Part I - In the Words of Our Lord

This section will look at the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and demonstrate without ambiguity His view on this subject.

7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy…
13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt lose its savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing any more but to be cast out, and to be trodden on by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. 16 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 17 Do not think that I have come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18 For amen I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 He therefore that shall break one of these least commandments, and shall so teach men, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. But he that shall do and teach, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, that unless your justice abound more than that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. [1]
If breaking "the least of the commandments" gets one the lowest place in the Kingdom of Heaven, then one has to wonder where someone will go who breaks the more serious commandments and teaches other people to break them.
42 Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not away...
46 For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have? Do not even the publicans this? 47 And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more? Do not also the heathens this? 48 Be you therefore perfect, as also your Heavenly Father is perfect. [2]
How strange that we should be exhorted to be "perfect" if we are supposedly "imputed" the righteousness of Our Lord. (As Protestant theologians such as Luther and Calvin assert.) Perhaps a more coherent interpretation of this passage is that we are expected to be perfect because Our Lord has the power to actually make us righteous conditioned on our conduct. We are saved solely through His grace of course (sola gratia); but nevertheless it would still be conditioned on our conduct, which plays an active role in our salvation. Our Lord's literal words would appear to support the contention of active charity playing an important active and integral role in our justification.
1 Take heed that you do not your justice before men, to be seen by them: otherwise you shall not have a reward of your Father who is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou dost an alms deed, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honoured by men. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when thou dost alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doth. 4 That thy alms may be in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee. 5 And when ye pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites, that love to stand and pray in the synagogues and corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men: Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But thou when thou shalt pray, enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret, and thy father who seeth in secret will repay thee. 7 And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard. 8 Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him. 9 Thus therefore shall you pray: Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil. 14 For if you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences. 15 But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offences. [3]

The same principle is outlined in Luke's Gospel:

31 And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner. 32 And if you love them that love you, what thanks are to you? For sinners also love those that love them. 33 And if you do good to them who do good to you, what thanks are to you? For sinners also do this. 34 And if you lend to them of whom you hope to receive, what thanks are to you? For sinners also lend to sinners, for to receive as much. 35 But love ye your enemies: do good, and lend, hoping for nothing thereby: and your reward shall be great, and you shall be the sons of the Highest. For he is kind to the unthankful and to the evil. 36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. 37 Judge not: and you shall not be judged. Condemn not: and you shall not be condemned. Forgive: and you shall be forgiven. 38 Give: and it shall be given to you: good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over shall they give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you shall mete withal, it shall be measured to you again. [4]

It appears that a man's conduct is indeed the barometer by which he is justified if we take Our Lord's words literally. And there is no reason whatsoever why should we not take Him at His literal word.

16 And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee. 19 Lay not up to yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust, and moth consume, and where thieves break through and steal. 20 But lay up to treasures in heaven: where neither the rust nor moth doth consume, and where thieves do not break through, nor steal...[5]
We are rewarded for doing good according to Our Lord provided that we do not actively seek to obtain the admiration of men in the process. It is hard to see what could possibly be any clearer then that. Also, it is hard to see how is this not justification by both faith and works the latter actively a part of and completing the former.
1 Judge not, that you may not be judged. 2 For with what judgment you judge, you shall be judged: and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again...
12 All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets. 13 Enter ye in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there are who go in thereat. 14 How narrow is the gate, and strait is the way that leadeth to life: and few there are that find it! 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in the clothing of sheep, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. [6]
About those who claim to be "saved" yet who never hesitate to judge other people, Our Lord's words would appear to state to the contrary. And there is no valid reason to presume that they do not if one approaches the Bible with the intention of reading it without blinders. The Lord makes it clear on several occasions that doing the will of the Father is how we shall be judged.This theme is especially magnified in the Synoptic Gospels (most notably Matthew's) shortly before the Transfiguration:
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels: and then will he render to every man according to his works. 28 Amen I say to you, there are some of them that stand here, that shall not taste death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. [7]
Of course only preterists take Our Lord at His word when it comes to eschatological matters. (Pre-mills and a-mills have to "explain away" Our Lord's literal words to fit their theologies rather then let His words form their theologies. But that is another topic altogether.) As for the Lord noted in chapter 22 of Matthew's Gospel, the whole Law and Prophets can be summed up very simply:
34 But the Pharisees hearing that he had silenced the Sadducees, came together: 35 And one of them, a doctor of the law, asking him, tempting him: 36 Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said to him: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with thy whole mind. 38 This is the greatest and the first commandment. 39 And the second is like to this: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments dependeth the whole law and the prophets. [8]
Works of charity are works performed in God and out of love of God and love of neighbour. This is precisely what justification by faith working in love means. Note also in Matthew's Gospel that we are judged by these very works as well:
31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty...34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: 36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry and fed thee: thirsty and gave thee drink? 38 Or when did we see thee a stranger and took thee in? Or naked and covered thee? 39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison and came to thee? 40 And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." 44 Then they also will answer, LORD, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee? 45 Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.' 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. [9]
Believers of course have faith (that is the very definition of believing to begin with) but these believers failed to complete their faith through works: fruit that springs forth from their faith and as a part of their sanctification - not just an after effect. Our Lord notes this necessity also:
43 For there is no good tree that bringeth forth evil fruit: nor an evil tree that bringeth forth good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns: nor from a bramble bush do they gather the grape. 45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. 46 And why call you me, Lord, Lord; and do not the things which I say? 47 Every one that cometh to me and heareth my words and doth them, I will shew you to whom he is like. 48 He is like to a man building a house, who digged deep and laid the foundation upon a rock. And when a flood came, the stream beat vehemently upon that house: and it could not shake it: for it was founded on a rock. 49 But he that heareth and doth not is like to a man building his house upon the earth without a foundation: against which the stream beat vehemently. And immediately it fell: and the ruin of that house was great. [10]

