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Author Topic: "salvation by works"?  (Read 2170 times) Average Rating: 0
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Tikhon.of.Colorado
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« on: December 10, 2010, 05:27:30 PM »

so, I understand that to hopefully receive salvation from God, we must confess our sins, be good Christians, yada, yada, yada  Wink  but, I was just reading my Bible, and I'm afraid I have some questions about this that I hope someone will explain!

this is the verse I read that's confusing me:  Ephesians 2:8-9  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast"

I am the very image of confusion right now!

thanks for the help!
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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2010, 06:21:06 PM »

Man is justified by works, not by faith alone.  Faith without works is dead.  From the brother of our Lord, James.

I think that there is a misunderstanding of exactly what "Grace" is.  Salvation is impossible without God's Grace.  If He did not will our Salvation, it would not occur.  There is no amount of works that we could do to unify with God unless He wanted to unify with us.  By His Grace, Salvation is possible.  So, Paul is correct when he says that we cannot be saved by works apart from Grace.  However, God also demands some things of us.  He askes that we Believe and be Baptized.  These are actions on our part.  Works, if you will.  If we have true Faith in God, we will be compelled to do good works in His honor and for His Glory.  Consequently, if there are no works, inclouding simply having Faith in God, there is no Salvation.  Is Salvation possible without works simply by God's Grace?  Certainly.  Everything is possible with God.  But that is not the set of rules that he gave us to play by.
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2010, 06:31:17 PM »

Here is an excerpt from St. John Chrysostom's fourth homily on Ephesians, which deals with this passage:
Quote
Ver. 8. For by grace, says he have you been saved.
In order then that the greatness of the benefits bestowed may not raise you too high, observe how he brings you down: by grace you have been saved, says he,

Through faith;

Then, that, on the other hand, our free-will be not impaired, he adds also our part in the work, and yet again cancels it, and adds,

And that not of ourselves.

Neither is faith, he means, of ourselves. Because had He not come, had He not called us, how had we been able to believe? For how, says he, shall they believe, unless they hear? Romans 10:14 So that the work of faith itself is not our own.

It is the gift, said he, of God, it is not of works.

Was faith then, you will say, enough to save us? No; but God, says he, has required this, lest He should save us, barren and without work at all. His expression is, that faith saves, but it is because God so wills, that faith saves. Since, how, tell me, does faith save, without works? This itself is the gift of God.

Ver. 9. That no man should glory.

That he may excite in us proper feeling touching this gift of grace. What then? says a man, Hath He Himself hindered our being justified by works? By no means. But no one, he says, is justified by works, in order that the grace and loving-kindness of God may be shown. He did not reject us as having works, but as abandoned of works He has saved us by grace; so that no man henceforth may have whereof to boast. And then, lest when you hear that the whole work is accomplished not of works but by faith, you should become idle, observe how he continues,

Ver. 10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

Observe the words he uses. He here alludes to the regeneration, which is in reality a second creation. We have been brought from non-existence into being. As to what we were before, that is, the old man, we are dead. What we are now become, before, we were not. Truly then is this work a creation, yea, and more noble than the first; for from that one, we have our being; but from this last, we have, over and above, our well being.

For good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.
Not merely that we should begin, but that we should walk in them, for we need a virtue which shall last throughout, and be extended on to our dying day. If we had to travel a road leading to a royal city, and then when we had passed over the greater part of it, were to flag and sit down near the very close, it were of no use to us. This is the hope of our calling; for for good works he says. Otherwise it would profit us nothing.

I'm of the mind that this passage should be taken together which such passages as
Quote from: Romans 5:8 (KJV)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

As Chrysostom says, God did not reject us as having works, but as abandoned of works He has saved us by grace. Before, we were "children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). We were "dead in our sins" (Ephesians 2:5).

We had no works which could justify us, and yet:
Quote from: John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Note that Chrysostom sees the passage in Ephesians as referring to baptism. Now, when each of us was received into the Church, was it because of our good deeds? No. God, in His infinite mercy and love, saved us by grace through faith. What is required for baptism is to have faith in Jesus Christ.

