Jesus Associates Works, Merit, & Heroic Sacrifice w Salvation

Jesus Associates Works, Merit, & Heroic Sacrifice w Salvation November 10, 2018

I’ve already noted how He did this in the case of the rich young ruler: which passage appears immediately before the one we will shortly examine:

Now here is what our Lord and Savior and His disciples say after that famous incident:
Luke 18:26-30 (RSV) Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” [27] But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” [28] And Peter said, “Lo, we have left our homes and followed you.” [29] And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, [30] who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
This is also biblical evidence in favor of the evangelical counsels, and the heroic sacrifices of priests, monks, and nuns, and any individual who voluntarily renounces anything good in and of itself, for the sake of the kingdom. St. Paul teaches: “The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife” (1 Cor 7:32b-33) and says that the single state would secure an “undivided devotion to the Lord” (1 Cor 7:35).
The most striking thing in the passage above (one of many) is how the acts are directly tied to salvation itself.  It starts with an inquiry about salvation and how to attain it, and ends with a proclamation that those who do the things mentioned will receive eternal life. But it’s not a denial of the importance of accompanying faith (I hasten to add). I would contend that faith is clearly implied in the act or forsaking things in order to follow Jesus as a disciple (i.e., in the context of His three-year ministry).
That said, what is specifically mentioned is leaving things in order to follow Jesus (house, wife, brothers, parents, children) and “for the sake of the kingdom of God”. These are, of course, good works, but of a particular kind: penance or renunciation or voluntarily suffering for the kingdom. And they are meritorious: with rewards not only in heaven but also “manifold more in this time.”

All of this is very Catholic indeed, over against Protestant teaching, which renounces merit, good works as directly tied to justification and salvation (in grace and with faith), and also the notion of penance and redemptive suffering. But there it is in Scripture, and it is not an uncommon theme at all, as I have shown in several other related papers:

Paul vs. Calvin: “Doers of the Law” Will be Justified 


Armstrong vs. Collins & Walls #8: Heretical Tobit? (Alms & Salvation)

St. Paul on Grace, Faith, & Works (50 Passages)

Grace, Faith, Works, & Judgment: A Scriptural Exposition

Bible on Participation in Our Own Salvation (Always Enabled by God’s Grace) 

Bible on the Nature of Saving Faith (Including Assent, Trust, Hope, Works, Obedience, and Sanctification)

Justification: Not by Faith Alone, & Ongoing (Romans 4, James 2, and Abraham’s Multiple Justifications)

St. Paul’s Use of the Term “Gift” & Infused Justification

New Testament Epistles on Bringing About Further Sanctification and Even Salvation By Our Own Actions

Philippians 2:12 & “Work[ing] Out” One’s Salvation

“The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves” [National Catholic Register]


Photo credit: Calling of the Apostles (1481), by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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