Justification Debate

Jimmy Sutton: Sola Fide (black) vs.  A.L.: Faith and Works (blue)


I would like to thank Jimmy for debating with me again. I think we have debated many times, and they are very educational and we can learn more about the Truth more. We have to understand that Catholics believe in justification by faith. It is just that we don't believe in justification by faith alone.

First, the Protestants have to deal with James 2:24. This is where it says that you cannot be justified by faith alone. Typical responses have been, "Well, faith comes first, then works follow." I have to ask then, what if there is no faith without the effect of faith, which is works? Hopefully, the person would say, "the faith is dead." So we have to ask ourselves, can I find an example where a person is saved without an act of faith? If the definition of Sola Fide is faith alone, then charity comes afterward, we Catholics basically agree with the same thing. It is just that Protestants are defining it differently. As James Akin said, "If Protestants define faith alone as 'faith, charity, and love', we Catholics would agree with that."

Another thing a Protestant would have to ask is why didn't put the word alone after faith? As Robert Sungenis has said,

"A thorough study of his epistles reveals that Paul used the word faith and its cognates over two hundred times in the New Testament, but not once did he couple them with the adjectival qualifiers alone or only. Are we to believe that though he intended to teach justification by faith alone, he was never convinced that he should employ the attributes of the word alone to express explicitly what he invariably meant? What would have curtailed him from such an important qualification if indeed the solitude of faith in regard to justification was on the forefront of his mind? A second reason that leads us to pose this critical question is that Paul used the word alone more frequently than did any other New Testament writer. Many of these instances appear right alongside the very contexts that contain teachings on faith and justification.1 Thus it is obvious that even while Paul was teaching about the nature of justification he was keenly aware of the word alone and its qualifying properties. This would lead us to expect that if Paul, who is usually very direct and candid in his epistles, wanted to teach unambiguously and unequivocally that man was justified by faith alone, he would be compelled to use the phrase if he thought it would make his point indisputable. Moreover, since Paul's writings were inspired, we must also acknowledge that the Holy Spirit likewise knew of the inherent qualifying properties of the word alone but had specific reasons for prohibiting Paul from using it in connection with faith." (Not by Faith Alone)

Paul also teaches that the doers of the law will be justified as well (Romans 2). Faith working through love; which is a Catholic doctrine.

Jimmy Sutton:

I want to thank God for this opportunity to show His word without error preached unto everyone with a heart to hear His message UN adulterated. In no way am I committing to this debate to prove myself right and someone else a liar. I do not mean to intend I am smarter or better than A. I am a Sinner once disgraced brought to grace by the blood of Jesus Christ. To Him I am a servant for always.

In giving an accurate answer for James 2:24 I want to move that comparing scripture with scripture is a must, to give the correct interpretation. Indeed if I took only one verse from the bible each and every time I could indeed create a new denomination supposedly "Bible based" and lead poor misguided souls to hell. This is not my intent, however. This verse chosen by A indeed does show you have to have works to have faith, but when compared to what Paul says in Romans 3:28 says entirely the opposite. "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." The faith and works in these chapters are entirely different from each other. Paul speaks of a living faith. James speaks of dead faith. Paul speaks of

works prior to faith, James speaks of works after faith. I do concur that Faith does need a work for it to be true faith. Let us then look to the cross. Jesus completed the only work needed for salvation. If to have faith means to have a work for salvation it is a very squeezed turnip that bleeds such a statement.

I see that Paul's words in Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. Notice the ( used by the bible translator's. I want to let it be known that in such instances in the KJV to make for a harmonious bible and only when they could not translate something they did place a verse that was not known to be in the bible, but to show that they weren't trying to fool anyone and pawn off something that might not be of God they used these such ( ) A good reason the KJV Translators were honest men :>) Let me however get the point made. Why did you leave out Romans 2: 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.17 Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, ? Are you trying to hide Gods truth? It cant be done. Please do a study on these verses and give me your thoughts. Notice no parenthesis on these scripture verses.

