Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #14: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

Today, we continue with our series responding to “Meeting the Protestant Challenge: How to Answer 50 Biblical Objections to Catholic Beliefs” (2019), written by Karlo Broussard. With this next chapter, the Catholic apologist continues his six-part section on Salvation by countering Protestants’ arguments that believers are “justified by faith, not works.” As you’ll see, Broussard trods some of the same ground he already covered in his previous two chapters on Salvation.


Broussard opens by presenting Romans 3:28 as a verse that Protestants often use as a proof text for justification by faith alone. The apostle Paul wrote:

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”

Broussard acknowledges that this verse, and others that similarly teach salvation through faith in Christ alone, present a problem for works-righteousness Catholicism. Broussard’s stakes his belief in works-justification on James 2:14-26, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v. 24). 

How can the two seemingly opposing views be reconciled? Broussard attempts to harmonize Paul and James by offering two options that are acceptable to Catholic theology:

1 – Paul was referring only to initial justification via baptism. A helpless infant obviously cannot merit the (alleged) salvific effects of baptism. However, once a person is baptized, they must then seek to remain justified by receiving the grace administered through the sacraments and by obeying the Ten Commandments (impossible!) and church rules.

2 – In referring to the “works of the law,” Paul (allegedly) meant only the Levitical ceremonial rituals of the Mosaic Law. Christians are not required to adhere to Levitical ceremonial circumcision, dietary rules, festival participation, animal sacrifice, etc., but will be judged according to their obedience to the Ten Commandments and charity towards men.

Broussard is satisfied that Paul and James can be satisfactorily reconciled via these two Catholic explanations.

Gospel Christians defend the Biblical doctrine that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior alone, apart from any and all works. The Ten Commandments are as much a part of the Mosaic Law as the Levitical rituals. “Aha!,” Catholics exclaim as if they’ve caught the evangelical Protestant in a “Gotcha!” moment. What about James 2:24? Catholics are quite surprised when Protestants remain unfazed by James 2. We believe as the Bible states that fruit/good works, albeit imperfect, are the evidence of a genuine conversion in Christ. However, good works and charity validate our salvation in Jesus Christ, they are never the basis of our salvation.

Think of the many souls mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23 who will stand before Christ and vainly point to their works as the basis of their salvation. Think of the many who were invited to the wedding feast in Matthew 22:1-14 but who showed up in their own garments (self-righteousness) rather than exchanging their clothes for the wedding garment (Christ’s imputed righteousness) provided by the King.

What Catholicism proposes is the broad way (Matthew 7:13-14). The “faith” that it refers to is faith in its system of sacramental grace and merit. But it is not an exclusionary religion. It grants that works religionists of all stripes – Muslims, Hindus, Jews, and Buddhists – and even atheists, may also merit Heaven if they are “good” and “follow the light they are given.” That is NOT Christianity.

Roman Catholics believe they must merit their salvation. But if that were possible, why did Jesus Christ have to die upon the cross at Calvary?

“I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. – Galatians 2:21

The Law is NOT the way to salvation, rather the Law shows us that we are all sinners in desperate need of the Savior.

“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:20

Jesus Christ, God the Son, the ONLY Person who EVER obeyed the Law, died for us and paid the penalty for sin because we could not possibly merit our salvation. Each person must repent of sin and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior by faith alone. Only after trusting in Christ as Savior by faith alone can we follow Him in obedience, albeit only imperfectly.

101 Bible verses that teach salvation is NOT by works

Why is faith without works dead?

Next up: We Know That We Have Eternal Life

33 thoughts on “Answering the rebuttals of a Catholic apologist, #14: “Justified by Faith, Not Works”

  1. On James 2:21-24, the only other groups I’ve seen saying that the word “justified” in James 2 is the same as what Paul had in mind, are those who attack biblical inerrancy (atheists, Muslims, etc). This is a clear contradiction with Romans 4.

