Friday, December 17, 2010

Refuting Anti-Evangelical Isahel Alfonso On Faith & Works (Part 2)

(The article which I seek to refute can be found here. The first part of my response is here.)

Mr. Alfonso's words are in maroon, mine in black:
_____________

Through good works we are putting our faith into action.

Amen.


Jesus Christ himself condemned the belief that salvation can be attained by faith alone in Mat.7:21. This passage in Matthew is unmistakable in its condemnation of faith alone, Christ said "not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord shall enter to the kingdom of heaven but he that does the will of my Father"...

Mr. Alfonso is making a serious distortion on God's Word here. The passage is not a condemnation of "faith alone", but in fact a condemnation of "faith+works"-salvation as we can see in the next two verses:

"Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity!" (Mat. 7:22-23, KJV)

Notice how these unfortunate people appeal to their good works to convince the Lord to save them. Apparently, these people whom the Lord will cast away in the last day were not "Sola Fide" believers as Mr.  Alfonso would have his readers to believe. They are most likely to be Catholics who believe one can be saved on account of his faith and good works, not "sola fide" believers who rely on Jesus Christ alone for Salvation!


...therefore not everyone that confessed that Christ is the Lord and savior will enter heaven since some of them did not put their faith into action by doing the will of the Father.

Here I am one with Mr. Alfonso in saying that simply confessing that Christ is the Lord and Savior will not make one heaven-bound. James says mere profession of faith is not enough (Jam. 2:14, 19). One needs to have a wholehearted and complete dependence upon the finished and sufficient work of Christ on the cross in order to be saved (Rom. 10:9-11). Nonetheless I would disagree with his assertion that Christ teaches works-salvation in Matthew 7:21 because it is crystal clear in its immediate context that the converse is true: Jesus will drive away to eternal damnation those who rely upon their goods works to earn God's favor! (see also Jer. 17:5).


In Romans 2:7 Paul stresses that eternal life is a reward for those who patiently do good works. Does this mean that we are saved by doing good works alone? Certainly not! Paul here tells us the importance of good works because God will judge us on the basis of our works not on our faith (cf. Mt.25:32-46, Rom.2:6).

Romans 2:6-7 does NOT in anyway nullify the doctrine of Sola Fide but in fact establishes it. In this passage Paul acquaints us with the glorious standard of God we ought to reach for us to be deemed worthy in His sight and thus be saved from the divine wrath. The Greek word used for "patient continuance" (KJV) in verse 7 is hypomon─ô, which, according to the dictionary, is "the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings" (see Greek lexicon). Now that's perfection! Jesus and his apostle, John, are saying exactly the same thing: 

"Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Mat. 5:48, KJV) 

"Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life." (Rev. 21:27, NIV)

At this point I'd like to ask Mr. Alfonso if he had been perfect and pure a man, not swerved by anything from doing good from the day of his birth up to this very moment that God should recompense him with eternal life. If he would ever say he is, he deceives himself and the truth is not in him (1 Jn. 1:8). The Bible tells us that all men are unworthy to present themselves before God because of their sins and that all their attempts to earn God's favor by their works are of no avail (cf. Psa. 130:3, 143:2; Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:20; Gal. 2:16; Jam. 2:10). If there's anyone who had been perfectly sinless throughout his entire life from birth to the death, it was Jesus Christ, the "Just and the Justifier" of all who has faith in Him (Rom. 3:24-26, cf. v. 5:19; Gal. 4:4-5; 1 Jn. 3:5).

True, God will one day judge all men according to their works and will recompense them what is due them (Rom. 2:6). Those who will be found innocent will receive eternal life (v. 7, 10), but the guilty will be disposed to eternal doom (v. 8-9). Sinners who put their trust upon Jesus Christ alone for Salvation are the ones that will be found innocent because Christ has made an atonement for their sins by his death on the cross and has met the demands of God's law by fulfilling it perfectly on their behalf (Rom. 3:24-25, 5:19). The Lord himself declares: 

"People who believe in God's Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God's one and only Son." (Jn. 3:18, GW, cf. Rom. 5:1, 8:1)


The theology of Paul harmonizes the cooperation of Faith and Good works and he summarized it in his epistle to the Galatians 5:6 "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing nor uncircumcision: but faith that worketh by Charity." (Douay-Rheims version) 

Gal. 5:6 does not say Salvation by grace comes through faith and works. It is true and I fully agree that saving faith is a kind of faith which expresses itself through love, but the good works it produces are just a result of the inner working of the Holy Spirit in the believer after justification, not a requirement unto justification since it is a free gift of God. (Rom. 3:24-25, 11:6).


