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August 18, 2007 / vivator

All our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)

Isaiah 64:6 is, perhaps, one of the most cited verses to show that we should not (and could not) rely on our own righteousness for our salvation.   Other favourite verse is Romans 3:10 that say no one is righteous.  This leads to the concept of imputed righteousness of Christ to cover our unrighteousness.  It is the concept adopted by Protestants and “Bible only” Christians in their justification.  The suitable model for this justification is courtroom analogy where God is the judge and we are criminals, guilty of committed sins and are about to be thrown to jail (i.e. hell).   God then offers the only solution – He sent His Son, Christ, a free gift from Him, and if we believe in Him, Christ will pay the penalty of our sins.  This courtroom style or forensic justification fits well with Protestant’s belief that we are declared righteous through Justification.  We take Christ righteousness while He takes our sins and bore them on the cross.   This forensic Justification makes no room for purgatory and indulgences in Catholicism – Christ already paid the penalty of our sins, why are we still punished?

Catholics believe that our righteousness does come from God.  By ourselves, because of original sin, we cannot produce any righteous acts.   God, through Christ, helps us to become righteous but it needs our active cooperation.  His help comes in the form of His Grace and this Grace will first move us to do righteous acts.  Using our freedom we decide whether to cooperate with this given Grace or not.   Scripture says: He who does right is righteous (1 John 3:7), indicating our active participation.   Certainly we do need the righteousness that comes through faith (Romans 4:3, 13, Philippians 3:9).  To do what is right includes believing in Christ, but it is not the only one we need.  In Timothy 6:11 and 2 Timothy 2:22 Paul would not bother to ask Timothy to aim for righteousness – if the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ, which Timothy already had as Christian, was the only one he need.  Is being righteous necessary?   Scripture says whoever does not do right is not of God but the children of devil (1 John 3:10) and the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9) while the righteous will go to eternal life (Matthew 25:46).  The Psalmist cried: O LORD, who shall sojourn in thy tent? Who shall dwell on thy holy hill? (Psalms 15:1).  The next verse gives the answer:  He who walks blamelessly, and does what is right, and speaks truth from his heart.    Christ said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6) and “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).  Blessed are those who do righteousness at all times (Psalms 106:3).  Keep in mind that being righteous is not the same as being sinless.  “To do what is right” in 1 John 3:7 certainly includes “to repent” but nobody needs to repent unless he/she sins in the first place.   Scripture says (Proverbs 24:16): “for a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.”

Coming back to Isaiah 64:6 one should read not only that verse but the entire Isaiah 64 to see the context, as well as other part of the Bible In fact Isaiah 64:5 says: Thou [God] meetest him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways.  God blesses the righteous (Psalms 5:12), He loves righteous deeds (Psalms 11:7) and does reward us for being righteous (Psalms 18:20, Proverbs 11:18).  Romans 3:10 say no one is righteous but at the same time Scripture mentions the existence of righteous men and women (Matthew 13:17, 23:29, Luke 1:6, Hebrews 11:4, 1 Peter 3:12).  In Old Testament Noah, Daniel and Job were righteous (Ezekiel 14:14).   No one can become righteous by their own will and power.  We do need God’s grace that first moves us and enable us to do so.  No one can be righteous continually either; we do fail from time to time.  But God helps us with His Grace (and with our cooperation using our freedom) to stand up again and that’s what we call as perseverance.  Thus Catholics believe that our righteousness does come from God through Christ – it includes not only faith in Christ but also other deeds that require our cooperation.     

work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure

Philippians 2:12-13

But by the grace of God I am what I am. and his grace toward me was not in vain.  On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me

1 Corinthians 15:10

Catholics do not use courtroom analogy to model Justification.  The most suitable analogy to describe Catholic’s understanding of Justification is Family analogy.  God is our Father and we are His (adopted) children.  Adoption as sons of God is something biblical that Protestants also believe (cf. Romans 8:15, 23, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5).  However their forensic Justification model cannot fit in the Family analogy.  We are not only declared sons but also made and become sons (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1 & 5:1), become heir with Christ (Romans 8:17) and partake His divinity (2 Peter 1:4).  In Family analogy we receive our adoption through our faith in Christ (Galatians 3:26), not because of any righteous (or unrighteous) things we did – faith in Christ is a free gift from God.  Once belong to the family of God, we have our duties and must obey household rules.  No good human father will tell his children that because they are his, they can do whatever they like and there are no rule to obey and no duty in the house.  At the same time a father won’t tell his friends that his children must work in his house in order not to be thrown out of the house.  Any human father wants his children to grow up and to become good persons, not to become criminals, drug addicts, prostitutes etc. and he is more than willing to help his children to achieve that goal.  For example he is willing to spend money for their education (free gift from him, not student loan).  He spent time with his children to teach them not to associate with wrong companies; he makes sure they are in good health etc.  Obviously his children must cooperate with him and do their part.  Just because the father pays the tuition fee they will not get the degree or skills unless they study.  If they do not listen to their father’s advice they may end up becoming member of gangs or drug addicts.  Any human father will discipline his children for their own good when they do something wrong and reward them for being good (be it ice cream treat, a new bike etc.).  The reward is obviously a gift from the father, not their wages for being good.  Similarly our heavenly Father wants us, his children, to learn, to grow, to do our duty and to become mature, that is, to become like Him (Philippians 2:14).  In the process He will also sometime discipline us for our own good (Hebrews 12:6) and will reward us, a gift from Him, when we well behave.   This family analogy fits well with Catholic understanding of Justification – it is a process through which we are made righteous.



Leave a Comment
  1. Sinjin Smythe / Oct 30 2012 9:06 am

    Uh buoy, talk about your manufactured jibberish.

  2. Alfredo / Oct 11 2012 7:26 am

    You say you are a Catholic but your theology is protestant to the bone, as you discount the value of works and claim faith alone. I have been both and now am neither.

