Eric responded to my previous response of his. Here it is:
What a heavy yoke you must bear. To feel the weight of eternity resting on your own efforts and works must be crushing. Either it produces brokenness over how often and easily you fail to follow the commandments or it produces false self pride by thinking “I can do it!”
This discussion is truly enjoyable, my Roman Catholic (former Anglican) friend.
The whole issue of works participating in salvation (Catholic) as opposed to works produced by salvation (Protestant) is, quite possibly, the crux of all issues that we could discuss. This pre-supposition determines how any and all other texts are to be understood.
If baptism is necessary for salvation, then Christ is a liar and not God. See the account of the thief on the cross (Luke 23:40-43). Baptism is a command that we are to follow, but it does not give one eternal life, nor does it stop one who for all other reasons would inherit eternal life.
It is kind of funny that you used the Rich Young Ruler as your example of keeping the commandments in Matthew 19. Earlier in Matthew, Christ explained that if you’ve ever hated that you’re guilty of murder; and if you’ve ever looked with lust that you’re guilty of adultery. For him, or anyone, to say “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” is to lie (again) and miss the whole point of Christ’s purpose on earth (to save – completely – sinners who cannot save themselves). The passage ends by showing that the man went away sad because he had much land. The rich young ruler loved his money more than he loved God, and therefore he was guilty of the 1st commandment (no other gods before Me).
I think that we would agree that those people who claim to be Christians but live like the devil are not saved, and unless their lives show fruit (good works) as evidence of salvation, then it is very…very…very unlikely that they will inherit eternal life (baring a death bed/thief on the cross type of conversion).
Can an apple tree produce pears? Can a palm tree produce grapes? No. Each tree produces fruit after its kind because its fruit shows the plant for what it is. The fact that a tree produces an apple does not make that an apple tree…it already was an apple tree, and now it is showing the fruit and being identified as an apple tree. This picture is so clear. (Matthew 7:16-20; 12:33-37; Luke 8:11-15; 13:6-8; John 15:1-11 to name a few)
As far as salvation being only from God:
Eternal life is referred to in many ways. An inheritance (VERS) and you must only be a child to qualify for the inheritance. Even though the younger of the two sons in Luke 15 (the prodigal son) obviously scorned and hated his father, he was entitled to get 1/3 of his father’s wealth when he died. In the same way, by counting on the deeds and person of his father was he able to be received back and he did not have to “earn” it. Eternal life is also referred to as the result of being born again. Other than the obvious implications (how much work did YOU do when you were born the first time?), the Spirit’s work is described as wind here…you don’t know where it will come from, where it will go, or who it will encounter. By the way, the water listed here is not the referring to the baptism in water as we think of it now, but it refers to an idea of cleansing (see Ezekiel 36:24-27).
Finally (for now, anyway), “We are saved by Grace through faith and works. Not Faith Alone! I invite you to show me anywhere in the Bible where it says that we are saved by ‘Faith Alone.’” Have you ever read Ephesions 2? “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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10) The picture couldn’t be more clear. We are saved by God’s grace through faith and NOT OF WORKS so that we cannot take credit. The good works follow salvation by grace through faith, not as part of the attaining of eternal life.
Referring to salvation again, Paul writes, “But if it is by grace , it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” (Romans 11:6)
Here is my response:
I too enjoy this discussion!
Concerning the opening to your previous comment:
"What a heavy yoke you must bear. To feel the weight of eternity resting on your own efforts and works must be crushing. Either it produces brokenness over how often and easily you fail to follow the commandments or it produces false self pride by thinking “I can do it!” "
It is not a heavy yoke to bear, because Christ makes it light. You see, what you don't understand about Catholic theology is that, yes you feel guilt over how often and easily you break the commandments, but because of the sacrament of reconciliation instituted by Christ Himself, if you confess your sins, you need no longer feel guilt because your sins have been forgiven. And the more you frequent the Sacraments the more Christ grows in you, transforming your life in conformity with His!
Neither do we feel false pride, because we know that nothing we do is our own work, but as I mentioned before, once we are baptized into the death and resurrection of Christ (cf. Romans) the works we do are no longer our own works, rather it is Christ working within us (assuming we cooperate with the grace of Christ. Our free will allows us to reject that grace.).
As for Baptism, I'd hate to say that you called Jesus a liar, but...
Jesus clearly says that one must be born of water and the Spirit (Baptism) in order to enter Heaven in Jn 3:5.
Even Paul, who was converted by Christ Himself, had to be baptized! It wasn't enough for him to just believe in Jesus (which he surely did after Christ appeared to him), he still needed baptism!(cf. Acts 22)
The thief on the Cross received a Baptism by intent. Because he believed and testified to who Christ was, he desired to become a Christian. If he had been rescued from the Cross, the Apostles would have immediately baptized him as they did with all new Christians (cf. Act 10).
For the Catholic Church's teaching on Baptism of intent see the Catechism of the Catholic Church #1259
We become children of God through our baptism:
"but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
The saying is sure. I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men" (Titus 3:4-8).
This is what Paul taught! And he insisted that it be believed and taught...and so it has, in the Catholic Church.
Notice also, that Paul exhorts Titus to have the people apply themselves to "good deeds."
As for the Prodigal Son, he repented and was allowed back into the inheritance.
Catholics do not believe that we can "earn" our salvation as you think. As I told you before, there is nothing we can do to earn God's grace won for us by Christ on the Cross. However, we have to respond and cooperate to that Grace.
Even if we are baptized and say we believe in Christ and yet live a life that is contrary and commit many sins without ever repenting with a contrite heart, we will not see Heaven.
Being "born again" in the Bible refers to being baptized with water. Once again see John 3.
And in Ezekiel, the water mentioned does in fact refer to real water. Ezekiel fortells Christ. The passage you referred to, prefigures Christ's institution of the sacrament of Baptism.
By the way, they also had baptism in the OT. And they used real water, not symbolic water.
I asked you to show me anywhere in the Bible where it says that we are saved by ‘Faith Alone.’
Your reply was:
"Have you ever read Ephesions 2? “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. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)"
Now please read the verses you quoted to me from Ephesians and show me exactly where it says we are saved by "Faith Alone!" You can't because it doesn't.
It says "saved through faith."
It does NOT say "saved through faith alone."
That is a very important distinction!
Oh, and by the way, the "works" Paul speaks of here and in Romans refers to the works of the law (i.e. circumcision). See Galatians to help you understand better.
Notice also that in Romans, Paul begins and ends his letter with the phrase "obedience of faith!" The "obedience of faith" are the same good works that James says without which faith is dead!
If you do come up with anywhere in the Bible (the original hebrew or greek version that is, not Luther's German translation in which he inserted the word "alone" after "faith" to fit his theology.) a verse that says we are saved by "faith alone," please let me know, because as we both could agree it would be a matter of great importance!