No One Can Merit the Unmerited Favor of God
Satan’s greatest lie may be that good works can help sinners escape the punishment of hell and merit the joy of heaven. This lie is used by all world religions to control people and hold them in legalistic bondage. It may be the most damning lie perpetrated on the human race because the saving grace of God is nullified by man’s worthless works (Rom. 11:6). Since grace, the unmerited favor of God, is the only means by which God saves sinners, anyone attempting to merit eternal life has instead earned death (Rom. 6:23). Only by God’s grace do we get what we don’t deserve—heaven. And only by His mercy do we avoid getting what we do deserve—hell.
Works done on one’s own power and outside grace, do not merit heaven. In one sense Dwayne is correct. We can not work to ‘earn’ heaven. The Church does not teach that we ‘work our way’ into heaven. We agree that it is exclusively God’s grace that saves. However, grace is not only divine favor, but also divine power. Once one is in God’s grace, it is clear, that works do merit salvation, as Peter says to Cornelius, Acts 10:34-35:
And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Paul writes similarly, in 1 Tim. 6:17-19:
17 As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, 19 thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.
When Peter says one who does good and what is right is acceptable to him, he means that. Thus, we can merit. Paul writes that the only way that one can take hold of eternal life (he is speaking to the rich, but the rich are not different from us), is he must be rich in good deeds.
Now, in Romans 11:6 he says: But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace. Whenever Paul says that works are not salvific, it is those works done outside of God’s grace. When man attempts to approach God outside of his grace, when he attempts to make God owe him salvation, those works are of no avail. This is exactly the works Paul condemns in Romans 11:6. In fact in Trent, canon 1 on justification, sessions 6, it quotes Romans 11:6 as proof of this Catholic doctrine. Nonetheless, Paul does not write that faith working through love is not salvific (as he specifically writes that works added to faith justifies, Gal. 5:6). If one looks at the context of the kind of works that he speaks of, Paul writes of Israelites, who even though they heard from the prophet Elijah on who the true God was, (Rom. 11:5) bowed their knees and worshipped Baal (1 Kings 19:18). Those who have ‘hardened hearts’ and have a ‘spirit of stupor’ (Rom. 11:7-8, cf. Isaiah 29;10,13) operate outside God’s grace. I do not say, “You need to worship a false god and have a hardened heart and those are works that save you.’ Yes, Paul writes that works done outside of the realm of grace, profit nothing in Romans 11:6. To say that Paul is saying all works do not justify in Romans 11:6 is ignoring the context. Any kind of work where one attempts to 'earn' salvation from God (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 3:28, Rom. 4:2, Tit. 3:3-5), etc. is not salvific. The Catholic Church teaches that no one can earn salvation. Nonetheless, once within God’s grace, works and obedience are in fact necessary to attain salvation. Every time that Paul writes about non-salvific works, it is always when those works are not done in grace.
The only work that can save sinners is the work of God. Jesus Christ finished the work that was impossible for finite man to do (Psalm 49:7-8). He paid the eternal debt for sin and lived the perfect life required for entrance into heaven. Christ died "for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God" (1 Pet. 3:18). By His death and resurrection He completed the work of man’s redemption. Thus for sinful man to believe his works can add to, co-mingle with, complement or surpass the perfect work of Christ is an insult to God’s holiness and justice.
Psalm 49:7-8 says nothing about Jesus Christ completing the work so man has to do nothing. It says that the rich, who boast in the multitude of riches can not ‘redeem his brother’. All Psalm 49 says is that no one can buy salvation. However, we just saw above in 1 Tim. 6;17-19 that the rich can only get a hold of eternal life if they are rich in good deeds. Psalm 49 does not cancel that passage out.
There is nothing in Scripture that says that Christ had to live the perfect life so we can get His righteousness imputed to our account. He paid no ‘debt’ to God as though he was punished as a sinner. He died as a sin offering but was not someone who was charged with our sins. Instead, He was indeed perfect, but as a sin offering, made to cleanse us from all sin. What he accomplished on the cross was to redeem us from all iniquity, and to cleanse us (Tit. 2:11-14) so our works could be truly pleasing. His work on the cross and resurrection was finished, but the application of the benefits of that must be applied to us now. Catholics do not say that we surpass the perfect work of Christ, but believe what he said, when he said:
John 5:28-29 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
Matthew 16:27 For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.
John 4:36 He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.
Matthew 19:17 And he said to him, "Why do you ask me about what is good? One there is who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments."
Jesus himself said those who have done good get eternal life. It is conditional. We will get repaid for all our works, with the benefit of heaven, according to Jesus. He who reaps wages, in the context of a Father son relationship, reaps the benefit of those works, eternal life. If we want to enter life, we must keep the commandments. Those are Jesus' words, not mine. Now Dwayne seems to know differently from what Jesus thought his accomplishment was. His accomplishment was not so that we did not have to do anything except believe to get justified, but that we really can, due to God's grace, merit heaven by our obedience and works. He didn’t think that demanding works from his children, and him rewarding those works with eternal life is insulting to Him. He doesn’t think that demanding that they keep the commandments in order to reach eternal life is insulting to Him. It is because, as Catholics know that everything we do is because of Him, because we realize that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Why then are we exhorted to be zealous for good works and to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Titus 2:14; Phil. 2:12)? And why does James say that man is justified by works and not by faith alone (Jas. 2:24)? Let us search the Scriptures.
Those are the Scriptures, and those ones show that one is justified by works, and not by faith alone (Jm. 2:24), and we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-16) or else Paul’s work would have been in vain, which would have been impossible if they were guaranteed salvation by faith alone. Do they mean what they say? I think so.
Three Elements of Salvation
First we must understand that there are three tenses in salvation. For believers in the Lord Jesus Christ salvation is past (justification), present (sanctification) and pending (glorification). This is why the Bible reveals that Christians have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. All Christians have been saved (past tense) from the penalty of sin. Paul writes, "you have been saved through faith…not as a result of works" (Eph. 2:8). At the moment of faith, the sinner is justified and has a right standing before God that is permanent (Heb. 10:14). He cannot be condemned again (Rom. 8:1). After justification, believers begin working out their salvation with fear and trembling (sanctification) by doing the good works God has prepared for them (Eph. 2:10). Sanctification is an ongoing process whereby Jesus is manifested in Christians which saves them from the power of sin (2 Cor. 4:11). Paul wrote: "to us who are being saved, it [the message of the cross] is the power of God" (1 Cor. 1:18). Glorification is still future and will not occur until Jesus saves believers from the presence of sin. The Bible reveals: "Christ…will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him" (Heb. 9:28).
He quotes Eph. 2:8 but then tries to relegate 2:10, which says we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.’ as somehow secondary. It is the means of salvation when done in Christ. Those are the works that will justify. Works in which we 'boast' of ourselves (Eph. 2:8) will not suffice before God.
The whole problem in his analysis of Salvation is that justification is not only past, but also future as well. Justification is both past, present, and future. Ultimate Salvation and glorification is only future. Salvation is achieved when we are in communion with God in heaven. To show that justification is past, present and future, Paul writes, Rom. 2:13:
For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.