  3. kwame frank seshie / Sep 9 2012 8:17 am

    this is lovely

  4. jablonski1 / May 6 2012 7:34 pm

    How do you explain eph 2:8-9 if it is not by christ alone and also galations 3:1-14

    • vivator / May 15 2012 3:50 pm

      Catholics understand that works in those verses refer to those before our conversion to Christ. Thus Catholics believe that faith (in Christ) is free gift from God – we need neither to do something good nor obey Law (of Moses) in order to receive that gift of faith. Catholics do believe that faith justify but not in justification by faith alone. While those verses employ the words faith they do not say faith alone suffices. Faith (in Christ) is the beginning of our justification and to Catholics Justification is on-going process that includes Sanctification. Protestants, on the other hand, separate Sanctification from (one time event) Justification. Catholics also reject justification by works as stated in Gal 3:10 – our justification comes from grace of God. For more detail you may read:

  5. Lea / Jul 28 2011 9:51 am

    So let me get this straight, when Jesus said “It is finished.” He wasn’t being fully honest? It was ony partially done but not finished? We have to keep trying to obey the law so that we can hope to be truly saved one day? When I am adopted into a family I can’t really consider myself a family member if I screw up but as long as I am perfect it’s all good? That makes no sense. The catholic church is saying that we are justified by faith but only if we are perfect in that faith. In other words, we have to keep working hard to obey all the laws if we want to keep that salvation and we have to die in a sinless state. How is this not a works based salvation? I believe that by God’s mercy grace and love alone Jesus did it all and only in believing in Him and His finished work am I righteous before the Father and believing anything other then that is saying that Jesus’ death and ressurection are not enough. I don’t see any way around this.
    Only the righteous will inherit the Kingdom and Jesus was the only righteous man that ever lived. I’m standing in Him and his works, not my own. Instead of worrying about getting into the race by being righteous, I know that I am in the race (sins are covered by His blood). Once in the race it’s time to work out that salvation by growing in the knowledge of Christ Jesus and obeying out of love and appreciation and not out of fear.

    • vivator / Aug 1 2011 11:40 am

      Dear Lea,
      What did Christ mean when Christ said “It is finished.” What was finished? In Matthew 20:28 He said that the Son of Man came to serve and to give His life as ransom for many (for all in 1 Timothy 2:6). That was His mission on earth and that is what He meant when He said “It is finished”. I understand you tend to interpret His words to mean that we don’t need to do anything but this will contradict what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:24 (RSV): “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ afflictions.” Apparently you don’t read my post thoroughly – if you did then you will realize that there is no such thing as perfectness in Catholic salvation. We sin from time to time and God’s grace always moves us to repent. We will enter heaven upon dying if we die with all mortal sins repented – it depends neither on our good nor bad works (Ezekiel 18:21, 27-28). If we die with unrepented mortal sin, even only one, we will go to hell – no amount of good works will save us (Ezekiel 18:24, 26). Hence it is grace based salvation because we can repent only after being aided by God’s grace, not work based salvation as you falsely charge. You are scripturally wrong to say that Christ is the only righteous person ever lived (this is because you confuse being righteous with being sinless). Scriptural definition of being righteous is given in 1 John 3:7 and Scripture names a number of righteous persons, i.e. Noah (Genesis 6:9, Ezekiel 14:14), Daniel and Job (Ezekiel 14:14), Joseph (Matthew 1:19), Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1:6) and without naming them (Psalms 1:6, 5:12, 34:15, Matthew 5:45, 13:17, 10:41, 23:29, 1 Peter 3:12 etc.). Let me emphasize again that our ability to become righteous is only possible with God’s Grace that first moves us and we cooperate with it – it is not and is never based on our own efforts. Finally When Christ said the righteous will go to eternal life (Matthew 25:46) did He mean righteousness that comes through faith? I recommend you to read Matthew 25:31-46 to find the answer.

  6. vivator / Feb 2 2011 9:55 pm

    Chris, Thank you for the comment. Kindly read my other article (where I compare side by side Catholic and Protestant view on Justification) at:
    Let me know if you think I still mis-interpret your position.
    What you wrote is known as “Lordship Salvation” concept, which is not accepted by some Protestants. Let me comment on your statement “Any attempt to mix the completed work of Christ on the cross with aspects of our own works (religious or moral efforts), as a basis for confidence to stand before God is an entirely false basis.” Catholics do not (and never) believe we are justified by works – this is common mis-perception from Protestants.

  7. wopod / Feb 2 2011 4:56 am

    Thank you for your articulate and well reasoned blog. However I think you slightly misrepresent the protestant position here.

    Luther spoke of being “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” i.e. that though our own righteousness plays no part in our justification – that Christ’s righteousness obtained by faith alone will be accompanied by evidence of a changed heart (i.e. regeneration). Simply put, true faith will produce works.

    Please note that this modern shallow ‘decision-ism’ that proclaims a ‘get out of jail free card’ for anyone who has simply ‘made a decision for Christ’ or and ‘accepted Christ as savior’, is probably as much criticized in protestant circles as in catholic ones. The reformers would have made no bones in proclaiming anyone who willfully, deliberately and unrepentantly continued to sin, and yet still proclaimed faith in Christ, as a charlatan. This picture is not one of true saving faith.

    The message of grace-alone and faith-alone always leads to the accusation that it is open to abuse. If that’s true we can believe and trust in him and then simply turn around and act as we like! The only problem with the argument is that true faith would never make such a turn. You cannot aproach Christ with true faith and remain unchanged in the heart.

    Truly we need to rest our eyes fully, not partially, upon Christ for our salvation! John 6:40 “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

    Any attempt to mix the completed work of Christ on the cross with aspects of our own works (religious or moral efforts), as a basis for confidence to stand before God is an entirely false basis. The only assurance is to stand fully resting upon the completed work of Christ.

    Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, wea have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”

    Or to quote a wonderful hymn

    In Christ alone my hope is found,
    He is my light, my strength, my song;
    this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
    firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
    What heights of love, what depths of peace,
    when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
    My Comforter, my All in All,
    here in the love of Christ I stand.

    In Christ alone! who took on flesh
    Fulness of God in helpless babe!
    This gift of love and righteousness
    Scorned by the ones he came to save:
    Till on that cross as Jesus died,
    The wrath of God was satisfied –
    For every sin on Him was laid;
    Here in the death of Christ I live.

    There in the ground His body lay
    Light of the world by darkness slain:
    Then bursting forth in glorious Day
    Up from the grave he rose again!
    And as He stands in victory
    Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
    For I am His and He is mine –
    Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

    No guilt in life, no fear in death,
    This is the power of Christ in me;
    From life’s first cry to final breath.
    Jesus commands my destiny.
    No power of hell, no scheme of man,
    Can ever pluck me from His hand;
    Till He returns or calls me home,
    Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand

    It remains, through his work and his work alone that the believer is justified! Any other work as a basis and truly we still do, and will, stand condemned before God in the last day! I know these rituals, ceremonies, priestly proclamations, confessionals, can gain such an easy hold on the heart and the conscience. We can easily find hope and comfort in such things but, please my friends open your eyes, it is a false hope and a false comfort! You can never do enough – trusting in such things we will allways fall short. Please give up this trusting in all these other things and come to place your trust in Christ and Christ alone.. all other ground is sinking sand!
    In Christian Love,
    Chris (

  8. Brian / Jan 27 2011 8:31 am

    I think the issue is trying to figure out HOW to get to heaven – by works or faith. The sad thing is when people use the word ‘works’ they forget whether it is merely going through the motions (probably what Jesus and those who came after him meant when they referred to guilty pharisees and scribes) or actually doing what is commanded in the Law. These are 2 different situations that look alike but are very different. Works actually show you have faith in the God that authorized those works. I would hazard a guess and say that this is what the young ruler was lacking when Jesus spoke to him. Doing the commandments of God shows faith – yes – but where is the proof? God knew Abraham was faithful, but He still tested him to prove he did. That you have faith in the saving death of christ makes you a tree. However a tree is useless without fruit (remember the fig tree Jesus cursed?). The fruit in this case is the works.
    Isaiah’s message about our righteous acts being as filthy rags showed that those accused were simply going through the motions. They did not really mean it, and God did not think it was funny either.

  9. Suneal / Jan 13 2011 12:44 pm

    I believe Philippians 1 speaks of the “fruits of righteousness.” “Righteousness” in the NT has a varied semantic range, so to say Protestants are only “legally” inclined or that Luther was, is perhaps not a full appreciation of Luther’s works. The problem sometimes Protestants and Catholics often have is over semantics and words, but beyond that is either “synergism” versus “predestination.” Both Catholics and Protestants claim Augustine as “their own” with regards “grace.”

    If Protestants also accept “born of God” and filial relationing with the Trinity, it is possible that trying to say they are not “filial” whereas as Catholics are is possibly from talking past each other. I will not claim to be an expert in Aquinas, even if I studied him, because chances are unless I believe as he did, I won’t properly appreciate him.

    To sum up, even James when saying a person is “justified by his works and not his faith only,” is referring to “fruits of righteousness,” even though he uses the word “righteousness.” Luther and Wesley and Calvin would then understand this to be speaking of sanctification. “Justification by faith apart from works of the Law,” by the “faith of Christ,” which is a complete gift, results in “new birth,” resulting then in “loving both God and your neighbour,” resulting then in “sanctification,” which then continues to be worked out “with fear and trembling” the rest of our days upon the earth, unless one “abides not in the doctrine of Christ.” I as a Protestant hold that an ontological change occurs after and simultaneous to “justification by faith.” In theology, both after and at the same time are possible, as is the Father begetting the Son, and thereby being the “source” while yet the Son “never was not.” As Wesley would say (a Protestant), new birth takes place after and with justification by faith. Sanctification begins on the heels of this ontological change from “sinner” to “saint,” from reprobate to “child of God.” Even sanctification in the normal sense, as being our participation in it (such as II Cor 7:1 wherein we are to “cleanse ourselves from all filthisness of flesh and spirit”), is not part of “new birth.” Only a child once born is now free to be “a child!” Never before birth takes place can I “please my Father” because quite simply He is not my Father! Once a child, yes, I am to obey, but not as a servant but as a child, born of God, justified by His blood, assured of salvation so that I can say Amen to Jesus’ words, “He who believes the Son, has eternal life.” I have eternal life now!

    This is true Protestant doctrine. Justification as forensic is actually referrent to the person as a sinner, not as a child. It is the first step to God in His infinite mercy taking the Prodical home, then getting the robe, then kissing the sinner child, then putting the ring on his or her finger, totally undeserved, as wretched as that “sinner” is, but now, the wonder of wonders occurs, “Welcome, you’re part of the family!”


  10. RJ / Oct 22 2010 3:57 pm

    A couple of problems with your response (wouldn’t buy a used car from you!):

    The idea of ‘sola fide’ or “faith alone” has never depended on Luther’s translation of Romans 3:28. It is therefore disingenuous to continually appeal to this canard.
    Nevertheless, Erasmus the Catholic scholar and theologian defended Luther regarding this addition of the word “alone” to the phrase “man is justified by faith [alone] apart from works of the Law”(NASB). The translation is justifiable in view of the only alternative, namely justification by works, which Paul expressly repudiated.
    Even some Catholic versions of the New Testament also translated Romans 3:28 as did Luther. The Nuremberg Bible (1483), “allein durch den glauben” and the Italian Bibles of Geneva (1476) and of Venice (1538) say “per sola fede.”

    The bible doesn’t use the word “trinity” either, but the idea is there all the same.
    An unbiased reading of the bible makes clear the concept of salvation by “faith alone.” Romans 4:5-8 is just one example.