Baptism is, like our first birth according to the flesh, totally gratuitous. It is not our work, but God's.

Quote from: Ephesians 2:5 (KJV)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

This should remind you of the baptismal hymn "as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia", which comes from Galatians 3:27.

God created us in baptism unto good works.

In baptism, we die with Christ and are raised with Him in glory: we are SAVED; but then we must "work out our salvation"; we must make Christ's victory over sin and death a personal, existential reality in our life through ascetic struggle against the passions, putting to death continually the old man so that Christ may live and reign in our hearts.
Quote from: Romans 6:3-13 (KJV)
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him , that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Of course, the whole life in Christ continues to be actuated by grace, but this does not exclude our effort. The Orthodox doctrine is synergy, that is, that we work with God.
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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2010, 07:49:44 PM »

We are saved by the work of Christ, and our acceptance of it through faith, which is not just some passive thing, but the very essence of our spiritual life. Just as faith without works is dead, so are works done without faith. Repentance, humility, and striving for virtue are all works, none of which can be done without God.
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2010, 08:09:38 PM »

"See how a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." - James 2:24
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2010, 08:45:33 PM »

The Bible often speaks vaguely or hyperbolically. The Tradition of the Church clears up some of that vagueness.

It is God who offers salvation. He is the author of salvation. He takes the first step of reaching down to us (revelation and incarnation). There is nothing we could have done to merit this, or to make salvation happen on our own. But we must accept this gift, and worthily live our lives as grateful men.
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2010, 10:43:38 PM »

Here is an excerpt from St. John Chrysostom's fourth homily on Ephesians, which deals with this passage:
Quote
Ver. 8. For by grace, says he have you been saved.
In order then that the greatness of the benefits bestowed may not raise you too high, observe how he brings you down: by grace you have been saved, says he,

Through faith;

Then, that, on the other hand, our free-will be not impaired, he adds also our part in the work, and yet again cancels it, and adds,

And that not of ourselves.

Neither is faith, he means, of ourselves. Because had He not come, had He not called us, how had we been able to believe? For how, says he, shall they believe, unless they hear? Romans 10:14 So that the work of faith itself is not our own.

It is the gift, said he, of God, it is not of works.

Was faith then, you will say, enough to save us? No; but God, says he, has required this, lest He should save us, barren and without work at all. His expression is, that faith saves, but it is because God so wills, that faith saves. Since, how, tell me, does faith save, without works? This itself is the gift of God.

Ver. 9. That no man should glory.

That he may excite in us proper feeling touching this gift of grace. What then? says a man, Hath He Himself hindered our being justified by works? By no means. But no one, he says, is justified by works, in order that the grace and loving-kindness of God may be shown. He did not reject us as having works, but as abandoned of works He has saved us by grace; so that no man henceforth may have whereof to boast. And then, lest when you hear that the whole work is accomplished not of works but by faith, you should become idle, observe how he continues,

Ver. 10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.

Observe the words he uses. He here alludes to the regeneration, which is in reality a second creation. We have been brought from non-existence into being. As to what we were before, that is, the old man, we are dead. What we are now become, before, we were not. Truly then is this work a creation, yea, and more noble than the first; for from that one, we have our being; but from this last, we have, over and above, our well being.

For good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.
Not merely that we should begin, but that we should walk in them, for we need a virtue which shall last throughout, and be extended on to our dying day. If we had to travel a road leading to a royal city, and then when we had passed over the greater part of it, were to flag and sit down near the very close, it were of no use to us. This is the hope of our calling; for for good works he says. Otherwise it would profit us nothing.

I'm of the mind that this passage should be taken together which such passages as
Quote from: Romans 5:8 (KJV)
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

As Chrysostom says, God did not reject us as having works, but as abandoned of works He has saved us by grace. Before, we were "children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). We were "dead in our sins" (Ephesians 2:5).

