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Romans 3:28 and James 2:24. Do They Contradict?

March 1, 2008

The Protestant’s hope and prayer for Catholics (and all others) should be to see Christ in the correct light, and to love him in that way. Well intentioned Protestants strongly believe that if you don’t view Christ through the lens of solafide then he’s a distorted Christ. He’s less gracious, less loving, and less close to your heart and life.

My heart is to show Catholics that you don’t have to go to Mary for grace and mercy, but that it’s all profoundly available in Christ. He is the true Pontifix Maximus whom needs no assistance in reconciling sinners to himself. That was his mission and he fully accomplished it, hence being God. I hope this thread sheds some light on many things such as the differences between Catholic and Protestant theology, history of Luther and solafide, the doctrine of justification in the book of Romans, and mostly, a consistent interpretation of James 2. May there be no fear of death, nor fear of punishment, to the one who is in Jesus Christ!

Here is a link where I debate Catholics over James 2. My handle name is ‘solafide’. It was a fun and interesting debate.

Here is a link where I critique Robert Sungenis’ interpretation of James 2 in his book ‘Not by Faith Alone’. Many of the arguments I present there are presented on this thread as well.

The Reformers re-surfaced the heart of the grace of the gospel. It’s known as “solafide”, or “faith alone”. What is believed to come by faith alone? Justification is believed to come by faith alone. What is justification? It’s what you would be if you never did anything immoral and glorified God in thought, word, deed, and intention 100% every day of your life. Wow, high standard! If you upheld this standard, you would never be put to shame on the day of Judgment. Think about how liberating that would be!

Yet, as it stands, you and I have not upheld that standard — not even close. We are in need of a seemingly impossible thing. It’s called “justification”. Even by having the smallest stubborn attitude, we’re desperately in need. Adam and Satan were shut off from God after one small sin. The sin was in fact huge to God – for he is infinitely holy. Never mind sinning just once. We in fact sin all day, everyday, and probably most of the time we don’t even realize it. But God sees it all, and he forgets none of it on Judgment Day. The truth is that we need help.

If you were perfectly righteous as Christ was, you would be considered justified. But there is a way to become perfectly righteous as Christ was, by being in Christ as a branch is in a vine. Thus, justification in Christ must become a very important thing to you as a sinner.

But do God’s people receive Christ’s righteousness through faith alone, or are works also needed? If we are justified only through faith, this means we are justified apart from anything we might physically, emotionally, or mentally do. Can it be so?

This is what we believe to be the most Biblical position. As we will see below, justification by faith alone is not to make salvation easy and Christian living sloppy, but more correctly, for the Triune God alone to boast in salvation, and to make Christian living even possible. If everyone is conceived in sin (Psa 51) and with a heart of stone (Ez 36:26), then we could say that when God replaces our heart of stone with a new heart of flesh that He does so by grace, by His Spirit, and that all of this is a big part of what takes place when we say one is “justified through faith”. They don’t just say a prayer and never change, but God really changes them so that when they say the prayer, it’s in fact sincere.

Catholics, and in fact many Protestants, believe that justification is in one aspect a life long process. We are justified on Calvary (Rom 3), yet are also credited this justification throughout our lives. This is why Abraham is said to be justified in Gen 12 (as Heb 11:8-9 alludes since it says he has faith in Gen 12) and was also justified in Gen 15 (with believing the covenant promise). So our faith is credited unto justification throughout our lives, but only through faith, being done by God, and all on the bases of our vicarious justification in Christ on Calvary. You can also find that this view was held by Calvin, Luther, Spurgeon, and Brakel. This link provides quotations and sources for each them holding to this (or at least something close).

Catholics believe justification comes about by a combination of faith and works together. One must carry out good works in this life to have grace infused to their spiritual account. It’s as if there is a spiritual piggy bank filled with dollar bills with Jesus’ face on them. Jesus is the signer on the account, and when we do good works in faith we receive these righteous “bills” to our account so that we are then considered righteous. Biblically, we are justified, not because we are being rewarded this righteousness, but because Jesus, in a sense, makes us co-signers on his account by faith. This is the significance of what the Bible refers to as being “in” Christ, and no longer “in” Adam. We were “in” the first Adam apart from the law, and we are now “in” the second Adam apart from the law (Rom 5:14).

Protestants believe that the sinner is justified effortlessly. We are justified entirely by God’s doing, thus, apart from any effort on our part. To the Protestant, this should not exempt a Christian from doing good works but make good works possible and of genuine quality. Being justified is a prerequisite for any sinner to even have the capacity to do works pleasing to God, without hidden selfish motives. Those who are not justified have not received new hearts by the Spirit and cannot please God. The one who is justified through faith only, is also the one whom God has really changed from the inside by His Spirit.

Romans 8:6-8 “The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.”

There are essentially two tell tale signs of the Christian. 1. faith, and 2. repentance (Godly sorrow for sin and actual turning away from sin). God changes one’s heart and mind in order to have genuine faith, thus enabling them to no longer be hostile towards Him but love Him, trust Him, know Him, and live for Him. Granted, our faith has doctrinal content and substance to it. We are to believe that Christ is who he said he was as revealed in Scripture. This is why even if a Mormon appears to have “good works”, we can know they are not really saved. They fail to meet the 1st sign.

The second sign of true justification is repentance which encompasses how we think, speak, and act towards God and others. In other words, our works. We need the Spirit, however, to change us and give us hearts of flesh to be able to have works pleasing to God. According to Scripture, no one can do good works by the Spirit unless they are justified. Eph 2:8-10 demonstrates how we are saved by grace, though faith, not of ourselves, and unto good works prepared in advance. Grace is for the works, not that works are to merit grace. That doesn’t jive with Scripture because according to Scripture, in the context of being justified, if there are works involved then it’s not considered a gift any longer. Yet, Catholics view merit as being a gift.

Rom 4:4-5 “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as (unto) righteousness”

Rom 11:6 “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

This does not mean the justified will never sin again, but that they will increasingly hate their sin and progressively leave it. This process is until we die and are eternally glorified. Nevertheless, the Spirit is needed even for such a process. Only the justified in Christ may receive the Spirit and do so.

Romans 6:18 “You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”

1 John 3:9 “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”

Why saved through faith?

There’s three major reasons we’re saved only by faith, apart from works.

1. (Impossible Due To God’s Nature — He Requires Perfection) It’s impossible to be saved by works. If God is 100% holy and requires absolute moral perfection from us, then one sin is enough to separate us from God forever. Therefore, it wouldn’t matter even if we could merit grace. Even if we could be perfectly righteous from today forward we still deserve eternal separation from God for at least one time of not doing what we should have in the past. Faith means God saves us apart from ourselves. That way it skips over all of our imperfection and gives us perfection in spite of us. I cover this more in-depth at the end.

2. (Impossible Due To Human Nature — We Are Not Perfect) A person who is of the sinful nature and indeed cannot submit to God’s law (Rom 8:6-8) cannot change their Christ-hostile nature to love God. Only the Holy Spirit can restore a sinner’s heart to love God, and only on the legal bases of Christ’s substitutionary death. Saving faith is a work of the heart which we can’t manufacture on our own. That’s precisely why God sovereignly has us saved by it. It’s so he may fully save us by a work outside the radar of our fallen capacity. This effortless work of belief gives us the works of Christ, all because of grace. We can conjure up all kinds of actions, emotions, and thoughts, but not a love for God when we’re born hostile to him.

3. (The Triune God Desires All Saving Glory For Himself, and Within Himself) It’s impossible to be saved by works because God doesn’t allow it for the glory shared between the eternal persons of the Trinity. It is the Father’s perfect will to have the Son save his people according to the covenant promise to Abraham, namely, a righteousness that comes by faith. It is precisely because of this that the Reformers also coined “soli deo gloria”, to God alone be the glory! God saves us through faith so that He would be fully gracious, and therefore, be all glorious. How important is God’s glory to you? If God alone does all the saving, then He alone receives all the glory. Therefore, saying “saved by faith alone” leads to saying “saved by God alone” which leads to saying “to God alone be the glory”.

Romans 4:16 “It is by faith you have been saved, so that it may be according to grace (God’s grace)” [emphasis mine]

This is as opposed to us being gracious to ourselves and assisting the process. Granted, Rome doesn’t teach that one “earns” salvation via works, but are “rewarded” it. The Church (along with its sacraments) is the means by which they are rewarded justification. If you think about it, this is actually similar to Protestantism. We both agree there is a necessary “means” by which we receive justification, yet disagree on which primary means it is! We disagree on the primary means, that’s all. Theirs is sacraments through the Church, ours is God’s sacrament of God-given faith.

Nevertheless, here is an antithetical notion: being saved by faith is the most difficult way to be saved imaginable. Why? It’s most difficult for God because He’s doing all the work. It’s most difficult for you because you loose control of the reigns which you think obligates God to like you. Instead, you must come to terms with the reality that God only accepts you because of Himself, NOT because of you.

This requires you to trust God 100% and trust yourself 0% for salvation. That’s more scary than any alternative. God doesn’t care that you may have a hard time with His doctrine of solafide. It only means you have a hard time trusting Him, and means you would feel more comfortable believing you can trust yourself. That’s jacked up from the outset because you’re a repugnant sinner and God is eternally holy, perfect, and good. Get over yourself.

Now let’s look at the controversy!

What does Martin Luther have to do with all this?

Catholics accuse Martin Luther for eisegeting his bible. In other words, he took way to much liberty when interpreting it. Catholics love to make a straw-man out of Luther. To them he was probably blind-folded and threw darts at sticky notes which contained random scribblings to get his interpretations. It’s believed he added to Romans 3:28 which reads “…for we maintain that a man is justified by faith, apart from works of the law.” When Martin Luther carried out the unthinkable task of translating the Latin Vulgate into German, the common language at the time, he added the German word “allien” to this verse. Allien is German for “alone”. Luther translated Romans 3:28 this way, “…for we maintain that a man is justified by faith alone, apart from works of the law.”

Catholic apologists use this bit of history to blame Luther for having started a “new theology” un-common to church history until the Reformation. Of course they believe this because if solafide were true they would have to repent for believing another gospel, and “Traditions!” die hard. But the belief that one was saved by faith alone was never embraced by the church until Luther, so it is thought. Thus, solafide must be an invention of Luther.

Here is a link to another thread I have about how a Catholic scholar, Joseph Fitzmyer, documents that Luther wasn’t the first to translate Rom 3:28 with the word “alone”. Many are ignorant of these facts.

Luther even responded to the accusation of having added the word “alone” to his translation.

His remarks were as follows:

“Note, then, whether Paul does not assert more vehemently that faith alone justifies than I do, although he does not use the word “alone” (sola) , which I have used. For he who says: Works do not justify, but faith justifies, certainly affirms more strongly that faith justifies than does he who says: Faith alone justifies… it is ridiculous enough to argue in this sophistical manner: Faith alone justifies; therefore the Holy Spirit does not justify. Or: The Spirit justifies; therefore not faith alone. For this is not what the dispute is about at this place. Rather the question is only about the relation of faith and works, whether anything is to be ascribed to works in justification. Since the apostle does not ascribe anything to them, he without a doubt ascribes all to faith alone.” [emphasis mine]

Ewald M. Plass, What Luther Says, (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), P. 707.

Luther well knows he added “allien”. He didn’t add it and keep quite like a Jehovah’s Witness Bible translator would. Luther says that even if we leave out the word “alone” Paul still makes the distinction between a justification which is by faith as opposed to works. Paul does not attribute anything to works for our justification but attributes all to faith. Why should we do any different than the apostle?!

Was solafide ever believed before Martin Luther?