Rebuttal #1


The reason why I didn't quote the whole chapter is that it still does not refute what it says. It still says that the doers of the law will be justified. If you read the whole letter to the Romans, you will find that the theme is obedience.

Also, James talks about how Abraham was justified by works, and not by faith alone. In Romans 3:28, it contrasts works of the law and faith. Works of the law are dietary laws such as circumcision. The Jews believed that they can be justified just by doing the "works of the law" without faith. This is actually a great parallel to Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:8-10

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God- not because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We also have to note that this doctrine of Sola fide is not an apostolic tradition. We have a Protestant scholar has admitted that Sola fide is not an apostolic tradition. He writes,

"The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between justification and regeneration. Although it must be emphasized that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the ordo sautis, THE ESSENTIAL POINT IS THAT A NOTIONAL DISTINCTION IS MADE WHERE NONE HAD BEEN ACKNOWLEDGED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. A FUNDAMENTAL DISCONTINUITY WAS INTRODUCED INTO THE WESTERN THEOLOGICAL TRADITION WHERE NONE HAD EVER EXISTED, OR EVER BEEN CONTEMPLATED BEFORE. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification -- as opposed to its mode -- must be regarded as a genuine theological novum." (Alister McGrath on justification and regeneration Iustitia Dei, Volume 1, page 186)

Also, you still have to give me a reason why Paul didn't use the word alone after faith. I would like Jimmy to give me one example where a person is saved with faith without the effects of faith such as repentance, loving, etc.

Jimmy Sutton:

The verse I want to use for a person being saved by faith alone actually took place on the cross. He was one of the two thief's. Let us see the conversation that took place.

Luke 23: 39 And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

In this context we see no works being evident that the thief was able to do to obtain this grant to enter heaven but by faith alone. No works, no baptisms, no sacraments nothing at all but have faith that the thief knew that Jesus had the power to bring him to heaven with Him. Notice that this thief asked Jesus to remember him. To remember what? His works? No, there were not any. The thief wanted Jesus to remember his faith of who he knew Jesus was. Jesus exclaimed that Today "This very day when you pass from this life you shall enter into paradise where I shall be"

As far as Abraham being justified by works tell me this. What about Hebrews Chapter 11. I mean obviously God places a great emphasis on faith indeed. The works they did in that chapter came only through the faith they "FIRST" had. Who would do things for God unless First they have faith that God is who He says He is? I know before I was saved I did nothing for my father. I had no faith and therefore had no works. Please read the great faiths in Hebrews 11and get back tome. I do however want to bring up James 2:24. The bible says "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only." Now on the surface we see that this verse would indeed mean that your faith cant save you. That faith needs works, but does it really mean that when compared with other scriptures and in context. Let us look at verse 23 in James the second chapter. " And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God."

This verse is compared with Romans 4:3 which says "For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Almost the same thing is said in these two scriptures. The point of it is that Abraham was justified before he had any works to go with his faith. Works was not the cause of his faith or justification in anyway. Abraham's works was only a testimony of his faith. It was a sign for others to know of his faith. Humans need signs sometimes. As the bible says by their fruits shall ye know them. Key word is Ye meaning humans. God doesn't require a sign to know ones heart. Let us cross ref this faith Abraham had in the actual account from Gen 15:6 which says "And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Abraham was called a friend of God. Abraham had many talks with the Lord and God made promises to Abraham. Gods promises will never be broken, but if you notice the scriptures that God made promises to Abraham before Abraham was even a follower and had no works to show forth. Abraham was righteous through His "Faith" in Gods promises. Just like Jesus made us a promise that if He goes and prepared a place for us He would come back to get us. The bible is full of promises. Abraham stood on those promises with his faith guiding him. Look to Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Believed God, justified by grace, minus any works we can do.

