On Sola FideMany Protestants argue that we are saved by faith alone, and works play no part in our salvation. However, there is an immense amount of scriptural evidence suggesting otherwise. In this post, I seek to cover multiple arguments for and against the doctrine of Sola Fide.
"But Isn't Christ's Blood Enough??"Christ was the perfect sacrifice for our sins. There is no limit on what God can do, or how much grace He can give us. Christ’s blood IS enough. This isn't an issue of whether God is limited or not, but what limits He set in place. Though Christ’s sacrifice and grace are enough, they do not give us free rein to abuse them without following any of God’s commands. We weren’t saved just to be given a Get Out of Hell Free Card, rather, we were saved so we can become new and use our newfound graces from Christ to choose to follow His will. His sacrifice was incredibly merciful by allowing us to no longer be bound to the old law, but we still have laws to follow to receive His gifts. He wants us to prove to Him that we truly wish to follow His will, and not just use His gift to perpetuate our sin and self-servitude. When we go against God’s will we actively deny Him and His gift, therefore rejecting salvation until we choose to repent. We cannot serve two masters, we either serve God fully in both thought and action, or we serve sin fully in both thought and action. We can drag ourselves into Hell with our beliefs AND actions.
Also, on another note, faith and works have nothing to do with Christ’s blood being sufficient. In claiming that there’s no limitations in regards to works, then we can also discard faith being a contingency for salvation, because isn’t His blood enough? However, then we end up with the issue of universalism, and the Bible is rather clear that not everyone will reach Heaven. Plus, as I addressed earlier, it’s not a matter of Christs sufficiency/ alleged insufficiency, but His rules and plans for humanity that we must choose to follow in order to be justified.
Titus 1:16: “They profess that they know God: but ; being abominable, and incredulous, and to every good work reprobate.”
Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”
Faith is DEAD Without Works
<14> What shall it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him? <15> And if a brother or sister be naked, and want daily food: <16> And one of you say to them: Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; <18> But some man will say: Thou hast faith, and I have works: <19> Thou believest that there is one God. Thou dost well: the devils also believe and tremble. <20> But wilt thou know, O vain man, <21> Was not Abraham our father justified by works, offering up Isaac his son upon the altar? <22> Seest thou, that faith did co-operate with his works; and by works faith was made perfect? <23> And the scripture was fulfilled, saying: Abraham believed God, and it was reputed to him to justice, and he was called the friend of God. <24> Do you see that <25> And in like manner also Rahab the harlot, was not she justified by works, receiving the messengers, and sending them out another way? <26>
Works are a sign of faith. If one truly has faith they will do what they can to align their will to God’s. If one truly has love and fear/respect for God, then they’d serve Him faithfully in prayer, penance, evangelization, and other good works. Beliefs are empty if they are not backed by action. What is the point of thinking differently from the world, if one’s actions show the opposite? Not only does this harm others with scandal, but it also sabotages God’s divine plan for us, making us fall short of the greatness we were made for. Good works are a result of true faith, and good works can increase our faith as well.
The Story of the Fig Tree
<12> And the next day when they came out from Bethania, he was hungry. <13> And when he had seen afar off a fig tree having leaves, he came if perhaps he might find any thing on it. And when he was come to it, he found nothing but leaves. For it was not the time for figs. <14> And answering he said to it: May no man hereafter eat fruit of thee any more for ever. And his disciples heard it…. <20> And when they passed by in the morning they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. <21> And Peter remembering, said to him: Rabbi, behold the fig tree, which thou didst curse, is withered away. <22> And Jesus answering, saith to them: Have the faith of God. <23> Amen I say to you, that whosoever shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and shall not stagger in his heart, but believe, that whatsoever he saith shall be done; it shall be done unto him. <24> Therefore I say unto you, all things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive; and they shall come unto you. <25> And when you shall stand to pray, forgive, if you have aught against any man; that your Father also, who is in heaven, may forgive you your sins. <26> But if you will not forgive, neither will your Father that is in heaven, forgive you your sins.