Real quick, I would argue history records some early church fathers teaching solafide. Ambrosiaster, an anonymous writer who wrote a commentary on Romans around 370 A.D. said the phrase “faith alone” many times. I finally purchased the amazing commentary, read it, and was elated. Click here to read his quotes. This link also includes an in-depth look at how Catholics misquote Alister McGrath’s ‘Iusitia Dei’ in regards to Ambrosiaster.

Here are some excerpts from his commentary:

Rom 3:24 “They are justified freely, because they have not done anything nor given anything in return, but by faith alone they have been made holy by the gift of God.”

Rom 4:6 “Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone.”

“The prophet… calls them blessed, because their sins are forgiven, covered and not reckoned to them, and this without labor or work of any kind.”

The Latin manuscript of 1 Clement is one of the earliest we have of a church father, and is a near contemporaneous source of Christ. Clement lived around the mid 1st century to 99 A.D. and wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians in 32:4:

“And so we, having been called through His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or through our own wisdom or understanding or piety or works which we wrought in holiness of heart, but through faith, whereby the Almighty God justified all men that have been from the beginning; to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

Further, solafide goes all the way back to Jesus even before the apostles. In John 6: 28-29 it says,

“Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Jesus was paving the way for belief in him as Lord, which would soon be consummated by his resurrection. After the resurrection would validate his Lordship, it would be faith in him which would place one under his headship and in the new covenant.

Many Catholics misunderstand the doctrine of solafide and think it to be nothing other than a slippery slope to sloppy Christianity. However, once James 2 is properly interpreted, one will see that this is the very perversion of faith which James is addressing! It’s also worth mentioning that even with a Catholic view of progressive, life-long, works-included justification one still has every reason to carelessly sin. You just have to go to confession and have the Priest give you pennants in order to absolve your sin. So instead of these “na na na na na” games, let’s just stick with what is God-breathed, namely, Scripture since the truth is always more liberating when it’s true.

So here we go.

What is the supposed controversy between Paul and James?

Would Paul and James have disagreed over how the sinner is justified? At face value, Paul and James would seem to contradict each other.

Paul says in Romans 3:28, “for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the law”.

James says in James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

Paul says in Romans 3:28, “for we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the law”

Why on earth would one think that Paul teaches solafide in Romans? Here’s a simplified version of why it is necessarily implied.

The law, or “nomos”, in Romans 3 is the very thing that reveals sin to both Jews and Gentiles, and the very thing that condemns both, thus condemning the whole world. The Catholic must argue that “nomos”, or “the law”, doesn’t include the moral law. In other words, if/when Romans says we’re justified apart from “the law”, Roman Catholics must interpret this as only being the civil, ceremonial, sacrificial, and dietary laws, not the moral law (granted, many of these laws overlap, yet the phraseology here helps make the point). The Roman Catholic still maintains we’re justified by the moral law. The moral law being the 10 commandments, or the great commandment found in Deut 6:4, Lev 19:18, Mat 22, and Mark 12, namely, to love God and others.

The moral law, or the great commandment, is also summed up in the 10 commandments (Ex 20, Deut 5). The first 4 commandments are about loving God, while the last 6 are about loving others. The moral law existed before Moses, hence why Satan and Adam were condemned by it for simply breaking it one time in their heart. The moral law is a reflection of God’s eternal nature and character. There is eternal “agape” within the 3 person of the Trinity, thus this eternally defines what is “good”.

Anytime we sin, we’re breaking this standard and are found to be not good, or “evil”. If we are with sin, then this standard will reveal the sin and make it clearly known. It was known to the Gentiles by nature (Rom 2:14-15) even though they didn’t have direct revelation of it (by Scripture), and was known to the Jews via nature and direct revelation (Deut 6:4, Lev 19:18, Rom 2:20-24). But context must determine what part of the Mosaic law is being referred to. It can be broken up into different categories, namely, the civil, ceremonial, sacrificial, dietary, and moral laws. What part of the law is Romans referring to that we’re justified apart from? It must be the moral law.

Hosea 6:6 says, “I desire steadfast love, not sacrifice. The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Even before the law, Cain was judged because he didn’t offer his sacrifice with a right heart. And the scribe in Mark 12:28-34 acknowledged that God has always willed love for God, not merely sacrifices.

Verse 32-33 says, “And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

These facts clearly show that God ultimately judged sin according to our hearts before the Mosaic law, and even during the Mosaic law! This means that even the ceremonial, sacrificial, and dietary laws were always judged in light of the person’s heart (moral law), not the laws in and of themselves. This means that the moral law precedes, and supercedes, all other temporal laws. Ultimately God judges the heart. God judges Jews and Gentiles with the moral law.

Now ask yourself 2 questions in regard to Rom 3. (1) What part of the law reveals sin to the whole world? It can only be the part of the law that also reveals sin in the heart. It can only be the moral law. A temporal dietary law telling you not to eat pork does not reveal sin to the whole world. (2) What part of the law brings condemnation to the whole world for having failed to uphold it perfectly? Again, it can only be the moral law that does this. Failure to be circumcised didn’t condemn the entire ancient world. The moral law did. It condemned Satan and Adam, it condemns us all today, and will condemn any future creation of God’s shall it ever break God’s moral law and fail to love him and others in the heart.

Because there is a universal revelation of sin, thus a universal condemnation for sin, the context of Rom 3:19-20 condemns the whole world under the moral law.

Rom 3:19-20, “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Now when you read Rom 3:21-22 in light of all this, does it ring true the real gospel?

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.”

In Rom 7:7 Paul further echoes that the moral law is contained within the Mosaic law, or “o nomos”, which brings a greater revelation of sin, thus a greater condemnation when he says,

“I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

Granted, Catholics don’t deny that the moral law is contained in the Mosaic law, they just deny that aspect of it is the context of Rom 2-4. The reason we need to also look at Rom 7:7 is because 7:6 shows the context to be about being released from the law. It’s the law of “the written code”. This is attached to the context even back in Rom 3. It’s mainly this part of the Mosaic law, the moral law, that finds fault in us, thus gives us a death sentence. It’s inescapable. The context of Romans is that the moral law finds fault in us, condemns us, and we are justified by faith in Christ apart from the law (especially the moral law).

Catholics believe that the 7 sacraments of the Church which merits (=rewards) justification for them must be carried out with a right heart, in other words, with the moral law. But if the moral law is the very thing that doesn’t justify, but instead reveals sin, brings condemnation, thus death, they can’t merit justification in this way. As I’ve already pointed out, even the Jews were expected from the very beginning to carry out their temporal civil, ceremonial, sacrificial, and dietary laws with a right heart. If the first system couldn’t justify, how much less any other system. Just as Paul also belabors in Romans, the law finds fault in us because we can’t uphold it perfectly.

The law’s nature is not to kill, but give life. Yet, since we fail to meet its demands 100%, it must kill us because we deserve it for having broken it once. Having a merital system of justification whereby you must rely on upholding the moral law to be justified is going the wrong Biblical direction. It’s only inflicting more death, not life. That’s why there must be a perfect Savior whom vicariously upholds the law for us, pays the penalty for having broken the law for us, and raises us from the dead so that we can come back to the law in freedom. We come back to the moral law, never have to fear, and get to live for God in freedom by his Spirit.

Now, I don’t even have time nor space to expound upon everything else we could exegete from Romans in this regard. I wanted to make this major point because I’ve found it to be a major point of contention with Roman Catholic’s interpretation of Romans. Of course, the Catholic doesn’t even have to interpret Romans the way they do because there’s no decreed infallible interpretation of it by Rome. They can interpret it as saying anything else, and still hold to their Catholic view of justification regardless simply because Rome tells them to. They just have to make sure that Romans doesn’t teach anything against Rome.

James says in James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (where the word “alone” is actually found in this verse.)

What is going on here?!

Once we put away our “Traditions!” and surface level Bible reading, we’ll find that Paul and James would have hugged and been best friends.

Paul is saying “we are justified by faith and not works” (implying faith alone). Paul speaks of a faith which pertains to justification before God because God requires perfection. Faith skips over our imperfection and gives us the perfection of Christ. Rom 4:2, “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.”

James is teaching “I will show you my faith by my works” (implying faith + works prove justification). The significance of combining a profession of faith with works is not to become justified, but to demonstrate that one’s faith is real – while real faith alludes to justification. James speaks of a faith which pertains to justification before men because works can be seen by men. James 2:18, “show me your faith apart from works, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

How do both of these come together? Simply put, if we are justified by faith before God, then our works will demonstrate this before men. James teaches that salvation is shown from faith that works, not faith alone or even correct theology, because faith that works is the result of justification.

Consider Mat 7:18: “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” There are two types of trees. A good tree and a bad tree. The condition of the root will determine the fruit. A good tree will have good fruit and a bad tree will have bad fruit. James is addressing those who think there is a third type of tree, namely, one which is a good tree which can bear bad fruit. No such tree is possible. If we look at our branches (lives) to see if we have fruit (works) then we can have an idea of what type of tree we really are. Are we dead or alive? Even Jesus understood and taught this concept! So why not James?

What is the context of James 2:14-26?

Let’s start from the beginning of the passage.

Verses 14-16 read “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?”

Notice how James asks if such “faith” can save them, implying that there is a type of faith which saves and one that does not. However, Catholics would argue that in this verse James is teaching that faith is not sufficient by itself to save. Faith can’t save by itself, but faith and works are needed.

But James is rather teaching that there is a “kind” of faith which saves, and there is a “kind” of faith which does not. The kind of faith we need to have is not just a claimed faith. We’ll look at what a mere intellectual faith is in v.19. Rather, we need a justifying faith in order to be saved. That is what Abraham had. How will we know which kind we have? The rest of the passage will tell us.

Verse 17, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Notice James does not say that faith without works is partially useful, as if it just needed works to justify. The faith is dead apart from works, or “nekros”. The context is not needing a combination of faith and works, but first needing to have the right kind of faith. If someone claims to have saving faith, yet has no good works which are pleasing to God to back it up, then they are self-deceived. Their faith is not real faith. Their faith is not a living faith. Instead, it’s a dead faith. And since it’s dead, it can’t be partially useful for justification. It’s dead. God’s Spirit does justify, however, and it will bring about a living faith.

Also, notice he doesn’t say “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, justification is dead.” Rather, faith is the antecedent. If there are no works then faith is dead. This verse teaches that faith – works = dead faith, NOT dead justification. The Catholic formula that faith – works =  no justification, isn’t the explicit formula in James 2.

In verse 18 he says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” James is using sarcasm here. His point is that it’s impossible to show faith by mere profession. He then demonstrates that faith without works isn’t convincing enough to rest assure if one’s faith is genuine. He challenges people to “show” (“deizon” – 2nd person aorist active verb) their faith without works, and says he will “show” (“deizo” – 1st person future active verb) his faith by his works, and will keep doing so in the future. All professed believers need the same challenge. It’s a wake up call to snap out of either deception of false salvation, or idle Christianity.

How does the apostle show his faith? He shows it by works. So how must we then show our faith? By works. How is this not the context of James 2?

He says in verse 19 “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”

James is again using sarcasm here when he says belief in one God is good in terms of proving if one’s faith is real. That’s clear by reading the rest of the verse. He says even demons believe that and shudder. Thus, even proper theology is of no virtue unless faith is genuine. Namely, the monotheistic understanding of God which would have been unique to Jews is even believed by demons!

I believe James is saying here that even correct theology wont show your faith (to be a justifying faith). Correct theology will only show that you have correct theology. Even correct theology can be false faith. In the preceding verse James says he will show his faith by what he does, and now talks about the demons even being monotheists. The clear implication is that demons will “believe” what is right, but wont ever “show” it.