Those who are doers of the law ‘will be justified’. Thus, not only does it show that justification is future, but that works are a cause of justification. And it is a future event. Dwayne quotes Romans 8:1, which says that one in Christ, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, will not now be condemned. It thus depends upon walking according to the Spirit in order to be justified as the very verse Dwayne points us to shows. Now, in Romans 8:4, it says that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Thus, when in v. 1 he says there is no condemnation, and we must walk according to the Spirit, that is when we meet the righteous requirement of the law, which is the law of the Spirit (v. 2). In fact, in Romans 8, if we go back to live according to the flesh, we are condemned, (Rom. 8:13) and we will inherit that eternal glory only if, as Rom. 8:17 says:
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Dwayne thus has things backward. He says that justification is only past. Paul says that justification is past, present and future. He says glorification is future, but is not dependent upon works. Yes, glorification is future, but Paul shows this glorification is dependent upon our obedience (and suffering). Well, Paul, in the specific chapter that Dwayne refers us to, shows that it is dependent upon our obedience, and that we ourselves must meet the righteous requirement of the law, and we must suffer with him, in order to be glorified with him (Rom. 8:4, 13, 17).
Dwayne’s quoting of the passage in Hebrews 10:14 ignores the fact that those he perfects in that very verse speaks of those who are ‘being sanctified’. Thus, it is an ongoing process. In the last part of Hebrews 10, Paul warns the believers that if they fall back into mortal sin, they will face a fiery indignation, and one will receive terrible punishment if they insult the Spirit of grace, and trampled the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:26-31). One can cast away their confidence (v. 35). If they do not endure, they will not receive the promise (Heb. 10:35-36). So Dwayne is continuing to take verses out of context to prove false assumptions.
Justification Is Not A Result of Works
Paul wrote: "The one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness (Rom. 4:5). In another passage we see "man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Rom. 3:28). Those who believe they can gain a right standing before God with their works and their own righteousness do not know God or His Gospel (Rom. 10:1-4). If they knew the righteousness of God they would know all their righteous works are like filthy rags in His sight (Isa. 64:6). They would know the only way to approach Him would be with empty hands of faith, bringing nothing except their sins. All human works prior to justifying faith are not acceptable to God because "without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb. 11:6). The Bible clearly states over and over again that works are unable to secure salvation. "By the works of the Law no flesh will be justified" (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16). Salvation is "not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness" (Titus 3:5). God saved us "not according to our works" (2 Tim. 1:9). Even works done in the name of Christ will not secure salvation (Mat. 7:22-23). Salvation is based entirely on God’s doing so "that no man should boast before God" (1 Cor. 1:29; Rom. 4:2).
Actually Romans 4:2, and 5 show exactly what the Catholic Church teaches when it says that we do not merit heaven on our own power. Notice that Dwayne at the bottom of the paragraph, quotes Romans 4:2 which says that we are not saved by works that we could boast before God. If one approaches God in a boastful way. If one approaches God with the idea that ‘I work, you pay’, then that is wrong, and those who approach him in that manner will not be justified. God owes us nothing. Justification, is indeed his gift to us. So works in which we boast of ourselves, do not justify us. He specifies in Romans 4:4 even further the type of works that do not save:
Now to one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. 5 And to one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.
Paul writes that if one 'works', it is his due. Paul specifically is condemning works, where one puts God in an employee employer relationship. "I work, you pay". In that fashion, one makes God a debtor. Thus, this is an attempt to obligate God by our works. That is not the work that justifies. Remember, when done within grace, Paul had already written that the 'doers of the law' will be justified (Rom. 2:13).
Now, in reference to be justified according to works of the law (Dwayne's reference to Rom. 3:28), we see here that Paul is not excluding all works, but 'works of the law'. Sometimes he speaks of circumcision as not being necessary, as the immediate context of Rom. 3:28 shows. In Romans 4, he speaks of works that attempt to obligate God, where we attempt to make him a debtor. Works of the law, thus is any law, either moral or ceremonial, where we attempt to make God our debtor. Our salvation does not work that way, as it is totally his beneficence in which he saves us. It is not an employee-employer relationship, but a Father-Son relationship (Rom. 8:14, Gal. 4:4-7) in which we do not attempt to make God 'owe' us. God owes us nothing. It is totally his graciousness that saves us. The Catholic Church acknowledges that. Now, that is the point to the 'works of the law' that do not justify. Paul excludes 'works of the law' from being salvific. He does not exclude 'works of charity' as being salvific. In fact that faith must ‘work‘ in love (Gal. 5:6). Charity, or love must be added to faith, or faith profits nothing (1 Cor. 13:2).
Dwayne only gives us part of Titus 3:5, when he quotes, 'not according to works of righteousness'. The full quote shows how we are regenerated, Tit. 3:5-7:
5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Paul does show that in initial justification, we do not work our way into God’s grace. Paul gives us the means of salvation in the second part of v. 5: "but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit". Notice the fact that the means of salvation is the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Thus, again, Paul directly ties our salvation to the renewal of the Holy Spirit. This cleansing is not an aftereffect of our salvation, but the means of our salvation. Thus, our justification does depend upon us, through the Holy Spirit, maintaining that cleansing.
The Church Fathers when speaking of this passage saw Titus 3:5 as speaking of baptism. After all, Paul said his sins were 'washed' away at baptism (Acts 22:16). The washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit is the means of salvation, which reminds us of the cleansing water of baptism as mentioned by Jesus in John 3:5. Nevertheless, even if all the Church Fathers were wrong (which they were not, and this clearly does speak of baptism, but for the sake of argument) this still shows us that the Holy Spirit's real cleansing of us is the grounds of our justification. Thus, an infusion of grace is what saves us, not an imputation of a foreign righteousness.
Paul next shows (v.6) that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on us that makes this cleansing possible. We then become heirs of God. This is done so we "might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life". Thus, even though our justification is a past event, it is done so that we might be justified. Justification is put in a future tense, and is a possibility, not a guarantee. We are justified in the hope of eternal life. Thus, we must run the race that Paul himself said he would run (1 Cor. 9:27). We must be renewed in Christ, and put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13, Gal. 5:16, 24) in order to reach the goal of salvation.
Reconciling James and Paul
How does James appear to contradict Paul by saying: "You see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone" (Jas. 2:24). It is because Paul is dealing with the nature of justification and James is dealing with the nature of faith. James is asking professing Christians, who have not shown any evidence for their new life in Christ, to "show me your faith" (Jas. 2:18). But faith is invisible to man. It is an unseen relationship between man and God. Since faith can not be seen, the best way to prove one’s faith is to be "doers of the word and not merely hearers" (Jas. 1:22). Those who do the word of God will live a righteous life in obedience to God. That is why James said: "I will show you my faith by my works" (Jas. 2:18). Faith alone justifies but faith that justifies is never alone. It gives evidence of its existence by righteous living. James is concerned for professing Christians who have dead faith which is idle, barren, and unfruitful (Jas 2:17). He is saying that dead faith does not justify and it is useless (Jas. 2:20). Only genuine faith is alive and bears fruit. James is saying that a man who claims to have a right relationship with God will live a life of good works. You cannot have faith without works, nor justification without sanctification.
This is a desperate play on words to avoid the fact that James teaches the direct opposite of what Dwayne teaches. Dwayne is wrong when he says, 'Paul is speaking about the nature of justification, and James is speaking about the nature of faith.' That is not what is the focus of James. James is in fact speaking about the nature of justification as well. In order for one to be justified, one must add works to faith. It is not as though works is merely a subset that you have a 'true faith'. Yes, one shows faith by works, but the focus of James, is what those works accomplish. He is speaking about salvation. Now in v. 14, it says, ‘can that faith save you?’ In v. 17, he writes that a dead faith will not save. What is what saves you? Having works. Works must be added to faith. It is not a mere subset of faith.