    The word “justified” in James 2 has a demonstrative context, similar to Luke 7:35.

    Two scholars from the communion of Rome confirm this in their commentaries:
    Luke Timothy Johnson commenting on James 2:21: shown to be righteous on the basis of deeds:The hardest term to translate here is dikaioun, primarily because of its frequent use by Paul in contexts opposing righteousness by faith and “works of the law” (Rom 2:13, 3:4, 20, 24, 26, 28, 30, 4:2, 5; 5:1, 9, 8:30, 33; Gal 2:16-17; 3:8, 11, 24) and the complex use of the verb and its cognates in the OT (e.g. LXX Gen 38:26; Exod 23:7; Deut 25:1; Pss 50:6; 81:3; 142:2; Sir 1:22). The precise meaning in each case must be determined by context, not some general theological concept. Given the previous statement demanding the demonstration of faith, the translation here as “shown to be righteous” seems appropriate ( see Hort, 63, “appear righteous in God’s sight,” and Marty, 104, “God sanctions his righteousness”). The meaning would be similar to such NT passages as Matt 11:19; 12:37; and 1 Cor 4:4. The phrase ex ergon (literally, “out of works”) has the sense of “on the basis of deeds,” meaning that the deeds make his righteousness manifest. At first glance, the sentence appears flatly to contradict Paul’s argument concerning the righteousness of Abraham on the basis of faith rather than works (Gal 2:16; 3:5-6; 3:24; Rom 4:2), until we remember that in Paul’s case, the contrast is with “works of the law” (including circumcision), whereas in James it is with pistis arge (ineffectual faith). The Letter of James: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, Yale University Press (September 5, 2005), Pg 242

    Luke Timothy Johnson commenting on James 2:24: Is shown to be righteous on the basis of deeds: For this translation of dikaioun, see note on 2:21. The entire argument rests on the concept of “demonstration.” Patristic readers saw the potential for conflict with Paul on this point, but resolved it simply by two distinctions: a) that between faith as “simple assent” and faith as full response in action, and b) that between faith leading to baptism and faith after baptism. The Letter of James: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, Yale University Press (September 5, 2005), Pg 244

    Patrick J. Hartin S.J. commenting on James 2:21: our father Abraham: In Gen 17:4 God had made the promise to Abraham that he would be “the father (patér) of many peoples.” This tradition is continued
    throughout the biblical heritage: see Isa 51:2; Sir 44:19; 4 Macc 16:20; 17:6; Matt 3:9; Luke 1:73. This again points to the writer’s Jewish background: James sees himself and his community as part Of those promises in that they can claim Abraham as their father.

    proved to be righteous (as shown) through his works: This is the central aspect of the verse. The difficulty with understanding the verb dikaioun (“proved to be righteous”) comes from its rich range of meanings and the fact that it is used in different ways in different contexts. In the writings of Paul the term dikaioun is used to oppose a faith that is achieved by one’s own efforts through carrying out the works of the law. In Rom 4:1-3 Paul claims that Abraham was justified by faith and not by works (of the law). He goes on to use a biblical quotation that James also uses: “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; 2:23; see Gen 15:6). In Paul’s usage the term dikaioun captures God’s action that produces a transformation within the life of the believer so that he or she is brought into a right relationship with Christ. All this occurs through the transforming gift of Jesus Christ’s faithfulness (Rom 3:23-26) (see TDNT Excursus 7: Faith and Works in James and Paul). In James the concern is very different. Works (that is, good deeds) show that one’s faith is living and that one is in a right relationship with God. Hence dikaioun in the context of James bears the meaning “demonstrates…………..” Patrick J. Hartin, Sacra Pagina: James, Liturgical Press, 2009, Pg 153

    The key to understanding James 2 is by looking at Abraham, the model believer, in which Gen 15:6 is quoted in James 2:23 (also in Romans 4 and Galatians 3):
    Augustine, commenting on James 2:23: That Abraham believed God deep in his heart is a matter of faith alone, but that he took his son to sacrifice him . . . is not just a great act of faith but a great work as well. (Sermons 2.9) WSA 3/1:181, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 33