However, Catholics will argue James is saying that since demons can’t add works to their faith they will never be justified, thus, we must add works so we can be better off then the demons. Granted, a demon can’t merit justification. They will never be justified by a sin substitute since Jesus Christ is the God-Man substitute for mankind, not the God-demon substitute for demons.

But here’s why I hold to my interpretation:

1.  The demons are actually said to have faith in this verse. The Greek word for “believe” is the same Greek verb, “pisteou”, that James uses elsewhere in the passage. He uses either the noun for faith (“pistis”) or the verb for faith (“pisteou”). So the demons have faith, but their faith is only intellectual. Wouldn’t you agree? They know monotheism is true. Even demons aren’t pagans. But they will never serve the one true God.

2.  Since it’s only an intellectual faith on the demon’s part, and can only be, then it helps us understand the context. He is discussing two different faiths. It’s not that one faith justifies with works and one doesn’t. Rather, it’s that one faith is only intellectual and isn’t shown, and one faith justifies and will be shown. We’ll look more at the example James uses in that Abraham’s faith was counted unto righteousness in Gen 15:6, and showed it in a big way in Gen 22.

We’ve already looked at how James shows his faith by his actions (v.18), and now we know that only intellectual faith is dead. So if you don’t see works you don’t see faith. If you see works then you can see faith. Is this the context of James 2? It must be because soon we’ll look at how James teaches that we can “see” Abraham’s faith by his works (v.22), and that we are to “notice” justification by works, not by faith alone (v.24).

Verse 20 reads “You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”

Again, we see a negative formula in that faith – works = dead faith, NOT dead justification. The Catholic formula that faith – works = no justification, isn’t the explicit formula.

If holy works are a by-product of justification, then it makes perfect sense for the apostles to exhort us to make sure our faith is backed by works. They wouldn’t just exhort us to make sure our faith was correct, because then we might be self-deceived. They would tell us to make sure our faith is correct by what faith does. It serves God. You wouldn’t just tell a farmer, “make sure you know how to produce a harvest”. You would also emphasize, “make sure you produce a harvest”.

But James is written to believers

On another point, even though the book of James is written to professed believers, it doesn’t mean everyone reading the letter is already a believer. This is why exhortations exist. 2 Cor was written to believers and v.13:5 says to “test yourselves to see if you’re in the faith”. 1 Cor was written to believers and v.15:1-2 says if you’ve believed another gospel then “you’ve believed in vain”.

This type of language to professed believers is not surprising to find in the NT. Just because one is among believers doesn’t mean they really are one. They might be deceiving themselves. Exhortations exist to weed out who’s in and who’s out. It’s for our benefit.

Again, James is attacking a misconception of faith. The misconception must first be properly understood. He says that faith without deeds is useless. In what sense is it useless? Does a lack of deeds mean justification will never be accomplished, or does it mean that the professed faith is just an illusion? Answering this question will make or break your interpretation of James 2.

Does faith + works merit justification or demonstrate true faith?

Verse 21-22 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works”

Yes, Abraham is said to be justified (the same Greek word for “justified” in Rom 3:28 is used here) for his actions in verse 21, but verse 22 clarifies verse 21. It says “faith was made complete by what he did”, not “justification was made complete by what he did”. James could have used the phrasing that justification was made complete by what he did, yet did not. If Protestants and Catholics do more than skim the surface of James 2, we’ll find that there is no explicit teaching on how one is justified.

However, Catholics argue, “but even if faith + works = complete faith, complete faith = justification, thus faith + works = justification.” They will say, “the faith was incomplete before there were works. Once the works were there, the dead and incomplete faith began to justify.

Could this be the correct interpretation of James 2? Is James discussing the degree of faith? Namely, a faith being half way there and then is all the way there with works?

As we’ve already looked at in Rom 4:18-21, Abraham’s faith was never dead, nor incomplete. His faith was always a genuine faith, thus why he would act upon it. In fact, in regard to Isaac, Abraham first acted upon his faith, not when he was about to kill Isaac, but when he woke up 3 days earlier to prepare for the trip! God had already told Abraham from day one that he wanted him to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham was acting upon his faith already.

In addition, we read in Romans 4:18-21 that Abraham never wavered in his faith. He never wavered in his belief that God would give him his son Isaac. He believed this all the way up to offering Isaac in Gen 22. Thus, Abraham proved that his faith was never dead, but always placed in God’s promise.

Romans 4:18-21 says, “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

From the common Catholic view, it’s odd that James doesn’t teach that Abraham’s faith was once dead. If Catholics really believe that justification is dead apart from works, then wouldn’t we see the Bible teaching this about Abraham since he is the major example in Scripture about how one is justified?

Are we to also conclude that all Catholics have dead faith until they start doing sacraments? I find it hard to believe that. Doesn’t it make more sense that if one’s faith is genuine they will do good works? No differently, if the Catholic’s faith is genuine, they will do the Church’s sacraments.

So in what sense was Abraham’s faith “complete”?

“Eteleothe” means to perfect, finish, complete, or consummate. Some translators interpret this single word with both words “made complete”. The ESV omits the word “made” in front of “complete”, and just says “was completed”. In English, “made complete” makes it sound like something was completed in the past, or present tense, yet “eteleothe” is aorist, and arguably isn’t referring to “when” the completion happened. I believe it’s not referring to the process of faith being completed, but the status of faith being completed. The faith was complete in a complimentary fashion.

Abraham’s faith was complete because it was completely shown. We must completely show our faith, not for justification’s sake, but for faith’s sake.

Faith can be “blepeis”, or actually seen

The other important thing to notice in verse 22 is that it reads “you see that faith was active along with his works”. The English words “you see” are the translation of the single Greek word “blepeis”. It means to literally see or to look at something. Also note, James is addressing his readers to see Abraham’s faith. Hence, why “blepeis” is a 2nd person present active verb. The significance of this is that it gives more of the context. James is addressing his readers and telling them they can “see” and/or “perceive” Abraham’s faith by his works. Understanding this will help us properly interpret “horate” in v.24 later on. The context is about “seeing” faith by works, just as James first stated in verse 18 that he will show you his works by what what he does.

Generally in English we use the phrase “you see” as an idiom meaning “therefore”. Yet, James is not saying “therefore”, or “in conclusion to this, faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.” We have to understand the original Greek, and not misunderstand it because of the English translation. The text says that we can physically see the faith vicariously through the works, or mentally see the faith by reading about the works.

The Catholic might say, “but blepeis can also mean to “understand” according to the Lexicon.” This is true, but we don’t just get to pick out our favorite meaning in the Lexicon. The Lexicon even offers “observe” as a possibility, which would perfectly harmonize with what were purporting. Lexicons usually give many uses of a word, covering an array of contexts. But just for fun, let’s see how “blepeis” is translated elsewhere in the NT.

There are 9 other places where the exact form of the word “blepeis” is used. They are Mat 7:3, 22:16; Mark 5:31, 8:23, 12:14, 13:2; Luke 6:41, 7:44; Rev 1:11. All of these instances use “blepeis” in the sense of physically seeing something. These other verses don’t interpret v.22 for us, however, the context does. Context always determines the meaning more than the word determines the context. I’m just pointing out that the form of “blepeis” used in v.22 is used dominantly to “see” something.

This aligns itself with v.18 since James is showing his faith by works. James is consistent with his sarcastic point from the beginning in verse 18, “Show me your faith without deeds (the inferior way to show your faith), and I will show you my faith by what I do (the superior way to show your faith).

How do you show someone your faith? By profession? No. It’s by what you do. Otherwise, you’re like a demon or like a fool. If James were from the U.S. he would have lived in Missouri, the “Show Me” state. If he were alive during the Age of Empiricism he would have cared about empirically proving one’s faith, namely, by works.

Now verse 23 reads “and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”

In other words, Genesis 22 proves that Abraham’s initial faith in Genesis 15 was genuine. Abraham’s actions prove that God wasn’t lying when He first told Abraham that he was justified. Abraham was considered justified in Gen 15, and proved to still be in Gen 22.

Also, it says the Scripture was fulfilled, not that justification was fulfilled. We must keep in mind that the justification of Gen 15:6 was fulfilled in Gen 15:6.

If the Roman Catholic interpretation of James 2 were correct then in this verse James would have said that Abraham’s faith and works in Gen 22 is what justified him. Even in Heb 11:17-19 we see that Abraham had faith in Gen 22 while taking Isaac up to the mountain to sacrifice him.

It says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.”

Catholics teach that works and faith at the same time bring about justification. Yet, James doesn’t talk about Abraham’s faith and actions at the same time in Gen 22 . Rather, James points to a faith in the distant past which is said to have justified (Gen 15), and then points to a work in the distant future (Gen 22) which acted upon this faith. The text teaches that by this we see Abraham’s faith. We see the faith of the covenant in a big way, not that we merit justification.

Because James gives the example of Abraham’s distant past faith conjoined with a distant future work, it is quite obvious that he is teaching that Gen 22 proves Gen 15, and thus is not trying to explain how faith and works conjoined in the present tense will justify. If James were really trying to teach that faith + works (in the present) = justification, then he could have done so.

Abraham’s faith wasn’t lacking works, and neither should ours. It began as a simple and child-like faith being placed in God’s covenant promise. It eventually turned into a greater faith, which was profoundly demonstrated by amazing acts of humility and trust.

(At this point the Catholic may argue, “but if one has real faith and proves it by good works but then later falls into great sin, does that mean their faith was never “real” faith?” A mind blowing thing to point out to a Catholic in regard to this is that Abraham committed a “mortal sin” in Gen 16 by committing adultery. But what does James teach? He teaches that Abraham’s actions in Gen 22 still proved his genuine faith in Gen 15, even though he committed a “mortal sin” in the midst of these two points! Therefore, our works won’t always immediately prove our faith, but in the long run, they most certainly will.)

What does “horate” mean in verse 2:24?

Verse 24 “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

Likewise, James 2:24 says “You see that a man is justified by works…”

That’s a big difference from only saying “a man is justification by works…” What is meant by “you see”? In this verse, the English words “you see” are the single Greek word “horate”. “Horate” is in fact synonymous with “blepeis” in v.22.

He shifts from how we see faith by works to how we see justification by works. He just mentioned that Gen 22 shows us Abraham’s faith from Gen 15 being acted upon. But Abraham didn’t just believe the promise. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him as righteousness. So naturally, if Gen 22 shows us Abraham’s faith from Gen 15, it also shows us Abraham’s righteousness from Gen 15. This is why v.24 now says “you see that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone”. We went from seeing one’s faith by works, to now seeing one’s justification by works — as the two are connected. They were connected in the covenant promise for Abraham, for “Abraham believed and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Abraham is our spiritual father, and we are all justified the same way, for we are all included in the same promise.

The typical Catholic response that I have found to this is to argue that “horate” is imperative, or a command to attention. James is supposedly saying “Look you! A person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

I would actually argue that “horate” is indicative. If this is the case it would more correctly be translated “you notice”, “you physically see”, or “you know”.

It could mean “to perceive”, “to know”, or to “notice” when it’s indicative. Even if it’s imperative, that doesn’t mean it must be translated as “look you!”, or “take heed!”. As an imperative, it just as well could mean to “observe” or “make sure”. Again, Greek 101, context determines the meaning.

But according to the context, it’s how we “show” faith (v.18), and how we “see” faith (v.22). We already know that faith is shown and seen by works. What about justification? Now v.24 brings up how we “notice” justification.  Do you notice justification by faith alone? No. Do we notice it by one’s actions of loving God and others as themselves? The answer is quite obvious. If “horate” is indicative, verse 24 could substantially be translated as, “you notice that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” And again, James is expecting his readers to notice justification, hence why “horate” is also a 2nd person present active verb.