We had no works which could justify us, and yet:
Quote from: John 3:16 (KJV)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Note that Chrysostom sees the passage in Ephesians as referring to baptism. Now, when each of us was received into the Church, was it because of our good deeds? No. God, in His infinite mercy and love, saved us by grace through faith. What is required for baptism is to have faith in Jesus Christ.

Baptism is, like our first birth according to the flesh, totally gratuitous. It is not our work, but God's.

Quote from: Ephesians 2:5 (KJV)
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

This should remind you of the baptismal hymn "as many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia", which comes from Galatians 3:27.

God created us in baptism unto good works.

In baptism, we die with Christ and are raised with Him in glory: we are SAVED; but then we must "work out our salvation"; we must make Christ's victory over sin and death a personal, existential reality in our life through ascetic struggle against the passions, putting to death continually the old man so that Christ may live and reign in our hearts.
Quote from: Romans 6:3-13 (KJV)
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? [4] Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. [5] For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: [6] Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him , that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. [7] For he that is dead is freed from sin. [8] Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: [9] Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. [10] For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. [11] Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. [12] Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. [13] Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.

Of course, the whole life in Christ continues to be actuated by grace, but this does not exclude our effort. The Orthodox doctrine is synergy, that is, that we work with God.
thanks so much!  this really mends my confusion!  I really appreciate you all here on OC.net.  your like the shepherds who keep the young (converts) sheep on the straight path!  thanks for not letting me stray!  Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2010, 10:49:30 PM »

"See how a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone." - James 2:24
I love it!  thanks for that!  I'd like to add one thing:  "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" - James 2:26

thanks so much for directing me there!  that whole chapter is full of words on works without faith alone.  it really helps!  Grin   

I'm absolutely going nuts with my highlighter!
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2010, 05:06:59 AM »

What would we become with faith alone?

"...if I have all faith... but have not love, I am nothing." -1 Cor 13:2
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2010, 12:40:28 PM »

What would we become with faith alone?

"...if I have all faith... but have not love, I am nothing." -1 Cor 13:2

That passage is probably the most telling.  Is there any greater work than to Love your neighbor?  Is there any harder, more difficult work than to Love your enemy?
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2010, 05:00:44 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

^^ amen amen, I adore quite a few of the responses of this thread and have nothing to add except this:

The concept of Grace is to explain that our Christian activity in worship is not strictly obligatory, in a legalistic sense.  Remember the Church evolved spiritual from Judaism and Hellenistic legalistic traditions, where religion is the result of law.  Under Judaism, the religious worship of Liturgy involved obligatory sacrifice of animals and prayers and tithes, people participated in their worship because theologically they had too.  In Christianity, in a strictly legalistic sense, none of us are required to do anything to be saved by God.  More specifically, Christology explains that there is nothing you can do to buy your way into Heaven or buy redemption/salvation through good works and faithful participation of the divine economy of the Law and ritual sacrifice. This is why the Apostle Paul explained in several places that the Law was outdated, because it of itself was not a pattern for Salvation, rather a damage control religion which God gave us temporarily until the full mechanism of Salvation would be established in the operative Grace of Jesus Christ.

We participate in the Divine Mysteries, not to earn God's love or attention or Salvation, but rather to provide ourselves the opportunity under the economy of Free Will to enter voluntarily into God's Grace, and to allow Him to operate in our lives towards healing and Salvation.  It is not that Baptism or receiving the Eucharist automatically or mechanically provide God's salvation, rather they are the mechanisms which God uses to impose His Grace upon us.  Just as a road may lead to a destination, but does not automatically get you there without an outside force of conveyance, so to is the divine Way of the Holy Tradition.  The Way itself does not get you to salvation or eternal life, rather it is the map, the guideline through which we can mutually cooperate with God's Grace to get to our destination.

Just as it is the gas in the car combined with the skill of the driver and planning of the road which get us conveyed from point a to b, all operating in unison, so to does the Grace of God combined with the prayerful effort of the seeker and the efficacy of the roadmap of worship (the Way) gets us to communion with God.