And in a passage that mirrors one from Matthew's Gospel, Luke records the following:

23 And turning to his disciples, he said: Blessed are the eyes that see the things which you see. 24 For I say to you that many prophets and kings have desired to see the things that you see and have not seen them; and to hear the things that you hear and have not heard them. 25 And behold a certain lawyer stood up, tempting him and saying, Master, what must I do to possess eternal life? 26 But he said to him: What is written in the law? How readest thou? 27 He answering, said: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and with thy whole soul and with all thy strength and with all thy mind: and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said to him: Thou hast answered right. This do: and thou shalt live. 29 But he willing to justify himself, said to Jesus: And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering, said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among robbers, who also stripped him and having wounded him went away, leaving him half dead. 31 And it chanced, that a certain priest went down the same way: and seeing him, passed by. 32 In like manner also a Levite, when he was near the place and saw him, passed by. 33 But a certain Samaritan, being on his journey, came near him: and seeing him, was moved with compassion: 34 And going up to him, bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine: and setting him upon his own beast, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two pence and gave to the host and said: "Take care of him; and whatsoever thou shalt spend over and above, I, at my return, will repay thee." 36 Which of these three, in thy opinion, was neighbour to him that fell among the robbers? 37 But he said: He that shewed mercy to him. And Jesus said to him: Go, and do thou in like manner. [10]

The parable is very telling because it was given after a lawyer asked the Lord what he needed to do to possess eternal life. Notice, he did not say earn eternal life. The Lord's response was to ask him to have recourse to law and its teachings for the proper answer. And he gave the correct answer according to the Lord at least in words. For the law possessed in words the answers to be sought. The problem is that words alone like faith alone are not enough. Notice that the man asked "who is my neighbour" as a way of justifying his own lack of conduct. And the Lord explained in a parable that even those who would by all appearances be outcasts and beyond the pale of salvation (as the Jews tended to view the Samaritans) are capable of fulfilling the law through love of not only God Himself above all things but through love of their neighbour. We will see later on that the Apostles in their writings teach the same principles but that Our Lord says it frankly is enough.

There is no biblical notion of salvation by faith alone in virtue of a merely imputed righteousness. Instead, the latter is a falsification of the Gospel in no small manner. The whole core of our justification is both hearing and doing. To will and to work are synonymous to the Hebrew mind and cannot be separated. If you truly believe then you will do what is expected of you. Or more accurately stated: if you believe then you will be open to the Lord working through you. This is why justification by faith alone (or sola fide) as taught by the "reformers" is so repugnant to the Hebrew sensibilities: it separates thoughts from actions and faith from works. This is clearly not what Our Lord or anyone else in the New Testament taught.