James drives home the point that works are not a secondary qualifier of faith, but intimately pointed to as a cause of justification before God. We see repetition of some main points. Let us look at the section of James 2:20-26:
20 a) Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?James writes this passage, verses 20 through 26, in a chiasm. That is a form of literature, where the author uses language in order to focus on a specific teaching. His point is to drive whatever the teaching is home. It is symmetrical, and repetitive just so we can grasp this teaching. We see this chiasm here in James 2:20-26. I have this chiasm shown as we see the structure of the chiasm in verses 20-26, highlighted in matching colors, with the structure going, a, b, c, d, c, b, a. We have in order, repetition of some main points of James. James repeats the teaching twice basically to drive home the point of his teaching, just so we can grasp what he is getting across. Unfortunately, in Dwayne’s analysis, none of his ideas match or recognize James’ chiasms. James’ whole purpose is to show:
----------- 21 b) Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar?
---------------------- 22 c) You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by works,
----------------------------------------23 d) and the scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness"; and he was called the friend of God.
---------------------- 24 c) You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
----------- 25 b) And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?
26 a) For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.
(a) That, (verses 20, and 26), faith apart from works is dead. In other words, faith, in and of itself is insufficient in the goal of attaining salvation. As after all, without works, it accomplishes nothing. What in fact is James showing? As we proceed, we see how one is justified.
(b) We see that James driving home the point twice (in verses 21 and 25, perfectly symmetrical), that Abraham and Rahab are justified by works. If we didn’t get the point in verse 21, we see that James getting across to us, that both Abraham and Rahab are justified by works, and these are perfect examples to instruct us on how one is justified. Now, neither v. 21, nor v. 25 even hint at what Dwayne said that James was implying. Instead, James both in verse 21 and 25 shows that works are a cause of justification. If we didn’t understand it the first time through Abraham, James drives home the point twice, again in perfect symmetry, with the example of Rahab. Just as Abraham is called justified by works, so is Rahab.
(c), The third point, continuing the symmetry in verses 22 and 24, James further shows that faith alone is insufficient for salvation. If we didn’t get it the first time, he teaches it to us the second time. In v. 22, James specifically says that faith is completed by works. Faith alone is insufficient, James teaches. In order to justify, faith must be active along with works. Works is not merely a qualifier of faith. Faith must work in cooperation with works in order to achieve that justification. Faith needs to be completed, in v. 22. The matching verse, v. 24, perfectly symmetrical to v. 22, drives home this very same point in a more forceful manner. James specifically writes that faith alone does not justify, and that we are justified by works, (which he had just shown us symmetrically with Abraham and Rahab). If we didn’t get it in v. 22, he drives home the point even more dramatically in v. 24, when he says that we are not justified by faith alone. So here, works are not merely a qualifier of faith. He specifically negates the faith alone idea not only in v. 22, but even more forcefully in v. 24 when he says that we are not justified by faith alone.
(d) Finally, with these verses repeated and surrounding this, in the center of the chiasm, v. 23, James points us back to Genesis 15, where Abraham believed that God would provide a son for Abraham. He says that the offering of Isaac back in James 2:21 (Gen. 22) fulfilled Genesis 15. Thus, the justification of Abraham in Genesis 22 fulfills Genesis 15. We see that in Genesis 15, Abraham is called a friend of God. The basis for justification is not a legal decree. But it is in covenant with God. Thus, any appeal to Genesis 15 shows that justification was not a one time event, but an ongoing matter. In Abraham’s life, he needed to put his faith into action to continue to be justified, and in Genesis 22, he was again justified. That is how his faith was completed. Thus, any appeal to Genesis 15, according to James does not speak to the full matter of how Abraham was justified. Yes, he was justified in Genesis 15 by his belief, but in fact his justification is continuous, and Abraham needed to be justified again in Genesis 22. His offering of Isaac on the altar shows this. After all, as just noted, his faith needed to be completed (James 2:22). Faith alone is not complete. Thus, the act of Genesis 15 did not complete Abraham’s justification. In James 2:23, James lets us know that the offering of Isaac completed Abraham’s faith that he had in Genesis 15. Works thus are necessary to complete this faith.
Thus, Dwayne’s argument that in relation to faith, works only “give evidence of faiths existence by righteous living. absolutely ignores not only the words of James 2:21, but the accompanying verse 25 and the whole structure of James comments. Faith alone is incomplete, according to James. James repeats himself to show this!!
Thus, works are not relegated to mere fruits of justification. Yes, belief is foundational to justification, but James says it is also incomplete (vv. 22, 24) without works. James repeats in both verses 21 and 25 not that Abraham, and Rahab proved the fruit of their justification, but were justified by their works. The very verse that James refers us to in Genesis 15 shows that that belief that Abraham had in God was incomplete for Abraham’s justification. Sure, Abraham was justified in Genesis 15, but according to James, that justification needed to be completed by works. James thus shows us that justification is an ongoing process, not the one-time forensic event that Rhodes wants to impose on both Paul and James. We know that Paul sees works in grace as not mere fruits but are foundational to justification (Rom. 2:4-13, Rom. 6:16, 8:2-4, 12-17, Gal. 5:6, 6:2, 8-9, 1 Tim. 6:18-19, etc.).
The epistle of James reflects the teaching of Jesus who said that when you bear fruit you "prove to be My disciples" (Jn. 15:8). No fruit is an indication that you are separated from Christ. Jesus also taught that a tree is known by its fruit (Mt. 7:16-20). Just as works do not produce justification, the fruit does not bring the tree into existence. It only reveals the type of tree that it is.
James 2 does not indicate that if you have ‘true faith’ you are automatically guaranteed, to have true works. In fact, it is the exact opposite. In James 2:1 he already assumes that they have the faith. It is just that one may have the faith and not put it into action. That is why he is warning them. If works are not added to faith, faith will not save (vv. 14, 17). Thus, even before we get to the central section of vv. 20-26, James already denied that faith would save them. James does not say that if you have faith, you automatically are guaranteed to do good works like an automatic. He realizes that they may have faith, but that faith is not enough to justify, unless the works are added to it, and those works do the justification. He repeats it several times. So the idea that one is justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone, is contradicted by James very words. He explicitly denies faith alone justifies, and works is explicitly said, three times to justify. James 2:21, 24, and 25, all explicitly say that works justify. How can he say that works do not produce justification, when James says explicitly four times that they do, with the surrounding context driving this point home even further (vv. 20, 26)? It is nowhere relegated to the second class status that Dwayne relegates it to. By the way, the fruit as shown in Mt. 7:16-20, becomes the criteria on whether they get to heaven or not vv. 21-23 (He who does the will of my Father v. 21).
Works Will Be Tested.
Only some of the works done after justification are intrinsically good and acceptable to God. All the works of a Christian will be tested by fire. The good works, described by Paul, as gold, silver and precious stones, will survive the fire and result in rewards at the Bema seat. They are works done in faith, motivated by a love of God, in obedience to the will of God and for His glory. The worthless works are described as wood, hay and straw. They will be burned up, and the believer shall suffer the loss of rewards (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
Well, part of what he says above is true. Only the works after one is justified are good and acceptable to God. However, his analysis of 1 Corinthians 3, is a sure fire way to avoid the full force of the passage. 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 shows that we are punished for sins. What are worthless works excepts sins? These works are sins, and it shows we get judged for them. Those who are still in his grace, and are saved, but only as through fire, shows the existence of purgatory. Their sins are not as bad as those of V. 17, where it says for those who destroy their temple (which is our Body), God will destroy us (with eternal punishment). This shows the existence of purgatory, and shows that we are punished for sins. So much for any idea of imputation of an alien righteousness.
Four Tests for Good Works
1) The timing of the works performed. They must be done after justification not before (Eph. 2:10; Phil. 2:12; 1 Thes. 1:3).