According to this source ‘ὁρᾶτε’ is indicative, and according to this source it’s imperative. Whether it’s imperative or indicative doesn’t matter. Whether “horate” is indicative or imperative it must coincide with the context. The form of a word can influence a passage, yet we should allow the context to be the main determiner. Context interprets the use of words more than words interpret the context. Is it not the context that one ought to show their faith by works (v.18) and that we should see faith by works (v.22)? If this is the context, then it follows that we must also “notice” (indicative) justification and “make sure” (imperative) of justification by works (v.24), and not by faith alone.

However, when Catholics try to argue that “horate” is imperative, and that it being imperative supposedly means it’s a command to pay attention to what he’s saying, we need to tell Catholics (1) to look at the context more carefully, and (2) that the Latin Vulgate interprets it as indicative. I debated a Catholic once and they argued that “horate” was imperative as though it being imperative blows me out of the water. I didn’t know it at the time but I wish I would have just told them it’s translated as being indicative according to their own Vulgate. Then we could have simply moved past that point.

The Latin Vulgate translates “horate” with “videtis” which is indicative. The imperative in Latin would be “vide”, however. Yet the Latin word used is “videtis”, and “videtis” is indicative. The Latin Vulgate still is actually the standard translation of the Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church. This means we’ll have to inform Catholics that their own official interpretation of “horate”, for over 1,600 years, has been “you notice that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”.

Even when “horate” is imperative, it very well can be used to mean to “make sure” of something, and does not necessarily always mean “Take heed!”. There are 7 places in the NT where “horate” is used as a 2nd person plural imperative (Mat 9:30, 16:6, 18:10, 24:6; Mark 8:15; Luke 12:15; 1 Thes 5:15). 6 of the 7 places where “horate” is used as a second person plural imperative it is best translated as “make sure” (note: Mat 16:6 and Mark 8:15 usually translate it as “be careful” but this is extremely similar to saying “make sure”). In other words, it is generally a command to make sure of something when it is a 2nd person plural. One other time (Luke 12:15) it is best translated “watch out!” which would not be the best translation of verse 24 given the context, while nevertheless the notion to “watch” or “see” does fit the context of James 2. Again, this doesn’t determine the meaning, context does. This is just to point out how the word is dominantly used.

One cannot just pick out their favorite word from the Lexicon. It has to be the word that best fits the context. That’s how proper exegesis and interpretation must be done. However, the interpretation we’re purporting isn’t even against what Rome teaches! It’s just that Catholics usually want to have James 2 counter solafide, so they interpret it as saying we’re justified by works. You can still be a Catholic and interpret James 2 the way we’re advocating. In fact, so far I know one Catholic who does. Rome can’t tell you with 100% how to interpret this passage since there is presently no decreed infallible interpretation of it. You’re free to agree with us and still be a Roman Catholic.

Let’s tie up the ends. Verse 14 says,

“if someone says they have faith, but does not have works, can faith save him?”.

The context shows he’s not rhetorically stating that faith without works wont justify. Rather the context is that someone can’t be saved by just proper faith. It has to be a justifying faith like it was with Abraham. Faith that justifies isn’t just a said faith or an intellectual faith; it’s a faith and justification that will be shown, seen, and noticed by godly works.

Some Roman Catholic apologists don’t seem to even know that “horate” exists in v.24

In his book, ‘Not by Faith Alone’ on pg. 166, Robert Sungenis says,

“…James is borrowing the phrasing of Gen 15:6 (“and it was credited to him as righteousness”) and applying it to Gen 22 by his conclusion, “a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone”.

But guess what he left out. He forgot to quote the very first word in the verse, “horate”! In fact, when I first read it I couldn’t help but take my pen and write down on the margin of the book, “Wow! Where did “horate” go?!”

Sungenis writes a lot to back his interpretation, but then comes to this inaccurate conclusion. He goes into detail about the Greek word for righteousness and justification, “dikaiao”, but for some reason never considers “blepeis” (v.22) or “horate” (v.24) along with interpreting them in context (v.18).

Further on pg.167 Sungenis says,

“James says two things in James 2:24 which reinforce each other: (1) that a person is justified by works, and (2) that he is not justified by faith alone.”

He tries to use v.24 as a solafide stopper. It does sound convincing when you skip “horate” and only say a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone”! Someone who only has a surface level understanding of the text might be convinced by these partial quotes of the verse. But thankfully we can read the entire verse in the original language and understand those words in light of their context. It’s about how you notice justification, not how you are rewarded justification.

It’s helpful and important to tell Catholics about “horate” because a lot of times they interpret the verse the same way Sungenis does. So far, I know one Catholic to interpret it as noticing justification by works. So this is usually their favorite verse. They love to be able to say that “a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone”. They don’t want to all of a sudden be informed that it is really telling us how we notice justification, just as we notice Abraham’s justification from Gen 15 in Gen 22. If we show them that, then it’s a big step in the right direction.

Catholics claim that “monon” is best translated as “only” instead of “alone”

My response to this is simple. And? Since Catholics assume that “horate” is best translated as “therefore” or “take heed”, they think verse 24 says something like, “Therefore, take heed everyone! A man is justified by works and not faith only”. By stressing “monon” to mean “only” it supposedly proves that James was strongly against the notion of solafide. It is believed he was stressing the importance of adding works with faith in order to be justified. Not faith only.

But again, if verse 24 is read in context, if “horate” is synonymous with “blepeis”, and if it is best interpreted as “you physically see” (or “you notice” or “you know”) or rather is a command to “make sure” of something, then it doesn’t matter if we interpret the Greek word “monon” as “only” as opposed to “alone” – as it commonly is. Catholics clarify “monon” to more accurately mean “only” as though this somehow bolsters their position. I can interpret it as “only” just as well! It’s by works that we see if one is justified, not faith only (indicative), or it’s by works that we make sure that one is justified, not faith only (imperative). Arguing for “monon” to more accurately be interpreted as “only” still misses the big picture. James teaches numerous times that faith + works = (real) faith, NOT justification!

Lastly, notice how there are two prepositions in verse 24? Prepositions indicate cause and effect. What is the effect of verse 24? It is being able to know or make sure that a person is justified. How? By the cause. It is by works (the superior cause), not faith only (the inferior cause). Faith cannot cause one to know or make sure that a person is justified. However, works can cause one to know and make sure that a person is justified! The two prepositions (“by”), which imply 2 different cause and effect conclusions (one superior, one inferior), beautifully fit with the entire context. Works are superior to faith for determining if one is justified!

What about Rahab?

Verse 25-26 “In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Again, we see the same thing. Verse 25 tells us that Rahab was considered righteous (justified) for what she did. Yet verse 26 clarifies verse 25. Rahab’s faith without deeds is dead faith, NOT dead justification. It ends with the negative formula again, namely, faith – works = dead faith, NOT dead justification. The Catholic formula that faith – works = no justification, isn’t the explicit formula, thus is difficult to say is the context.

But the Catholic will argue, “the Protestant interpretation that the context of James 2 is about detecting justification is incorrect. James says that faith is analogous to a body. Yet, when a body is dead you can still detect it. If your position were true then James wouldn’t have likened faith to a body because you can still detect a body after it’s dead!”

Simple answer: “Yes, when faith is alive you can detect it, AND when it’s dead you can detect it!

Let’s recap some important points. The demons are even said have “pisteou”, or faith (v.19). This means that we can even detect dead faith. We can detect dead faith and living faith. We detect dead faith if there are no works, and living faith if there are works. In either instance, it’s still faith (pisteou). It’s just that one is dead and one is real.

When faith is dead, it’s still “pisteou”, it’s just not the “pisteou” that James and Abraham exemplified. See the difference? Dead faith is still faith, but not faith of the covenant. The same is true with a body. If it’s dead it’s still a body, it’s just not alive. If a body has a spirit then the body is alive. Likewise, if faith is wrought by God’s Spirit, then it’s alive.

James is in fact juxtaposing “covenant faith” with “dead faith”. How do we know this? Simple. He compares and contrasts his own faith (v.18), along with Abraham’s faith (v.22), against demon faith (v.19). James’ and Abraham’s faith are real faith. Are they not? Of course they are. Demon faith is dead faith since it is only proper and void of God’s Spirit. Thus, James is in fact comparing real faith with dead faith.

Protestants don’t, and shouldn’t, just argue that James 2 is only about detecting faith, but about detecting what kind of faith it is. This is a simple, yet huge clarification. It’s not just a matter of detecting faith in and of itself. We could even detect a demon’s faith. The Catholic argument above conflates “proper faith” and “covenant faith”, as though all “faiths” were the same with varying degrees and soteriological implications. But it is the type of faith that really matters. Said faith can’t be shown. Covenantal faith can be shown!

Have Christians abused God’s grace? If so, they should consider James 2:14-26! That’s what it’s there for!

If we’re honest enough with ourselves, we’ve all abused grace, whether Protestant or Catholic. However, being said, what is the practicality of knowing that someone is justified by way of seeing their works and not just hearing their lip service to the gospel?

Today, modern evangelicals are essentially telling the unbeliever that God has a cosmic crush on them. This causes unbelievers to view God as someone who scarily stalks them to the point that they may need to get a restraining order. We say “smile, Jesus loves you” and “if you ever need fire insurance or a big cosmic hug, Jesus is always available”. Then we mention that all they have to do is chant the sinner’s prayer mantra and they’ll conveniently be “saved”! We pervert the gospel and liken chanting the sinner’s prayer mantra to having saving faith. This is because our modern Hollywood gospel has adopted marketing techniques, instead of Biblical techniques.

The real gospel is offensive as Hell (God’s judgment) because Hell is offensive and the bad news of the gospel is Hell. It shows us how holy God is, thus, how un-holy we are because we fail to uphold God’s ways. We lie, steal, cheat, are jealous, prideful, lustful, and worship whatever we think will make us happy, instead of Christ. Our assumption is that God is less holy then He is and that we are more holy then we are. But God doesn’t grade sin on a curve. He grades it by perfection. One sin is enough to separate us from God for eternity. Hence, why Satan and Adam were immediately cut off from God after sinning once!

No one has loved Christ perfectly and loved others perfectly every millisecond of their life (which is required of us). Even if you or I started to we would still be guilty for the millions of times we haven’t done this in the past. God is holy and we are not, thus we deserve eternal wrath as the punishment for our great crimes. This is the bad news. But the gospel also offers us help. The good news is that Jesus lived the life we couldn’t (in thought, word, deed, and intention), died the death we deserve (for not living the life required of us), and rose to prove it all satisfactory.

By placing our faith in Jesus Christ we can be justified. Our faith skips over our inabilities to please God, and saves us by giving us Christ’s abilities to please God. What profound grace there is in Jesus Christ! But in light of James 2, you and I must emphasize sanctification just as much as justification! Sanctification is obeying Christ since he’s Lord (Boss). It’s also becoming more like Him. Sanctification is made possible by justification, and also proves our justification.

How did Paul say we should live if we are justified through faith apart from works?

What Paul taught in light of solafide is profoundly similar to what James taught!

Romans 3:31 “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

Romans 6:1 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!

Romans 6:11-12 “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.”

Paul even teaches that we are saved unto good works far more then James does. Probably because Paul wrote most of the NT and wrote the most about soteriology. He’s well aware that good works flow out of justification, and we should be too. If a bird’s broken wing is restored, the bird will naturally fly. So it is with one who’s heart of stone changes to a heart of flesh. They will naturally love God and others.

Paul teaches faith justifies us before God. Rom 4:2 says, “If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God.” So works don’t justify us before God, but faith will justify us before God. Rom 4:3-5 says, “What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited unto righteousness.”

