by Matt1618

As I write this paper I must admit that I have not studied all Protestant Apologist explanations for the defense of the doctrine of justification by faith alone. I do have three books, Faith Alone, by RC Sproul, The Roman Catholic Controversy by James White, and Norman Geisler's book "Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences. I have heard numerous tapes and radio programs of people like Christians United for the Reformation (CURE), Christian Research Institute, etc. I have read at various times other books that propound sola fide (Justification by Faith Alone). I have heard debates from people like James White, Michael Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, William Webster, etc. defending that position. I have dialogued with Protestants on-line and/or through email. There is no doubt I could use further education in studying the Protestant position.

Nevertheless there seems to be one thing lacking in all of these Protestant presentations of their doctrine of sola fide: Why do they rarely if ever, comment on how their view of the gospels relate to the final judgment scenes so clearly spelled out in the New Testament?( Matthew 25:31-46; Matthew 7:21-23; Matthew 16:24-27; John 5:28-29; Romans 2:6-10; 1 Cor 3:10-17; Rev. 2:19-23; Rev. 20:12-13, Rev. 22:11-14, etc.) You look at the index of their books, and these types of scriptures are rarely commented on. It seems to me that if one's view of justification before God is true, then this view would neatly conform to these final judgment scenes. It puzzles me that the scenes where God separates the just from the unjust has no relevance to the view on justification. For example RC Sproul's book "Faith Alone" is exclusively about the issue of justification. Yet you look in the scriptural index that he has, and there is no mention of Matthew 25, and the same with the other mentioned books that that I have on hand. After reading their books, and listening to their audio tapes and radio programs, I came to one conclusion why commentary on such passages are avoided: Because these judgment scenes clearly contradict the teaching of sola fide. Avoiding these judgment scenes is the only way can maintain that one is justified by faith alone.

However one interprets Romans, Galatians, James 2, Ephesians 2, Matthew 5-7, etc., one's theology must conform to these final judgment scenes so clearly spelled out in the New Testament. If they do not conform to these judgment scenes, then one's interpretation of the gospel in these areas is clearly flawed. Let us therefore look at some of these passages. What does Jesus say about the last judgment, and what the judgment is based on? Matthew 25:31-46 explains quite clearly:

31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. 41Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Notice how Jesus decides who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. He does not say, "whoever believed in me, as long as they trusted in me, are the sheeps and go to heaven. Those who did not believe in me go to hell." Although belief in Jesus is necessary, that alone does not avail before God. The eternal destiny is determined by what the people did and did not do. This fits in exactly with the Catholic view of justification. Those who are fit to go into heaven are those who have been righteous, those who by God's grace, obeyed unto salvation (Rom. 6:16). After all, Christ makes us righteous (Rom. 5:17-19).

Does this judgment scene fit with the merely forensic view of justification, as elicited by Calvin, and modern Protestant apologists? Here is what RC Sproul says in his book 'Faith Alone.' Sproul writes "By imparting or imputing Christ's righteousness to us sinners, God reckons us as just. It is "as if" (Sproul's quote) we were inherently just. But we are not inherently just.... We are just by imputation even while sin still remains in us, though it does not reign in us...He quotes Calvin "To justify is nothing else that to acquit from the charge of guilt, "as if" innocence were proved"...When God justifies us...he does not acquit on us on a proof of our own innocence, but by an imputation of righteousness, so that "though not righteous in ourselves", we are deemed righteous in Christ" (Sproul, 102). Notice, in his assessment, the judgment scene for believers should be an acquittal, even though the person is actually unrighteous. Works have nothing to do with this acquittal. If this is correct, in this specific judgment scene, we should expect to see Jesus saying to the sheeps "Since you have my imputed righteousness, you go to heaven, and to the goats, since you do not have my imputed righteousness, you go to hell." However, as we have seen, the sheeps get into heaven, precisely because of these works done on the basis of faith. The goats get sent to hell based on the fact they had no works. The goats did have belief, because the goats even called him Lord, Lord. The goats believed apparently that faith alone was necessary for salvation, but that does not avail before God, as Jesus demonstrates.

Another clear passage on how Jesus decides who gets resurrected to life and hell based on works is John 5:28-29. "28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice. 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation." Yes, earlier in v. 24, Jesus says whoever believes in me has everlasting life, but he is clear that his judgment is not based only on belief. Jesus explicitly says that the judgment to heaven or hell is based specifically on whether one has done good or evil. In fact Geisler uses John 5:24 to say that Jesus taught salvation by faith alone (p. 231), while totally ignoring Jesus' conclusion only a few verses later!

Matthew 7:21-23. "21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Here is another judgment which Jesus proclaims that only those who do the will of the Father enter the kingdom. This judgment specifically decides who goes to heaven, and who goes to hell. Nothing about "well since you really believed in me, you go to heaven, and since you did not believe in me, you go to hell." Matthew 16:24-27. 24 "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then HE SHALL REWARD EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS." The context here is about gaining salvation, or losing one's soul. According to Jesus, what determines it? Works. One must follow Christ, take up his cross, not just to get extra rewards (as proposed by Protestant apologists), but to achieve eternal salvation. Works are yet again intimately connected with eternal judgment.