1 AND again he began to teach by the sea side; and a great multitude was gathered together unto him, so that he went up into a ship, and sat in the sea; and all the multitude was upon the land by the sea side. 2 And he taught them many things in parables, and said unto them in his doctrine: 3 Hear ye: Behold, the sower went out to sow. 4 And whilst he sowed, some seed fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and ate it up. 5 And other seed fell upon stony ground, where it had not much earth; and it shot up immediately, because it had no depth of earth. 6 And when the sun was risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 And other seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. 8 And other seed fell upon good ground; and brought forth fruit that grew up, and increased and yielded, one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred. 9 And he said: He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
10 And when he was alone, the twelve that were with him asked him the parable.11 And he said to them: To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all things are done in parables: 12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand: lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. 13 And he saith to them: Are you ignorant of this parable? and how shall you know all parables? 14 He that soweth, soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown, and as soon as they have heard, immediately Satan cometh and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these likewise are they that are sown on the stony ground: who when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy. [12]
Perhaps this is the joy of knowing that they are "saved" and that they know this with "certainty" could be surmized from the above statement. But in reality that would not be the case at all:
17 And they have no root in themselves, but are only for a time: and then when tribulation and persecution ariseth for the word they are presently scandalized.18 And others there are who are sown among thorns: these are they that hear the word, 19 And the cares of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts after other things entering in choke the word, and it is made fruitless. [13]
So the word can be "made fruitless." This indicates that there is much more to a person's justification then mere faith. Our Lord notes this in the rest of the parable in fact:
20 And these are they who are sown upon the good ground, who hear the word, and receive it, and yield fruit, the one thirty, another sixty, and another a hundred. 21 And he said to them: Doth a candle come in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? 22 For there is nothing hid, which shall not be made manifest: neither was it made secret, but that it may come abroad. 23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said to them: And he said to them: Take heed what you hear. In what measure you shall mete, it shall be measured to you again, and more shall be given to you. 25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, that also which he hath shall be taken away from him. [14]
Though Mark's Gospel in many ways replicates the words of Matthew and Luke (as the above passage does), it is still well worth considering what that Gospel has to say on theses subjects. Here is a passage that reads rather unique to Mark's Gospel:
37 John answered him, saying: Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him. 38 But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in my name, and can soon speak ill of me. 39 For he that is not against you, is for you. 40 For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. 41 And whosoever shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me; it were better for him that a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were cast into the sea. 42 And if thy hand scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life, maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into unquenchable fire: 43 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. 44 And if thy foot scandalize thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter lame into life everlasting than having two feet to be cast into the hell of unquenchable fire: 45 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. 46 And if thy eye scandalize thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee with one eye to enter into the kingdom of God than having two eyes to be cast into the hell of fire: 47 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not extinguished. [15]
But what would happen if someone scandalized the little ones and then claimed that they were "saved"??? Also, from the context of this citation it appears that merely "having faith alone" is not sufficient. Otherwise these constant exhortations about being cast into hell make no sense. Also, it is important to note that Our Lord was speaking to His Apostles and telling them that for them to do these things that it would be better to sever themselves from that which brings them scandal at any cost then remain whole and risk hell fire. Indeed this passage refutes the notion of "eternal security" in no uncertain terms. After all, if the Apostles were not "secure" as Our Lord alluded to here then who among today's Christians would dare make such an assertion for themselves??? And if they were so immovably "secure" then the warnings about hell are superfluous. And surely no one would make that assertion if they were truely a believer in the Lord.
24 Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive: and they shall come unto you. 25 And when you shall stand to pray, forgive, if you have aught against any man: that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your sins. 26 But if you will not forgive, neither will your Father that is in heaven forgive you your sins. [16]
Moving on from the Synoptics to John's Gospel, the following passages are offered for consideration:
1 And there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night, and said to him: Rabbi, we know that thou art come a teacher from God; for no man can do these signs which thou dost, unless God be with him. 3 Jesus answered, and said to him: Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. [17]
A popular phrase among Evangelicals and other Protestants to use is "be born again." Strange that Our Lord quantifies it but that part never gets emphasized. Here is what Our Lord means about being "born again":
4 Nicodemus saith to him: How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born again? 5 Jesus answered: Amen, amen, I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh: and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. [18]
Note the words "born again of water and of the Holy Spirit." The Church has always taught that this phrase refers to the Sacrament of Baptism by which through the waters of baptism the Holy Spirit regenerates us. This is clearly a command of the Lord; therefore those that refuse to be baptized or who believe it is "unnecessary" go against the literal words of Our Lord and Saviour Himself. Such people cannot be said to be "believers" then because they would be counselling against the Lord's commands.
6 That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit. 7 Wonder not, that I said to thee, you must be born again. 8 The Spirit breatheth where he will; and thou hearest his voice, but thou knowest not whence he cometh, and whither he goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. 9 Nicodemus answered, and said to him: How can these things be done? 10 Jesus answered, and said to him: Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things? 11 Amen, amen I say to thee, that we speak what we know, and we testify what we have seen, and you receive not our testimony. 12 If I have spoken to you earthly things, and you believe not; how will you believe, if I shall speak to you heavenly things? 13 And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven. [19]
Another popular verse is coming up that is never put into proper context by the Protestants that like to quote it (John 3:16). To put it in proper context I will add the surrounding verses:
14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him, may not perish; but may have life everlasting. 16 For God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in him, may not perish, but may have life everlasting. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. 18 He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their works were evil. 20 For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. 21 But he that doth truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest: because they are done in God. 22 After these things Jesus and his disciples came into the land of Judea: and there he abode with them, and baptized. [20]
In other words, the works are done IN God. They are not the works of men being spoken of here. This is justification by faith working in love or justification by charity.
24 Amen, amen I say unto you, that he who heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath life everlasting; and cometh not into judgment, but is passed from death to life. 25 Amen, amen I say unto you, that the hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. 26 For as the Father hath life in himself, so he hath given the Son also to have life in himself: 27 And he hath given him power to do judgment, because he is the Son of man. 28 Wonder not at this; for the hour cometh, wherein all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God. 29 And they that have done good things shall come forth unto the resurrection of life: but they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment. [21]
No one in all of Scripture is said to be justified sola fide. Yet those who tout this theology of "faith alone" claim it is "biblical." It cannot be "biblical" when there is no explicit or implicit Scriptural evidence in its favour. But all of this will be pointed out in due time.
49 Your fathers did eat manna in the desert, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven; that if any man eat of it, he may not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. 52 If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever; and the bread that I will give, is my flesh, for the life of the world. 53 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 54 Then Jesus said to them: Amen, amen, I say unto you: except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. 55 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last  day. 56 For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. 57 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me: and I in him. 58 As the living Father hath sent me and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. 59 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live for ever. 60 These things he said, teaching in the synagogue, in Capharnaum. [22]
Arguably there is no more literal chapter in the entire Bible then John 6. (Indeed I have written on John 6 as a part of another essay and demonstrated in detail why it is imperative that the words of Our Lord be primarily understood in a literal manner in that chapter.) But as is so common with Protestant theology, the words of Our Lord are almost always explained away. Our Lord you see flatly contradicts the systematic theologies of the "reformers" in countless places; therefore it is Our Lord that must be made to fit Protestant theology rather then Protestant theology being made to fit the words of Our Lord.

