Rebuttal: No, Catholics Read the Entire Chapter of John; Not Just One Verse!
John 3:16 - Jesus says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whomsoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life."
In My Words
First, the Catholic view of salvation is not faith plus works, if 'works' is defined as purely human efforts to win God's favor. Catholics believe in salvation by grace alone, yet grace must not be resisted, either before justification (by remaining in unbelief) or after (by engaging in serious sin). Read carefully 1 Corinthians 6, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 5.
Second, nowhere in the Bible is the expressions "justification by faith alone" or "salvation by faith alone." The first expression was invented directly by Martin Luther; the second expression was created by Luther's implication. Luther inserted "alone" into the German translation of Romans 3:28 to give credence to his new doctrine. Yes, John 3:16 does speak of the saving power of faith, but in no sense does it diminish the role of obedience to Christ in the process of getting to heaven.
In fact, it assumes it. Just as Fundamentalists overlook the rest of the chapter in connection with what being born of water and the Holy Spirit really means--they ignore the water part, which refers to baptism--they also overlook the context when interpreting Christ's words about obtaining eternal life in John 3:16. In John 3:36 we are told, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. “This expands on John 3:16. It is another way of saying what Paul says, "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23).
Although we cannot earn God's unmerited favor by our good works, we can reject his love by our sins (that is, by our evil works) and thereby lose the eternal life he freely offers us in Christ (source). Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless - see James 2:20.
The Simple Catholic Response Is:
“Yes, I have been born again—when I was baptized.” In fact, Jesus’ famous “born again” discourse of John 3:3-5, which is where we find the words “born again.” Scripture, teaches us about the essentials necessary for salvation: Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? “Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit (Jesus does not say water or the spirit, it is both), he cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is the correct teaching of the Catholic Church, its doctrine on baptism, born of water and the spirit. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:16-20).
Keep in mind Jesus never wrote anything down on paper, he taught orally, what he handed down to his apostles is the tradition, it’s the New Testament writers who wrote down some of the oral teachings of Jesus, and it’s the tradition which interprets the writings correctly, they go hand in hand. If one is removed from the other it's half-truth, you need to take both into account in order to arrive at the fullness of truth. The apostles Peter and John confirm St. Paul’s teaching. In Acts 2, when St. Peter is preaching at Pentecost, his hearers ask what they must we do to be saved, and he replies, "Repent and be baptized." Two other clear accounts are Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, and Peter’s immediate baptism of Cornelius and his household in Acts 10.
The pattern in Acts is consistent: preaching, repentance of the hearer's, belief in Christ, and immediate baptism. Why would this be the case if the apostles did not believe that baptism was both effective and necessary for salvation?
The truth is, it is the grace of Christ alone that saves us by our cooperating with that grace in fulfilling the “law of Christ.” This is precisely what St. Paul teaches in Galatians 3:2-3, 5:2-6. In the liturgy of the Eucharist at every mass the Church professes “Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”; happy are those who are call to the supper of the Lamb. (John 6:35-71)
If one believes in Jesus as savior, is that the end of it, is that good enough, many people say I believe in God, scripture tells us that even the demons believe in God yet they tremble (James 2:19). Was not Abraham our father justified by works, his faith was active along with his works (John 2:22). So believing in Jesus is not all there is to do. In order to believe in Jesus we must do (works) what he tells us to do (John 2: 5), Jesus commands us, it’s not a request or if you want to do it, we must do, in obedience to the one God has sent. God sent Jesus, Jesus sent his apostles; his apostles sent their successors the bishops and priest.
THE FIRST CONVERTS: ACTS 2:37-47
“What shall we do?” Is the question asked to Peter and the other apostles? And Peter (the authority) said “Repent and be baptized” “for the forgiveness of your sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Repent (change heart, acknowledgement of guilt, conversion). The Sacrament Baptism is being born of water and the spirit, (1 Peter 3:21), “baptism now saves you”, not a removal of dirt, but an appeal to God. Baptism is a sacrament because it actually does what it says it does, it’s an urgent desire raised to God for a clear conscience. It removes sin from the soul, and initiates us into the Family of God. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; baptism opens the birth canal/door which provides an entrance for the Spirit to enter the soul which is Grace. On a side note, notice to whom the question was asked to, and how scripture names Peter specifically and Peter also answer them in authority.
It is necessary to realize, this is no small thing to the Jews of the time; Peter is always listed first among the Apostles, since he is their leader. “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, since they had only been baptized with water” (Acts 8:18). A difference is made here from Acts 2:38, the Spirit in baptism takes an invisible role, and in laying of hands the spirit is called down and takes a visible role and more profound role of maturity, the Church calls this action the Sacrament of Confirmation, the Holy Spirit being confirmed in the individual, since they were only baptized by a deacon (Phillip).
CCC 1287: This fullness of the Spirit was not to remain uniquely the Messiah’s, but was to be communicated to the whole messianic people. On several occasions Christ promised this outpouring of the Spirit, a promise which he fulfilled first on Easter Sunday and then more strikingly on Pentecost (John 20:22, Acts 2:1-4).
Jesus tells us to:
Receiving the body and the blood unworthily makes us guilty of his body and blood and brings judgment upon ourselves. The Eucharist is NOT a cracker nor is the blood grape juice. Paul tells us to examine ourselves before receiving the body and blood of Christ. If the Eucharist is only a sign, Paul would make no sense; for what significance is in a cracker or grape juice? See: 1 Cor 11:23-30.
"And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist] ... For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh" (Justin, Martyr year 100-165 AD).
If someone sins after he was baptized. We must be reconciled to God through the appeal of the ambassadors of Christ, who was given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18-20), Go tell it to the church.