James teaches works justify us before men. Verse 18 says, “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

The verse doesn’t say “show God your faith without deeds, and I will show God my faith by what I do”. God sees the heart. He knows if we have faith in him or not. He also grants it. But the verse is referring to people detecting if faith is real by works, which will flow out of a living faith. If works don’t flow out of your faith, then your faith may be dead and you may not be justified. The world is watching!

Again, the significance of all this is that if we are justified by faith before God, then our works will demonstrate this before men.

Would it even make sense for the apostles to teach that we should expect works flow out of true faith?

True faith deals with an inward heart change. It deals with the eyes of our hearts being opened to know, love, and serve God no matter what because that’s the nature of a changed heart. Once this happens to a person they change the way they live their life. It effects their whole person, especially how they behave towards God and others. It’s no wonder why we see the apostles teaching that good works are expected to come out of true faith. If your theology is opposed to this, and you want to believe that faith + works = salvation because you want to have a reason to do good works, then just simply be justified because then good works will follow.

Simply put, “faith works”. That’s it! Faith works. Genuine faith works because it carries with it a love of God and others. It’s more then intellectualism or proper knowledge. True faith is faith that works. Does your faith work? Or is it mere profession? If it’s only mere profession you may be highly deceived and you may not really know our blessed Savior Jesus Christ. Or if you think you’re saved because of what you do you may not know our blessed Savior Jesus Christ.

Why does meriting salvation or keeping salvation have to be the reason you do good works? Meriting salvation or keeping salvation leads to works which are either prideful or despairing. This is because you’re either prideful because you think you’re as good as you ought to be, or you’re in despair because you know you’re not as good as you ought to be. God’s free gift of justification is the best reason to do good works because you’re good works preclude pride and despair. You’re able to have good works with a humble, confident, joy. You know that Christ was as good as you ought to be for you, thus you’re now fully free to serve him with a loving heart. It’s very simple and beautiful.

Would it even make sense for any apostle to teach that we are justified by works, or faith + works?

Lastly, it wouldn’t even make sense for James, or any apostle, to teach that we are justified by works or faith + works because James only says a few verses prior in verse 10 that “anyone who has broken a command is guilty of breaking them all”. The OT and the apostle Paul reiterate this in Deut 27:26 and Gal 3:10 in that “cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the law”. In other words, we can’t be justified or accepted by God by performing any work simply because God requires PERFECTION. I would say he requires absolute perfection, but that would be redundant. You get the point.

In Robert Sungenis’ book ‘Not By Faith Alone’, he says on page 302 in regard to Protestants saying that God demands perfection, “But once the atonement was accomplished, the grace of God was made available to the whole world. For those who wish to avail themselves of this grace, God will no longer look at them through the eyes of the uncompromising and exacting system of law that was put in place as their judge after Adam’s sin. God will now look at them as a father looks upon his children, not as a judge looks upon a criminal.”

So Rome would have you believe you can merit what Christ already merited. He didn’t merit it for you vicariously, but merited it for you to merely access it. This is why the Protestant view of God is more gracious, thus more glorious. He really does save. It’s not hypothetical. In addition, Rome would have you believe that first merital system, the Mosaic and moral law, won’t justify you, but its later merital system of the 7 sacraments sure will! No wonder the Pope gave the OK to kill Jews during the Crusades. Could there have been a hidden battle of pride over who’s merital system really saves and who’s doesn’t on Rome’s part? I believe it was the case.

Nevertheless, Sungenis fails to acknowledge that if God demands absolute perfection, absolute sinlessness, then it’s not a matter of accessing merit, but a matter of being justified. It’s a matter of being counted as sinless before judgment, not getting part of the way there! When a Catholic dies they are not fully justified yet, hence the need of purgatory. According to the demands of perfection, such a person would still receive eternal punishment upon death because they would still be found with at least .000001% of sin. In light of purgatory after death, God certainly does NOT look at us as a father upon children, unless we’re comparing God to a dad who’s a redneck and punches his kids in the mouth for sass-talk. With purgatory, God is still viewing us a criminals in need of punishment, not as one’s who have been made fully righteous vicariously in Christ fully by Christ.

God requires, demands, and absolutely necessitates perfection from us. Works do not, cannot, and never will matter so long as God is 100% holy and finds even the smallest sin within us. One sin, past, present, or future, will always be enough to separate us from God for all eternity. This is why we need a perfect substitute. His name is Jesus Christ. He lived the life we can’t live. We are saved by the God-Man’s 100% obedience to the Father which we utterly lack. Then he died the death we deserve (for not living the life we should have) because the wages of sin is death and God’s wrath. Everyone was confused and thought the Messiah died, but after all he is the Resurrection. The only innocent man in history was publicly murdered but a few days later he was better than ever. He rose to prove this work completely satisfactory and we will forever rise unto indestructible bodies with him.

Just as we were all condemned in the first-Adam without having done anything, so many are redeemed in the second-Adam without having done anything (Rom 5). Those who are in Christ, and no longer in Adam, will be justified in Christ, will believe Christ to be their Lord (Boss) and Savior, and will live as though He is. What great and glorious news! So believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and live for him today! Receive him for who he truly is!

NOW PLEASE TELL ME YOUR THOUGHTS!!!

(cross reference this post with ‘Is Merely Wanting To Be Saved A Work Of Salvation?’, and learn how saving faith isn’t to make salvation easy, but to make God the only one who boasts in our salvation.)

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32 comments

  1. >”Catholics and Protestants have differing views of the process of justification”

    That’s a common myth. Your statement should read ‘Catholics and some Protestants have differing views of the process of justification.’ You are likely not aware of the JOINT DECLARATION
    ON THE DOCTRINE OF JUSTIFICATION by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/documents/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_31101999_cath-luth-joint-declaration_en.html

    I believe that some Methodist associations have also signed onto this declaration as well.

    God bless…

    +Timothy


    • What’s your name and are you on Facebook?


      • Cristina, just to clarify, are you looking for Timothy or me?


  2. I should also say “some Catholics” as well, for not all Catholics have their soteriology down pat, let alone precisely matching Rome’s teaching. And I am aware of the joint declaration and that it is basically an agreement to disagree. There is no singular agreement on how a sinner is justified, only some clarity on secondary matters such as how a sinner needs grace for good works. Nevertheless, Rome teaches that grace given for good works is to aid justification (as a life long process), not a by product of already having been fully justified.

    (Joint Declaration article 5)”The present Joint Declaration does not cover all that either church teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal condemnations.”

    I would recommend reading what Catholics think about it: http://www.catholic.com/thisrock/1999/9911fea1.asp


  3. Very well put. Thanks. The Bible really doesn’t contradict itself.


  4. Let me guess, you think that your Protestant faith can be traced back all the way through the centuries back to Jesus? How ignorant of history. Everyone had it wrong till Martin Luther, who in his 95 thesis pledged allegience to the pope no fewer than 20 times. He never gave up infant baptism nor the perpetual virginity of Mary. He was a baptized Catholic. He had never known Protestant ideas, until he came up with them himself. Not a magisterium, only himself. Doesn’t sound to God inspired to me, nor does 35,000+ denominations that stemmed off of Catholicism. That condradicts Christ Himself that He would never let the Church be put assunder. Sounds like your beliefs are the false ones. By the way, the NT says the Church is the pillar and foundation of truth, not scripture as you seem to imply. As far as sola-fide, what a farce…Again, read your history, no one believed that. It has always been faith+grace, with the baptized coorperating with his free will to do good works and gain merit available to him only by the grace of Christ’s Merit. Faith without works is dead.


  5. Thomas,

    Overall, I think your blood pressure went up after reading my post which probably made you type your response too fast. Then your brain was lacking oxygen which made some of your arguments kind of confusing.

    “Everyone had it wrong till Martin Luther”? So the Catholic church has been wrong this whole time? I agree.

    And Martin Luther didn’t come up with his ideas on his own, nor was he the only one. Many were burned at the stake before him who spoke out against the Catholic church. Also, Luther was probably reading Abrosiaster’s commentaries on Romans and read that the righteousness we are given comes from Christ, not us. That is what helped spark his Biblical epiphany.

    And why would a Magisterium matter? Who infallibly interprets the “infallible interpreter”? And can you provide me with the Roman Catholics interpretation of every verse in Scriputre? I have never seen one yet because it doesn’t exist.

    Further, the Scriptures testify of Christ, and Christ is the Truth, not the Catholic church. Therefore, if we study Scripture, the more we will know truth which is a reflection of the Truth (Christ). It’s very simple.

    Could you please provide the source where there are 35,000 confirmed denominations which adhere to Sola Scriptura and behave like they do from the pulpit?

    Also, last I checked, Mormons and JW’s were on that “list”. No Protestant Christian, however, believes they are Orthodox. So why is this mysterious unsubstantiated figure thrown out by Catholics, and why do the numbers and amounts keep fluctuating? Doesn’t sound honest.

    In John 6, the Jews asked Jesus what is the work that God requires. His answer is to believe. Thus, solafide goes all the way back to Christ, the Apostles, and even the OT (as Paul quotes the OT to prove this doctrine). James also quotes the OT to show that faith + works = (real) faith, thus proving one’s justification before men, NOT God (as Paul deals with justification before God). You say I don’t know my history, yet you obviously don’t know your Bible, and you haven’t offered any Biblical arguments which show that I’m wrong. Yes faith without works is dead, dead FAITH, NOT dead justification!!! And baptism doesn’t help one’s salvation. The theif who died next to Jesus probably wasn’t baptized, nor did Paul baptize everyone he could have in 1 Cor 1.

    I agree that the Church is the pillar of truth, but we disagree with what the “church” is. I believe it is the invisible church made up of true believers.


  6. You say that faith without works is dead faith, not dead justification, but doesn’t faith in Christ’s sacrifice “earn” our salvation? The salvation is freely given to all, as I understand it, but it must be accepted, and that is done through faith. Therefore, if your faith is dead, isn’t your justification null?


  7. Hey Josh,

    No, I don’t say that faith without works is dead faith, not dead justification… JAMES says this. The context in which he says this is to clarify how you DETECT if one is justified, NOT how one OBTAINS justification. That would be Paul in Romans 3-4 for example.

    No, salvation isn’t freely given to all but more specifically to all whom it is intended. It is given freely to Christ’s bride, His elect, or those who are the remnant.

    if your faith is dead, isn’t your justification null?

    It depends on the context of how your using “faith”. Faith to prove your justification before men (James 2) or faith to obtain justification before God (Romans 3,4). For the former, if your works are dead then it’s an indication that your faith is also. For the latter, if you don’t have faith in Christ, then you are absolutely not justified and not counted righteous by God.

    Lastly, yes, if we must conjure up faith on our own and by our own ability while God is standing by anticipating our actions, then yes faith unto justification IS a work. Click on the link at the bottom of this thread ‘Is merely wanting to be saved a work of salvation?’ where I write about why faith is a work unless God Himself gives us even our faith.

    What do you think about all these things?


  8. thanks! This actually helped me in ways that the online writings of R.C. Sproul and John McArthur didn’t. Faith (the intellectual assent form) plus works = living faith. It was there the whole time but I didn’t see it.


  9. Jeff, wow, thank you for your reply. I like what you said “faith plus works = living faith”. That’s perfect! That’s what James teaches. I’ll probably edit my thread now and include that. Thanks!


  10. Enjoyed reading – nice job. One observation: The next time a Catholic insists that “horate” is imperative, then ask him why their own Gold Standard, the Latin Vulgate, uses “vides” and not “vide” (imperative).