Our Lord commanded that we be "born again of water and the Holy Spirit" to enter the Kingdom of God (John 3:5). Now He states the necessity of eating His flesh and drinking His blood to obtain eternal life (John 6:47-59). Some Protestants understand these words literally (Anglicans and Lutherans) but the rest from Evangelical to Fundamentalist to Reformed explain them away because it is their founder's theologies that the Bible must be made to fit not the other way around. So much for the theory of "Sola Scriptura" which never works in practice as it is claimed to in theory anyway. (Witness the thousands of denominations of Protestants who all teach radically different Gospels and yet claim to follow "what the Bible teaches".) Anyway, Our Lord has more to say in John's Gospel so without further ado, let us get to it:

51 Amen, amen, I say to you: If any man keep my word, he shall not see death for ever. [23]
To live forever, the word of the Lord must be kept. Keeping His word is a "work" and only someone unlearned or unstable would have the temerity to claim that the commands of the Lord are not meritorious.
21 He that hath my commandments and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world? 23 Jesus answered and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word. And my Father will love him and we will come to him and will make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard is not mine; but the Father's who sent me. [24]
Perhaps some of the best biblical imagery of how someone abides in the Lord is in John chapter 15 when Our Lord talks about how He is the true vine:
1 I am the true vine: and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he will take away: and every one that beareth fruit, he will purge it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now you are clean, by reason of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me: and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine: you the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. 6 If any one abide not in me, he shall be cast forth as a branch and shall wither: and they shall gather him up and cast him into the fire: and he burneth. 7 If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you. 8 In this is my Father glorified: that you bring forth very much fruit and become my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love: as I also have kept my Father's commandments and do abide in his love. [25]
Our Lord conditions our destination in the afterlife based on our works done in Him, not solely on our faith. While obviously we need faith to be saved; we are justified not by faith alone but by our works performed in faith. Since works complete a person's faith, one is indeed justified by their works done in the Lord and not by faith alone according to Our Lord. Only people with the temerity to claim that Our Lord did not mean exactly what He said on these matters could possibly claim differently. (And many people who call themselves Christians actually do this.) If Our Lord says it then accept it and He clearly says that we are justified by our charity and not by faith alone.