    Clement of Rome, commenting on James 2:23: Abraham, who was called the friend of God, proved himself faithful by becoming obedient to the words of God. (Letter to the Corinthians 10.1) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 33

    Cyril of Jerusalem, commenting on James 2:23: Abraham was justified not by works but by faith. For although he had done many good things, he was not called a friend of God until he believed, and every one of his deeds was perfected by faith. (Catechetical lectures 5.5) Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 33

    Oecumenius (6th century), commenting on James 2:23: Abraham is the image of someone who is justified by faith alone, since what he believed was credited to him as righteousness. But he is also approved because of his works, since he offered up his son Isaac on the altar. Of course he did not do this work by itself; in doing it, he remained firmly anchored in his faith, believing that through Isaac his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament, Vol. XI, James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), p. 33. See PG 119:481.

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  2. On your point #1, I find it hilarious that Broussard would attempt to extrapolate and impute words to Paul as having said [initial] justification, given that they slam Luther for inserting the word “alone” in Romans 3:28. Luther had support from the theological tradition before him.

    Joseph Fitzmyer S.J. commenting on Rom 3:28: That emphasis and the qualification “apart from deeds of (the) law” show that in this context Paul means “by faith alone”. Only faith appropriates God’s effective declaration of uprightness for a human being. These words repeat what Paul already said in v20a. Joseph A. Fitzmyer S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, Yale University Press (January 1, 1993), Pg. 363

    Brendan Byrne S.J. commenting on Rom 3:28: The following “thesis-type” statement of the principle of justification by faith apart from works of the law (v 28) has been highly significant in the history of interpretation, becoming the watchword of the Reformation movement, which (rightly) understood Paul’s simple qualification “by faith” (pistei) to have the sense of “by faith alone”. Brendan Byrne SJ, Sacra Pagina: Romans, Liturgical Press, Mar 18, 2016, Pg 137.

    Joseph Fitzmyer S.J.: At 3:28 Luther introduced the adv. “only” into his translation of Romans (1522), “alleyn durch den Glauben” (WAusg 7.38); cf. Aus der Bibel 1546, “alleine durch den Glauben” (WAusg, DB 7.39); also 7.3-27 (Pref. to the Epistle). See further his Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, of 8 Sept. 1530 (WAusg 30.2 [1909], 627-49; “On Translating: An Open Letter” [LuthW 35.175-202]). Although “alleyn/alleine” finds no corresponding adverb in the Greek text, two of the points that Luther made in his defense of the added adverb were that it was demanded by the context and that sola was used in the theological tradition before him.

    Robert Bellarmine listed eight earlier authors who used sola (Disputatio de controversiis: De justificatione 1.25 [Naples: G. Giuliano, 1856], 4.501-3):

    Origen, Commentarius in Ep. ad Romanos, cap. 3 (PG 14.952).

    Hilary, Commentarius in Matthaeum 8:6 (PL 9.961).

    Basil, Hom. de humilitate 20.3 (PG 31.529C).

    Ambrosiaster, In Ep. ad Romanos 3.24 (CSEL 81.1.119): “sola fide justificati sunt dono Dei,” through faith alone they have been justified by a gift of God; 4.5 (CSEL 81.1.130).

    John Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Titum 3.3 (PG 62.679 [not in Greek text]).

    Cyril of Alexandria, In Joannis Evangelium 10.15.7 (PG 74.368 [but alludes to Jas 2:19]).

    Bernard, In Canticum serm. 22.8 (PL 183.881): “solam justificatur per fidem,” is justified by faith alone.

    Theophylact, Expositio in ep. ad Galatas 3.12-13 (PG 124.988).

    To these eight Lyonnet added two others (Quaestiones, 114-18):

    Theodoret, Affectionum curatio 7 (PG 93.100; ed. J. Raeder [Teubner], 189.20-24).

