adam said...

I reposted this cause some things got weird in your copying it over here, so I fixed those mistakes.

I believe that God is changeless. God is perfect and cannot sin. God is holy. God's being changeless means that what He says at one time lasts forever. When he says in Ephesians 2, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.", it stays in effect forever. God does not change His mind because He is changeless from eternity. So if God says in context that I'm saved through faith and not by works I'm going to believe it. So when I take James 2:24 out of context, I see that it says that we are justified not by faith alone. But this is because I took it out of context. God says in Ephesians that it is by faith alone by grace alone. James 2 out of context can't be true because God does not change.
So when I look at James 2 in context, I see the section is saying that if you don't have works your faith is dead. Works will naturally come out of faith because of our motivation for Christ. But this section says that without works faith is dead. Well if you don't have the motivation of Christ's death and resurrection you won't have works, and faith is dead because you don't believe in Christ. The whole section is not clearly saying that we are justified by works. It's clearly saying that without works faith is dead. So when it says, "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone," it must relate to the entire section. And the section doesn't talk about justification by works. It says faith without good works (or fruits of the spirit) is dead. James 2:24 is saying that if you don't have works you don't have faith, and if you don't have faith you won't receive the gift of salvation. How can James 2:24 be saying that we are justified by works if the entire section (vs. 14-26) is not talking about being justified by works? And how can James 2:24 be saying that we are justified by works if Ephesians 2 clearly very very very clearly says that we are saved by grace alone by faith alone, remembering that God is Holy and changeless?
You referenced the theif on the cross as an "exception" to being justified by works because he didn't have time to do them. God doesn't make exceptions. He's changeless. In His holiness, to save us, He demanded that someone must live a perfect life and die to save everyone and that believing in that person we might be saved. In His holiness God also demanded that this person must be a human. We'll since no human could live a perfect life He sent Jesus(God's Son) because He was God and perfect but He was also true man. In God's Holiness He had one plan for salvation. And He's never made an exception to that ever. Everyone from the beginning of the earth who was saved was saved by believing in Jesus as their Savior from all of their sins. It's through faith that all who have been saved have been saved.
John 3:16 also refered to as the Gospel in a nutshell says, "... that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." This is also a passage that coresponds to being saved just by believing. Just by having faith.
"God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?"-Numbers 23:19

del_button August 29, 2009 at 9:19 PM
Anonymous said...

Jesus said that unless we believe and do penance we will not see life. The Good Thief is called "good" because in the end he was good. He had the grace of heroic charity. It took alot of courage and an act of heroic charity for the Good Thief, dying on a cross and in agony, to make such a declaration in the face of that violent, insulting mob at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. The Good Thief accepted his crucifixion as the penance God demanded of him, and he admitted both his fault and God's rights over him.
He also had perfect contrition. He was sorry for his sins. "We deserve to die. We are only paying for our crimes," he told the other thief, "But this Man has done nothing wrong." He then turned to Jesus. "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." His penance was his work, for who could calculate how many souls have been helped by the great act of God's mercy that resulted from his contrition on the cross, as recorded in this Gospel account?
This idea is found in the Old Testament, when God explained that if a good man turned to evil, but died while he was in the evil state, he would be punished, when, contrarily, if an evil man spent his life doing evil, but had repented before the end of his life and then died in the good state, he would be spared. It is the disposition we hold at the final hour that is most important, and this was so firmly believed by many saints that they continuously prayed for this great grace at the end of life (St Padre Pio among them) and the reasoning behing the Apostle Paul when he says that we "should work out our salvation with fear and trembling." Salvation can't be presumed as our final state, but something we must pray and strive for.
The Good Thief had great humility. He didn't dare ask to go to heaven, but merely asked to be remembered when Jesus came into His kingdom. It tells us so much about how we should approach our own salvation and how humbling it is to approach the just God. Doing good works is the most pleasant and light way of doing penance, as in the giving of alms, and this kind of charity is the charity that "covers a multitude of sins" that has been recommended down through Church history to penitants and saints alike. We also know that Jesus tells us elsewhere in the Gospel that whatever we do to the least of his brothers we do to Him (the parable of the last judgement is hinged on this key point between the sheep and the goats) so what is there left to argue about? The sheep hed Him, the goats did not. Why should this be a problem for a Christian? God is compassionate, and we, as his children, should simply offer that same compassion to those who we can see in imitation and obedience to Him.
The Scriptures have to be interpreted as a whole, not in bits and pieces. That is why it is so important to look to the doctors of the church who are more knowledgeable in such matters, and, as Jesus suggests, be as little children, willing to learn from them. It has always been the tragic mistake of false teachers to take one sentence from Christ and build an entire theology on that one sentence. It seems that this is the case with the faith/works debate. It might be wiser perpas to argue less and do more, as we are running out of time.

del_button September 19, 2011 at 9:06 PM
Anonymous said...

I have just been reading about the miracles of Padre Pio. I am not a Catholic and I have never heard of him before. My question is this - Surely all miracles are performed by the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We are purely vessels for the Lord to work through on this earth. We are his representatives. All glory should go to God and not to man. Would you explain to me where in the bible it says to pray to saints to intervene on your behalf. I thought it says the only way to the Father is through the Son. I am not trying to be rude, but I would like to understand where these ideas come from.

del_button September 20, 2011 at 9:54 PM
Matthew said...

Anonymous,

Please see this post on why we pray for the intercession of the saints. We welcome your comments and dialogue on that post:

http://acatholiclife.blogspot.com/2005/08/prayer-to-saints-why.html

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