Just like the fig tree, if we do not bear fruit in our lives, we will be cursed. We must fulfill our purposes in life to the best of our ability. Christ does use this tree to demonstrate we must have faith in Him, but He chose to use the fig tree for a reason. This story has multiple lessons. Christ also says if we do not forgive others we will not be forgiven by Him, furthering the idea that our salvation is contingent on our actions.
The Parable of Talents
<14> For even as a man going into a far country, called his servants, and delivered to them his goods; <15> And to one he gave five talents, and to another two, and to another one, to every one according to his proper ability: and immediately he took his journey. <16> And he that had received the five talents, went his way, and traded with the same, and gained other five. <17> And in like manner he that had received the two, gained other two. <18> But he that had received the one, going his way digged into the earth, and hid his lord’s money. <19> But after a long time the lord of those servants came, and reckoned with them. <20> And he that had received the five talents coming, brought other five talents, saying: Lord, thou didst deliver to me five talents, behold I have gained other five over and above. <21> His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant, because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. <22> And he also that had received the two talents came and said: Lord, thou deliveredst two talents to me: behold I have gained other two. <23> His lord said to him: Well done, good and faithful servant: because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will place thee over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. <24> But he that had received the one talent, came and said: Lord, I know that thou art a hard man; thou reapest where thou hast not sown, and gatherest where thou hast not strewed. <25> And being afraid I went and hid thy talent in the earth: behold here thou hast that which is thine.<26> And his lord answering, said to him: Wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sow not, and gather where I have not strewed: <27> Thou oughtest therefore to have committed my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received my own with usury. <28> Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it to him that hath ten talents. <29> For to every one that hath shall be given, and he shall abound: but from him that hath not, that also which he seemeth to have shall be taken away. <30> And the unprofitable servant cast ye out into the exterior darkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Like the master in the story, Christ gives each of us gifts and graces. He expects us to work to the best of our ability to multiply these good things that He has delivered to us. Anyone who does not do his duty commits the sin of sloth, and risks being cast out like the third servant in the story. The third servant lost his salvation by failing to produce good works, thus suffering in hell for eternity where those who were cast out weep and gnash their teeth. (See Matthew 13:42, Matthew 8:12, and Luke 13:28)
"What about Ephesians 2:8-9??"
<8> For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; <9> Not of works, that no man may glory.
These verses are saying that we are saved by Christ’s grace when we put faith in Him. They do not claim that works have no part in our salvation, but rather they say we cannot boast in our salvation. Pridefulness destroys any good works that we do because we are doing them for self-servitude, instead of serving the Lord. If we have works but do not have faith and humility, our works are empty and mean nothing. Faith and works go hand and hand, making each other perfect, just as James 2:14-26 had outlined.
Satan and his demons believe in ChristMozalbete had made this point during a discussion the other night, and I thought it was very good. Demons are proof that our works do determine where we end up for eternity. Satan knew God in Heaven, yet he was cursed to spend an eternity in hell due to his sin of pride. If Satan and the demons can know God and still fall, then who is to say our actions cannot cause us to fall, despite any belief or faith we may have?
The Thief on the CrossSaint Dismas, the thief on the cross who died beside Christ, was saved, even though he was near death and lived a life of sin. Many claim that he was saved in spite of having no good works, but in reality, his work was repentance. In his final moments, he chose to serve God, before it was too late and received the baptism of desire. Though those of us who still have our lives ahead of us (keeping in mind that none of us are promised tomorrow) must do more than just repent in order to please our Lord, the thief on the cross was an extraordinary case. Because Christ does have infinite grace and wishes for all of us to join Him in Heaven those who repent and choose to serve Him in their dying moments can be saved. As long as we’re on Earth it isn't too late. This does not excuse able believers from performing their duties, however, so we must continue working to please our Savior so we can be made worthy of His gift through His grace.
Some Additional Verses
These are more verses that I chose not to cite and address individually for the sake of brevity. They all support the belief that we must repent and perform good works in order to attain the gift of salvation. There are many more verses that support this stance than there are verses that can be used to argue against it. This list is non-exhaustive, and I only added it for easy reference.
-2 Chronicles 7:14