Are we saved by faith or by works?

16 08 2009

Mother Teresa of Kolkata

These are some passages from the Bible that teach us about faith and works:

  • For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
  • What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. (Jam 2:14-18)
  • “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Mt 7:21-23)

In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 161) we are informed: Believing in Jesus Christ and in the One who sent him for our salvation is necessary for obtaining that salvation. “Since “without faith it is impossible to please (God) ” and to attain to the fellowship of his sons, therefore without faith no one has ever attained justification, nor will anyone obtain eternal life ‘But he who endures to the end.'”

Catholics therefore must accept the necessity of faith for salvation. The question for us is ‘what is faith’? Faith is not only an intellectual belief in Jesus. True faith is faith that moves us to repentance, enables us to trust Jesus, compells us to obey God and enables us to have a loving relationship with Jesus. In a way, it is a state of being, a state of our relationship with the Lord.

This kind of relationship with God will certainly manifest itself in good works. St John emphatically says, ‘We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 Jn 4:19-21).

Christ and the Good Thief

The good thief was promised paradise by Jesus because he repented and had faith in Jesus; he did not merit it by good works. Similarly, a person who is incurably paralyzed will not be able to perform good works. However, he too is saved if he is repentant, knows and loves the Lord. This would in turn make him able to love others, and express that love, not through physical service but perhaps through prayers and by offering his sufferings for others.

What is the Trinity?

26 07 2009

Take a look at the video clip in which Father Robert Barron gives us a beautiful explanation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity. The Trinity is a mystery not because it is a puzzle or enigma that we cannot understand, but rather it has a meaning so deep and so vast that the human mind’s able to comprehend a tiniest bit of its truth. It is when we see God face to face (which is beatific vision) that we will grow in our knowledge of God as Trinity and as love.  It’ll take eternity to plumb the depths of this infinite and glorious mystery.

NB. Fr Robert Barron is a sought-after speaker on the spiritual life-from prestigious universities to YouTube to national conferences and private retreats. The prominent theologian and podcasting priest is one of the world’s great and most innovative teachers of Catholicism. His global media ministry called Word on Fire has a simple but revolutionary mission – to evangelize the culture.

Road of Our Lives: Apologetics

24 07 2009

…Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. (1 Pt 3:15-16)

ROLers concentrating

On the evening of Thu, 23 Jul, Edmund Kiu arranged for a group of enthusiastic young adults, all of whom were CHOICE graduates, to gather at St Joseph Parish Centre to discuss questions they are often asked, with regard to their Catholic faith.

A range of questions were addressed during the 2-hour session; some remarked the session was too short! If you want to see what some of these questions were, take a look at the ‘Catholic Faith Q&A‘ tab/page of this blog. The responses to them are being posted slowly. Please be patient.

The session was facilitated by Fr Felix Au.

More ROLers

Are we saved already?

23 07 2009

Cross of salvation

For those who believe in Jesus, accept him as Lord and have been reborn through the waters of baptism, Holy Scripture gives us 3 levels of answers; all are true but they must be understood correctly.

We are already saved through Jesus’ work of redemption on the cross. Objectively, salvation has  been won for us. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor 5:17)

However, we are also being saved. God’s power is constantly at work in the faithful to purify and deliver them from the bondage of sin. Christians are saved on condition they remain faithful to the Gospel preached to them. Through it (the Gospel) you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Cor 15:2 NAB) NB. NIV renders it ‘you are saved’.

We will be saved: Christians must not commit the sin of presumption. Rather, they should manifest confident hope that God will give them the grace of perseverance; that they will respond to divine grace and continually accept the gift of salvation until death. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! (Romans 5:9)

Why Do We Baptize Babies?

5 07 2009

Infant baptism

Fundamentalists often criticize the Catholic Church’s practice of baptizing infants. According to them, baptism is for adults and older children, because it is to be administered only after one has undergone a “born again” experience—that is, after one has “accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.” At the instant of acceptance, when he is “born again,” the adult becomes a Christian, and his salvation is assured forever. Baptism follows, though it has no actual salvific value. In fact, one who dies before being baptized, but after “being saved,” goes to heaven anyway.

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Answering questions about our faith (Thu, 23 Jul 09)

30 06 2009

St Peter's Basilica, Rome

Road of Our Lives

If you have ever felt stumped or uncomfortable with people questioning your faith, this is the session for you. We explore ways to help us clarify our position and Church teachings. Fr Felix Au will help lead discussion.

  • Date: Thu, 23 Jul 09
  • Time: 7.30 pm.
  • Venue: St Joseph Parish Centre

Ask your friends to come along for the session!
For more info, call the youth office : 082-237237