Ok. No disagreement there.
2) The motivation for the works. They must be done in love and thanksgiving for being chosen and redeemed by God, not to merit salvation (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Thes. 5:18).
Of course the main motivation for works is that we are his adopted sons and we love him. Of course we must have a fear of God, and must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12-16), so we can not totally forget that truth. Jesus himself says we merit salvation, through our works. In fact, in all judgment scenes in the Bible, works are a cause of them entering heaven (See Mt. 25:31-46, Rev. 20:13, Jn. 5:28-29, Rev. 22:11-15). Another passage that documents this is in Galatians 6:8-9
8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.
We reap from God, when we do good works we merit, or reap eternal life. We will only merit that eternal life if we endure with Christ.
3) The power in which the works are accomplished. They must be accomplished through faith in God’s power, not through the power of man’s flesh (John 15:5; Rom. 15:13, Phil 2:12; Col. 1:29; 2 Thes. 1:11; Heb. 11:6).
Of course we don’t teach that we accomplish anything through ‘the power of man’s flesh’ but we work out our salvation with fear and trembling because it is ‘God at work within you both to work, and to will, for His good pleasure’ (Phil. 2:13). it is through the Holy Spirit that we, (not Jesus) “meet the righteous requirement of the law” in Romans 8:4
4) The glory the works produce. They must glorify God not man (Acts 4:21; Mat. 5:16; John 15:8; 1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:23; 1 Pet. 2:12).
This is a downplaying of the works that God actually does within us. Of course works glorify God. The fact that we can work in God’s grace does not deglorify God. It is on the basis of works in Matthew 25, with the sheep and the goats, that the sheep enter heaven and glory. Paul writes, ‘if we suffer with him, that we may be glorified with him together’ (Rom. 8:17). So what that we are glorified as well. It will always be known that we are his creatures and He is the creator, and the glory he gives to us, only gives more glory to Him!!!
Jesus said to the apostles:
Luke 22:29-30 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
To those who overcome, Jesus says, in Rev. 3:5:
He who conquers shall be clad thus in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
He assigns honor to men, who fulfill His will. The apostles will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Is that not giving man glory? Those who overcome, Jesus will confess their names before the Father. Is not that giving man glory? It does not detract, but only gives more glory to God, to show what a great job God has done in making His children overcomers!!! Does it give more glory to God when He says, ‘I’ll let you in, even though your works are filthy rags’? Apparently, that is what Dwayne thinks. Or does He receive more glory when He has the power to make His children holy, and their works more righteous, and they thus can really merit heaven?
Worthless works will fail all or some of these tests. They include all works done before justification, as well as works done after justification that either seek to earn God’s favor or man’s glory. An example is the rebuke by Jesus of the scribes and Pharisees: "they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries, and lengthen the tassels of their garments (Mat. 23:5). Paul wrote of those who "profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient, and worthless for any good deed (Titus 1:16).
Right, worthless works will fail these tests. But God does not make reward ‘worthless’ works. He says to the sheep, in Matthew 25:34-36:
34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
What separates the sheep from the goats? For they fed Jesus when they fed hungry people. They went into heaven because they did these good works. Thus, they did some works that not only were not ‘worthless‘, but merited heaven.
Roman Catholic Justification
Roman Catholic teaching on justification places more emphasis on works, sacraments and obeying the law than on personal faith. In fact, Catholics are condemned if they believe they are justified by faith alone. Canon 9 of the Council of Trent states: "If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification...let him be anathema."
The faith is in Christ, but that He is truly Holy. That He is faithful to His own holiness. That He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. (Heb. 11:6). That is why he would not let anyone into heaven, unless that person is truly made holy by Him. It does not give God glory by Him saying, ’I know your works are filthy rags, but I’ll pretend you are Holy, because Christ’s righteousness covers up your filthy rags’. The Catholic view in reference to God’s works is rather played out in this statement by St. Augustine:
What merit, then, does a man have before grace, by which he might receive grace? -- when our every good merit is produced in us only by grace and when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but his own gifts to us" (Letters 194:5:19).
Of course we deny that justification is by faith alone (in the Protestant sense, which excludes works done in grace), because the Bible denies it very explicitly, as we have seen in James 2:24. Why should we teach as doctrine, something explicitly not just not mentioned, but explicitly repudiated by the inspired Word of God?
The Catholic Church teaches that the grace of justification comes, not through faith but through the sacraments, beginning with baptism. From paragraph 1992 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: "Justification is conferred in Baptism, the sacrament of faith. It conforms us to the righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of his mercy."
Of course it also says that “Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men.” Wonder why he left that out? In fact it is not faith or the sacrament, but faith and the sacrament. In fact it is the sacrament of faith, as 1992 specifically teaches. Remember, Jesus said those who ‘believe and be baptized will be saved’ (Mk. 16:16). Not belief only.
Paragraph 2027 teaches Catholics that they can merit the unmerited favor of God: "Moved by the Holy Spirit, we can merit for ourselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life."
Like Scripture says, for ourselves:
Gal. 6:8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
‘for others’ is to be like Paul:
1 Cor. 9:22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church opposes God’s Word by teaching justification:
1) is not by faith, but is obtained without personal faith through baptism (1992)
Baptism is the sacrament of faith. He who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mk. 16:16).
2) is not entirely the work of God, but a cooperative work between God and man (1993)
1 Cor. 3:9 says:
For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
3) is not permanent, but can be lost by sin and regained through sacraments (1446)
Of course one can lose justification. That is throughout Scripture, Paul warns of this:
1 Cor. 10:12 Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
Mark 9:43-4543 And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 44 45 And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell.
Jesus teaches the very real possibility of losing ones’ salvation.
The sacraments that forgives sins were instituted by Christ, and carried on by the apostles, as Scripture shows us:
John 20:22-2322: And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23: If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
James 5:14-15 14 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; 15 and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
We can fall out of grace through sins, otherwise Paul wouldn’t have warned the Corinthians and Jesus wouldn‘t have told them they could do it. Jesus commissioned the apostles with the words that they have authority to forgive sins. He meant what he said. James in fact reflects that understanding when he shows a sacrament does forgive sins (See also Mt. 18:18, 2 Cor. 5:18).
4) is not different from sanctification, but includes it (2019)
Paul understands the same when he writes:
1 Corinthians 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
The only time in the Bible where they are put together is when sanctification precedes justification. Thus, the washing of baptism makes the believers intrinsically righteous and justified. Sanctification and justification are thus intrinsically bound to one another.
In justification we are set free from sin, and do not remain under its power:
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life.
The return that we get from bondage to sin is eternal death. Christ came to set us free from the bondage to sin (see also John 8:32-36). But in justification we are made free from this bondage. What does sanctification do? Get us the end of eternal life (See CCC1994-1995). Thus, sanctification is the cause of our achieving eternal life. That is God’s gift to us.
5) is not a legal declaration by God, but conforms us to the righteousness of God (2020)
Paul mentions what Justification does.
Rom. 5:17-19 And the free gift is not like the effect of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. 17 If, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous.
Justification makes us righteous, as the Catechism teaches. God can only declare righteous, that which is really righteous. Otherwise, he would be taking part in an abomination (Prov. 17:15).
In conclusion, God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4). No one can be saved by trying to merit God’s favor. His word reveals that we are justified by grace—the unmerited and undeserved gift of God (Rom. 3:24). This gift can only be received when one forsakes all efforts to save him or her self and believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:1). The grace that brings us salvation instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age (Titus 2:11-12). Thus, the life of a justified person produces evidence that reflects the divine nature that has been imparted. In this way God alone is worthy of all honor, glory and praise.