    Thomas Aquinas, Expositio in Ep. I ad Timotheum cap. 1, lect. 3 (Parma ed., 13.588): “Non est ergo in eis [moralibus et caeremonialibus legis] spes iustificationis, sed in sola fide, Rom. 3:28: Arbitramur justificari hominem per fidem, sine operibus legis” (Therefore the hope of justification is not found in them [the moral and ceremonial requirements of the law], but in faith alone, Rom 3:28: We consider a human being to be justified by faith, without the works of the law). Cf. In ep. ad Romanos 4.1 (Parma ed., 13.42a): “reputabitur fides eius, scilicet sola sine operibus exterioribus, ad iustitiam”; In ep. ad Galatas 2.4 (Parma ed., 13.397b): “solum ex fide Christi” [Opera 20.437, b41]).

    See further:

    Theodore of Mopsuestia, In ep. ad Galatas (ed. H. B. Swete), 1.31.15.

    Marius Victorinus (ep. Pauli ad Galatas (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15-16: “Ipsa enim fides sola iustificationem dat-et sanctificationem” (For faith itself alone gives justification and sanctification); In ep. Pauli Ephesios (ed. A. Locher), ad 2.15: “Sed sola fides in Christum nobis salus est” (But only faith in Christ is salvation for us).

    Augustine , De fide et operibus, 22.40 (CSEL 41.84-85): “licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intellegatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur” (Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love”). Migne Latin Text: Venire quippe debet etiam illud in mentem, quod scriptum est, In hoc cognoscimus eum, si mandata ejus servemus. Qui dicit, Quia cognovi eum, et mandata ejus non servat, mendax est, et in hoc veritas non est (I Joan. II, 3, 4). Et ne quisquam existimet mandata ejus ad solam fidem pertinere: quanquam dicere hoc nullus est ausus, praesertim quia mandata dixit, quae ne multitudine cogitationem spargerent [Note: [Col. 0223] Sic Mss. Editi vero, cogitationes parerent.], In illis duobus tota Lex pendet et Prophetae (Matth. XXII, 40): licet recte dici possit ad solam fidem pertinere Dei mandata, si non mortua, sed viva illa intelligatur fides, quae per dilectionem operatur; tamen postea Joannes ipse aperuit quid diceret, cum ait: Hoc est mandatum ejus, ut credamus nomini Filii ejus Jesu Christi, et diligamns invicem (I Joan. III, 23) See De fide et operibus, Cap. XXII, §40, PL 40:223.

    Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993) Pg 360-361.

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  3. On point #2 about works of the law, the Jews don’t distinguish between moral, civil and ceremonial.

    Deut 27:26, Deut 28:15 and Lev 18:5 makes it clear that ALL commandments need to be obeyed perfectly to be declared righteous by works . James 2:10 confirms this saying a failure in one point of the Law is the same as a fail in all.

    Gal 3:10 applies Deut 27:26 to “works of the law”, thus including EVERYTHING in the books of the Law.

    Therefore, Romans 3:28 excludes ALL works including the morality commands of the Law, not just ceremonial and civil. This is not just my opinion but the also that of the earlier commentators and Ratzinger.

    It’s funny that Broussard contradicts Ratzinger:

    Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger): And he adds “we hold that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (ibid., v. 28). At this point Luther translated: “justified by faith alone”. I shall return to this point at the end of the Catechesis. First, we must explain what is this “Law” from which we are freed and what are those “works of the Law” that do not justify. The opinion that was to recur systematically in history already existed in the community at Corinth. This opinion consisted in thinking that it was a question of moral law and that the Christian freedom thus consisted in the liberation from ethics. Thus in Corinth the term “πάντα μοι έξεστιν” (I can do what I like) was widespread. It is obvious that this interpretation is wrong: Christian freedom is not libertinism; the liberation of which St Paul spoke is not liberation from good works.

