Tonight we had our first RCIA class of the new year. In fact, it was the first class since before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays so it was nice to see everyone again.
It was an enjoyable evening of fellowship and friendship. We cover so much each night that you never know where the conversation will end up, but it’s always interesting and enlightening.
One subject we touched on tonight was ‘faith without works’ and justification. Basically, the ongoing question many people have is, “Is faith alone enough to save your soul?” It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Baptist, Methodist or any of the other Christian faiths. Faith alone is NOT enough to save your soul.
As Christians, we all have faith, at least we should. Some people’s faith is stronger than others, and there are arguments from both sides of this debate, but the truth is, if you have faith, true faith, it will show in your works.
Justification is the act of God whereby humankind is made or accounted just, or free from guilt or penalty of sin. Justification itself was the dividing point between the Roman Catholic and Protestant faiths during the Reformation.
The Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Lutheran, and Methodist churches all believe you can lose justification, through mortal sin and/or loss of faith. Reformed churches do not. They believe once you are saved (or possess justification) you cannot lose it.
Sacred Scripture says otherwise. Many Protestants will cite specific verses from Scripture which they say supports their argument that faith alone will save them. Using specific verses to support your theory is nice, but unless you apply the entire context of Scripture, those individual verses could mislead you into an eternity of damnation.
Take these two verses from Ephesians for example:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.
These two verses (Ephesians 2:8-9) are used a lot to support the claim that we are saved simply through our faith and not our works in that faith. Those two verses, when read alone, seem to support that argument, don’t they? All you have to do is read the next verse to learn otherwise.
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.
We are created in Christ for the good works that God has prepared and we should live in them. Wow. We should live in those good works, that doesn’t sound like faith alone will save us, does it?
Another example is Romans 4:3,
For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Again, it’s easy to quote that one verse to support the faith without works claim that Abraham believed God therefore he was saved. Let’s take a look at James 2:21-23, which tells us more about Abraham and that faith of his.
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”
No one, on either side of the debate, would ever question Abraham’s faith, but Abraham’s faith was proven not only by his words, but also his works. His faith in God shone through his devotion, and his actions to support that devotion, to God.
Abraham’s faith was so great, it showed in his works. He demonstrated his faith, not just in words, but in the way he led his life, which brings me back to my previous statement.
If you have faith, true faith, in God, it will show in your works. Your own actions will prove your faith in God, therefore demonstrating to Him that you truly are faithful and thereby saved by your faith.