  11. Thanks, Matt. I’ll remember that! I actually just researched the word online, and correct me if I’m wrong, the Vulgate uses the word “videtis” in James 2:24, and from what I’ve found it is in fact indicative! “Vide” would be the imperative, as you say, which the Vulgate does NOT use. Amazing! I’ll be revising my thread with this info.

    This means we’ll have to inform Catholics that their own official interpretation of “horate” in v.24 is “to see (physically)”. I’m sure the Magisterium wouldn’t agree with this, however. But wait?! Does that mean that the Magisterium contradicts the Vulgate? Or the Vulgate contradicts the Magisterium? Or maybe it means that the Magisterium is so authoritative that it gets to by-pass Greek and Latin words and still make up its own interpretation anyways! So according to the RCC, the common man can’t interpret the Scriptures consistently (even after studying in-depth for years) but we’re supposed to take the RCC’s word for it when they clearly interpret Scripture inconsistently?! Am I taking crazy pills or are people who are steeped in tradition?

    Just another reason why I’m not a Roman Catholic, bless their hearts, and why I adhere to Sola-Scriptura and not Sola-Ecclesia – because it’s so contradicting!


  12. Thank you for an excellent piece. The Bible is inerrant and does not contradict itself. This piece has helped me understand these verses much better. Thanks again and God Bless.


  13. I love hearing how this thread has helped people. Thank you so much for letting me know Wes!


  14. Why is it that Martin Luther (and so many others) have missed this simple fact about the words “you see,” if what you are saying is true?


  15. Dan, I’ve thought about that a lot too. I have my own theories and I’m happy to discuss it. I believe it could be for the same reasons that many Protestants and Catholics easily misinterpret it today. Reading it at a cursory level makes one think it really does teach that faith and works are needed to justify. Especially when that’s what we’ve been told.

    Also, from what I’ve studied Luther mostly used the Textus Receptus and a little of the Vulgate when creating his German translation. The TR uses the word “toinun” in it and it’s a possibility that Luther thought “horate” was imperative.

    Even though this shouldn’t entirely matter, it can definitely throw one off.

    Also remember, Luther is a fallen sinner saved by grace. He’s prone to error. Even after the Reformation, I think he still maintained his belief in transubstantiation, which I personally disagree with. But it’s also been said that Luther was the machine gun of the Reformation and Calvin was the sharp shooter. Calvin even understood James 2 the way it is.

    In reference to verse 22 he said, “It is said to have been perfected by works, not because it received thence its own perfection, but because it was thus proved to be true.”

    And I think he said this about verse 24, “Man is not justified by faith alone, that is, by a bare and empty knowledge of God; he is justified by works, that is, his righteousness is known and proved by its fruits.”

    http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom45.vi.iii.vii.html


  16. Sweet. Thanks for the excellent, thorough, and thoughtful response. If Luther used the Textus Receptus primarily, then that explains much. And I think you’re absolutely right in recognizing Luther’s fallen nature. It’s not like he ever spoke ex cathedra or anything (lol).

    One side note: I believe that Luther actually believed in some sort of consubstantiation in regards to the Lord’s Supper. So, he believed (and Lutherans believe to this day) that Jesus really is somehow present in, under, and with to the bread and the wine. But he and Lutherans everywhere don’t believe that the elements of the bread and the wine actually change. They just believe that something takes place where Jesus is with the elements.

    And as a result,, they don’t view eating the elements to be any sort of a sacrifice. I don’t fully understand the view — that’s the bare minimum of my knowledge. But what I do know is that Luther opposed the idea of some sort of spiritual presence of Christ (Calvin’s idea), he opposed the idea of communion being merely a memorial, and he opposed the Catholic mass — and he opposed all three of these things with nearly equal vigor. So looking up his (and Lutheranism’s) views on these things would definitely be interesting – at the very least, it’s unique.

    Sorry, that was a long side point. Back to the main point, I think the reason I was interested in why Luther saw the two sides to be irreconcileable is due to how strongly he spoke about it. That being said, Luther was a bold guy. He felt strongly about all his opinions, and that fact shows a reason why God might have used him, in particular, to start the rreformation — someone bold was needed. And so, to remember this (and also the fact that Luther was willing to oppose all traditions and persons for what the Bible says), is probably a good thing to do when we end up in opposition to him.

    So yeah, like you, I’m still a little puzzled by Luther’s stance, but also like you, I’m willing to go against his views for the sake of God’s Word. Once again, thanks for the awesome response.


  17. I actually somehow missed this quote the first time around: “But it’s also been said that Luther was the machine gun of the Reformation and Calvin was the sharp shooter.”

    That’s awesome. I’m probably going to use that quote in conversation with friends 🙂


  18. Thanks. It makes me glad to know that. That’s really good to know about Luther, Lutherans, and consubstantiantion too. I wasn’t aware of that. Indeed, Luther had a very bold and abrasive personality, and like you said was what was needed to start major reform. And along with what you also said, he was very much against anything that would stand in the way of solafide, since he believed it was upon this doctrine by which the church stands or falls. Once he had the epiphany of solafide, he would never be the same and never turn back.

    I love that quote too. I think I read it in R.C. Sproul’s Tabletalk once or something, and it stuck with me. Glad you like that too.


  19. Does James 2 teach that works + faith = justification, or faith?

    It seems that James 2 teaches that faith + works = justification. Let us proceed to the explicit text:
    James 2:24
    Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

    If we break this down, we see that faith is pre supposed in the words, “not by faith only”. In other words, faith is already present so something must be added in order for faith to be justifying faith. That something is works. Therefore, then, it is by faith and works that one is justified.

    But I think your confusion is from the text 2 verses prior which says:
    22Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    What that simply means is that without works faith is dead and therefore imperfect. No good for justification. As is readily evident from a prior verse also:

    James 2:17
    Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    Therefore, without works, faith is dead. Meaning that it is not a justifiable or saving faith:
    James 2:14
    What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

    But with works, faith is perfected:
    James 2:22
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

    And when faith is perfected, it becomes a justifying or saving faith. And the teaching is therefore true, it is by works a man is justified and not by faith alone.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria


  20. De Maria,

    Welcome to my blog. How did you find it? Did you know that I’m ‘solafide’ from the catholicforum.com site? You’re comments are welcome on this site, but if you’re only going to re-hash the same arguments, copy and paste mountains of verses as “proof texts”, and copy and paste my replies with short empty answers then you’ll find that you’re wasting yours and my time here. You can get away with that non-engaging behavior on the catholic forum, but you’ll be upheld to a greater standard here. Hope that’s OK with you.

    1. I’ve answered all of your points on my thread above. So far you’re off to a bad start since it seems you haven’t even read it. To go over it again, real faith doesn’t = justification in the sense of obtaining it, but only in the sense of detecting justification. Your interpretation isn’t allowed by James. Why? Because he doesn’t teach that faith alone is partially useful, but is dead. Thus, there’s two types of faith James is addressing. One is dead, one is real. Even the demons have faith, but it’s not partially useful to them since a demon can’t even be justified. Theirs is only an intellectual faith, not a living faith. So it goes with us if our faith doesn’t have works. It would be dead, not partially useful.

    2. I’ve seen different interpretations of James 2 by Catholics. So to turn your Protestant argument back on you, who’s the correct Catholic? Rome has only infallibly interpreted a hand-full of Scripture verses (which is odd since they claim to be the only one’s who can interpret it), yet so far there’s no infallible interpretation of James 2. How are you sure that you’re infallibly interpreting it since you’re doing so apart from Rome’s infallible interpretation? You shouldn’t even be discussing this. Rome doesn’t think you’re capable of interpreting it. It’s too confusing. Only finite sinful Popes who claim infallibility once the convenient ex-cathedra switch goes off are capable according to Rome. They might send an angry nun, who’s heart gets hardened towards the notion of Jesus Christ being a perfect Savior whereby no extra mediator for the Mediator like Mary is required, to your house to discipline you.


  21. Sorry for the double post.

    >>>Welcome to my blog. How did you find it? Did you know that I’m ‘solafide’ from the catholicforum.com site?>>>

    Yes. A link was posted on the CCF.

    >>> You’re comments are welcome on this site, but if you’re only going to re-hash the same arguments, copy and paste mountains of verses as “proof texts”, and copy and paste my replies with short empty answers then you’ll find that you’re wasting yours and my time here. You can get away with that non-engaging behavior on the catholic forum, but you’ll be upheld to a greater standard here. Hope that’s OK with you.>>

    Lol! That was a short lived welcome.

    >>>1. I’ve answered all of your points on my thread above.>>

    I don’t think so.

    >>>So far you’re off to a bad start since it seems you haven’t even read it. To go over it again, real faith doesn’t = justification in the sense of obtaining it, but only in the sense of detecting justification.>>

    That sounds like an opinion. Can you provide the Scripture which describes faith as a detector for justification.

    >>>Your interpretation isn’t allowed by James. Why? Because he doesn’t teach that faith alone is partially useful, but is dead.>>

    I agree completely!

    >>>Thus, there’s two types of faith James is addressing. One is dead, one is real.>>

    1. Faith alone, that is faith without works is dead and will not save.
    2. Living faith is accompanied by works and saves.

    >>>Even the demons have faith, but it’s not partially useful to them since a demon can’t even be justified. Theirs is only an intellectual faith, not a living faith. So it goes with us if our faith doesn’t have works. It would be dead, not partially useful.>>

    I am forced to agree. Remind me, what part of that disagrees with Catholic doctrine?

    >>>2. I’ve seen different interpretations of James 2 by Catholics. So to turn your Protestant argument back on you, who’s the correct Catholic?>>

    The Pope.

    >>> Rome has only infallibly interpreted a hand-full of Scripture verses (which is odd since they claim to be the only one’s who can interpret it), yet so far there’s no infallible interpretation of James 2. How are you sure that you’re infallibly interpreting it since you’re doing so apart from Rome’s infallible interpretation?>>

    I am following the Catholic instruction for exegesis of Scripture.

    >>> You shouldn’t even be discussing this. Rome doesn’t think you’re capable of interpreting it. It’s too confusing. Only finite sinful Popes who claim infallibility once the convenient ex-cathedra switch goes off are capable according to Rome. They might send an angry nun, who’s heart gets hardened towards the notion of Jesus Christ being a perfect Savior whereby no extra mediator for the Mediator like Mary is required, to your house to discipline you.>>>

    I’ve been discussing Catholic doctrine for many years. In that whole time, for some strange reason, a whole bunch of Protestants have told me that the Church forbids me to do so. But no Catholics. Isn’t that strange?

    Sincerely,

    De Maria


  22. Sounds as though you realize that you have no valid arguments and must therefore resort to fallacious argumentation. You can create and knock down as many straw men as you like. My arguments stand.

    Well my argument is easy. Deal with what I’ve already gone over above. Did you know your arguments are things I’ve already posted above on my thread? If you had read it you’d know that. You retype the points I’ve already typed and you try to tell me I’m the one with no valid arguments? Then deal with my answers I already gave above and not just raise objections I’ve already raised and answered myself! If you don’t like my answer then tell me why and offer something more consistent. But don’t just re-hash an argument I’ve already raised myself.

    In that whole time, for some strange reason, a whole bunch of Protestants have told me that the Church forbids me to do so. But no Catholics. Isn’t that strange?

    You’ve even told me that Rom 3-4 is too confusing to interpret, even though you try to interpret it. That is actually strange. Further, Rome has told you that Scripture is too confusing and that you need an infallible interpreter. That’s the basic position of Rome. They are the final interpreter, NOT you! What’s strange is you act like you don’t even agree with Rome as a Roman Catholic on this point! Your interpretation may be off and you won’t know until someday Rome decrees an infallible interpretation of it.

    the Pope

    Lol. Cite me the source of the decreed infallible interpretation of James 2. There is none! Nice assumption though.