Partially true. Now, none of those things that precede justification, merit the grace of justification, as noted in Trent Chapter eight of session six. However, as we have seen, good works in grace do merit justification and is indeed necessary to achieve final justification, or salvation (Jn. 4:36, Mt. 25:31-46, Rom. 2:6-13, Gal. 6:8). When one believes in God, they obey him, and they get infused with faith, hope, and love which is a foundational to all justification (Rom. 5:1-5). After all, if one has all the faith in the world, but has not love, it profits him absolutely nothing (1 Cor. 13:2). The Titus 2 passage shows that turning away from ungodliness, and living righteously is a part of that salvation. If one turns from that pursuit of holiness, he will not see the Lord, as Heb. 12:14 also demonstrates.
Jesus Christ is Sufficient to Save Sinners Completely
Whenever man is engaged in attaining and preserving his salvation, there can never be any assurance of spending eternity in the loving presence of Jesus. Such is the predicament for many Catholics. Their eternal destiny hangs in the balance because their salvation depends on what they do for God rather than trusting what God has done through Jesus Christ.
We would rather base our faith in what God’s Word actually says rather than some nice false assurance, that does not stand up to Biblical scrutiny, that may sound good but are unbiblical assumptions based on a 16th century invented ‘tradition of men.’ We take Paul’s warning, of ‘take heed lest ye fall’ very seriously and don’t ignore that very real warning (1 Cor. 10:12). Paul himself was not assured of his own salvation, when he wrote:
1 Cor. 4:4-4 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
Unfortunately for Dwayne, Dwayne is not the judge, God is.
They are taught to depend on their own merits to reach God rather than trust the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
No. We are taught that what God accomplished on the cross was sufficient to cleanse us from all iniquity, as Titus 2:11-14 says. All our sufficiency comes from Christ. Trent teaches that whatever we do that is righteous, is because it is God at work within us (Phil. 2:13). He does not pretend that we are righteous, even though our righteous works are filthy rags. Dwayne's view that Christ's work is so insufficient, that our righteous works our only filthy rags. How is that 'trusting the sufficiency of Jesus Christ'? Is his work sufficient to pretend, what actually is not?
Roman Catholics are taught that the death of Jesus opened the gates of heaven but now Catholics must merit all the graces needed to attain eternal life.
Let us look at Rev. 22:10-15:
11: Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy." 12: "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done. 13: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." 14: Blessed are those who wash their robes (KJV, keep the commandments) that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.
15: Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and fornicators and murderers and idolaters, and every one who loves and practices falsehood.
The criteria for entering the gate is not faith alone. The criteria is for the righteous to do right (v. 11). He repays every one for what he has done (v. 12). Thus, those who are practice righteousness, enter the gates, those who do not practice righteousness, go to hell (v. 15). That is the distinction that Jesus Himself makes. So thus, Jesus himself says so. Thus, Dwayne is in effect arguing with Jesus.
All the graces that we get are from Jesus Christ himself. Paul says that the purpose of sending Jesus was for him to cleanse us from all iniquity, and "purify for himself a people zealous for good works" (Tit. 2:14). We realize that apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5-6), and we would go to hell. Now, in reference to entering the gate of heaven, we just saw that the Book of Revelation gives us the criteria for entering heaven. We see that above it is works, and not faith alone.
The fruit of these teachings are evident when you engage Catholics in spiritual conversations. When Catholics are asked how they hope to get to heaven, most of them will respond—through their good works, or by being a good person. Rarely will Catholics even mention the name of Jesus as the way of salvation. How can we persuade Catholics to repent of their dead works and trust Jesus alone? We must proclaim that Jesus Christ is sufficient to save sinners completely and forever!
Individual Catholics do not serve as the reference point for what the Catholic Church officially teaches. In the Catechism 6 times John 14:6 is quoted, where Jesus teaches that He is ‘the way, the truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father but by me.’ One example of the six times John 14:6 is quoted in the CCC is 1698:
"The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ himself, who is 'the way, and the truth, and the life.' It is by looking to him in faith that Christ's faithful can hope that he himself fulfills his promises in them, and that, by loving him with the same love with which he has loved them, they may perform works in keeping with their dignity:
The Catholic Church realizes that Christ is foundational to our ability to do good works because apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). The Catholic Church does not teach that dead works save, unlike Dwayne’s assertion. But we teach that Jesus meant what he said that works are a necessity to attain eternal life. In Revelation 2:2-10, he said to the angel of the Church of Ephesus, to write to those who were obedient, and even abstained from sin:
"'I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear evil men but have tested those who call themselves apostles but are not, and found them to be false; 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name's sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then from what you have fallen, repent and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have, you hate the works of the Nicola'itans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.' 8 "And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: 'The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. 9 "'I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Even enduring patiently and not participating in evil is not enough for Jesus. He says that they have fallen and even abandoned God by not doing good works. He says that they need to repent from their lack of good works, and do the good works or else he would remove their lampstand, or fall from His grace. He doesn’t even charge them with deliberate sin. He says that they will fall into sin and out of His grace, unless they go back to doing good works. One will only get the crown of life if they do good works, and are faithful unto death. Jesus Christ is of course sufficient to save us completely and forever, of course, but one of the ways that he saves us, as He himself says, is by us obeying what he tells us to do. He himself says that we will only be saved if we go back to doing good works. The people of the Church of Ephesus are saved in the same way that we are.
His word is sufficient
Paul wrote, "faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ" (Rom. 10:17). His word is sufficient for wisdom unto salvation. "The Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15). The glorious Gospel of grace is contained entirely in Scripture (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Yet the Catholic clergy has added many traditions and extra biblical teachings to the Word of God. In doing so, they have nullified God’s Word and the saving power of the Gospel (Rom. 1:16). The Roman Catholic Church ignores Christ’s rebuke of man’s tradition:
"They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men. You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men." And he said to them: "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions...Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down" (Mark 7:7-13).
There is absolutely no truth to the claim “The Gospel of grace is contained entirely in Scripture”. The passage in 1 Cor. 15:1-4 says absolutely nothing about that. All it says is that Christ died for our sins (v. 4) according to scriptures. It says nothing about “all truth about salvation is explicitly spelled out in Scriptures so we can easily understand.” In fact, in 1 Cor. 15:2, Paul writes that ‘you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain.’ Thus, the very passage he cites, shows that it is possible to believe in vain, and one must endure to achieve salvation. This is the very thing that Dwayne just decried. In fact, in 1 Cor. 15:10, Paul writes what grace is: Not divine favor, but divine power:
1 Cor. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me.
God’s grace is divine power, enabling us to work out our salvation, as Paul writes, as we have seen. Grace enables me to work harder.
Now, Dwayne doesn’t go by the Bible, but by what others have told him. The Bible says that one is justified by works, and not by faith alone (Jm. 2:24), Dwayne says the direct opposite of it. The Bible says that Abraham and Rahab were both justified by works (Jm. 2:21, 25). Dwayne says the direct opposite of it. The Bible says that the doers of the law will be justified (Rom. 2:13). Dwayne says the direct opposite of it. The Bible says that if you must enter life, you must keep the commandments (Mt. 19:17). Dwayne says we can’t keep the commandments. This is in fact Dwayne giving us a tradition of man directly contradicting the Bible.
His mercy and grace are sufficient
The only way sinners can be saved is to rely solely on the mercy and grace of God our savior. Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9).
Yes, it is solely the grace and mercy of God our savior that saves us. However, it is exactly that grace which purifies us from all iniquity, (Tit. 2:14) and is a transformational grace, that enables us to work harder, as Paul himself writes, in 1 Cor. 15:10, as seen above.