    Your ‘rich young man’ example actually proves the opposite of your point. The story shows that the commandments have no role in the salvation process:

    The rich young man approaches Jesus and asks him: “What good things must I do to get eternal life?”
    “Obey the commandments” Christ replied.
    Which ones?” the man inquired.
    Jesus replied, “‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.'”

    “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
    Now Christ, who KNEW his heart (and that he had just lied!), answered: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
    The whole point of this account is that the young man failed the first commandment – “You shall have no other gods before me” – because he cared more about his possessions than God, and walked away.

    Thus Jesus proved that the young man did NOT follow the commandments.
    And I dare say that your own track record of following the commandments is no better.

    That’s why when the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
    Jesus looked up at them and said: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    Get it? With MAN this is impossible (He’s talking about salvation),
    but with GOD all things are possible.

    Your final statement “…in your salvation concept works do play a role, which ironically you keep on denying.” I assume you mean by “salvation concept” the Reformed view?
    If so, I have a couple of questions:
    1)Please quote one Reformer who held to this view that “works do play a role in salvation”?
    2)Please explain the Roman Catholic concepts of ‘condign merit’ and ‘congruent merit’?

    • vivator / Oct 23 2010 9:39 pm

      Dear RJ,
      In Luke 10:28 Christ said: do this [commandments] and you will live. Your understanding of rich young man response makes Christ contradict Himself.
      To answer your first question, below is what Luther wrote, where he stated clearly that works are necessary.

      I reply to the argument, then, that our obedience is necessary for salvation. It is, therefore, a partial cause of our justification. Many things are necessary which are not a cause and do not justify, as for instance the earth is necessary, and yet it does not justify. If man the sinner wants to be saved, he must necessarily be present, just as he asserts that I must also be present. What Augustine says is true, “He who has created you without you will not save you without you.” Works are necessary to salvation, but they do not cause salvation, because faith alone gives life. On account of the hypocrites we must say that good works are necessary to salvation. It is necessary to work. Nevertheless, it does not follow that works save on that account, unless we understand necessity very clearly as the necessity that there must be an inward and outward salvation or righteousness. Works save outwardly, that is, they show evidence that we are righteous and that there is faith in a man which saves inwardly, as Paul says, “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” [Rom. 10:10]. Outward salvation shows faith to be present, just as fruit shows a tree to be good. 

      Luther: The Disputation Concerning Justification, from Luther’s Works Vol. 34, page 135

      To answer your second question go and read my last post on merits.

      • RJ / Jun 20 2012 8:16 am

        Luther, the Reformers, (and the Bible) taught that works are necessary only as PROOF of salvation. Your citation of Luther says it all: “Works are necessary to salvation, but they DO NOT CAUSE salvation, because FAITH ALONE gives life.”

        This is vastly different than the Roman Catholic system of salvation that says faith is necessary but NOT SUFFICIENT for salvation: your works must cooperate with grace. Catholic ‘works’ are a REQUIREMENT; not merely PROOF. This is why Catholic believers who are not pure must go to purgatory for cleansing (for a time indeterminate) before they enter heaven and why further justification can be otained by drawing from the Treasury of Merit, etc. You cannot enter the Catholic heaven until you are inherently worthy, i.e.: “I’m worth it!”

        Luther, the Reformers, and the Bible clearly teach that one enters heaven only because Christ’s righteousness alone, is worth it.

        The bigger question is how Christ’s righteousness is applied to the sinner: is it through an elaborate system of sacraments, a mediating priesthood, a doling out of merit from a ‘Treasury of Merit’, an eventual purging in purgatory, an intercessing Mary…

        …or is it based on the righteousness of Christ alone, by faith alone, through grace alone?

        The Bible supports only one of these two views. Only one of these views teaches that a person can know ahead of time, based on the righteousness of Christ alone, where they will spend eternity. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 Note that this verse speaks to a knowledge of eternal life in the present tense.

        Regarding my earlier question about the Roman Catholic concept of ‘condign merit’ vs. ‘congruent merit’…in particular I could not seem to find anything on the role of ‘congruent merit’ in Catholic salvation – perhaps you could help with a quote from your suggested “last post on merits” regarding this?

      • vivator / Jun 23 2012 9:42 am

        The Reformer taught that Justification is by faith alone and therefore it is one time event – that’s why Luther wrote “faith alone gives life”. Do not confuse Justification with Salvation – they are related but not the same. Luther wrote that works are NECESSARY for salvation – something that is necessary implies that it is REQUIRED for salvation, i.e. it is NOT optional. You don’t need to be a genius or a rocket scientist to understand that. Thus Luther further wrote that faith saves inwardly while works save outwardly (as proof of faith) – thus according to Luther while justification is by faith alone, salvation by faith plus works.
        Ironically you apply your concept of necessary (and required) works to Catholicism. Perhaps you don’t know that Catholics believe we enter heaven directly (or through purgatory) upon dying if we die without un-repented mortal sin. Heaven does not depend on the amount and/or quality of good works we do, though good works are commandments from God, which we must obey as Christ Himself declared in Luke 10:28. For scriptural support you may read Ezekiel 18:21-22, 27-28.
        You need to improve your knowledge on Catholicism. When I was evangelical I heard the same thing you wrote and truths of Catholicism start to appear once I decided to study it directly from the source, not through what Reformer and non-Catholics wrote about Catholicism. Below is the link on my post where I compared side by side Catholic and Reformer position on Justification.
        You mentioned sacraments and priesthood – you are welcome to read and to comment on what I wrote in:

        As for your question on condign merit, you can do your homework simply by googling. We live in information era where getting information (both true and false) is just a matter of clicking your computer mouse. For your convenience below are links from Catholic source. If you want to learn (I am not asking you to agree with) Catholicism learn from the correct source!

