My Personal Christian Blog

Thanks for sliding into my blog site. This blog bog is a spin-off from my website at Call me a Night Owl, as my full-time mission and hobby are jabbering from midnight until 8 a.m.ish with chatter bugs across the world. Hoot, hoot! Being a retired newspaper guy and a Curious George, I've written and assembled a whack of stuff that I hope you'll find interesting and thought-provoking. Check out the Stories bar on the right side, below, for all my articles - from my web site and this blog.

October 21, 2016


We present here an exchange between a Roman Catholic and a Protestant on the subject of salvation by FAITH PLUS WORKS and FAITH ALONE.

Faith Plus Works

Although many Catholics are confused and pretty ignorant when it comes to what the Church teaches regarding salvation, the official teaching of the Catholic Church is pretty easy to find. 

Faith Alone

The "official" Roman Catholic Church (RCC) teaching seems secondary if the vast majority of RCs are "confused and pretty ignorant" re their personal salvation and are on their way to eternal Hell because the RCC taught them to believe the gospel of Christ but deemed it insufficient without adding good works to the mix.

Who cares what the ancient councils believed if the RCC preaches a false gospel today? And anything that adds to the simple gospel of Christ is false. As you know, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Of course, the important pitfall to be avoided here is the false idea that we work for our salvation rather than because of our salvation, or that works precede rather than follow salvation.  

Every true believer will bring forth the fruit and works of the indwelling Holy Spirit because true, spiritual life is irrepressible. It is the same with a newborn baby. If he/she is alive, it is soon obvious. 

Faith Plus Works

The Catholic Church officially teaches that no one can earn his own salvation by his good works. One of the first heresies condemned by the early church was Pelagiansim, which taught that we can earn our salvation by our good works.

Faith Alone

Good. But, today, unofficially, the RCC is heavy on works for salvation.

Faith Plus Works

Later, at the Council of Trent, the Church condemned semi-Pelagianism, which is the teaching that we have to make the first move in the process of salvation. So, first, the Church has always taught that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” and that salvation is a free gift of grace.

Faith Alone

I doubt that most Catholics think salvation is a free gift. When I asked a nun what I had to do in order to go to Heaven, she replied, “Believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died for your sins. But, of course, we have to do our part.”                

When I asked for an example of what our part might be, she replied, “Well, I am a nun and I gave up marriage and children. So I did my part.”

Faith Plus Works

We don’t make the first move. God, in grace, makes the first move, and if it were not for his totally undeserved grace, we would all die in our sins.

Faith Alone


Faith Plus Works

The difference between certain Protestants (although by no means all) and Catholics on the question of salvation concerns what is expected of us once we’ve been given the gift of grace.

If you read the parable of the talents, you will see the Catholic position rather clearly. The master gives each servant a certain number of talents (these are given absolutely freely; the servants did nothing to earn or deserve them), and then when the master returns, he assesses how they’ve done with the gifts they’ve been given.

The one who hid his gift in the ground has his gift taken away.

In other words, the Bible consistently teaches that we must make use of the gifts which have been given to us. So, it’s not OUR talents that save us. All “talents” are God’s free gift through Christ on account of his atoning death.

But we must WORK with the talents that have been given us. As Paul puts it in Galatians 5:6, “Neither circumcision nor un-circumcision count for anything, but faith WORKING through love.”

Faith Alone

Unlike circumcision, faith working through love is the automatic outcome of the sealing of the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation. If there is no change, then we conclude it was a false profession of faith. We are not working for faith but because of faith. No works, no faith.

Faith Plus Works

It would seem that in the first century, some Christians had already begun to misinterpret Paul’s writings as teaching that good works were unnecessary for salvation (although Paul never taught that—he said that the works of the Old Testament Law were of no avail, but not works prompted by grace).

Faith Alone

What about Titus 3:5 which says, "NOT by works of righteousness which we have done but according to his MERCY He saved us"? You can't have both, so pick one. Is it works or is it mercy?

Faith Plus Works

So, later in the New Testament, in the book of James, the explicit question is asked (for the only time in the entire New Testament): namely, are works necessary for justification.

Here is the entire text (James 2:14-26):
What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him?  

“If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food.

“And one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?

“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.

Faith Alone

No problem. Ephesians 4:30 says, "By their fruit (works), ye shall know them." Good works have nothing to do with saving the sinner but are the evidence that the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within the believer at his moment of salvation. All truly born again believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and will produce good works which are the outward evidence of the inner change.

If good works could save us, why did Christ need to die?

Faith Plus Works

“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith.”                                                                                                                                         
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.”

“Do you want to be shown, you shallow man, that faith apart from works is barren?

“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 works.

“And the scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God.”

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

“And in the same way was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

“For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.”


Faith Alone

Let me try and summarize the above: 

If a newborn baby is alive, there is evidence. If no evidence, the baby is dead. If a person is born again, there will be evidence. If none, he remains dead in his sins. The above verses are not telling us to do good works in order to complete our salvation.                                               

It is simply stating that good works will automatically follow salvation because the indwelling Holy Spirit brings changes to the heart. So works are the evidence, not the grounds of faith. To make works the grounds of faith is deadly error.                                                      

As far as I know, the majority of Roman Catholics believe they must add their "good works" to the finished work of Christ. That is the great error of the RCC. The Bible tells us, ALL our good works are worth nothing compared to the blood of Christ.

Faith Plus Works

The key in the text quoted above is that works are the evidence and completion of faith. Apart from faith (and grace) our works are as “filthy rags,” but once we’ve been given the gift of grace, our faith is “completed” by works.                      

Faith Alone

So, am I to conclude that Christ did His part and I must do my part in order to go to Heaven? In that case, why did Christ say in John 19:30 that our redemption was "finished" (completed) when He died on the cross?

How can a sinner add anything to the "finished" work of Christ, especially since, as it is noted in Isaiah 64:6, "all our righteousness’s are as filthy rags?" In Isaiah 42:8, God says, "I am the LORD: that is my name and my glory will I not give to another..." The belief that we contribute to our own salvation is the lie of Satan, the arch enemy of God.