Romans 3:28 makes mention of generic human. No mention of what race this man is and also not subtracting woman from this verse. Indeed it includes all the inhabitants of the world for all time. A person is justified by Gods grace, Christ work on the cross and through our faith. No works at all. Works for Christ are fruits that come after the root is planted. Have you ever seen a fruit come before there was first a root? Christ is our root to God. Through that root our means of salvation is transferred by our faith fueled by Gods grace.

I am glad you brought up Ephesians 2:8-10 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. If you look at this verse you can see that we were created UNTO good works. God knew before hand who was going to be saved. God mapped out that true Christians would indeed be workers for Him. Only when we become born again John 3:3 are we able to carry out works that are good in Gods sight. We can indeed repent of our old life when we are not saved, but to do a good work is impossible in Gods eyes. We can do a moral work in the eyes of the world but God said that our righteousness is as filthy rags. That's before we were saved. We are righteous now under the blood of Christ alone. Being a saved born again blood washed child of God is a qualification to perform godly and holy works for God.

I want to comment on your commentary of your Protestants views on the bible.

First off Baptist are not Protestant. WE were never in the Roman Catholic church for then we only protested to God for us to be empowered to lead you guys to Christ. I don't follow the works and writings of an uninspired man. I put my faith in Jesus and His words. Nothing less is acceptable. Now in no way am I saying that we are to discard what a Christian says. We are to honor each other in Christ. "Those who are His children" But when it comes to someone being in a contradiction to Gods word I must rebuke them strongly for their error and pray for their return to the truth faith. I also want to say that one has to repent to have faith. In no way does this mean they will be a total sinless person. Even the greatest Christians sinned after they were saved. I believe that people who say you must not sin in order to be saved are nothing more than lying hypocrites employed by Satan. It hurts the Christian movement and makes people think they must be good before they come to Gods throne. Repentance goes hand in hand with faith. Repentance is not a work it is a changing of your mind.

Rebuttal #2


Repentance is not faith. It is an act of faith. The man on the cross showed his faith by trusting on Jesus to remember him. He also stood for Jesus. That is not faith alone. That is faith along with an act of faith. That could be faith working through love.

I have a question. What happens if that root does not grow any fruits? Would the person be justified? If you say that the root NEEDS to grow fruits, I absolutely agree with you.

Jimmy's commentary on Ephesians still does not disprove the works to be needed.

Jimmy also commented on Abraham's justification. What you just said is almost correct. First, Abraham had a good relationship with God BEFORE Genesis 15. Also, you commented on Hebrews, which I was surprised. Hebrews 11 talks about TRUE FAITH; a faith that enables the people of God to do good works. Hebrews 11-12 talks about faith and OBEDIENCE. That is NOT faith alone. You seem to confuse faith and faith alone. We Catholics believe in justification by faith, but not by faith alone. If it is by faith alone, why does it say in Revelation 20:12 that the dead are judged according to their deeds?

Since Jimmy loves to quote Romans 3:28, I think it will be "fruitful" for me to examine Romans.

In the letter, it says, "to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all nations." (Rom 1:5).

Richard White comments: "The term "obedience of faith" is instructive, for it shows that obedience and faith are two sides of the same coin; faith requires obedience and obedience is grounded in faith. He underscores this point by mentioning the "obedience of faith" at the very end of the epistle too (Rom 16:26)"

Lets move on. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, "He who through faith is righteous shall live." (Rom 1:16-17)

Of course, we know that Paul is fighting against the Judaizers who believes we are righteous because we obey certain obligations like circumcision. He calls this the "works of the law". We know that he isn't talking about the commandments because Jesus have said to keep them. Paul refutes them by saying that "he is a Jew who is inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart" (Rom 2:29). The whole epistle is saying to be obedient to the end because as Paul gave harsh words to his opponents

"But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works; to those who by patience well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey the wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows not partially...For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. (Rom 2:5-11,13)

We see that James feel the same. James 1:22-25 - it's the "doers" who are justified, not the hearers. Justification is based on works. Also, it says in Hebrews,

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was to go."(Heb 11:8)

We see the same words faith and obedience here. Protestants interprets justification as once and for all legal declaration, but we see that Abraham was justified (Gen 15) AFTER he enjoyed a positive relationship with God (Gen 12-14). We see how Paul says that they should not boast because of the "works of the law" but should have faith and obey. As he says again in Romans 5:19, "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous." We see that Paul is telling them that Abraham was not justified because he was circumcised, but because he had faith and obeyed God. We see that you NEEDED the works along with faith.