    I am forced to agree. Remind me, what part of that disagrees with Catholic doctrine?

    If you agree then you’re proving there is no 100% Roman Catholic agreement as to what James 2 is saying. Because the Catholic “apologist” John Martignoni disagrees with that interpretation. So ask him why it goes against Rome, but I don’t think he knows either because there’s no decreed infallible interpretation of it anyways.


  23. >>>Well my argument is easy. Deal with what I’ve already gone over above. Did you know your arguments are things I’ve already posted above on my thread? If you had read it you’d know that. You retype the points I’ve already typed and you try to tell me I’m the one with no valid arguments? Then deal with my answers I already gave above and not just raise objections I’ve already raised and answered myself! If you don’t like my answer then tell me why and offer something more consistent. But don’t just re-hash an argument I’ve already raised myself.>>>

    I notice that you don’t address anything I’ve said.

    >>>You’ve even told me that Rom 3-4 is too confusing to interpret,>>>

    Really? When?

    >>> even though you try to interpret it. That is actually strange. Further, Rome has told you that Scripture is too confusing and that you need an infallible interpreter. That’s the basic position of Rome. They are the final interpreter, NOT you! What’s strange is you act like you don’t even agree with Rome as a Roman Catholic on this point! Your interpretation may be off and you won’t know until someday Rome decrees an infallible interpretation of it.>>>

    All of this is obfuscation since the Catholic Church teaches us how to interpret Scripture. Read CCC#101-141

    [quote]Lol. Cite me the source of the decreed infallible interpretation of James 2. There is none! Nice assumption though.[/quote]

    2000 years of consistent Catholic Teaching is not enough?
    Canon 9.
    If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone,[114] meaning that nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification, and that it is not in any way necessary that he be prepared and disposed by the action of his own will, let him be anathema.
    Council of Trent, Session VI

    [quote]If you agree then you’re proving there is no 100% Roman Catholic agreement as to what James 2 is saying. Because the Catholic “apologist” John Martignoni disagrees with that interpretation. So ask him why it goes against Rome, but I don’t think he knows either because there’s no decreed infallible interpretation of it anyways.[/quote]

    I’m asking you. If you don’t know, just say so.

    Sincerely,

    De Maria


  24. I notice that you don’t address anything I’ve said.

    I addressed it above under the title, “Does faith + works obtain our justification or demonstrate our true faith?”. Did you read my entire thread before you even posted on here?

    Here’s your argument, which I already addressed above! I’ll humor you though…

    In other words, faith is already present so something must be added in order for faith to be justifying faith.

    This is a false assumption based on the text because faith isn’t “already present”. Dead faith is present. James doesn’t teach it’s partially useful apart from works, but dead. And James points to a distant past faith of Abraham, and a distant future work, not a present working together of the two. There’s 2 types of faith, one which even demon’s have (only intellectual, not partially useful, dead faith), and real faith which true believer’s have. The context is detecting which one you have, not obtaining justification. One can save, one can’t. We need to “know” and “see” which one we have (v.22,24) by works (v.18), and not faith alone, so we can know if we’re saved (v.14).

    All of this is obfuscation since the Catholic Church teaches us how to interpret Scripture. Read CCC#101-141

    No it’s not obfuscation since it doesn’t tell you how to come to conclusions by interpreting Scripture. Rome doesn’t even interpret all of what only it can interpret (the Bible), so you have to wait until there’s a decreed interpretation to know if your interpretation is correct. I’ve already have examples of differing Catholic interpretations of James 2, and your is on that list.

    “You’ve even told me that Rom 3-4 is too confusing to interpret…”

    Really? When?

    You said, “For there is only one author of Scripture which SCRIPTURE describes as “hard to understand”. And that is St. Paul. And EVERY STUDENT OF THE BIBLE knows that Romans 3 and 4 are things hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16) because at first glance they seem to contradict the rest of Scripture.”
    http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?37814-Can-we-distinguish-bewteen-quot-the-law-quot-in-Romans-3-and-quot-merits-quot/page2
    (on post #28)

    2000 years of consistent Catholic Teaching is not enough?

    Quoting Trent is not a decreed infallible interpretation of James 2, which I asked for and you can’t provide. This shows that your hermeneutic is not to deal with the text primarily, but that you will only interpret it through the lens of Rome’s beliefs, not Rome’s interpretations (since it has none of James 2). Otherwise, you’d be quoting that.

    And how is Augustine (and many fathers) not believing that Peter was the Rock 2000 years of consistent Roman Catholic teaching? Which if they held to today would be anathematized by Trent. That’s not unanimous consent of the fathers which Trent and Vatican I allude to.

    I’m asking you. If you don’t know, just say so.

    I did answer you indirectly. I don’t know if it goes against Rome and no one can know because there’s no decreed infallible interpretation of James 2. Which Roman Catholic is correct? De Maria or John Martignon? It certainly does go against your argument above, however. If you agree that a demon’s faith isn’t partially useful, then you prove my argument that faith alone isn’t partially useful. It’s not partially useful for a demon, and that’s James’ example. You can’t argue that faith is “already present”. It’s only a dead faith that is present, not partially useful faith. The latter is most Catholic’s position and James doesn’t allow that to be a possibility. Or you could argue what John Martignon argues in that dead faith = real faith. He says they are the same faith, just different states. I argue, if they’re different states then they’re different faiths! One is dead, one is real! Seriously.


  25. >>>Here’s your argument, which I already addressed above! I’ll humor you though…>>>

    That’s nice.

    >>>In other words, faith is already present so something must be added in order for faith to be justifying faith.>>>

    Correct.

    >>>This is a false assumption based on the text because faith isn’t “already present”.>>>

    I don’t see any text in James 2 which says that faith is not already present.

    >>>Dead faith is present.>>>

    If that is so, then you have James teaching to men with dead faith in order to enliven their faith.

    >>>James doesn’t teach it’s partially useful apart from works, but dead.>>>

    Apart from works is the key phrase there.

    >>> And James points to a distant past faith of Abraham, and a distant future work, not a present working together of the two.>>>

    If you know Scripture as you claim, you know that he does exactly that, in Heb 11.

    >>> There’s 2 types of faith, one which even demon’s have (only intellectual, not partially useful, dead faith), >>>

    Agreed.

    >>>and real faith which true believer’s have. The context is detecting which one you have, not obtaining justification. One can save, one can’t. We need to “know” and “see” which one we have (v.22,24) by works (v.18), and not faith alone, so we can know if we’re saved (v.14).>>>

    Its not as though you can’t exchange one for the other. St. James was preaching to many who had dead faith and teaching them to exchange that dead faith for a living faith by adding to their faith works.

    >>>No it’s not obfuscation since it doesn’t tell you how to come to conclusions by interpreting Scripture. Rome doesn’t even interpret all of what only it can interpret (the Bible), so you have to wait until there’s a decreed interpretation to know if your interpretation is correct. I’ve already have examples of differing Catholic interpretations of James 2, and your is on that list.>>>

    I’m sure you’d like to believe that. But we all believe in justification by faith and works, and we use James 2 to support that belief, so, I’m sure there is something you are missing.

    >>>“You’ve even told me that Rom 3-4 is too confusing to interpret…”>>>

    Really? Isn’t it more likely that I said he should be interpreted with care.

    >>>You said, “For there is only one author of Scripture which SCRIPTURE describes as “hard to understand”.>>>

    Do you deny the plain words of Scripture?
    2 Peter 3:16
    As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

    >>>And that is St. Paul. And EVERY STUDENT OF THE BIBLE knows that Romans 3 and 4 are things hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16) because at first glance they seem to contradict the rest of Scripture.”
    http://www.catholicforum.com/forums/showthread.php?37814-Can-we-distinguish-bewteen-quot-the-law-quot-in-Romans-3-and-quot-merits-quot/page2
    (on post #28)>>>

    I remember the statement. I hope that others follow the link to see who is exaggerating the truth and who is speaking the plain truth, you or I.

    >>>Quoting Trent is not a decreed infallible interpretation of James 2, which I asked for and you can’t provide.>>>

    The Church infallibly teaches that faith alone is dead. Where else is that teaching found in Scripture?

    >>> This shows that your hermeneutic is not to deal with the text primarily, but that you will only interpret it through the lens of Rome’s beliefs,>>>

    I have always told you that I interpret Scripture according to the Tradition of the Church. What is wrong with that? The Church wrote the New Testament.
    The New Testament sprang from Catholic Tradition:
    113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture (“. . . according to the spiritual meaning which the Spirit grants to the Church”81).

    For one who claims to know so much about Catholicism, this should have been obvious.

    >>> not Rome’s interpretations (since it has none of James 2). Otherwise, you’d be quoting that.>>>

    It is, in fact, the interpretation of the Catholic Church.

    >>>And how is Augustine (and many fathers) not believing that Peter was the Rock 2000 years of consistent Roman Catholic teaching?>>>

    Actually, I believe St. Augustine said he had nothing against that interpretation. He in fact, promoted it, at first. Only later having a slight preference for a slightly different teaching which does not contradict the first.

    >>> Which if they held to today would be anathematized by Trent.>>>

    On the contrary, the Catholic Church teaches both.

    >>>That’s not unanimous consent of the fathers which Trent and Vatican I allude to.>>>

    That unanimous consent is recorded within the ecumenical councils.

    Uh…, you do know that St. Augustine is a canonized Saint on the Catholic rolls. Granted, he may have taught some errors as he was not infallible.

    >>>I did answer you indirectly.>>>

    Sorry, I missed it.

    >>> I don’t know if it goes against Rome and no one can know because there’s no decreed infallible interpretation of James 2.>>>

    Just because you don’t know doesn’t mean that the rest of us are confused on the matter.

    >>> Which Roman Catholic is correct? De Maria or John Martignon?>>>

    The one that agrees with Catholic teaching.

    >>> It certainly does go against your argument above, however. If you agree that a demon’s faith isn’t partially useful, then you prove my argument that faith alone isn’t partially useful. It’s not partially useful for a demon, and that’s James’ example. You can’t argue that faith is “already present”. It’s only a dead faith that is present, not partially useful faith.>>>

    But we aren’t demons. St. James only used them as examples of what happens to those who never join works to their faith.

    >>> The latter is most Catholic’s position and James doesn’t allow that to be a possibility.>>>

    The Catholic Church certainly believes that men may repent of their dead faith and begin to enliven their faith with good works.

    >>>Or you could argue what John Martignon argues in that dead faith = real faith. He says they are the same faith, just different states. I argue, if they’re different states then they’re different faiths! One is dead, one is real! Seriously.>>>

    Oh, you mean John’s argument that a body without spirit is dead. Therefore faith without works is dead.

    It makes perfect sense. Except his assumption is that you try to revive your faith with good works and thus you are justified. In fact, that is precisely the reason for the Sacrament of Baptism and for the Confessional. Ask John yourself. He’s got a website.


  26. >>>In other words, faith is already present so something must be added in order for faith to be justifying faith.>>>

    Correct.

    You’re saying “correct” here to your own quote bro.

    If that is so, then you have James teaching to men with dead faith in order to enliven their faith.

    The Greek word “enliven” isn’t in the passage, nor is the concept “to enliven faith”. James uses the words “blepeis” (v22) and “horate” (v24) which refer to physically seeing or making sure of the faith via works, not to “enliven” the faith with works.

    If you know Scripture as you claim, you know that he does exactly that, in Heb 11.