Some of the readers are probably thinking as you read this that some reference to a form of Pelagianism is inferred in the interpretation of the above passages. That is not being inferred at all. (For those who might not know, Pelagianism was an early fifth century heresy, which claimed that man by his own works can justify himself apart from God's grace.) What is being stated is that we are saved solely by God's grace but that God's saving grace is imparted to us contingent on our conduct. (This is reflected in Our Lord's constant exhortation to anyone who asked Him about attaining eternal life: "keep the Commandments".) We must perform good works to assist in our justification but these are not our works and therefore we cannot boast of them as if they are our doing. (For we cannot even do them except through God's grace.) For that reason, they are Christ's works manifested in us. And the Lord's work is always meritorious. It is nothing more and nothing less than the branches of the vine producing fruit not by their own accord but because they are attached to the vine (cf. John 15). The fruit belongs to both the branches and the vine for the branches are part of the vine. If the branches were not part of the vine, they could not produce fruit. But because they are, they can. It is that simple really, no complication or long-winded dissertations required.

Note here though that there have not been imported into the discussion some alien legal terms into the Scriptures. (To "explain" how justification works.) Our Lord says quite plainly that we will be judged by our conduct. However, we are also told that we are saved by faith. These two threads can be reconciled in one of two ways. The first is the Hebrew view, which recognizes beliefs and actions as one and the same (thus inseparable from one another). This view recognizes that someone who is said to be righteous is truely righteous. This is the opposite of those who claim that we are justified sola fide (by faith alone). The latter claim (sola fide or "faith alone") is the second way to reconcile these passages. (It also incorporates the concept of "imputation".) How the latter works is basically this way: we are not truly made righteous but instead Our Lord's righteousness is merely "imputed" to us to "cover" us. In essence we are declared righteous and really are not. This brings to mind what we call someone who says something that is not true. For that is what Protestant theology does and it is nothing more then a fiction ladies and gentlemen: an old parlour magicians trick.

In essence we have The Amazing Yeshua as a sort of "Divine Conjurer" who will merely impute his righteousness to others who are not really righteous. Then God the Father will declare the unrighteous person as righteous. This is Protestant theology in a nutshell. It is also blatant blasphemy because it is in essence saying that God is a liar: that is the true bottom line. Protestant theology makes God out to be a liar and there is no way around that because it is lying to say something is true which is false or false which is true when the person making the declaration knows better. For God to declare anyone righteous who is not righteous makes Him a liar.

For the true believer, when God specifically says something, He has the power to do it. Therefore if He says we are righteous, then He must truly be making us righteous. This would not be of our own accord but instead through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes we are saved by grace alone. Yes we can be said to be saved by Christ alone  provided that we recognize Christ working in us. For that is what works of charity are: Christ working in us. As such the works are meritorious because everything Our Lord does is meritorious. However, these works are not ones where we are merely passive; indeed they involve our active cooperation. For we are not saved by faith alone. Our Lord's literal words are crystal clear on this and that is really all that a true believer needs. Nonetheless, as it will be pointed out, in subsequent sections so are the words of all of the Apostles and Apostolic writers on this. But of course Our Lord has settled this issue for those who truly believe in Him and accept what He says over and above all others. However, it would not hurt to show the conformity of views between Our Lord and the NT authors which we will do starting with St. Peter in part two.


[1] Matthew 5:7,13-20

[2] Matthew 5:42,46-48

[3] Matthew 6:1-15

[4] Luke 6:31-38

[5] Matthew 6:16-20

[6] Matthew 7:1-2,12-20

[7] Matthew 16:27-28

[8] Matthew 22:34-40

[9] Matthew 25:31,34-46

[10] Luke 6:43-49

[11] Luke 10:23-37

[12] Mark 4:1-16

[13] Mark 4:17-19

[14] Mark 4:20-25

[15] Mark 9:37-47

[16] Mark 11:24-26

[17] John 3:1-3

[18] John 3:4-6

[19] John 3:6-13

[20] John 3:14-22

[21] John 5:24-29

[22] John 6:49-60

[23] John 8:51

[24] John 14:21-24

[25] John 15:1-10

Other Notes:

The Scripture citations were taken from an online Douay-Rheims Bible that is similar in many ways to the online Douay-Rheims Bible located at the following link:

©2003, 2000, "Justification by Faith Working in Love", written by I. Shawn McElhinney. 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.

To All Visitors, Grace of Christ to you!

Page created by: Matt1618. Send email about this article to I. Shawn McElhinney


Go to Next Section of "Justification" Essay


Return to Index Page of "Justification" Essay


Return to Matt's Salvation Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page