HOW ARE WE SAVED?

 

CHRISTIAN DOGMA

 

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, we are accountable for our actions on earth.  This ancient moral code is enshrined in the Ten Commandments given to Moses and in a new covenant foretold by Jewish prophets and fulfilled in the person and teachings of Jesus Christ.  These provide strict guidelines demanding our obedience.  And so the belief is that after death, when we are no longer able to make physical choices, the cleanliness of our conscience will be weighed in judgment.  In consequence of which, we will either be joyously united with our Creator in heaven or separated from Him to suffer the eternal pains of hell.

 

 

                                 

 

Unfortunately from the dawn of humanity, beginning with Adam and Eve, people have a propensity to stray from this straight and narrow path.  Our voluntary sins stain our souls and remove us from God’s favor.  And because the gulf between us and a supernatural Deity is so immense, no possible restitution that we mere mortals could make, can bridge that divide.

 

Fortunately the Christian good news or gospel is that a loving Creator took pity on us.  In an incredible act of mercy, God became incarnate in Jesus Christ, accepted responsibility for the sins of the world, and in atonement suffered and died on the cross.  The “grace” that Christ thus earned is of sufficient merit to wash away our sins and make us again spiritually pleasing.  And it is this undeserved gift alone that provides a path to God the Father in heaven. 

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NECESSARY AND SUFFICIENT

 

While the Christian message is wonderfully comforting, we must take care lest our exuberance overwhelms our judgment.  In particular, it is irrational in the extreme to twist this bedrock Catholic dogma into the assertion that Christ did absolutely everything necessary for our salvation.  

 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the manifest and undeniable distinction is that

 

Everything Christ did was *necessary* for our salvation.  But Christ did not do everything that was necessary.   Christ’s sacrifice merited a saving grace which is alone able to wash away our stains of sin.  But while this grace is necessary for salvation, its existence alone is not *sufficient*.   Because we have free will and absolute moral imperatives exist, it is also *necessary* for each of us to avail ourselves of this grace choosing to do good rather than evil.  Please note this should not diminish our gratitude for the transcendent mercy of God ‘s redeeming gift.

 

In an alternate Protestant universe, we would be morally unshackled to do anything that strikes our fancy.  We could lie and steal and covet and murder with impunity and joyous abandon never having to be sorry or intending to stop.  Unrepentant mass murderers like Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse-tung, or serial killers, or an uncountable host of other villains, would all go to heaven regardless of how much they harmed, or intended to do more harm to, their fellow man on earth.   Nothing we did would be of any moral consequence.

 

Rather the obvious truth is that a lack of personal responsibility excuses unmistakable evil and is a violation of everything Christ taught and intended.  Who among us could read the Bible or examine their conscience and have any doubt of this?

 

Clearly, Christ did not do everything necessary to save us.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NOTHING AND SOMETHING SMALL

 

Nevertheless, Protestants would argue, because human capabilities are so much less than God’s, our responsibilities must be less than vanishingly small.  In fact, they must actually be non-existent because in no way can we “earn” our way into heaven.  And so once we realize that Christ’s grace alone saves us, we are saved.

 

The utter irrationality of this sophistry is breathtaking. 

 

The Protestant requirement that we must somehow expend the effort to “accept” Christ’s grace, whatever that means, in itself “earns” our way into heaven.   Our act of acceptance requires a conscious effort and demands a conscious decision.  Indeed, the very act of reading the Bible to understand the questions requires effort; all of which “buys” a Protestant ticket to paradise.  It is not rational to claim nothing we do matters while at the same time requiring us to do something.  A “trivial requirement” is not “no requirement.” 

 

The point is that if the intangible gift of grace is unconditionally bestowed on everyone, it should not require us to lift a finger.  We should not have to answer the doorbell to sign for it nor express our appreciation.   In keeping with the freely given purity of the supernatural inheritance, it should appear as if by magic on our next bank account balance in heaven.

 

Also, if Christ did everything, the entire Bible should be reduced to a single paragraph.  Christ’s entire message could be, “I died, am risen, goodbye, good luck, and We’ll see everyone later in heaven!” And we would be wasting our time reading the Bible, professing our faith, or trying to act with love and charity towards our neighbor as He instructed.