Jimmy Sutton:

As far as the thief on the cross he had no time nor opportunity to "ACT or WORK" upon his faith. His example stands above all others as the TRUE EXAMPLE OF FAITH ALONE. If you have any BIBLICAL evidence for this mans works please refer me to the book, chapter and verse. If not you have failed to show me that he had to do anything but have faith to be granted entry into heaven.

Repentance is defined in one way in the NT. Strongs concordance KJV used of coarse :>) 3341 metanoia - a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done

Please show me where it says it is an act of faith. Do you say that changing your mind is act or a work? That is indeed splitting hairs and cant be proven without a shadow of a doubt. You need to stop showing your relevant truth and give me biblical proof.

As far as or justification look to the book of Acts 13:39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

What we have here is a clear cut case of Gods words speaking for itself. I mean I have agreed to debate you, but Gods word is forever settled in heaven. If you have a problem with what it says honey pray to God about it. :>) This verse shows us that believers in Christ are granted Christ righteousness "blood" that makes us justified without any works. No OT law keeping, no gospel keeping no promise keeping. Bless God the only promise keeping done in this world belongs to God. I fail miserably and my works are not good enough to grant me eternal life. I will be rewarded for my works or rather what I do AFTER I was saved. Justification took place on the cross which Jesus was crucified. All sin nature inherited from Adam in the garden to the ones we confess to the ones we think we keep secret from others.

Now before you get all pious and holy on me and say that I have not an earthly authority on scripture refer to Jesus words as He said he would send us the Holy ghost. Remember that one. I can give you scripture, but is better that you search for it. Maybe you will stumble across more truths from God.

I want you to turn to one verse and with prayer to God alone tell me what this means without your Catechism or popes authority or any church history or words of men.

Romans 8:33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. We commit sin against God. No matter what we do to our neighbor or our family or a stranger we ultimately sin against God. Jesus justified me with His shed blood. God made the laws that I should be obedient not forced into keeping them to be saved but do them because I am saved. Justification stands alone. Justification has no straggler's being carried with it.

Closing Statement


Before I give my closing statements, I would like to answer some of the things Jimmy had said. First, the thief on the cross showed his act of faith when he spoke out against the other thief and asked Jesus to remember him.

Second, Jimmy has given me the Greek definition of repentance. Now, when I said that repentance is an act of faith, I was making the distinction of faith and repentance. Jimmy knows that repentance IS NOT faith. As he said on Rebuttal #1, "Repentance goes hand in hand with faith". We see that he didn't say that faith IS repentance.

Jimmy pointed out,

3341 metanoia - a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done.

That purpose or something he has done is obviously having faith. Now, which comes first: faith or repentance? You obviously don't repent of something unless you have faith first. So is repentance an act of faith? Of course it is. The purpose the person has formed or he has done is faith, therefore faith is an act of faith. But if it is not an act of faith, Jimmy has to define repentance once again before as he knows, it IS NOT faith.

Jimmy quoted Acts 13:39. Well, that says the laws of Moses, which is the "works of the law". I have already spoken on that subject saying that the Judaizers believed they could do the laws of Moses without faith and still be justified. Laws of Moses include circumcision and such.

I will have to ask Jimmy again why the dead are judged according to their deeds. He has not responded to that, nor has he responded to my interpretation of Romans.

Here are other places where it says that works have merit.

