There is a misunderstanding of the Two Covenants, but it is in the sense that one is works based and the other is not.
On the contrary, they are both faith based, as Scripture attests. Read Heb 11 and see annotated therein, the list of the Old Testament faithful, who obeyed and did the works of God, by their faith. They are put there as an example for us.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
2 For by it the elders obtained a good report.
3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.
4 By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, …
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable.
13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Those who have enough faith, will do the works which God wills for them to do. Old Covenant or New.
James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
So, what is the difference between the Old and New Covenants? It’s illustrated in this parable:
Matthew 20:1 For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard.
2 And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
4 And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way.
5 Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?
7 They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.
8 So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.
9 And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny.
10 But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.
11 And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house,
12 Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.
13 But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny?
14 Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.
15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.
The first set of laborers, are those who do not accept the Sacraments. They will work their entire life, but will not be judged until they come to the Judgment Seat of Christ. At that time, those who claim salvation by faith alone, will be Judged by Christ. Whether they are truly saved, they will learn at that time.
The second set of laborers, are those who accept the Sacraments. Those who take them seriously, repent of their sins and do their best to obey God before and after receiving the Sacraments. They receive the Sacraments and are credited with righteousness for believing that God will keep His promises and for hoping in God for their salvation. Judgment comes to them in this life, everytime they approach the Altar:
1 Peter 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
God only saves those who do His righteous works, whether it be through the Sacraments or at the Judgment Seat. Both Covenants are based on faith. And in both Covenants, faith without works, is dead.
Recently, someone on the internet said that once a man is justified, he becomes a saint and can no longer sin willfully. This is a Reformed doctrine which comes from a misunderstanding of St. Paul’s Teaching that salvation is “not by works.” But that is all it is, a misunderstanding. Read more…
Faith in works to obtain salvation is not faith in Christ.
Faith in works? Really?
Let’s see if that is true. When has any Catholic proclaimed themselves saved by works? Name one. Some of you were once Catholic, so I suppose that your parents were or maybe, are still, Catholic. Ask them if they have declared themselves saved because of their works.
Ok. If you are honest, you will admit that we deny that we are saved in this lifetime. Again, if you are honest, you will remember that when you were Catholic, you were told that we do not know if we are saved, but we await God’s judgment of our deeds.
True or not?
If a Catholic were to declare himself saved because he did so many good works, then that Catholic doesn’t know his Catholic faith.
Ok. Now, let’s look at those who claim to be saved by faith alone. There’s many of you. You roam the streets asking people if they are saved and when they say that they don’t know, you pounce and say, “I am saved by my faith alone!”
But that isn’t faith in Christ. That’s you declaring your faith in yourself. Here’s the proof.
You say that one is saved unto good works. Because, you say that faith which does not provide good works is not a saving faith. Ok. If your faith is a saving faith, what works do you have to your credit to prove that your faith is a saving faith? How many works must you do in order to prove that your faith is a saving faith? If you can’t provide any proof, why do you declare yourself saved?
I’ll tell you why. Because of your exceedingly great faith, in yourself.
A well known example is that of the thief on the Cross who had no time for works, but was with the Lord Jesus and the Father that very same day.
We view that differently. The Thief on the Cross, whom we know as St. Dismas, produced many works of faith. Here are just a few:
1st. Jesus is sovereign God. His Word is law. So, therefore St. Dismas went straight to heaven after he died, according to Christ’s word. HOWEVER, note that St. Dismas didn’t die immediately upon Christ’s word. But continued to suffer even after Christ died. Why? I’ll list the reasons below:
2. Christ does not contradict His own Word. Scripture says:
1 Peter 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
Therefore, St. Dismas had to expiate his sin before he went to heaven. Jesus knew this, therefore He did not permit St. Dismas to die before he suffered sufficiently upon his cross (John 19:31-33).
3. Scripture also says:
Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Note that St. Dismas died in union with Christ. Compare him to the other thief who died in disunion with Christ.
4. Scripture continues:
Matthew 10:32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
Note that St. Dismas also confessed Jesus before men (Luke 23:39-41).
5. Note also, that St. Dismas did a work of gold (1 Cor 3:10-15). His confession is memorialized in Scripture for eternity and has converted many men to the Faith of our Lord, Jesus Christ (James 5:19-20).
And St. Dismas went straight to heaven, in accordance with all the Teachings of the Catholic Church.