 

That this Protestant invention is not supported, but rather condemned, in the Bible, is exactly contrary to the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church from the time of Christ and the Apostles for nearly 1500 years before the Reformation, and is illogical in the extreme, also tends to mitigate against it.    But it gets worse, because in a practical sense honestly accepting Christ’s message to live as He intended, irrefutably requires a lifetime of strenuous determination and painful praxis.  And if Christ did not do “everything”, then the floodgates are open to considering the full extent of our own responsibilities. 

 

Clearly, we must do something ourselves to be saved.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ASKING AND GETTING

 

The question Protestants are not willing to consider, imperiling their immortal souls, is “Can God refuse us grace?”  Just because an unmerited gift is to be given to an undeserving recipient does not mean God has lost control of the process and has no discretion in the matter.   Just because God’s grace is available to all, does not mean everyone will get it.  Rather Christ’s own words are that only those who avoid sin, such not failing to do good works, or those who do evil deeds but then repent, will be undeservedly given God’s gift of grace.

 

Protestants on the other hand say all they have to do to be saved is to realize there is nothing they have to do.   Indeed, one popular Protestant narrative, intended to make this illogic palatable, poses the following scenario.

 

Which of the following will be saved?  Is it the felon just released from prison with a new-found and feel-good understanding of the Bible?  Or is it Christian missionaries who have spent a lifetime in selfless service to the poor for the sake of Christ?   The felon is not sorry for his crimes nor does he intend to stop sinning.  He is just happy to suddenly have an infinite supply of free “get out of jail” cards.  On the other hand, the missionaries have a lifetime habit of loving one’s neighbor by ministering to the downtrodden because Christ so commanded.

 

Believe it or not, and we find this incredibly difficult to witness, some Protestants twist their minds into pretzels by betting on the felon rather than on the missionaries. 

 

Rather the hard truth is that any rational consideration of the issue, any honest examination of conscience, any thoughtful reading of sacred scripture, or any research into the writings of the early Church Fathers instructed by the Apostles, unequivocally demonstrates that all of the following, each and every one, are required to TRULY ACCEPT Christ’s gift of unmerited grace.  

 

We must take pains to study Christ’s message in order to understand it.  We must accept the truth of it.  We must make a real non-fuzzy non-Protestant commitment to act accordingly.  Most difficult of all, we must then actually act. And finally we must repent when we fail.  And truly repenting can only include a confession of error because it is contrary to Christian doctrine as well as personal conscience, a firm commitment not to repeat followed by actually living up to that, and yet another firm intent to make restitution to the extent possible.   And we must repeat this procedure a nearly uncountable number of times as we predictably and repeatedly fail to live up to God’s expectations.

 

The clear Christian message is that only then will our sins be forgiven through God’s grace.  Only then will we be pure enough at the moment of death to enter into the presence of God. 

 

But the bottom line is that asking for something we don’t deserve is not the same as getting something we don’t deserve.   “Deserving” is not and never was the issue.  We have to believe that an all-powerful God can set standards, even much reduced ones in recognition of man’s limitations; but hopefully always out of love for His creations.   If God would require us to scale the highest mountains or swim the widest oceans before he would grant us grace, we still wouldn’t deserve it.   And who are we to question the mercy and the prerogatives of God?

 

The quip is that “God loves us just the way we are, but much too much to let us stay that way.”  Our consciousness, or self-awareness, or souls are supernatural constructs not strictly governed by natural law which is what allows us free will.   And we were made with a moral conscience which it was ordained we should obey.   And this is less a restriction than path to happiness.  And so the Christian belief is that God’s grace in a sense simply restores us to a state of equilibrium with our true selves and is the only road to true contentment.

 

Clearly we must do a great deal to be saved.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT

 

Faith, and the closely related words of belief, trust, and confidence, are all persuasions of the mind assuming the truth or factual accuracy of some assertion without proof.  While faith relates more to a body of knowledge, especially a religious creed, belief is more restrictive suggesting application to a single statement or person.   Trust and confidence have the additional connotation of hoping for a beneficial result such as being made strong or safe.  Confidence can also imply a bold assurance free from worry over unfortunate or unexpected outcomes.