Romans 2:5-13 5 "But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God 6 Who will RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; 10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; 13 For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified." We see that Paul is in full agreement with Jesus on what the basis for judgment God uses in determining the eternal destiny of people. Paul writes nothing about a merely legal fiction being the basis for salvation at this crucial juncture of God's judgment. Everyone's deeds will be judged, heaven for the faithful doers, and hell for the workers of evil. It even says glory honor and peace to the man that works good (v. 10) (no wonder Protestants don't like to talk of this verse). Only the doers of the law will be justified. If Paul had a faith alone theology, one would expect him to separate the just from the unjust based on Christ's imputed righteousness alone. Many argue that in Romans 3 and 4 Paul teaches salvation by faith alone. For an examination of Paul's writings in Galatians and Romans see and Nevertheless, in Romans 2 Paul argues specifically against the sola fide view exactly when God separates the hell-bound from those heaven-bound.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 - 3:10 "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are." Here Paul shows us again that works show the final destiny of people. Every one's works are tested. Those who have been perfect in works and have laid on the foundation of Christ immediately go to heaven (vv. 12-14) and received his well-deserved reward.

Those who are still in God's grace, but who had bad works, and thus non-mortal sins, go to heaven, but only after one is saved through fire (v. 15). (By the way, this verse is a foundational verse that describes purgatory. If one wants a detailed exegesis of this verse (1 Cor. 3:15) that shows this relates to purgatory a fine two tape set is done by Robert Sungenis, of Catholic Apologetics who can be reaches at 1-800-531-6393.) In order to avoid the clear intent of the passage, James White writes " What is judged is the types of works the Christian has done. Sins ane their punishmenbts are not even mentioned...The point of the text is that if a person's works withstand the judgment, the person receives a reward. If not the person suffers loss-not punishment- yet is saved...We must strongly affirm that this judgment is not a judgment relative to sin but to works and rewards..The remaining judgment is not about salvation but about reward.. (White, 193-194)". On the contrary the whole context of this section of Corinthians shows that the bad works Paul is writing about are sins, and THE PERSON will be judged based on that judgment. Nowhere does the bible separate bad work from sins. Paul wrote of the contentions and divisiveness among the Corinthians, and he writes how they were carnal and worldly (1 Cor 1:10-17; 3:1-5; 4:5-7). Sins are indeed the background to these verses. However, for the person who is judged to be saved yet through fire, he was still in the Lord, and is eventually saved. Finally, those who destroy the temple (which is their body) are destroyed by God (i.e. sent to hell). Later we see that one of the things that destroys the temple includes fornication , a mortal sin (1 Cor 6:18-19). Paul does not argue that Christ's judgment is based exclusively on mere belief. Paul gives us a list of mortal sins (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Many Protestants such as White see 1 Cor. Corinthians 3, as Paul only writing of different types of rewards for believers. However, Paul here shows that this judgment is for all, and this judgment is based on works. Believers must be judged for their sins, and those who sin mortally, are eternally punished. The issue is indeed salvation, as we see some go straight to heaven (v. 12-14, some to heaven only after punishment (v. 15), and some are destroyed (v. 17), which directly implies hell.

Revelation 20:12 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, ACCORDING TO THEIR WORKS. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works." Again, in case one thinks that the apostle John gives a different view of the final judgment, John shows that God makes judgment based on the people's works. God separates those who are in the book of life from those who get sent to hell, by their works.

Rev. 22-11-14. "11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." One who is righteous, must continue in actual righteousness in order to attain eternal life. Yet again, judgment is based on works, and keeping the commandments of God, in full agreement with Jesus' earlier teaching on salvation (Matthew 19:16-17). It is important that Jesus specifically terms keeping the commandments of God as a necessity to enter the heavenly gate. He does not say that the person can enter heaven only as a result of Christ keeping the commandments and one entering by appropriating Christ's righteousness. Of course the works that lead to salvation can only come about by God's grace.

There are other passages that confirm the Catholic view of the final judgment based on works (i.e. 2 Cor 5:10, Rom. 14:10-12), but what I have established in these passages is sufficient to show that sola fide does not measure up to what Jesus, Paul, and John write and say. I have shown through these passages that works are indeed determinative on the issue of salvation before God. One will look in vain in the bible where there is actually a judgment scene where God actually sends some to heaven based on faith alone, and those who do not have this faith go to hell.

What can we conclude from these judgment scenes in the bible? That works are essential for salvation. Having Christ's imputed righteousness is indeed essential, as the Calvinists and Lutherans will say, but this imputed righteousness must make one righteous (Rom. 5:19) to avail before God. We need the grace of baptism (1 Peter 3:21, Acts 22:16, Romans 6:1-11). We need the Eucharist to give life to us (John 6:51-58). We need the grace of the sacrament of confession to cleanse us of sin (John 20:22-23). The graces that come from the sacraments must fill our lives so we can do the works necessary to avail before God in judgment.

The grace of God heals the soul, and does not merely cover the sinfulness of man. As adopted children (Rom. 8:14), we are empowered to obey unto salvation (Heb. 5:9). Titus 2:11-14. "11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." He gave us his grace and his Son to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people zealous for good works. We notice here that Paul is writing about the grace that brings salvation (v. 11), not something extra. As adopted sons we become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

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© 1997 THE FINAL JUDGEMENT and Matt1618. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Last modified August 28, 1997.