    So what does the Law from which we are liberated and which does not save mean? For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word “Law” meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses. The Torah, in the Pharisaic interpretation, that which Paul had studied and made his own, was a complex set of conduct codes that ranged from the ethical nucleus to observances of rites and worship and that essentially determined the identity of the just person. In particular, these included circumcision, observances concerning pure food and ritual purity in general, the rules regarding the observance of the Sabbath, etc. codes of conduct that also appear frequently in the debates between Jesus and his contemporaries. All of these observances that express a social, cultural and religious identity had become uniquely important in the time of Hellenistic culture, starting from the third century B.C. This culture which had become the universal culture of that time and was a seemingly rational culture; a polytheistic culture, seemingly tolerant constituted a strong pressure for cultural uniformity and thus threatened the identity of Israel, which was politically constrained to enter into this common identity of the Hellenistic culture. This resulted in the loss of its own identity, hence also the loss of the precious heritage of the faith of the Fathers, of the faith in the one God and in the promises of God.

    Against this cultural pressure, which not only threatened the Israelite identity but also the faith in the one God and in his promises, it was necessary to create a wall of distinction, a shield of defence to protect the precious heritage of the faith; this wall consisted precisely in the Judaic observances and prescriptions. Paul, who had learned these observances in their role of defending God’s gift, of the inheritance of faith in one God alone, saw this identity threatened by the freedom of the Christians this is why he persecuted them. At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One he understood that with Christ’s Resurrection the situation had changed radically. With Christ, the God of Israel, the one true God, became the God of all peoples. The wall as he says in his Letter to the Ephesians between Israel and the Gentiles, was no longer necessary: it is Christ who protects us from polytheism and all of its deviations; it is Christ who unites us with and in the one God; it is Christ who guarantees our true identity within the diversity of cultures. The wall is no longer necessary; our common identity within the diversity of cultures is Christ, and it is he who makes us just. Being just simply means being with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices. Further observances are no longer necessary. For this reason Luther’s phrase: “faith alone” is true, if it is not opposed to faith in charity, in love. Faith is looking at Christ, entrusting oneself to Christ, being united to Christ, conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence to believe is to conform to Christ and to enter into his love. So it is that in the Letter to the Galatians in which he primarily developed his teaching on justification St Paul speaks of faith that works through love.

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    1. RE: For St Paul, as for all his contemporaries, the word “Law” meant the Torah in its totality, that is, the five books of Moses.

      Excellent quote from Ratzinger regarding Broussard’s lame distinction between the moral Law and ritual Law.

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  4. Just look at these gems that refute the Romanist claim of semper eadem:

    Clement of Rome (fl. 96 AD): Whosoever will candidly consider each particular, will recognize the greatness of the gifts which were given by him. For from him have sprung the priests and all the Levites who minister at the altar of God. From him also [was descended] our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. From him [arose] kings, princes, and rulers of the race of Judah. Nor are his other tribes in small glory, inasmuch as God had promised, “Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven.” All these, therefore, were highly honored, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. ANF: Vol. I, The Apostolic Fathers, First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Chapter 32.

    John Chrysostom (349-407) on Romans 3:27: For if even before this, the circumcision was made uncircumcision, much rather was it now, since it is cast out from both periods. But after saying that “it was excluded,” he shows also, how. How then does he say it was excluded? “By what law? of works? Nay, but by the law of faith.” See he calls the faith also a law delighting to keep to the names, and so allay the seeming novelty. But what is the “law of faith?” It is, being saved by grace. Here he shows God’s power, in that He has not only saved, but has even justified, and led them to boasting, and this too without needing works, but looking for faith only. NPNF1: Vol. XI, Homilies on the Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans, Homily 7, vs. 27.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): For he makes a wide distinction between ‘commandments’ and ‘ordinances.’ He either then means ‘faith,’ calling that an ‘ordinance,’ (for by faith alone He saved us,) or he means ‘precept,’ such as Christ gave, when He said, ‘But I say unto you, that ye are not to be angry at all.’ (Matthew 5:22.) That is to say, ‘If thou shalt believe that God raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ (Romans 10:6-9.) And again, ‘The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart. Say not, Who shall ascend into heaven, or who shall descend into the abyss?’ or, who hath ‘brought. Him again from the dead?’ Instead of a certain manner of life, He brought in faith. For that He might not save us to no purpose, He both Himself underwent the penalty, and also required of men the faith that is by doctrines. NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Homilies on Ephesians, Homly 5, Ephesians 2:11,12.