 

The proof of the pudding is in the eating.  The proof of Christian commitment is in the very act of physically obeying God’s commandments and in following Christ’s teaching and example.  When we fail to obey the Ten Commandments it is not our faith in their righteousness that fails us but in our will to ACT in the moral manner they require.   We accept the unmerited gift of Christ’s grace which can wash away our sins by our ACTIONS.  And we do this because we have faith in the truth of Christ’s teachings on how to lead our lives.  Christ specifically warns about fuzzy minded Protestant notions of good thoughts alone being somehow sufficient.  On our death bed we must be in a state of mind firmly intending to ACT as Christ commanded

and we do that most easily by building lifetime habits of so behaving.

 

And Protestants who claim that one can understand Christ’s message and honestly yearn for salvation, and yet not, AT THE SAME INSTANT, also intend to enjoy the pleasures of sin, however transient and ultimately unfulfilling, are deluding themselves.   Indeed our consciences are not disabled when we choose to cut someone off in traffic, to abuse our spouse, to drink to excess, or to indulge in a host of other misdeeds.  We inwardly know, without a doubt, that sins are wrong but we choose to enjoy the moment anyway.   The human propensity to want to have one’s cake and eat it too, is so common a phenomenon as to be undeniable.

 

The net result is that our sins are not automatically discharged unrelated to our conscious thoughts or intent.  We must truly want to do good deeds and prove that by actually doing so.   Having faith in Jesus means we accept His entire world view without reservation, and act as if we did.  The difficult choice is never between believing Christ is the light, the way and the truth, but rather in acting as if we believed it.

 

Clearly, faith alone is not sufficient to get into heaven.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD WORKS AND HAPPY THOUGHTS

 

Christ’s unmistakable gospel is that we must abstain from evil acts.  We are clearly instructed to forgive injury, pray for our oppressors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison, be a Good Samaritan, and in general to honor Christian virtue.  Unfortunately, the road to heaven is a rocky one as we all have a propensity to indulge our disordered appetites with monotonous regularity.

 

Good works are necessary because to do otherwise, even by omission, is a sin.  When we voluntarily decide to act contrary to the teachings and example of Christ’s life, in thought, word, or especially deed, we have voluntarily removed ourselves from God’s favor and Christ’s gift of saving grace.  

 

What ultimately restores us to a union with Christ is the gift of grace attendant on a sincere and heartfelt repenting of our misdeeds.  But simply expressing a belief in Jesus Christ in a superficial feel-good instant of happy thought can hardly be considered sufficiently faithful.   Instead, logically, we must mindfully regret and acknowledge our error, we must make a firm unshakable intention never to relapse, and we must want to somehow make amends while here on earth given the chance.

 

Clearly, performing good works, to the extent possible, is an essential part of salvation.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CHURCH AND A RIBALD RABBLE

 

It does not seem reasonable, that simply believing Christ’s grace saves us, will meliorate our propensity to commit sin in the future.  To truly be accepting of Christ’s gift and having our sins forgiven, it only seems right that we must, in addition, confess our misdeeds, make the honest and difficult intention never to repeat, and try to make amends.   But finally, living as Christ unmistakably taught in the Bible clearly requires we listen to our innate sense of right and wrong and perform good works at every opportunity.   In consequence, advocating that a feckless faith alone can save, is simply a cowardly and self-serving tolerance of sin.

 

Fortunately, during our lifetimes while our supernatural souls are still united with our bodies, Christ’s gift of grace is somehow available to cleanse us of sin and to restore us to a spiritually pleasing or “graceful” condition.   But since our ability to act stops at moment of death, at that instant we are thought to be judged according to the purity of our soul.  If we die wholeheartedly accepting Christ’s message, we are saved. 

 

Unfortunately, a lifetime habit of sin is not so easily and honestly renounced at the last moment of life.  Indeed, deciding to enjoy the dubious pleasures of sin while smugly intending only to repent on one’s death bed, is in itself a sin.   And how does one come to truly repent that decision, of hoping to have one’s cake and eat it too, at the last moment?  And so the path to salvation is not a single good thought or even a single good act but rather a process by which we develop habits of Christian virtue by our thoughts, our words, and especially by our good deeds over a lifetime.  We all instinctively know the truth of this because they instill our lives with meaning and purpose.