Catholics might ask, "What is wrong with doing good works to merit salvation?" Paul made it clear that you cannot mix grace with works: "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" (Eph. 2:8-9); "He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy" (Titus 3:5); God "has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace" (2 Tim. 1:8-9); "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works" (Romans 11:6). Amazingly, the Catholic Church condemns and curses anyone who believes the wonderful truths revealed in the above verses.
In this four paper study we have looked at each of the above passages and they directly teach not Dwayne’s view, but the Catholic view. (Titus 3, this paper, Romans 11:6 this paper, Ephesians 2, the url on justification).
Two examples of this follow:
"If anyone says that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in divine mercy, which remits sins for Christ’s sake, let him be anathema" (Canon 12, Council of Trent). "If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out that no debt of temporal punishment remains...let him be anathema (Canon 30, Council of Trent).
Scriptures are replete with warnings of the possibility of falling away from salvation. In the book of Hebrews, tons of Scriptures show that one can not only have temporal punishment but lose justification. All books of the New Testament (except Philemon) have texts which show that one can lose salvation. For example in the book of Hebrews there is a constant real warning of falling away, and out of grace (Heb. 2:1; 3:1, 6, 12-14; 4:1, 11-13, 4:14;6:4-6, 11-12; 10:26-27, 26-27, 35-38; 12:1-3, 14-17, 25-29). In the url which deals with purgatory, we have gone over the fact that Scripture does teach that temporal punishment remains.
His shed blood is sufficient.
The precious blood that Jesus shed on Calvary’s cross is sufficient to justify and redeem us, to reconcile us to God and to provide forgiveness of our sins: "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him" (Romans 5:9);
Yes the blood is sufficient, but sufficient for what? Cover us over, while our works are only filthy rags? That is hardly sufficient. What it actually is sufficient for, is to cleanse us from the bondage of sin. That is why Jesus was sent to free us from its bondage. If our works are only filthy rags, His blood is insufficient to cleanse us from sin. Instead, in the very context of Romans 5, he tells us that justification is a making of us righteous (Rom. 5:16-19). What is the means of justification? He tells us so in Romans 6. The means of justification is faith, but also baptism, as it is baptism that makes us die to sin, and frees us from its bondage (Rom. 6:3-7). Also, John writes that His blood cleanses us when we ‘walk in the light, as he is in the light’ (1 Jn. 1:7). We must continually get cleansed when we confess our sins (1 Jn. 1:9, Jn 20;23, 2 Cor. 5:18). When we confess our sins, we actually are cleansed (by His blood) of iniquity. Jesus Himself says that the Eucharist (or His Blood) remits sins as well (Mt. 26:28). Thus, Scripture shows that the cleansing of us from iniquity is a constant process, that starts with faith and baptism, and continues afterward.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" (Eph. 1:7); "For God was pleased...to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Col. 1:19-20). These verses soundly rebuke the Catholic teaching of sins being expiated by purgatorial fire or sin’s punishment being remitted by indulgences.
Of course in Eph. 1:4, the background to Eph. 1:7 it says that we are presented to God as blameless and holy. However, Dwayne has God presenting people who are really filthy rags, as blameless and holy and has God taking part in an abomination (See url 1) (Prov. 17:15). The Protestant concept that Dwayne presents us is that God overlooks the fact that our works our filthy rags, and very unworthy, and in effect remain so, although some real sanctification takes place, ultimately those works are filthy rags. The Catholic Church sees God really presenting us as blameless and holy, as he makes us blameless and holy. That is how we have redemption through his blood.
Right after Colossian 1:19-20, Paul writes the following in verses 22-24:
22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, 23 provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
How does God present us holy and blameless? Only if we continue in the faith. We must stay, and stay steadfast. Thus, we must endure, work in God’s grace, thus our own endurance is the means of God presenting us holy. There is no hint at all of Dwayne’s presumption. No mention of an imputation of righteousness to our account. But instead we have a real cleansing in which we have an important part to play. It is provided we continue in the faith.
His sacrifice is sufficient
The sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ is not only sufficient, but it is necessary and finished. The sacrifices that continue on Catholic altars are a blatant rejection of the last words of Christ, "It is finished" (John 19:30).
His death on the cross says nothing about us not having to do anything. In fact, Dwayne doesn’t even believe what he says above, because he does say that one must at least believe. If one has to believe, even in the unbiblical fashion that Dwayne presents us, it shows that sometime after Christ’s death on the cross, one must still do something. In fact, all Jesus did say was that his earthly mission was ended. When His death came, the mission of his earthly life was now complete. However, as Paul writes, he was ‘raised for our justification’ (Rom. 4:25). Thus, his salvific mission was not finished when he died. In fact, even now, He makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:24). If our salvation was already wrapped up, there would be no need for Him to intercede for us. Hebrews shows us that it is an ongoing process, (I gave many references up just above).
"We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God...because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:10-14).
Unfortunately Dwayne continually repeats verses that he has misinterpreted before. I have looked at this verse and the surrounding context in my section on Hebrews 10 in reference in url 3, which dealt with purgatory.
Nothing can be added to His perfect sacrifice because there is nothing lacking in it. Yet Catholics deny this by adding the merits of Mary and other saints to the infinite merits of Christ. Amazingly, Rome condemns with anathema anyone who believes the sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient to remit the punishment for all sin (Vatican Council II, "Indulgences").
Well, there were no anathemas in Vatican II, but I can assure Dwayne, with all his unbiblical teaching in this analysis, he would have earned plenty if there were some. But we do think that all the merits that we have, are because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice being applied to our lives, through such things as the merits of the Saints. Now indulgences is a very biblical notion, with many biblical principles behind that. To go over each one of them would make this already long paper, even longer, so here is an url that goes to these biblical principles, written by James Akin: http://www.cin.org/users/james/files/indulgen.htm.
His righteousness is sufficient
The righteousness of Christ is not only sufficient but also necessary for entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. It is necessary because the Lord Jesus proclaimed, "unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mat. 5:20).
This passage says that your righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, not that we get Christ’s imputed righteousness to us, and that is the righteousness which exceeds that of the Pharisees. That passage exactly shows why our works can not be filthy rags, as Dwayne suggests the worth of our works are, before God. Throughout Matthew 5, Jesus calls us to obedience from the heart. The Pharisees were legalistic, and did not have a holiness at heart, or love God from the heart. Jesus does call us to a higher standard. He says that if we call someone a ‘fool’, we are in danger of hellfire (Mt. 5:22) for example. Whoever lusts at a woman with his heart commits adultery (Mt. 5:28). He tells the multitudes that “If the right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast in from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” (5.30). Thus, immediately after this, Jesus tells the multitudes that they must not fall into those type of sins, or they will be sent to hell. Thus, there must be an obedience from the heart. A real righteousness that truly surpasses the Pharisees unrighteousness. Earlier, Jesus had given the message of the beatitudes, which we must live like (Blessed are the meek, peacemakers, hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mt. 5:3-12) ). These are the means of attaining the righteousness that surpasses the Pharisees. Loving God from the heart, and obeying his commandments. Absolutely nothing in Matthew 5 says anything about ‘well, I impute to you my perfect righteousness if you accept me by faith alone, and that is how you attain that perfect righteousness’. The passage in Matthew 5 only shows that the Catholic concept is right, with no trace of the concepts that Dwayne has been giving us!!
No one can enter heaven on their own righteousness because by God’s standard is perfection.