Paul said faith that work by Charity which clearly means that through good works we put our faith into action.

Amen!


Putting our faith into action does not mean that people who are engage in charitable works has a higher chance of getting to heaven than those ordinary people who is not engage in charitable works. Putting our faith into action does not mean that people who are engage in charitable works has a higher chance of getting to heaven than those ordinary people who is not engage in charitable works. God will judge us on the basis of our personal capability of doing good hence a priest and an ordinary person has an equal chance of getting to heaven since a priest will be judge on the standard of his vocation (Priesthood) and the ordinary person will also be judged on the standard of his chosen vocation (single life or married life).

Wrong. God will judge all men from all walks of life equally according to His perfect law as His measure-stick (Rom. 2:13, 3:19). "For there is no respect of persons with God" (v. 2:11).


Some would argue that Good works is an effect of our faith in Jesus Christ but this is contrary to what the Holy Scripture is saying.

It seems that Mr. Alfonso doesn't really understand what Galatians 5:6 is saying.


In Acts 16:30 the jailer asked Paul and Silas "sirs what must I do to be saved?", scrutinizing the words of the jailer it appears that good work is not an effect of faith. The jailer said "what must I do" this phrase denotes an action a work. And that action or work is to believe or to have faith hence to have faith and to believe is an act of good work.

On the contrary, the true reason why the jailer asked the disciples the question "what must I do to be saved?" is that he presumed he could save himself by his works (see also Jn. 6:27-29). Paul and Silas corrected that presumption with their simple response: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Act. 16:31, KJV). Now did the disciples tell the jailer to submit to the pope? or to join or be an official member of any religion? or to obey the sacraments of the church? or be a devotee of Mary? No!!! Salvation comes through faith alone in Jesus Christ, and this faith is not of ourselves; it is a gift of God! (Eph. 2:8-9, cf. Jn. 6:44, 65; Php. 1:29).


Does Ephesians 2:8-10 proves that good works is not needed? No it doesn't says that. In Paul's epistle to the Ephesians it states "for you have been save by grace through faith", Catholic agree with this one that it is by God's grace that we are saved since it is by God's initial act that saves us He is the first one to make a move in order to save us. "through faith" but what kind of faith? Faith alone? No! It must be a living faith, a faith that is put into practice by doing what is good. It is by our living faith that we accept God's invitation of salvation."through faith" but what kind of faith? Faith alone? No! It must be a living faith, a faith that is put into practice by doing what is good. It is by our living faith that we accept God's invitation of salvation.

God is the sole initiator of Salvation (Rom. 11:35), but that's not the point in Ephesians 2:8-9. The passage is speaking about the gratuitousness of justification that is attained through faith, and that this saving faith is a free gift of God, not dependent upon any human works, thus leaving no room for boasting (1 Cor. 4:7). This consequently negates the idea that one must do good works in order to have a saving faith or to keep his faith from dying. The vitality of a tree is not dependent upon its fruitfulness as much as the vitality of saving faith is not dependent upon the good works it produces. To state otherwise is to put the cart before the horse.


"not of works lest any man should boast" in the Bible there are two kinds of work, good works and works of the law. In Romans Chapter 3 Paul discuss about the Jews who boast that they are fulfilling the works of the law. In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul is telling us that it is by God's grace that we will be saved and not by the works of the law. 

Why all the desperate attempt to get away with Eph. 2:8-9 by trying to make an absurd distinction between the "works of law" and "good works"? Isn't obeying the commands (law) of God good works? And how would Mr. Alfonso explain Romans 4:5-6 where Paul says that God justifies the "wicked" through faith? How can good works be added to faith (as means for justification) if the person being justified is "wicked"? Or why didn't the apostle rather say that God justifies the "believing nice guy" (i.e. faith plus good works) so it would perfectly fit with what Rome is teaching? I firmly believe it is Christ's finished work on the cross that saves sinners through faith (Rom. 1:16-17, 3:24-24, 5:19). If in the end it is still our own works that will save us, why the need of Christ dying on the cross? (Gal. 2:21). I'd really like an answer to all these.

-Jeph

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