 

The sacrament of Baptism comes directly from the Bible.   Jesus honored the tradition by having Himself baptized.

 

Clearly, we need Christ’s Catholic Church to sustain the Faith.

 

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE WORD OF MAN AND THAT OF GOD

 

Protestants with an excess of zeal to “reform” the occasional human failings in the organization of Christ’s Catholic Church, have mangled the divinely inspired principles on which it is based.  The revisionist heresy of “faith alone” was not imagined until the advent of Martin Luther after nearly 1500 years of contrary Christian dogma maintained by the universal Catholic Church.  Indeed, the Catholic Pope and Catholic Bishops and Catholic congregations had enshrined their message in the Catholic Bible which Protestants had to rewrite to bolster their contrary concepts.   The Protestants have thrown out the baby with the bathwater.

 

                 

          Martin Luther                         John Calvin                          King Henry VIII                   Oliver Cromwell

         1483-1546 A.D.                      1509-1564 A.D.                     1491-1547 A.D.                   1599-1658 A.D.

 

Indeed, all Protestant sects were invented by mere men and not by Christ.  In particular, Martin Luther removed books from the Bible and also personally re-wrote portions to add “faith-alone” pretending these were the testimony of the Apostles recounting the words of Christ.   And so today there are at least 20,000 Protestant sects all with different beliefs and all invented in near modern memory by mere men far removed from the eyewitness of Christ’s Apostles (Bishops) and Disciples (Priests).

 

Nor is the Bible alone the repository of Christ’s entire legacy.   Nowhere in the Bible does it say that it alone should be the sole reference for the faithful… in fact it says the opposite.

 

Protestants dramatically changed not only the form of worship but the theology as well

 

 

Protestants do not call themselves “catholic or universal“ Christians but rather followers of Luther, or Calvin, or the Monarchy of England.   Why do they so deny Christ?

 

PROTESTANT DELUSIONS

 

The Bible was written and assembled into Books to simply and clearly convey Christ’s message across the world and down through the ages to largely illiterate masses.  It was painfully sustained by Catholic Popes and a nearly uncountable number of Catholic Bishops and Priests and congregations who were willing to die, and often did, for the sake of that message.   And so Protestant distortions of the fundamental theology, which often require a Ph.D. in hairsplitting to write or even to dimly understand, are painful to behold.  Rather the Catholic position remains that the Bible means what its words clearly say.

 

To the extent religious “reformers” claim that leading a virtuous life is too hard and unreasonable and they have discovered, after some incredibly tortured reasoning,  a “proof” there is painless back door into heaven, they are only demagogues and rabble rousers.

 

The dubious concept that since Christ made it possible for us to be saved excuses us from all responsibility is not scholarship but sophistry.  And the difficulty in reconciling this heresy with common sense, not to mention the clear wording of the Bible, does not render it an intellectual triumph but rather a self-delusion.  Indeed, it only seems to serve as a means for Protestant Reformers to excite a crowd loyal to a themselves rather than to the original words of Jesus Christ as collected in the Bible by Catholic Bishops meeting in conclave and supervised by a Catholic Pope.

 

Saying that because you believe in the truth of Christ’s message you will then go on to do good works is not true.  Devils and demons believe having direct evidence of the supernatural are not in heaven.  Not everyone who cries out Lord! Lord! however sincerely or heartfelt will be saved but rather those who actually do good works.

 

CATHOLIC TRUTH

 

It is not now, nor has it ever been, Catholic dogma that we can buy our way into heaven with good deeds or donations.  That is the sin of simony which was condemned by the Catholic Church in the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.), the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.), the Third Lateran Council (1179 A.D.), and by the Ecclesiastical Council of Trent (1545-63 A.D.), the last of which was inspired in part by its resurgence by a thankfully few renegades and the attendant criticism of Martin Luther and others.  The Catholic Church does not, contrary to some Protestant assertions, sell tickets to heaven.

 

If we have trouble accepting the truth of the Catholic faith, we might ask ourselves

 

“Is it possible to get into heaven in a sinful state?”