      • RJ / Jun 29 2012 6:41 pm

        I thank you for the suggestion to investigate Catholic sources – I quote them whenever possible. In this case they prove you wrong again on a number of counts. Indeed the closer you get to the Roman Catholic system of salvation the worse it looks in comparison to the beauty, majesty, and simplicity of Biblical salvation. There is simply no reconciling the Roman Catholic system of salvation with the biblical plan of salvation, no matter how loose you are with Luther’s language.

        Your splitting of hairs between salvation and justification is unnecessary since Luther taught that NEITHER of them require works.
        “But as faith makes a man a believer and righteous, so faith does good works. Since, then, works justify no one, and a man must be righteous before he does a good work, it is very evident that it is FAITH ALONE which, because of the pure mercy of God through Christ and in his Word, worthily and sufficiently JUSTIFIES AND SAVES the person.” [LW 31:361] [emphasis mine]

        Luther clearly taught works have no role in salvation except as proof of it. See for yourself here in multiple attestations:
        Here is but one excerpt:
        “Again you say: What about the doctrine of good works? Shall this amount to nothing, or is it not a beautiful, praiseworthy thing, when a man endeavors to keep the commandments, and is obedient, chaste, honorable and truthful? Answer: Yes, surely; all this is to be done; it is also a good doctrine and life, provided it is left in the place where it belongs, and the two doctrines are kept distinct, how a man becomes pious and righteous before God, and how and to what end he is to do good works. For although it is necessary to teach the doctrine of good works, at the same time, nay, even before this also must be carefully taught (so that the doctrine of the Gospel and of faith be kept pure and unadulterated), that all our works, however good and holy they may be, are not the treasure and merit, by which we become acceptable to God and attain everlasting life. But it is this alone, that Christ goes to the Father and by his departure merits this for us, and gives and communicates to us his righteousness, innocence and merits; and so begins in us a kingdom that we, who believe in him, are redeemed by his power and Spirit from sin and death, and shall live with him forever. It must not be a righteousness that continues only here upon earth and then ceases; but a new righteousness, which endures forever in the life beyond with God, just as Christ lives and reigns above forever.” [Sermons of Martin Luther 2:147]

        You see thus how human merit means nothing for justification, while the merit of Christ means everything. Justification and salvation is about Jesus + nothing.
        The Reformers taught that faith alone is the ‘instrumental cause’ or ‘ground’ of justification.

        Roman Catholicism on the other hand teaches that the ‘instrumental cause’ of justification is twofold:
        first is the sacrament of baptism; second is the sacrament of penance.
        These works are considered truly meritorious – without them there is no Catholic salvation. Understanding the instrumental cause also eliminates your imaginative rhetoric of “we cooperate but we do not contribute to our salvation.” Trent’s Canon 9: “If anyone says that the sinner is justified by faith alone, meaning that nothing else is REQUIRED to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification…let him be anathema.” The “else” mentioned here is your ‘contribution’ of works, which is required in order to cooperate.

        Of course you will say that Trent doesn’t mean what it says; it means what YOU say it means, now some 450 years later. But we know that Trent’s canons are decisive, and that no Tridentine canon has ever been repealed, nor will it, as you yourself have said “Rome never changes.” As R. C. Sproul put it: “What [Rome] cannot do without radically altering its view of itself, is repudiate or “correct” Trent. Those who look for such a repudiation, or who think they have already found it, are whistling in the dark.”

        About your comment: “Ironically you apply your concept of necessary (and required) works to Catholicism.” Well…let’s have a look at WHO exactly teaches “necessary and required works”:
        The Council of Trent declared:
        “the acts of the penitent himself, namely, contrition, confession and satisfaction, constitute the matter of this sacrament, which acts, inasmuch as they are by God’s institution REQUIRED in the penitent for the integrity of the sacrament and for the full and complete remission of sins, are for this reason called the parts of penance.” [Emphasis mine] Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, pp. 90-91.

        To say that only God gets the credit for these works of man, is silly. If works of merit are really not necessary in the Roman Catholic system, why all the ink about it? Why mention merit at all if it isn’t necessary?

        Donald Bloesch explains: “Merit in the strict sense – works that truly deserve God’s favor (de condigno, i.e., “condign merit”) – is not possible apart from His assisting grace. The Council of Trent held that works BEFORE justifying grace cannot merit grace, but AFTER justifying grace WE CAN MERIT final justification (i.e., eternal life) through cooperating with grace. The Protestant Reformation challenged this whole legalistic schema by contending that no Christian can merit God’s favor.” [emphasis mine] Roman Catholicism: Evangelical Protestants Analyze What Divides and Unites Us, p. 151.

        Yes the merit of the believer rests on the prior and initiatory grace of Christ. But cooperation with that grace yields real merit. To say that only God alone gets the credit for these works is bogus, something that Thomas Aquinas recognized:
        “A man’s meritorious work may be considered in two ways; in so far as it proceeds from his own free will, and in so far as it proceeds from the grace of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be condignity if a meritorious work is considered as it is in its own substance, and as the outcome of a man’s own free will, since there is then extreme inequality. There is, however, congruity, since there is a certain relative equality. For it seems congruous that if a man works according to his own power, God should reward him according to the excellence of his power. But if we are speaking of a meritorious work as proceeding from the grace of the Holy Spirit, it merits eternal life condignly.”
        Question: Does Thomas Aquinas qualify as a “genius” in your estimation?
        Aquinas had the courage to admit this: you cannot claim ‘free will’ while denying that actions produced under that free will are not genuinely yours to claim.

        You wrote: “Catholics believe we enter heaven directly (or through purgatory) upon dying if we die without un-repented mortal sin…”
        You neglected to inform your readers however that an assurance of salvation (as in the biblical promise of 1 John 5:13) was anathematized by Trent. To believe God’s word on this is to commit the sin of presumption!
        The Catholic Encyclopedia defines the sin of presumption:
        “It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God’s mercy and power, hopes for salvation WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING TO DESERVE IT, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them.”
        Apparently Rome wants to be the only authority on matters of eternal security.