If our righteous is our own without God’s grace that is correct. However, as we have seen, when we live by the power of the Spirit, it is we who meet the righteous requirement of the law (Rom. 8:4). Now, God is a Father, who disciplines children, so he does not go by strict law. We are his adopted children (Rom. 8:14-17, Gal. 4:4-7, 1 Jn 3:2), so a Father would not cast a son out, for small sins, as Hebrews 12:5-12 shows. He disciplines, and molds us into his image. There is nothing in any Scripture which says that in order to be in and remain in his grace in our lives on earth, we must live absolutely perfect lives.
Paul noted how imperfect we all are when he wrote, "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10).
We have looked at Dwayne’s misuse of Romans 3:10, in url 1. He only says that the Jews need his grace in order to be righteous in that passage. But, in point of fact, Christ did make us righteous in justification, as shown in Rom. 5:19, 6:3-7. We are put in holiness. God does not make filthy rags.
Furthermore the Bible declares that "nothing impure will ever enter" into heaven (Rev. 21:27).
That is a good passage which shows the necessity of purgatory. Now true, to ultimately enter heaven, we need to be truly purified. That is why purgatory does the final cleansing. Not Dwayne’s concept of being merely covered over. But we are his children who are merely punished for our small sins, not cast out of His grace. If we are not purified of those small sins before we die, purgatory will complete the process. This is not against the finished work of Christ, but the application of that work, to accomplish the final cleansing of iniquity that Scripture says his blood will cleanse (1 Jn. 1:9).
Those who do not know that God’s righteousness requires perfect righteousness try to establish their own as the Israelites did: " For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God" (Romans 10:3). Their only hope is to receive the perfect righteousness of God "the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith" (Phil. 3:9).
The Catholic Church does not teach that we must establish our righteousness on our own. Everything we do, is because it is God’s grace at work within us (Phil. 2:13, 1 Cor. 15:10, Gal. 2:20. As Paul writes, in 2 Cor. 3:5-6:
5 Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Our sufficiency comes from God. But God’s sufficiency is so great that He gives us the power to ‘put to death the deeds of the flesh’ (Rom. 8:13), so we will live!
His intercession is sufficient
His intercession as our high priest is sufficient to save repentant sinners and to preserve their gift of eternal life. The Bible proclaims: "He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens" (Hebrews 7:25). When you trust Jesus completely, He is "able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy" (Jude 24).
The fact is that since He must ‘always live to intercede for us’ precisely on the issue of salvation, shows that this intercession is an ongoing process. Almost 50 percent of the book of Hebrews urges the necessity of works and perseverance in order to attain salvation, so to say that it renders them unnecessary in justification is incorrect. Of course He is able to keep us from falling, but He does not do away with our free will to turn away from holiness.
What a contrast to the "Jesus" that is presented in the official teachings of the Catholic Church. The "Catholic Jesus" is not the all-sufficient Jesus of the Scriptures. Rome offers another Jesus—a Jesus that is unable to expiate all sins, a Jesus that can be reduced to the inner substance of a lifeless inanimate wafer, a Jesus that must be represented daily as a sacrificial "victim" to appease the wrath of the Father, and a Jesus that is powerless to keep His flock from falling.
As Jesus is an eternal High Priest (Heb. 4:14), he continually offers sacrifice. Otherwise he would not be an eternal High Priest. He is a Priest ‘forever’ according to the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek offered in sacrifice bread and wine. A priest must offer sacrifice (Heb. 5:1, 8:3). Jesus offers His own Body and Blood. In the url on purgatory, I went over the Biblical support for Jesus offering through the Eucharist, the true sacrifice, which remits sins (Heb. 5:1, 8:3, 9:22-24, 10:26-28, 13:10). An even fuller treatment on the issue of the Eucharistic Scriptural passages, and a whole section on Hebrews on the Eucharistic sacrifice can be found here: http://matt1618.freeyellow.com/sacrifice.html. Now, in reference to Catholics teaching that Jesus is a ‘lifeless wafer’ shows that Dwayne totally ignores Jesus’ teaching. Jesus says, in Matthew 26:27-28:
27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28: for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus calls it His blood. And what does it do? The cup that he gives is His blood which is given for those who partake, the forgiveness of sins. He does not say 'This is a lifeless wafer' He says 'This is my Blood'. Paul understands it is Christ's blood when he writes, 1 Cor. 10:16:
16: The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
This reiterates Jesus' own teaching against the similarly (similar to Dwayne) unbelieving Jews who couldn't believe him when he said that the bread that he would give is his flesh for the life of the world (Jn. 6:51), John 6:52-56:
52: The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53: So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54: he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55: For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56: He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
He answered the unbelieving Jews, who like Dwayne could not believe that Jesus could give us His true flesh to eat. He says his flesh is true food, not a true lifeless wafer. So the true flesh that Jesus gives us, is of true salvific value, which Jesus teaches, but Dwayne denigrates.
To know and trust the real Jesus, one must abide in His teachings.
Jesus says believe and be baptized you will be saved (Mk. 16:16). Dwayne says the baptism part is not necessary. Jesus says one must be born of water and Spirit (Jn. 3:5). Dwayne says the water part is not necessary. Jesus says, 'because you have fed me, you can inherit the kingdom of heaven’ (Mt. 25:34). Dwayne says because you believed in me alone is the way you are saved. Jesus says to the apostles that He will forgive sins if they forgive sins, (Jn. 20:23). Dwayne said that no mediators are necessary, and no man can forgive sins. Jesus says My flesh is true food, and My Blood is true drink (Jn. 6:54). Dwayne says that communion is a lifeless wafer. Jesus says that in order for those who have already been justified to be saved, they must repent of their lack of good works or else their lampstand would be removed (Rev. 2:3-6, and thus lose their salvation), Dwayne says good works can never be the grounds of justification. Jesus says, we will judged for every word we say and every thing we do, whether good or bad, (Mt. 12:36). Dwayne says we will not be judged for the bad things. Jesus says that those who do good will get rewarded with the resurrection of life (Jn. 5:28-29), those who do bad will get the resurrection of judgment. Dwayne says that those who do bad (that would include us, as after all, all our works are filthy rags) get the resurrection of life. Thus, despite Dwayne trying to say that he abides by Jesus‘ teachings, he seems to reject quite a few things that Jesus says on the issue of salvation!!!
Those who seek other mediators and other sources for truth should heed the warning of John: "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teachings of Christ does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son" (2 John 9).
Jesus commissioned the apostles to be mediators. The apostles are the ones who spread the Word of God. We would not know of the gospel unless he used mediators. He commissioned the apostles to teach all nations everything He taught them, not just what they wrote. In fact, in His commission of the apostles in Matthew, Mark, & Luke, He did not even commission them to write a thing, let alone make that the sole inerrant authority. He said 'he who hears you, hears me, he who rejects you rejects me' (Lk. 10:16), not 'he who reads you, reads me.' He commissioned them to teach. The apostles did it in oral and written form (2 Thes. 2:15). All apostles preached the gospel orally. The Church has preserved this truth from the beginning. Very few of the apostles ever wrote a thing, at least that which we have a record of. The epistles were only meant to address specific problems that Paul, Peter, and John were dealing with. They were never meant to be a catalogue of all the issues that were binding on all believers. In fact, in this study we have seen Dwayne misinterpret a great deal of what was actually written, on the issue of salvation. Back to the issues of mediators. Jesus made the apostles mediators when he commissioned them to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19). He made them mediators when he said that they had the authority to forgive sins (Jn. 20:23). That is reflected in Paul who put that commission into use, when he realizes that he was given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18). Thus, Paul put into practice that commission that Jesus gave the apostles, to forgive sins. When someone is sick and needs to be forgiven sins, the Bible says one is to call the elders (or we would say ‘Priests’) of the church and through them, one will not only get anointed for the sickness, but sins will get forgiven (Jm. 5:14-15). He uses people such as Paul who says “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means saves some.” Paul realizes that he was a mediator who would hope to save people from their sins (1 Cor. 9:22). Paul even says he rejoices in his sufferings because he, (as a mediator) can fill up in his flesh, what the Bible says is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, the Church (Col. 1:24). It is an insult to Jesus, to say, that ‘I rely on you alone’ and yet ignore the fact that Jesus uses mediators to bring the truth and the graces of the gospel to mankind. Jesus is the one mediator between man and God, but if he Himself decides to use man to mediate, we must use the means of mediation that He himself gives us. . In fact, when we ignore the means that Jesus gave for us to come to him, in effect we are ignoring Jesus.