“Do our sins have to be somehow forgiven for us to be saved?”

“Do we have to be sorry for our sins to be forgiven?”

“Unless we firmly intend to never sin again, are we really sorry?”

“Do we have to love our neighbor and try to heal any hurt we have caused to be pleasing to God?”

“Why did God give Moses the Ten Commandments and Christ reaffirm them, if nothing we do matters?”

“If nothing we do matters, because Christ did everything, why does He command us to do good deeds and then say we will be judged accordingly?”

“Why does the Bible say “we are not saved by faith alone?  Could anything be more clear absent twisting our minds into pretzels?”

 

An honest examination of conscience can only lead one to Christ’s clear message as promulgated and sustained by the Catholic Church, and often at great cost.

 

BIBLICAL SUPPORT FOR CHRIST’S CATHOLIC CHURCH

 

The Catholic Church assembled the words of Jesus Christ into the Christian Bible from the direct witness of the Apostles.  And this work was faithfully preserved, often at great cost, for 1500 years before a handful of Protestant reformers saw fit to whimsically revise it.   Whether this was for personal edification or advantage we cannot know.   But what is unmistakable is that Christ’s original message is simple and clear and logically elegant while the new Protestant revisions are invariably twisted and strained and complicated in a vain attempt to avoid the obvious meaning of the original text.  That this Protestant failure is often masked by a hate filled diatribe against fellow Christians, who remain true to Christian principles of forgiveness and thus make easy targets, is yet another sorrow.

 

In any event, that the Catholic Church was organized and granted authority by Jesus Christ is also well supported.
 
 

Matthew 16:18-19

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church;

     and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt

     bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be

     loosed in heaven.

 

[ Not that in all instances above, the PERSONAL pronoun “you” is used to denote St. Peter.

  Also note that “Peter” is a translation from the original Aramaic.  In Greek the

  word “rock” is considered feminine and so it was changed to a masculine form from

  Simon.   This is obvious from other references to Peter in Sacred Scripture but in a

  profound lack of scholarship and sometimes even with malevolent intent, some

  Protestant ministers continue to misrepresent this. ]

 

John 21:23

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you:

     as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them,

     and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them;

     and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

 

Likewise, the necessity for good works could not be more clear.

 

Matthew 22: 36-40

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul,

     and with all thy mind.

38 This is the first and great commandment.

39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

 

John 14: 15-31

15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

 

Image result for picture of sheep and goats

 

Matthew 25: 31-46

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit

    upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as

     a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the

     kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a

     stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

 

Matthew 7:21

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that

   doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

 

Revelation 20: 12-13

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another

    book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which

    were written in the books, according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which

    were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

 

James 2:14-26

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

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

18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

 

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and ***not by faith only***.

 

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

 

Ephesians 2: 8-10

8  For **by grace are ye saved** through faith; and that not of yourselves:

    It [Christ’s unmerited gift of grace] is the gift of God:

9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.   [But HOW do we get this saving grace?]

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before

    ordained that we should walk in them.

 

[ Please note this last verse from Ephesians does not in itself logically demonstrate whether justification is “automatic” or not.  That must stand or fall based on other considerations of the extent of our responsiblities. ]

 

The Bible is also clear that we must be sorry for our sins in order to be saved.

 

1 John 1:9

9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse

   us from all wickedness.

 

Luke 24:47
47  There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.
 
Acts 2:38
38  Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus 
      Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
 
Psalm 7:12-13
12 If a person does not repent, God will sharpen his sword; he will bend and string his bow. 
13  He will prepare his deadly weapons and shoot his flaming arrows.
 
2 Peter 3:9
 9  He [the Lord] does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
 
John 3:6, 8-10
 8  No one who lives in [Jesus] keeps on sinning. Anyone who keeps on sinning does not know
     Him or understand who He is.  But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to
     the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the 
     works of the devil.
 9  Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because 
     God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.
10 So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone 
     who does not live righteously [Please note this it *not* just thinking good thoughts] and 
     does not love other believers, does not belong to God
 

 

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

 

It is the duty of every Christian to read the Bible and the writings of the early Church Fathers and to return to the truth of the Christian faith as maintained by the Catholic Church.  In keeping with Christ’s message EVERYONE is always more than welcome.   And so with “charity for all” and “malice towards none”, may the blessings of God be upon us all.