        If it is any consolation, I understand your reluctance to embrace wholeheartedly the canons of Trent and other Catholic sources when they contradict you and your evangelically-informed Catholicism. They are indeed abhorrent to the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Instead of denying the authority of your own sources, a more courageous and honest response would be to leave the Roman Catholic church – the church that dies the death of a million qualifications.

      • vivator / Jul 13 2012 10:24 pm

        What you did is you cleverly isolated Catholic Church official statement and made them support you pre-defined belief of Catholicism. You are no different than those who quote Proverbs 31:6-7 to prove that Scripture promotes drunkenness or quote Psalms 137:9 to prove that Scripture tolerates smashing infants against the rock! You keep on insisting that Catholics believe in salvation by works. Below is the first canon of sixth session Trent on the decree of Justification, which you cleverly missed:
        CANON I.-If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.
        You also cleverly missed statement in Chapter 16 which says: nevertheless God forbid that a Christian should either trust or glory in himself, and not in the Lord, whose bounty towards all men is so great, that He will have the things which are His own GIFTS BE THEIR MERITS”. If you work you won’t call your salary as gift from your company, will you?

        Your attempt to quote Luther statement only proves that Luther contradicted himself WITHIN HIS LIFE TIME, not in 450 years. One time he declared works are not necessary for salvation and later he declared they are necessary i.e. they saved us outwardly. IMHO such person is not worthy to follow! You are right that the Church does not change her dogmas – that is what the true Church is supposed to be.

        Catholics do believe that baptism is necessary for salvation (and so did Luther) simply because the Bible says so – just read Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21. You might be surprised to know that Calvin taught through Baptism all sins (past and future) are forgiven, though he warned his followers not to take this as license to sin (Institute of Christian Religion Book 4 Chapter 15). That should explain why there is no Sacrament of Reconciliation in your Calvinist bsed church despite of Scriptural proof that Christ gave authority to His apostles to forgive sins. If all sins are forgiven through Baptism as taught by Calvin, why bother to have and to go to confession? You may not believe such thing, which means you revised the teaching of the founding father of your church after 450 years. We can expect that in the future somebody else will revise the current teaching of Calvinism and all claim that their revised teaching is scriptural!

        As I expect you confuse cooperation with contribution. In John 9:6-7 Christ asked the blind man to go and wash in pool of Siloam. Can the blind man claim he contributed in his healing because he followed (i.e. cooperate) Christ’ instruction?

        Let me ask you does Scripture say God rewards us for our good works? There are ample verses from Scripture, both Old and New Testaments saying that God does reward us for our good works. He who respects the commandment will be rewarded (Proverbs 13:13). The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me [Psalms 18:20]. Look to yourselves that you may not lose what you have worked for, but may win a full reward [2 John 8]. Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done [Revelation 22:12]. Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven [Luke 6:23]. Does Scripture say the rewards of our good works include eternal life? Again, the answer is YES. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment [John 5:28-29]. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life [Romans 2:6-7].

        Catholics do believe in condign merits (means worthy of merits) but contrary to your predefined belief of Catholicism, we condignly merit our rewards because God promises to reward us, not because we deserve it as shown by many Scriptural verse quoted above. Remember Catholics believe we cannot do good works unless we are moved by God’s Grace. Again you cleverly missed Trent statement from chapter 16 on the decree of Justification: “For, whereas Jesus Christ Himself continually infuses his virtue into the said justified,-as the head into the members, and the vine into the branches,-and this virtue always precedes and accompanies and follows their good works, which without it could not in any wise be pleasing and meritorious before God.” Aquinas was right when he wrote “But if we are speaking of a meritorious work as PROCEEDING FROM THE GRACE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, it merits eternal life condignly”.

        Your analysis of Catholic teaching on sin of presumption shows how “clever” you are. Copied and pasted from your comment it says: “It may be defined as the condition of a soul which, because of a badly regulated reliance on God’s mercy and power, hopes for salvation WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING TO DESERVE IT, or for pardon of his sins without repenting of them.” When Catholics go to confession they must truly repent in order to receive forgiveness, not just simply tell the priest their sin like laundry list.

    • Brian / Jan 27 2011 9:13 am

      Your statement about not buying a used car from the previous dude is funny. So is this quote from your response:

      “…Now Christ, who KNEW his heart (and that he had just lied!), answered: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” ”

      I especially like your comment in brackets. Pardon me if I am misreading you but would you have me believe that Jesus loved the guy because he had just lied? It looks like what you just wrote.

      When you write: “…The whole point of this account is that the young man failed the first commandment – “You shall have no other gods before me” – because he cared more about his possessions than God, and walked away…” I have to ask who told you your take on it is true. The writer said he walked away because he had great wealth. How does that in any way say he considered his wealth more important than God (where is it written that Jesus told the ruler that he was God in any way, shape or form)? What part of the commandments say one should sell all that he has and give to the poor and follow the prophet God was currently using?

      Like I have written before, if we can do nothing on our own in terms of salvation, then it does not matter if we have faith in Jesus or not. God gives the faith and God saves. If we have to exercise faith in Jesus, it means we have to do SOMETHING of ourselves to be saved. That is (according to me) part of ‘works.’

      Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

  11. vivator / Oct 22 2010 7:21 am

    Thank you for your comment. Scripture no where says we are saved by faith alone – unless you use Luther’s German translation where he added the word alone in Romans 3:28. Let me clarify that Catholics DO NOT believe we contribute in our salvation. Our salvation comes from His grace, i.e. His grace moves us to believe in Him and in Christ and to obey His commandments – this is close to whta you wrote “through this ingrafting with Christ (Jn 15) that we can do anything good, and even then it is not we who are doing it but God working in us to will and to act according to His good purpose”. If obeying God’s commandments is not necessary then Christ would not ask the rich young man to obey commandments. I guess that you follow the so-called “Lordship salvation” which can be summarized as “salvation is by faith alone but faith that saves is never alone, i.e. it is to be accompanied by non-optional works of regeneration”. To put in simple words, in your salvation concept works do play a role, which ironically you keep on denying.

