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Sola Fide [Faith Alone? No!]

Action required

Mt 7:21must do God's will; judged on actions
Lk 6:46-49must do God's will; judged on actions
Jn 5:28-29must do God's will; judged on actions
Mt 19:16-17for life, keep commandments
Jn 14:15Jesus: keep my commandments
1 Cr 9:27Paul strives to avoid sin
Ga 5:6faith working in love is key
Ja 1:21-27doer of the Word's work blessed
Ja 2:17faith without works is dead
He 10:26-27avoid sin
Rm 8:12-13avoid sin
1 Tm 5:8man that fails to provide denies faithFaith without action is worse than no faith at all, it is a "denial of faith" and the man is "worse than an infidel". Harsh words for those who think that faith alone will get them into heaven.
1 Jn 2:3-6keep commandments
1 Jn 3:24keep commandments
1 Jn 5:3keep commandments
Ja 2:20faith without works is deadJames repeats: faith without works is dead. It is vanity to think otherwise.
Ja 2:26faith without works is deadA third time James makes this important point.
Mt 7:26-27Without action, destruction

Big picture

Jn 14:15Jesus: love me? then act
1 Cr 13:2faith without charity is nothingThe greatest, most complete faith, capable of moving mountains, is but nothing without love. Apparently, "faith" does not operate alone.

Moreover, Paul uses the word faith and its cognates over two hundred times in the New Testament, yet he never qualifies them with the adjectives alone or only.
1 Cr 13:13The greatest is charityThe three great virtues of faith, hope and charity, yet charity is singled out as the most important. Apparently, "faith" is not at the top of the pecking order.
Pp 1:29Not faith alone, suffering tooNot mere belief, but also bearing the cross

Protestant case

Mk 5:36Only Believe [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingThis verse is often abused to argue that "faith alone" suffices for justification. However, God only declares here that he requires a faith in his almighty power for the performance of miracles, and that without this necessary predisposition, he will not do any miracles. Compare with Mark 6:4-6.
Lk 7:50A faith that saves? [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingAnother verse which Protestants hope proves that "faith alone" is salvific. But one merely has to consider the entirety of this story to see that this is not so. Before Christ spoke these words to her, he had said: many sins are forgiven her, because she hath loved much. That is, she was justified not so much through her faith, as her charity. She had faith of course, or she would not have come to Jesus. But it was her faith, working through charity, that justified her. This is precisely the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Nor does the woman believe, even for a moment, that her faith alone has saved her as so many Protestants believe of themselves. So why does Christ say that her faith has saved her? The answer is simple and has been given by many: namely, that faith is the beginning of salvation. But had she not also loved deeply and acted on it, her faith would have been for nought.
Ga 3:6Faith alone? [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingIs Paul affirming Abraham's justification by faith alone? In context Paul is talking about the Law of Moses. Paul's argument here is that Abraham was reckoned as righteous before "the Law" existed, thus "the Law" isn't strictly necessary. Paul is not arguing for "faith alone" but merely referring to a pre-Law OT passage where Abraham is declared justified.

Furthermore, the OT event Paul references is God's promise of a son to Abraham. No act beyond faith was even possible. Years later, Abraham must act on God's command (i.e., the sacrifice of Isaac). God says he knows Abraham's faith, NOT when Abraham accepts God's command, nor when he prepared for the journey, nor when they arrived at the designated site, nor when the altar was built, not even after Isaac was bound and laid on the altar, but only at the very last moment when Isaac was under the ready sword, i.e., faith alone was insufficient. [Genesis 22:10-12]
Gn 15:6belief as righteousness [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingIn isolation, this verse says Abram's faith justified him. But 3 points to remember:
  1. The particular event in view was God's promise of a son. No proof of faith (work) by Abram was needed. So concluding that work need never accompany faith is unwarranted. See the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22, for example, when Abraham's "faith alone" was insufficient. His action was necessary for God to "know" his faith.
  2. The credit given Abram was not described as sufficient for salvation, nor as a permanent effect.
  3. Abram's faith is addressed by James [Ja 2:17-26]. He points out that Abram's faith, alone, was insufficient because even demons believe and are fearful of God. Abram many times showed his faith through action. And thrice James declares that without these works faith is dead (compare: James 2:17, James 2:20, James 2:26).
Lk 5:20Jesus acts on their faith? [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingIt is important to note that this verse does not say Jesus "knew" but rather "saw" their faith, obviously implying that their faith "in action" (for this event is remarkable in part for the extraordinary efforts of the man's friends) was what Jesus saw. Otherwise, if Jesus "knew" their faith, they could have just stayed home with their inactive "faith" alone.
Mt 7:22-23Work is iniquity? [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingIn isolation, Protestants hold this citation against the Church, sometimes by contorting "work iniquity" [KJV] to imply "work is iniquity." Yet by looking at Mt 7:21-24, the tenor changes dramatically, putting "works" in context. Miracles and prophecy are sometimes brought forth through bad men (e.g., Pharoah, Balaam, Caiaphas, etc.). Obviously such a "work," no matter how glorious, does not imply (let alone guarantee) their salvation. Only a life lived in conformity with faith, acting through charity, is salvational.
Ga 2:16faith not works [1]verse used to challenge Catholic teachingProtestants often misuse this verse to deny that works play a role in Salvation. Galatians 2, however, concerns the Jewish Law, and the works required by it. See especially verses 12-21. Paul is arguing that performing "works of the [OT Jewish] Law" is no longer necessary for Justification because the new salvational economy wrought by the death of Christ replaces it. For if Justification was available through the "works of the [OT] Law", then the death of Christ was in vain for it was unneccessary.

Role at Judgment

Mt 16:27works weighed at judgmentHere the works of "every man" will be accounted at judgment.

Yet nowhere in Scripture does the it say that man will be held to account at judgment for his faith.

For more, see Good Works [play a role].
Mt 25:32-46Jesus damns believers without worksHis words for those who did not have charity and did not act: "Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels." Harsh words for those who think that faith alone will get them into heaven.
1 Cr 3:8-9rewards according to labor
2 Cr 5:10works have merit at judgment
Rm 2:6-13works have merit at judgment
Ga 6:1-10works have merit at judgment
Rv 20:12works have merit at judgment
Ja 2:24man justified not by faith aloneThis is the only place in the bible where the words "faith alone" appear. And they are preceded by the words "NOT BY" so that no one is confused. This is one reason why Luther wanted this book removed from the Bible.
Ja 5:20earning forgiveness


[1]: verse used to challenge Catholic teaching