 

REFERENCES

 

1.      The Bible [without Luther’s personal revisions]

2.      “Four Witnesses” by Rod Bennet, Ignatius Press (March 1, 2002) ISBN-10: 0898708478,

ISBN-13: 978-0898708479.

3.      “Church Fathers: From Clement of Rome to Augustine” by Pope Benedict XVI, Ignatius Press

ISBN978-1-62164-197-1.

4.      “Faith of the Early Fathers” by William A. Jurgens, Liturgical Press (June 1, 1979)

ISBN-10: 0814610250 ISBN-13: 978-0814610251

 

APPENDIX : GRACE

 

The Catholic definition of “grace” (from the Greek ”Charis”) in the Bible is the condescension or benevolence shown by God toward rational creatures such as man and also as a supernatural gift proceeding from such disposition.  The essence of the term is its gratuity or unmerited nature as well as being necessary for salvation.  Where on occasion the Bible speaks of grace as a pleasing charm, this is a derived and not a primary usage.   The etymology of the English word is from the Latin “gratia” meaning a favor or a gift freely given.

 

The Bible only uses the term “faith alone” once and then to condemn the concept.   But in Ephesians, the phrase “not of [good] works” appears.   But nothing in this passage says we are saved by faith alone.  Especially it does not lend credence to the assumption that some nebulous appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice for us, absent any admission or confession of wrongdoing, absent any real remorse, absent any intent to reform, or absent any intent to make restitution or pay reparations to those we have harmed, is anywhere near sufficient for the forgiveness of sins; all other considerations aside. To think otherwise is pure sophistry and the road to hell on earth and the hereafter.

 

Notes on this much loved but much misinterpreted passage follows.  That such a short verse could be burdened with such a widespread rejection of Catholic truth is nearly unbelievable.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

 8  For by grace are ye saved through faith;

     and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

 [ NOTES

a.      Grace is necessary for salvation.

b.      Faith is an important ingredient for salvation but not strictly stated to be absolutely sufficient; i.e. it says “through” and NOT “by sole means of”.

c.       The existence of grace is not the result of any human endeavor.

d.      Grace is rather a gift to mankind from God again implying mankind did not or could not earn it. ]

 

 9  Not of works, lest any man should boast.

[ NOTES

a.      This again emphasizes mankind does not deserve God’s gift of saving grace.   The issue is, and always has been, NOT whether we merit this gift BUT rather how we make use of it by our thoughts, words, intentions, and DEEDS.   And a propensity for sloppy thinking on this essential distinction is not a good excuse.

b.      Note that this also implies that if good deeds or “works” cannot “earn” grace, then neither can faith “earn” grace.  Again grace is a pure gift which by definition is unmerited by anything we mere mortals do or don’t do.  And so especially mankind doesn’t really deserve it.

c.       In particular it does not say whether or not good works are necessary.  The clear meaning of these last two lines is “Grace is a gift whose existence is not strictly merited by mankind”.   These lines clearly do NOT say “Salvation is a gift not requiring works or indeed anything on our part.”  It is important to be precise because the question remains, “What must WE do so that grace can save us?"]

 

10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

[ NOTES

a.      Good works are an important ingredient for salvation.

b.      We must do good works as Christ instructed for His sake.

c.       God demands we do good works. ]

 

APPENDIX : WORKS OF THE LAW

 

It is a disingenuous misreading and misinterpretation of the Bible to confound Christ’s command to do “good works” with the “works of the law” which he devalued.  The Jewish nation maintained its identity in no small part by a codified, hightly-structured set of rules and regulations.   The Jewish Talmud counts 611 commandments which with the first two commandments communicated directly from God make a total of 613.   But Christ made a new covenant with mankind and expanded His message in the charter to the Apostles “to go forth and teach all nations.”

 

APPENDIX : FAITH

 

The word “faith” comes from the Latin “fides” and is loosely translated as trust, confidence, reliance, or belief.  As used in the Bible, faith is simply a firm belief, or trust, in the truth of a religious doctrine.  In original language of the Bible, Greek, faith and belief are the same word, and concept.