  12. meg00k / Oct 20 2010 7:34 am

    It’s been a year since this post. How’s the whole being righteous thing working out for you?

    The difference, Isaac, is whether there’s something you have to do to get eternal life.

    A man once asked Jesus what good thing must I do to get eternal life. Jesus replied, why do you ask me what is good, there’s only one who is good, obey God’s commands. The man asked him which ones. Jesus said, you know, the 10 commandments. The man claimed to have been doing those. No problem. Jesus looked at him and loved him. To be complete, sell everything, give it to the poor, and come follow me, said Jesus. But the man couldn’t do it. Jesus said, it’s so hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. The apostles were astonished and asked, then how is it possible at all? Jesus said, with man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19.

    If there’s something we have to do, if our salvation is up to us even a little bit, boy are we screwed. My friend said, you have to believe. I asked “how much?” Believing comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God. Belief is not an action. It is fact.

    We’re saved by grace through faith, not through anything we do. Ephesians 2:8-9. Unfortunately, many people stop reading there. The next verse continues, for we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do the good work God prepared for us in advance that we might walk in it. v. 10. It’s through this ingrafting with Christ (Jn 15) that we can do anything good, and even then it is not we who are doing it but God working in us to will and to act according to His good purpose. Phil. 2:13.

    So you can claim you participated with God in achieving righteousness. Whatever. Believe in Jesus, obey his command of love, and I’ll see you in heaven. But I wanna be there when you explain to Christ your contribution to your own salvation. =)

    • Brian / Jan 27 2011 8:46 am

      I will have you know that you just agreed that you have to do something to contribute to your salvation. You have to have faith, you have to believe. If you say that it is a free gift from God and that you have nothing whatsoever to do with it, then you have to allow that people will be damned because God did not give this gift to them. It was not their fault.
      You should know that works perfect faith in the sense of the passage. That the ruler did all the commandments showed he had great faith. If that was enough, why did Jesus require more? Abraham had great faith in God, but God required more. Note the promise that was given AFTER Abraham (almost) performed the work of sacrificing Isaac.

      Can we leave the salvation to God already? God says he will have mercy on whoever he wills.

  13. Isaac / Jul 1 2010 9:43 am

    How does this debate affect the way we live our lives?
    What would a person living by a “goodness comes after justification” point of view look like?
    What would a person living by a “goodness is essential to justification” point of view look like?
    It seems to that if two different people were to live out these two viewpoints perfectly, they would look the same.
    It is important to have a correct understanding of the gospel but I am inclined to believe that the conflict in this issue is only in the way it is worded.
    Both schools of thought seem to end in the same actions.

    • Brian / Jan 27 2011 8:30 am

      Isaac, I read your comment and I thought to myself that your point is a very valid one.

    • Richard Jacobs / Apr 2 2011 12:19 pm

      Me, too, Isaac. 🙂 Frankly, I’m having a hard time telling what the argument is, here. But, then, what do I know. Maybe I’m just another dumb (un-Catholic) Bible-believing Christian. :\

  14. vivator / Apr 25 2010 3:04 pm

    Dear John,
    If you read my post thoroughly you will note that Catholics consider rewards from God as gift, not as something we deserve like ther servants in Luke 17:9.
    You quoted Matthew 25:14 and Ezekiel – this means you don’t believe in salvation by faith alone because according to you you need to share the gospel of salvation in Christ and we need to instruct an unrighteous person to repentance.
    Eph 2:8 says we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. Catholics have no problem with this verse because we believe faith is free gift from God, i.e it comes from His Grace – we don’t have to do anything good or to become good person in order to receive this precious gift. God gives this precious gift of faith to us, irrespective of our behaviour, whether we are good or evil persons.

  15. John Mulvihill / Apr 21 2010 11:28 pm

    I came across a few verses that really hit home.
    Luke17 9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. 10So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

    Well doing is expected of all, saved or not. But the work that God would have us do is revealed in the parable of the talents (Mathew 25:14). Not to hide our faith, as the wicked servant, who knowing God, knowing God’s word, did not act upon his faith to share the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. Unfruitful faith. Ezekiel says that our hands are covered in blood if we do not instruct an unrighteous man to repentance.
    Quoting Christ; If you are ashamed to confess me before men, I will be ashamed to confess you before my Father in Heaven.

    Proverbs11:30 …he who wins souls is wise.
    As mentioned previously… Ef2:8 saved by grace, lest any man should boast…
    Got Jesus, got salvation. Ain’t got Jesus, hell to pay. Christ was the propitiation for our sins.
    Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
    -God Bless

  16. Iminawe / Feb 4 2010 10:39 pm

    Amen to LeeJohnston. How can we in ourselves try to earn God’s favor? It is a gift, which is why it is the good news. It is God’s Love story written to us. Jesus. That’s where are righteousness lies and Praise God that it does!

  17. Lilly / Jun 25 2009 10:23 am

    We do good things not for the sake of salvation, but in obedience to God and out of love for others.

  18. leejohnston / Mar 20 2009 8:07 pm

    Well I think that there is a very strange thing going on here.

    Your saying you put your faith in Christ and your adopted as a son and made to be a obedient son basically.

    This is pretty much no different from the protestant perspective.

    You put your faith in the FINISHED work of Christ, you repent (turn away from mentally all false hopes such as self-righteousness) and your justified, you upon that time, become a new creature in Christ (which is described romans 6) where the new birth is described and you start to bear the FRUIT of the Holy Spirit and the new creature you’ve become in Christ thus producing outwardly good works.

    If you look at Rom. 6 It’s not a fact that the apostle is telling us “die to sin!”, “stop sinning so that grace may abound” he’s telling us that it’s already TAKEN place in believers. He’s stating the facts of the new birth. Rom. 6:11 : therefore you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus,

    Romans 6:6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

    It’s no longer enslaved! If you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, your sealed unto the day of redemption.