    John Chrysostom (349-407): Let us see, however, whether the brigand gave evidence of effort and upright deeds and a good yield. Far from his being able to claim even this, he made his way into paradise before the apostles with a mere word, on the basis of faith alone, the intention being for you to learn that it was not so much a case of his sound values prevailing as the Lord’s lovingkindness being completely responsible. Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Eight Sermons on the Book of Genesis (Boston: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2004) Sermon 7, p. 123. These sermons were delivered by Chrysostom in Antioch during Lent of 386 (see p. 3).

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12 For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on 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. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 101.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 3:27: Paul tells those who live under the law that they have no reason to boast basing themselves on the law and claiming to be of the race of Abraham, seeing that no one is justified before God except by faith. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 103.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), commenting on 1 Cor. 1:4: God has decreed that a person who believes in Christ can be saved without works. By faith alone he receives the forgiveness of sins. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VII: 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999), p. 6.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 1:11: For the mercy of God had been given for this reason, that they should cease from the works of the law, as I have often said, because God, taking pity on our weaknesses, decreed that the human race would be saved by faith alone, along with the natural law. Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans(Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 23.

    Basil of Caesarea (Ad 329-379): [As the Apostle says,] Let him who boasts boast in the Lord, [I say that] Christ has been made by God for us righteousness, wisdom, justification, [and] redemption, that, as it is written, “he who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” [For] this is perfect and pure boasting in God, when one is not proud on account of his own righteousness but knows that he is indeed unworthy of the true righteousness and is (or has been, δεδικαιωμένον, perfect passive participle, accusative, masculine of δικαιόω) justified solely by faith in Christ. See Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part 1, trans. Fred Kramer (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1971), p. 505.

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Romans 3:22-23: He (Paul) briefly showed all to be guilty and in need of grace. Justified gratuitously by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (v.24): bringing faith alone, we received the forgiveness of sins, since Christ the Lord offered his own body as a kind of ransom for us. Whom God put forward as a mercy seat by his blood effective through faith (v.25). The mercy seat was of gold leaf, situated on the ark; on either side it had the carvings of the cherubim. From there God’s benevolence was revealed to the high priest as he ministered. The divine apostle, then, teaches that Christ the Lord is the true mercy seat: the old one had the function of a type of the latter. Now, the title belongs to him as a man, not as God: as God he gave a response through the mercy seat, while as man he receives this name as he does others, like sheep, lamb, sin, curse and suchlike. Whereas the old mercy seat was without blood, insofar as it was lifeless, and drops of the blood of the victims fell on it, Christ the Lord is God and mercy seat, high priesnt and lamb, and with his blood worked our salvation, requiring from us only faith. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 1 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 64.

    Theodoret of Cyrrhus (393-466) commenting on Ephesians 2:8-9: By grace, in fact, you are saved through faith(v.8): the grace of God regaled us with these good things; we had only faith to offer, but divine grace worked with it. He went on in this vein: This is no doing of yours: it is the gift of God, not from works lest anyone boast (vv.8-9): we have not believed of our own volition; rather we made our approach when called, and when we did he did not require of us purity of life―instead, he accepted faith alone and granted us forgiveness of sins. Robert Charles Hill, Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Vol. 2 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2001), p. 39.

    Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) on Matthew 9: This was forgiven by Christ through faith, because the Law could not yield, for faith alone justifies. Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 57, No. 4, October 2006 published by Cambridge University Press. D. H. Williams, pg. 658

    Ambrose (c. 339-97): Ye behold the mysteries, ye behold the grace of Christ, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is conferred in some sort fortuitously; forasmuch as every one is not justified by the Lord by reason of his works, but by reason of faith. George Finch, A Sketch of the Romish Controversy (London: G. Norman, 1831), p. 220.

    Augustine (354-430): Although it can be said that God’s commandments pertain to faith alone, if it is not a dead [faith], but rather understood as that live faith, which works through love. See Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans, A New Translation with introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New York: Doubleday, 1993), p. 361 for translation.

    Theodoret of Cyyrhus on Rom 1:17: The righteousness of God is not revealed to everyone but only to those with the eyes of faith. For the holy apostle teaches us that God foresaw this for us from the beginning and predicted it through the prophets, and even before the prophets, had it hidden in his secret will.

    Paul quoted Habakkuk for the benefit of the Jews, because he wanted to teach them not to cling to the provisions of the law but to follow the prophets. For many centuries before they had predicted that one day there would be salvation by faith alone.

    Then departing from his admonition to the Jews, he accuses everyone else of having brazenly departed from the natural law which the Creator had placed in them. For when God made them, he did nor allow them to live like beasts bur honored them with reason and gave them the ability to know the difference between good and evil. Those who lived righteous lives before the time of Moses confirm this by their witness. Interpretation of the letter to the Romans. IER, Migne PG 82 col. 57-60, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Romans, InterVarsity Press, 2014, ed Gerald L. Bray, Pg 31

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  5. Wow, well said brother! It’s so fascinating that other cult groups use James as well. No one wants the free gift? They want to work for it? I would say I don’t understand, but I remember trying to earn it myself.

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    1. Thanks, sister! Yes, I also based my justification/salvation on how well I obeyed the Law, just as I was taught. I inwardly knew that I was doing a poor job of it, but was hoping like my Catholic family and friends that God was somehow grading on a benevolent curve. Now knowing God’s plan of salvation through faith in Christ alone, yes, it’s quite amazing to see how works-religionists dig in their heels and passionately defend their right to try to merit their salvation through their sin-laden and faulty works. Argh!

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    1. True, and what I didn’t mention in the post is that an infant isn’t exercising any “faith” when they are baptized, even more disconnect between Romans 3:28 and the Catholic misinterpretation.

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    2. Romanists……..

      Let’s look at scripture. These folks were regenerated BEFORE water baptism.

      Acts 10:44-48
      44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.

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      1. By the way Jim, take a look at these Roman “evangelists” try their sophistry about baptism, quoting only part of 1 Peter 3:21

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    1. Thanks, Crissy! We praise the Lord for opening our eyes to the great error of self-righteousness “I” religion, which goes all the way back to the religion of Cain.

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  6. This is horrific. There is no consent here for infants. Also, it is far easier to believe one has to work for something rather than receive. While I am an OT girl when it comes to studying the Bible, I am a James girl as well. Putting Paul and James against each other is just wrong. From your faith flows an outpouring of works, not vice versa. James’s message is to the fine and shabby. It presupposes that he is speaking to saved believers of the Diaspora. A saved person should not forget their works, we are not to be like the Thessalonians sitting on our behinds waiting for the Lord to return. Our faith should be manifested in our works and our works should manifest our faith. I have probably missed the mark on what you are saying because Paul, James, faith and works is an issue that I am deeply sensitive too. Sorry for the rant!

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    1. Thanks for your good comments! James 2 is one of Catholicism’s favorite chapters because they see it as complete vindication of the salvation-by-merit soteriology. Catholics are surprised when evangelicals are undisturbed by James 2. Ephesians 2:8-10 presents faith and works in their proper context as you describe. When Catholics refer to “faith,” they mean something entirely different than evangelicals.For Catholics, “faith” generally means trusting in their institutional church and its sacramental system.

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