Rev 2:2 I know your works, your labor, and your endurance

Rev 20:13 All the dead were judged according to their deeds

1 Peter 1:17 Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one's works

1 Pet 2:12 Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Rom 2:6 who will repay everyone according to his works

Psalm 62:13 . . . And you render to each of us according to our deeds

Prov 24:12 He who guards your life knows it, and he will repay each one according to his deeds.

Mt 5:16 . . . . . that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father

Mt 16:27 For the Son of Man. . . . will repay everyone according to his conduct

Mt 25:31-36 . . . . Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.'

1 Cor 15:58 . . . . . "always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

Heb 6:10 "God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name . ."

James 2:24 "See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."

James 2:26 For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Gal 6:9 "Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest,"

In conclusion, I would like to thank Jimmy for accepting this debate with me. It is a great privilege to spread the great news of justification; that we are justified through faith and works. Faith that is working through love. True faith.

Jimmy Sutton:

The Catholic Gentleman I am debating with has indeed performed well for the Catholic stance on this biblical doctrine. I however will answer the questions he has posed as well as I can biblically.

I am going to take each scripture he has chosen to use and give an answer while leaving some other scripture for thought.

Rev 2:2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

Forgive me not for I have to use the whole verse. This verse in light of its context is speaking of ministers. Not the body of Christ as a whole, but those who are actual ordained preachers of the word specifically like the apostles ect ect. So the works mentioned here are not of all believers.

Rev 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

This verse is speaking of the ones who died under condemnation. The UN believers. They have no chance to goto heaven but their works they performed on earth maybe some acts of kindness might make hell not as bad as others although hell will be bad period. There again not speaking of the ones who are going to heaven.

1 Peter 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

As far as this goes it is showing that all men will be judged. No matter saved or not. No matter who they are God will Judge or rather Jesus. There is two judgments. The great white throne is for the unbelievers the other is for the believers We get judged for what we did after we got saved. We still goto heaven but we will be given rewards for what we did.

1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

This verse speaking of works is saying that we should live a biblical life. Sometimes we are not able to speak to people about God and Jesus. They don't want to hear, but we can always minister by our actions. They will take notice and thus our works will help persuade some to convert.

Romans 2:6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: Not according to what we have done persay but the nature of the work we performed. Saved people do good works because of the grace God bestowed upon us. We have no heart to work for the Lord until we have faith in Him.

There is no Psalm 62:13 in the word of God the KJV.

Proverbs 24:12 If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

Explains there is no excuse in Gods eyes for not doing good works for Him. Read it in context not just by itself. Read verse 11 also.

Matt 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

again speaking of saved people living right before the world for a testimony to the world who are not saved. Nothing but Grace here also.

Matt 16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Speaking again of the damned. The ones who through their bad works take themselves to hell.

1 Cor 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Woks here again shows that our work "The saved" are not in vain. We are that city on the hill that cant be hidden from the world. Our works in many cases causes conviction on unsaved sinners. It moves them because Gods grace is on our lives and they see the power of it from God alone.

Hebrews 6:10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

God will not forget all we have done since we were saved. God is just and able to reward us. Remember the hireling is worth the wage. We being created in Christ Jesus and become new creatures are workers or servants for Him. God doesn't free load from His children.

James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

These works do not attain the justification Jesus bestows upon those who receive Him as Lord and savior. Faith first works second.

James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

when we die our soul leaves our body. Also our ability to perform a work is gone. We are separated from our works, but our justification through our faith is become one with our spirit. Never to leave us Jesus said.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

As Christians we should be willing to do good works all our days. We are saved by Jesus to do good works. God inspired this in the chapter of Ephesians unto Good works. We do these works because we love God for what He did for us through Jesus on the cross. Before I was saved I did not know God or love Him. I therefore would not do a work for Him. I did good works for my own sake of being a good guy.

It is my judgment that the arguments my opponent, however sincere he was, has no biblical basis for a need of works to go with faith to be saved. Those who receive Christ as Lord and savior were justified by Jesus on the cross. The works Jesus performed in His life. We are only righteous because of the merits of Jesus Christ.



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