Roman Catholic Asks "Do Protestants Believe That True faith = Faith + Works?"
John Hendryx Answers Roman Catholic
I was recently in an online discussion with a Roman Catholic who made the following assertions:
Ultimately, it makes no difference whether you hold that
faith + works = justification
faith = justification + works
In either case there is no justification apart from good works. According to the reformed view, if you don't have good works, then you don't have the right kind of faith. In other words, according to reformed theology, the equation would be
true faith = faith + works.
Well, there you have it. How does this not end up exactly in Rome? This is also the reason why Rome in 1998 agreed to the doctrine of justification by faith alone. For if "true faith" is really "faith plus works", well then embracing Sola Fide is really faith plus works, and Rome doesn't have to make a move. However, the reformed don't seem to realize that the phrase "faith alone" is utterly meaningless and empty words. Do you really assent to this: true faith = faith + works?
You asked, "Do you really assent to this: true faith = faith + works ?"
Thanks for your question. If you mean does salvation = faith + works the answer is yes, but not my faith and works. It is the faith and works of Christ that saves. My faith and my works have no redeeming value whatsoever.
Unregenerate men can no more obey the gospel than the law, without Christ granting renewal of heart. The saving power of Jesus Christ is not dependant on faith or works being added to what He has done; The saving power of the cross is such that faith and obedience springs from it. To trust in either faith or works is damning for "Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them." (Gal 3:10) The RCC premise is that Christ is not sufficient to save completely so they must add works to His to somehow make up for where His work is inadequate ... And the catch is that these works have redemptive value, according to RCC.
Faith itself is man's act or work and is thereby excluded from being any part of his justifying righteousness. It is one thing to be justified by grace through faith merely as an instrument by which man receives the righteousness of Christ, and another to be justified FOR faith as an act or work of the law. If a sinner, then, relies on his actings of faith or works of obedience to any of the commands of the law for a title to eternal life, he seeks to be justified by works of the law as much as if his works were perfect. If he depends either in whole or in part, on his faith and repentance for a right to any promised blessing, he thereby so annexes that promise to the commands to believe and repent as to form them for himself into a covenant of works. Building his confidence before God upon his faith, repentance and other acts of obedience, he places them in Christ's stead as his grounds of right to the promise and so he demonstrates himself to be of the works of the law and so be under the curse (Galatians 3:10) (Colquhoun)
Paul then on Phil chapter 3:3 gives a definition of a true Christian:
"....we are the [true] circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."
He calls true Christians “the real circumcision”, i.e. the true covenant people of God. There are three characteristics Paul gives of Christians found in verse 3. He says they are those who:
1) Worship in the Spirit of God
2) Glory in Christ
3) And put no confidence in the flesh
In other words, to be a true Christians means to have utterly despaired of all hope in oneself. When the Holy Spirit does a work of grace in someone, He convicts them of their sin. Not just sins, but convicts of the fact that they are sinners by nature and can do nothing to save themselves. This means one who is brought to faith, repents of both their good works and their evil works. Both are equally worthless to God. False teaching, like Romans Catholicism, glories in something other than in Christ alone, always pointing to something that we can do; a resumé we can bring before God to curry His favor.
So again to answer your question. It is the faith and works of Christ that saves us, not our faith or works of obedience, neither of which will ever even come close to pleasing God in any redemptive way. In the covenant in Christ's blood ALONE he remembers not to treat us as our sins justly deserve.