Clayton asked:

I have a Protestant co-worker who asked where does it say in the bible we are saved by salvation and works?

Tim Staples replied:

"... You have to deal with Romans chapter 3 verse 28 where Saint Paul says that we account a man to be justified by faith apart from works of law. Martin Luther made the mistake theologically of saying that Saint Paul there when he excludes works, excludes all works in any sense. That was Luther's greatest error in my humble opinion.

Because Paul is not excluding all works as necesary in any sense when it comes to justification. He's excluding works of law. In fact if you look at the very next verse ... in verse 29 he says for is God the God of the Jews only or is He not only the God of the gentiles?

He's making the distinction of these particular works that the Judaizers to whom he was writing, Clayton these were folks in the early church. They were Christinas, who unfortunately taught that it's not enough to believe in Jesus and the new covenant. You have to go back to the old covenant priesthood, be circumcised and so forth and keep the works of law in order to be saved. No, if you do that you forfeit Christ because you're not acknowledging what Christ did in the new covenant. So that's the context of Romans 3:28.

He's not excluding all works. Why? Because in Romans 2 verses 6 and 7 he had already said God will reward each man according to his works to he who continues in good works his reward shall be glory, incorruption, and ever lasting life...

You also need to deal with Ephesians 2, 8 and 9 where Saint Paul says for by grace you have been saved through faith in that not of yourselves it's the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast. Because these are the two main texts that they are going to use. In Ephesians what Paul is talking about is trying to do good works apart from Christ. In fact in Ephesians there it's before entering into Christ. In fact if you read Ephesians 2 verse 1 through 7, the verses that lead up to verses 8 and 9, Saint Paul was talking about you Ephesians who were dead in your trespasses and sins. You who were, look at verse 3. You who were by nature children of wrath, right? He's talking about before entering into Christ. For by grace you have been saved through faith ... of course we as Catholics believe that there's no works whatsoever that we can do before we enter into Christ that can contribute to your salvation in any sense...

Now let me give you some bullet verses that demonstrate that works are necessary for our justification and salvation ... Matthew chapter 12 verses 36 and 37. And notice this, Jesus is teaching in the context of the resurrection and the final judgement. In verse 36 leading to verse 37 where he says by your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned that means it's more than just faith. James chapter 2 verse 24 we see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone."

[Editor's note: They took a commercial break at this point.]

Tim Staples continued:

"Galatians chapter 6 verses 7 through 9. Saint Paul says be not deceived. God is not mocked for whatsoever a man's sews, now that's something that you do, ... that shall he reap. If he continues to sew to the flesh he shall of the flesh reap death. But if he continues to sew to the spirit he shall of the spirit reap everlasting life ... verse 9 is the key. Let us not therefore grow weary in well doing, for we shall reap if we faint not. In other words if we don't give up. Reap up everlasting life. The key here is that both in Romans ... and Galatians ... by the way Romans and Galatians are two of the books that Luther used the most to defend his justification of by faith alone, but you have it right there that Romans 2 and Galatians 6 that we must do something in order to be rewarded and what is it that's being rewarded, our sewing or our works? In Romans 2 he specifically says your good works are rewarded with eternal life. And in Galatians 6 it's sewing to the spirit which is another way of saying good works.

The problem Clayton is when we talk about works, Luther, Calvin, the Protestants immediately go to verses that are talking about works done apart from Christ. Either before entering into Christ or apart from the covenant. We agree as Catholics that those works can not contribute to our salvation in any sense, and in fact Clayton we agree especially with our Lutheran brothers. For example in the 1999 declaration on justification that there's no works whatsoever that are involved in the initial grace of justification, salvation that we received. It's only after entering into Christ that really the joint declaration didn't get to this part, the role of cooperation after the initial grace of justicfication, the role of sacraments, mortal and veinial sin, confession and that sort of thing. Cause we still disagree on those points ... one more for good measure, Matthew 10:22. You shall be hated of all men for my name's sake but he that endures until the end shall be saved."

Source material:

Romans 3
28 For we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,

Romans 2
And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God— 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast.

Matthews 12
36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

James 2
24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

Galatians 6
7 Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption; but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.

Matthew 10
22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.


Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE)
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Catholic Answers, "Open Forum" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2014)

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Show air date: February 25, 2014

Name of show: Open Forum

Guest comments by: Tim Staples

Question appeared in show: 19:46

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