    Lol, hence why I quote from that verse above in my thread. I asked you if you ever read my entire thread before replying on here. Your continual silence and ignorance makes me think the answer is “no”. Again, if James were teaching the Roman position he would have said that Abraham’s present faith and works brought about justification. The context, however, is us physically seeing someone’s faith via their works (“blepeis” v.22).

    >>> There’s 2 types of faith, one which even demon’s have (only intellectual, not partially useful, dead faith), >>>

    Agreed.

    If you agree it’s not partially useful, then you don’t hold to Rome’s interpretation, which isn’t a decreed interpretation, just one that fits their “Christ-is-not-a-perfect-Savior” gospel.

    Its not as though you can’t exchange one for the other. St. James was preaching to many who had dead faith and teaching them to exchange that dead faith for a living faith by adding to their faith works.

    Again, James doesn’t ever say what you’re saying. He doesn’t talk about exchanging dead faith for living faith. He says to “blepeis” (physically see) faith and actions to know the faith is real, and to “horate” (notice) one is justified by works, and not faith alone.

    >>>No it’s not obfuscation since it doesn’t tell you how to come to conclusions by interpreting Scripture. Rome doesn’t even interpret all of what only it can interpret (the Bible), so you have to wait until there’s a decreed interpretation to know if your interpretation is correct. I’ve already have examples of differing Catholic interpretations of James 2, and your is on that list.>>>

    I’m sure you’d like to believe that. But we all believe in justification by faith and works, and we use James 2 to support that belief, so, I’m sure there is something you are missing.

    Lol, no I know this is the case. One Catholic on the CCF forum told me the faith in v.19 is partially useful, and you and John agree that it’s dead, while John believes that works simply keep salvation, not that faith + works obtain justification like I’ve heard many Catholics say. No Roman Catholic will ever know for sure until Rome decrees an official interpretation.

    I remember the statement. I hope that others follow the link to see who is exaggerating the truth and who is speaking the plain truth, you or I.

    I asked you about Rom 3-4 and you quoted 2 Pet 3:16 stating that this part of Paul is hard to understand! I don’t see how that’s exaggerating the truth. 1. Peter said “some” parts of Paul are hard to understand. We don’t know which parts he meant. Even Mat 16:18 was debated by the early church, and no Roman Catholic would use this as a reason to assume it’s “hard to understand” like you do with Romans. 2. those who are ignorant twist Paul, thus those who are more studied probably wont. We have more then enough tools to study all of Paul in our day.

    The Church infallibly teaches that faith alone is dead. Where else is that teaching found in Scripture?

    This is begging the question. Scripture infallibly teaches that faith alone is dead, however, it’s in the context of faith alone = dead faith (in the sense of showing it), not dead justification (in the sense of obtaining it). You’ll never know which is the infallible context until Rome decrees its infallible interpretation.

    I have always told you that I interpret Scripture according to the Tradition of the Church. What is wrong with that?

    Because Rome determines what the traditions are and how to interpret them. Even things which should have been traditions, i.e. Popes saying only Jesus was sinless, aren’t traditions. You’re hermeneutic lens is sola Ecclesia, not consistency with the text itself or the Bible as a whole.

    The Church wrote the New Testament.
    The New Testament sprang from Catholic Tradition:

    No, Scripture is God breathed, not finite-sinful-man breathed. It sprang from Catholic tradition? Some early fathers, like Athanasius, didn’t accept Roman Catholic tradition, hence he rejected the Papacy, but referred to the catholic church in another sense. So you’d have to clarify what you mean by “catholic”. More correctly, tradition would spring from the NT if you assume the material sufficiency view. But then this also depends on whether a modern Roman Catholic adheres to the partim-partim or material sufficiency view of Scripture.

    113 2. Read the Scripture within “the living Tradition of the whole Church”. According to a saying of the Fathers, Sacred Scripture is written principally in the Church’s heart rather than in documents and records, for the Church carries in her Tradition the living memorial of God’s Word, and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture

    While Rome still has no complete infallible interpretation for what it claims only it can interpret! Amazing! Why hasn’t a complete interpretation been offered after “2000” years? Why is Rome just letting the Bible collect dust and hiding it from people (during the middle-ages)?

    >>> not Rome’s interpretations (since it has none of James 2). Otherwise, you’d be quoting that.>>>
    It is, in fact, the interpretation of the Catholic Church.

    How do you know you’re correct and not John M? How do you infallibly interpret the infallible interpreter, especially when the infallible interpreter hasn’t even given an infallible interpretation yet?

    Actually, I believe St. Augustine said he had nothing against that interpretation. He in fact, promoted it, at first. Only later having a slight preference for a slightly different teaching which does not contradict the first.

    It contradicts Vatican I! If Augustine believed today what he did when he wrote ‘Retractiones’ at the end of his life, he’d be anathema! He also didn’t have a “slightly different teaching”. He didn’t even say that Peter’s faith was the rock, but that Christ was! He also said the reader should decide for themselves, where Vatican I anathematized any who decide it to be anything other then Peter. You still don’t have “unanimous consent” of the fathers which Trent and Vatican I alluded to.

    On the contrary, the Catholic Church teaches both.

    Really? We can interpret Mat 16:18 in that Christ is the Rock, not Peter, just as Augustine did?

    Vatican I says, “If anyone, therefore, shall say that blessed Peter the Apostle was not appointed the Prince of all the Apostles and the visible head of the whole Church militant; or that the same directly and immediately received from the same our Lord Jesus Christ a primacy of honor only, and not of true and proper jurisdiction: let him be anathema.”

    And when does Rome teach Peter received such jurisdiction but in Mat 16:18? The very verse Augustine interprets as being Christ, not Peter.

    That unanimous consent is recorded within the ecumenical councils.

    Yeah, it has to be that way because good old fashion history doesn’t record it.

    Uh…, you do know that St. Augustine is a canonized Saint on the Catholic rolls. Granted, he may have taught some errors as he was not infallible.

    Yeah, and if he believed what he did about Mat 16:18 today, he certainly wouldn’t be a saint, but anathema!

    >>> Which Roman Catholic is correct? De Maria or John Martignon?>>>

    The one that agrees with Catholic teaching.

    Again, begging the question. Who’s infallibly interpreting the infallible interpreter? You can’t know until the infallible interpreter decrees an infallible interpretation of James 2.

    But we aren’t demons. St. James only used them as examples of what happens to those who never join works to their faith.

    This is begging the question against the interpretation I’m advocating, because I believe the same thing. Except I’m saying that if we don’t join works to our faith we’re showing our faith to be dead (not even partially useful), thus not justified. We need to “blepeis” and “horate” our faith and justification by works, not obtain it by works. The former is what the text teaches, the latter is what Rome imposes.

    The Catholic Church certainly believes that men may repent of their dead faith and begin to enliven their faith with good works.

    I already went over this above. James doesn’t say anything about “enlivening” our faith, but that we need to “blepeis” and “horate” our faith and justification by works.

    >>>Or you could argue what John Martignon argues in that dead faith = real faith. He says they are the same faith, just different states. I argue, if they’re different states then they’re different faiths! One is dead, one is real! Seriously.>>>

    Oh, you mean John’s argument that a body without spirit is dead. Therefore faith without works is dead.

    No, that’s a different argument of his. He told me specifically what I said above. He equates dead faith with real faith. You see what crazy conclusions Rome has forced him to?!

    It makes perfect sense. Except his assumption is that you try to revive your faith with good works and thus you are justified. In fact, that is precisely the reason for the Sacrament of Baptism and for the Confessional. Ask John yourself. He’s got a website.

    According to this logic, then Abraham’s faith in God’s promise for a son was dead all the way up until Gen 22! But, like I already mentioned above on my thread, Rom 4:20 says Abraham never wavered in his faith but was strengthened in faith (in regard to the promise). And again, for the last time, James says nothing about faith being “revived”, but faith and justification being “blepeis” and “horate” by works.

    Lastly,

    De Maria, I’m going to end this conversation now. CCF has ended threads that I’ve started, so you shouldn’t see this as anything foreign. You had the first reply so I’m going to have the last reply. You gave your best arguments and we can let the readers decide if they hold up to Biblical scrutiny. Otherwise, yours and my tenacity will go on forever. God bless.


  27. “Cristina, just to clarify, are you looking for Timothy or me?”

    I am looking for the one who owns this blog. Are you in Facebook? If yes, please give me your link so I can find you.

    Thank you 🙂


  28. I’m the owner of the blog. Why do you want to add me? Sorry, but I only give my fb out to people I personally know. I do have a youtube channel, however. http://www.youtube.com/user/solaphyde?feature=mhsn

    You can contact me through that or on this blog anytime.


  29. Wow, I just discovered this blog and this post and it is awesome! I’m a baptist who has struggled recently with what I believe and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Most sources I have found online basically only talk about individual verses out of context that support their view.

    So it seems to me that the fundamental differences between a catholic interpretation of James 2 and of the gospel, and a protestants boil down to the following:

    1. The meaning of the words “justified” and “works”. For the catholic position to be correct, “justified” must mean “forensically justified before God”, and “works” would have to mean “the rites of the OT law” or at least “works done in faith in Christ”. For the protestant interpretation to be correct, “justified” has to mean “proven true before men”, and ” works” must mean “any work”. I think you’ve done an excellent job of showing the correct definition of “justified”, but I’d like to know more about how a protestant comes to the conclusion that “works” means “any work”. Any links or words on this?

    2. Justification being a process vs. an instantaneous event. If justification is an instantaneous, one-time, all-or-nothing event, then the catholic view of James 2 cannot stand, because you would have Abraham being justified once by faith and then later on again by works. However, if it is a process, then the catholic view is at least tenable. The catholic would challenge us with Abraham’s faith in Hebrews 11, Genesis 15, and then his “justification” in James, all at different times. So, how do we know that justification is a one-time, all-or-nothing event?


  30. Hi Matt, thanks for your comment. 🙂

    1. Under the above heading, ‘What is the supposed controversy between Paul and James?’ I explain why in Rom 3:19-20 Paul necessarily is referring to the moral law. Further, In Rom 4 Paul switches from the word “nomos” (which usually refers to a revealed law) to “ergon” (which is a reference to general works). He says that even apart from “ergon” we are justified. Rom 4:5 “to the one who does not “ergon”, but trusts God who justifies the “asabaes” (= in the state of condemning God), his faith is counted “eis” (= unto, for) justification.”

    Anyone can proof-text that we’re justified by faith, and Catholics will proof-text that works are also needed. But Romans is the most didactic place in all of Scripture which explains the process of justification. That is why we should first look to it. Also, Rom 3:22 says “and the righteousness of God [is] through the faith of Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing” (YLT). So Christ is our Federal Head, and his faith becomes our faith, and unites us to him. It is similar also, and exemplified in Abraham being our federal head, as we are united in the promise by faith.

    2. In the 8th paragraph from the top I talk about justification and how it relates to faith. There is a link I provide there to the Philgons.com site which discusses more of this issue, and how in Hebrews, Abraham is said to be of the faith prior to God giving him the covenant promise in Gen 15:6. Abraham must have already been justified. So we don’t have to believe that Gen 15:6 is the moment Abraham was regenerate, but could have already been regenerate and God chose in that instance to establish his covenant with Abraham.

    As a Protestant I actually have no problem saying that works aid in justification, just as long as we clarify that they aid only in the sense that they deepen our relationship with God, not that they reward a right relationship with God. Rome would not officially teach we are fully justified from God’s angle, but merge sanctification and justification into the same thing. To Rome this can be lost, and actually isn’t fully complete until after Purgatory (and Catholics disagree on what Purgatory actually entails, and how long it is). While Rom 5:1 says we now have “shalom” with God. It’s a peace that can’t be undone.



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