    Read 1 Corinth chapter 6:
    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous [2] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, [3] 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

    [Now most Roman Catholic apologists stop here and say: “Look! Works + faith! required!”]
    Please read the next few verses 🙂

    11 And such WERE some of you. But you WERE washed, you WERE sanctified, you WERE justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

    Romans 8:30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified(heaven).

    I mean it’s plain from scripture.
    If you get justified YOU WILL be glorified.

    How do you get justified? Good works? no… Romans 4

    23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.

    5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we [1] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

    When roman catholic apologists also bring up james 2:24 they dont look at the context. From James 2:14 onwards it’s not talking about justification like paul is talking about. He means the same as John did in 1 john 2:

    3 And by this we KNOW that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.

    It doesn’t say this is HOW we come to know him, or this is how we CONTINUE to know him. This is how we can know that we have come to know him. It’s a great joy to believers to have their assurance from seeing these verses then looking at how radically their lives have changed from disobedience to obedience, not by special effort, but by being born again, by being a new creature in Christ upon faith.

    Thanks a lot I know I wrote a lot, but please look at the way the verses are constructed and take the entire bible into perspective instead of your tradition + out of context verses like james 2;24 which is ALWAYS used.


    • Joel / Feb 2 2012 1:27 pm

      Thank you sir,
      you saved me from having to write another giant boring counter argument to yet another misguided roman catholic. The Righteous shall live by faith.

      • vivator / Feb 6 2012 9:14 pm

        Catholics have no problem with that verse because it does not say “the just shall live by faith ALONE”.

  19. Jonathan Fisher / Nov 20 2008 10:22 pm

    Trusting in Jesus Christ and what he did on Calvary is the only way to Heaven. Please interpret the Bible literally. When God says that All our righteousness is as filthy rags, that exactly what He means. God is not interested in confusing us, He wants us to understand that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And that NO man cometh unto the Father BUT BY ME. (Jesus)

    Jonathan Fisher

  20. JLH / Oct 19 2008 9:03 am

    Why is this site titled viva catholic? Are you not Christians instead of Catholics or Protestants? So there should be no further divisions among you.

    Paul said, “I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought… One of you says,’I follow Paul’; another, ‘I follow Apollos’; another, ‘I follow Cephas’; still another, ‘I follow Christ.’ Is Christ divided?”

    You are wasting time on petty arguments that could otherwise be spent reaching people for Christ. Think of what Christians could do if they all worked together, instead of allowing the devil to divide them.

  21. Owen / Jul 12 2008 6:06 pm

    Not sure what John’s point was in quoting Ephesians 2. Catholics have no problem at all with the truth presented in these verses.

    Just finding my way to this blog and as a former protestant minister I am finding it most interesting.

  22. John / Feb 17 2008 11:07 am

    Ephsians 2
    8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

  23. vivator / Aug 20 2007 7:18 pm

    Scripture says that through Christ we are made righteous (Romans 5:19). If we are made righteous, then we are righteous like Christ as stated by 1 John 3:7. In my post I wrote “we are not only declared son but also made and become sons”. Noe also that the martyrs in Revelation 6 were given white robes after they enter heaven. Revelation 19:8 uses fine linen to symbolize the righteousness of the saints – it would not say so it their righteousness is external righteousness of Christ imputed on them. This does not mean Protestants ignore “being made righteous” but to them it is the outcome of Sanctification, which is not part of their Justification. Catholics, on the other hand, consider Sanctification as integral part of Justification. Pilgrimarbour pointed correctly that the Reformers always saw the need for righteous acts on the part of believers as evidence of the regenerative, saving work of Christ through His Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, not all Protestants agree with this – for the detail refer to my earlier post “by faith alone but not by faith that is alone” (category Salvation or Justification).

  24. Jeff Pinyan / Aug 20 2007 8:03 am

    I’ve read Rev 6-7 just now, and I’m not sure those are the same groups of people, else John would have known who they were. Those who were martyred for their witness to God and those who had “come out of the great tribulation” (7:14) don’t necessarily seem to be the same group of people.

    I could be wrong, though, if the “great multitude” (7:9) was simply the full “number of their fellow servants and their brethren” (6:11). I’ll have to study that again.

  25. Pilgrimsarbour / Aug 19 2007 9:31 pm

    Just responding to Jeff above: Of course, the martyred believers in Revelation 6 were “given” white robes, so we should be careful how far we go with such analogies.

    9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. 10 They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

  26. Pilgrimsarbour / Aug 19 2007 2:03 pm


    I found your site linked to a post on my friend Tiber Jumper’s site. Thank you for your article. It is well written and worth reading.

    The differences between Catholicism and Protestantism are fairly clear and mostly accurate. However, I see no inconsistency between the declarative act of the Judge and the fact that He is judging those who are His children. In fact, the reason we can be called His children is because of His declarative act: the two cannot be separated. It seems to me that the “Courtroom vs. Family” paradigm is a false dichotomy.

    I would also note that 1 John 3:7 says:

    “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.”

    It does not say “Whoever practices righteousness becomes, is made righteous…” The Protestant position is that he does right in gratitude because he has been declared righteous.

    The Reformers always saw the need for righteous acts on the part of believers as evidence of the regenerative, saving work of Christ through His Holy Spirit.



  27. Jeff Pinyan / Aug 19 2007 11:34 am

    The guests to the wedding feast in Matthew 22 weren’t handed wedding clothes with their invitations; nor did those in Revelation 7:14 ACQUIRE cleaned robes, but rather they washed THEIR robes clean in the blood of the Lamb. A clean garment over a filthy smelly one becomes filthy and smelly. We need to be made clean, not declared clean.

  28. tiber jumper / Aug 19 2007 8:30 am

    Thanks for this post. I hope more folks could appreciate this important concept, courtroom vs family.

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