What a wonderful opportunity and privilege Christians have to proclaim the all-sufficient Jesus Christ to those who are making futile attempts to become acceptable to God on their own merit. Let us call those who are lost in their religion to repentance. Perhaps they will hear the voice of the good Shepherd and come to Him for everlasting life. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish" (John 10:27-28).
In fact, Jesus Christ is all sufficient to really cleanse us from sin, as the Scriptures we have seen have shown us. We cooperate with Him, as we partake of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). It is not good news to declare that Jesus’ death is so insufficient, that all he can do is make our works filthy rags. That is part of what Dwayne says is ‘good news’ His good news is that God acts as though we are righteous, even though we really aren’t. On the contrary, in fact, Jesus is so all-sufficient that He makes us righteous in justification. He makes us partners with him in our own justification. We are not filthy rags, we are new creations (2 Cor. 5:17) who God gives us marvelous graces through sacraments and walking with Him in our daily life. Thus, God truly can cleanse us in an ongoing fashion. This is so that our works are really, truly pleasing to God, not in a fictitious legal manner, where God pretends we are righteous, even though our works are only filthy rags, but in a manner that adopted sons pleases please their Father. That is the marvelous good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He gives us not only divine favor, but he pours divine power into our lives, to make those who were once slaves to sins, slaves to righteousness (Jn. 8:32-36, Rom. 6:16-18).
In wrapping all this up, I am glad to have studied on the issue ‘What must I do to be saved,' because, we, whether we like it or not, all will have to come before God and give an account to Him. We need to know what His criteria is. The idea that Dwayne has presented is that belief in Christ is the only instrumental means of justification. We will pursue holiness, and even achieve it to some extent, but that pursuit of holiness will never be the grounds of our justification. However, in this extensive study of the issue, we have seen that when people have been asked that question (How can we be saved?) in Scripture, faith is not the alone instrument of salvation. In our first part, we looked at how Jesus, Peter, and Paul answered that question. The answers they gave to that specific question included faith (Acts 16:31-33), baptism (Acts 2:38, Mk. 16:16), keeping the commandments (Mt. 19:17), and loving God and your neighbors as your self (Luke 10:28). Elsewhere we saw that good works (Jm. 2:14-26), and being doers of the law (Rm. 2:6-13), were of necessity to being the means of passing the judgment (Mt. 25:31-46, Rev. 22:11-15, Jn. 5:28-29). We then saw that a passage often used to show that our works our only filthy rags (Isaiah 64) is being imposed on Christians in a way that the New Testament writers never allude to. In fact, Scripture shows that the grounds of justification is being made righteous (Rom. 5:16-19). God truly makes us righteous in justification, as Christ came to set us free from its bondage. Now, it is not by the law, but in Christ, and by grace in which our obedience and works are justifying. We also saw that Dwayne’s idea that we are just covered over with an imputed righteousness of Christ is unbiblical, and would have God taking part in an abomination that he does not (Prov. 17:15). Instead, through the Holy Spirit, and by His grace, He changes us into new creations (2 Cor. 5:17), so fully that we do meet the righteous requirement of the law (of the Spirit, Rom. 8:4). We also saw not only that was keeping the commandments necessary (Mt. 19:17) for salvation, but affirmed as necessary to even be in Christ (1 Jn. 2:3-4, Jn 15:14)
In part two we saw the necessity of baptism. The cases that Protestants will use to deny baptismal regeneration, such as the thief on the cross, supposedly not being mentioned as part of the gospel in 1 Cor. 1 and 15, and the giving of the Holy Spirit upon Gentile believers prior to baptism did not stand up to Biblical scrutiny. We saw that exceptions don’t make the rule. Especially when we see that Dwayne was inconsistent. We saw Scripture after Scripture showing that baptism saves us (1 Pet. 3:21), washes away sins (Acts 22:16), is the ordinary means for us to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38), and is the means to put on Christ (Gal. 3:27). We also saw being born of water and Spirit meant being baptized (Jn. 3:5). We also saw that in the commission to preach the gospel, baptism was an essential requirement (Mk. 16:16, Mt. 28:19). We also saw other passages show baptism’s necessity.
In the next section, we saw that the doctrine of purgatory is based on some very biblical criteria. First, God is truly holy. Second, justification before God is truly an infusion of grace, (Rom. 6:3-7). It is not merely a covering over of our sins. He really cleanses us from all sin. Thus, as he truly cleanses us in grace, we must be fully purified in order to attain heaven. As nothing unclean will enter heaven (Rev. 21:27), if we are still have sins on our soul at the time of death, further cleansing is necessary (1 Cor. 3:15). We also saw that the Book of Hebrews, instead of doing away with purgatory, gives a foundation for it. Temporal punishment is a true factor biblically (2nd Samuel 12:13-14). We share in his sufferings (Phil. 3:10). We saw that suffering was a necessary means of achieving salvation (Rom. 8:17). The passages that Dwayne actually used, we saw ironically became grounds for the need for purgatory. We saw the book of Hebrews actually point to the Eucharistic sacrifice as being an offering for sins, as the Church celebrates. Finally, we saw that a Scripture that Christians had accepted as Scripture for 15 centuries, was very explicit in showing purgatory (2nd Macc. 12:44-47).
Finally, in this part, we have seen that we really do, through the power of God’s grace only, merit heaven. We have seen passages show that God honors his own promises, and we reap eternal life if we reap and persevere in the Spirit (Gal. 6:8-9). If we do not, we reap hell. We saw that justification is not merely a past event that took place in the past, but it is an ongoing process. It is also a future event (Rom. 2:13) based on our obedience. Now, this is not downgrading Christ’s sufficient work, but actually making his work sufficient to truly make our works righteous. It is in fact insufficient, if all God can do in justification is cover our sins over. Then we took a detailed look at the James 2 passage, breaking it down according to the structure. James drives home the point that works do justify, and we are not justified by faith alone (James 2:20-26). Dwayne pointed out that worthless works will fail, and I agree, but our works are not ‘worthless’ works, but they are God’s works within us to work and to will for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-16). We work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We know that those works are not worthless because that is the grounds that Jesus gave, for entrance into the kingdom, and the separation of the sheeps from the goats (Mt. 25:31-46). We have finally seen that if we really abide by Christ’s teachings we will see the necessity of believing and getting baptized to be saved (Mk. 16:16), plus being born of water and Spirit, plus eating his flesh and drinking his blood (Jn. 6:51-58), plus getting our sins forgiven by those who he appointed (Jn. 20;23, Mt. 18:18). Scripture does indeed teach the necessity of works, but only those works that are done in God’s grace will suffice. The idea that these works do not contribute to our justification, is ironically a denial of the sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross, and what He does in the lives of Christians in justification.