Saturday, August 3, 2019

Does 1 Corinthians 13:2 Refute Justification By Faith Alone?

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a post written by Roman Catholic apologist Joe Heschmeyer titled Salvation by Faith Working in Love. We begin this critique with an excerpt from the author:

          "Now, the first two, even by themselves are meritorious. Romans 4:3 reminds us that by Genesis 15:6, Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” But from this must come the third part of faith — the obedience of faith. After all, James 2:19 notes that even the demons have these first two forms of faith."

          A faith that motivates a person to do the things of God, by definition, involves trust. Demons believe that God exists, but refuse to place their trust in Him. 

          "So Abraham is faithful not because he has just the first two forms of faith, but because he has all three. Protestants often claim that you can’t have the first two forms of faith without the third, but this is wrong — as noted, the demons do."

           Obedience done in faith does not constitute what faith is itself. Such is a consequence of faith, which is the "instrument" of justification. Faith is not inherently meritorious. It bestows no benefits to a man, if left by itself. Faith conveys the presence of merit because of what it rests on: the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He Himself has standing before God.

          "First, Paul says that faith without love is nothing. And second, Paul speaks of the various spiritual gifts a bit later in the chapter, and says that love is greater than faith. Now, from Luther’s perspective, if you truly believed Jesus was Lord, that faith would necessarily result in love and good works. But here, Paul’s talking about people for who that just isn’t so. They believe that Jesus is Lord, they perhaps even believe He’s calling them to love, but they just don’t."

          The Apostle Paul does not set forth moral commandments without grounding them in our identity with Jesus Christ. Calls for believers to love each other are based on being united in the family of God. We receive a new identity in Christ prior to becoming one of His followers. Love is the greatest of all spiritual gifts because it endures forever. We long to encounter God in eternity. Our faith and hope will reach their designated goal as we enjoy fellowship with God.

          "In the context of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is explaining why out of faith, hope and love, “the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). He’s comparing real faith with real hope and real love, and saying that love still greater, because real faith, by itself, isn’t enough.

           The Apostle Paul says that the Christians at Corinth have been washed, sanctified, and justified (1 Corinthians 6:11). This description has been given in the past tense. Paul's exhortations flow from this statement. The context of this passage is not about us meriting our salvation before God.

          "The KJV version of Galatians 5:6 nails it: “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Paul’s phrase, also translated “faith working through love” sums everything I’ve said up succinctly: for faith to be worth anything, it must not be mere belief, or even belief combined with trust, but belief, trust and loving obedience.

          Interestingly enough, the Roman Catholic New American Bible has this footnote on this passage from Galatians 5:

          "The Greek for faith working through love or “faith expressing itself through love” can also be rendered as “faith energized by (God’s) love.”

          Faith is the root. Love is the product of that faith. It is evidenced or made manifest by our love. Galatians 5:6 is not inconsistent with the doctrine of Sola Fide because it affirms that the performance of good works follows a change in heart.

          "So where Luther was wrong was that he believed that all true seeds of faith eventually bore the fruit of good works, so that as long as you had a seed, you knew you’d eventually have fruit. That’s not true. The parable of the sower appears in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8 — in all three versions, the exact same seed is thrown, and yet depending of the soil (the disposition of the hearer of the word of God), it either dies out at once, grows and then dies out, or grows and bears fruit.

          The Parable of the Sower relates to the preaching of the gospel and what people do with that message. The seed is to be identified as the gospel. Good works will always spring forth from genuine faith because it is God who works in us to accomplish His will.

           Sola Fide does not stand in opposition to human emotions or displaying fruit of the Spirit. So, this argument does not hold water. The idea of a saving faith existing apart from love for God is totally foreign to Scripture.

No comments:

Post a Comment