Props again to all the responders in this thread, I enjoyed reading everyone's inspiring and edifying contributions Smiley

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2010, 07:22:15 PM »

so, I understand that to hopefully receive salvation from God, we must confess our sins, be good Christians, yada, yada, yada  Wink  but, I was just reading my Bible, and I'm afraid I have some questions about this that I hope someone will explain!

this is the verse I read that's confusing me:  Ephesians 2:8-9  "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast"

I am the very image of confusion right now!

thanks for the help!

Trevor,
First I have not read everyone's post so I hope you and they will forgive me for 'copy-cat'-ing. Shanghaiski gave a good response and let me simply reword it for posterity (for my benefit as much as anyone else's). We are saved by a dynamic Grace which in turn spawns a dynamic Faith. By this I mean we chase after God with every part of our being  We know that we can never do anything that will match what God has done for us, we do it anyway. We are happy to pathetically chase after him BECAUSE WE LOVE HIM! This is in stark contrast to passive acquiescence which in turn leads to thinly veiled self love ("God made me among the Elect so in some way he treasured me above so and so").  
The analogy that sticks out in my mind is this, right or wrong: I was never a very strong swimmer. When I was app. 9 years old I was swimming at the beach with my dad. He constantly stayed out of my reach but kept daring me to swim closer to him, ever moving away from me. However I know now like I did the that he would never let me drown. How much greater is this with our relationship to Christ! We can never, ever reach him by our own strengths. However he his always there challenging us to love him enough to reach out to him  and always there to catch us if we falter. So to simply ponder going after Christ is not enough. We have to want it enough to take a risk. This is the nature of true living, saving Faith.

Second point:
I have effectively said this before. Protestants and Orthodox Christians are constantly looking for angles to 'prove' the other's  counterfeit nature "They" accuse "Us" of 'adding to salvation' or 'trying to earn our way into Heaven'. Like wise "We" accuse "Them" of 'dead faith' or something like it. Both accusations are absolute crap and a product of pride. Don't forget that Trevor.
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2010, 03:28:30 AM »

Well, I'm the last person to be giving advice (I haven't been to church in a long while, either) but as far as I get it nothing you do saves you. The point of all the "stuff" seems to be to cultivate the love of God and his commandments, love for our neighbors and fellows in Christ in your mind and soul - so you are receptive to God and holy things. Which is why something like iconoclasm is insufficient and the most iconoclastic societies are failures from a Christian perspective. It is a scientific fact for example that children learn through experience, if they do not have love, if they are not spoken to and treated as humans after a certain age their brains loose the ability to learn to the speak and they never really can learn to be a completely (or remotely) normal human being. So outside tools, symbols and interaction are a necessary part of any didactic, and everything in the Church is like a didactic system that turns our souls towards Christ.

I could be completely wrong and perhaps you should ignore what I say though.
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2010, 03:08:58 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

The point of all the "stuff" seems to be to cultivate the love of God and his commandments, love for our neighbors and fellows in Christ in your mind and soul - so you are receptive to God and holy things. Which is why something like iconoclasm is insufficient and the most iconoclastic societies are failures from a Christian perspective. It is a scientific fact for example that children learn through experience, if they do not have love, if they are not spoken to and treated as humans after a certain age their brains loose the ability to learn to the speak and they never really can learn to be a completely (or remotely) normal human being. So outside tools, symbols and interaction are a necessary part of any didactic, and everything in the Church is like a didactic system that turns our souls towards Christ.

Amen Amen!

"With out love, you are nothing at all." Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus

Stay Blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #14 on: December 13, 2010, 04:42:12 PM »

Salvation involves synergy, i.e. our will and energy and God's will and energy working together as one in a relationship predicated on faith and grace, not on us trying to buy our way into the Kingdom, which would be works salvation. There is no conflict between salvation by faith and grace alone and the necessity of works in salvation. We must simply remember that every good gift comes from above, and that includes our own good works.
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« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2010, 06:44:44 PM »

Salvation involves synergy, i.e. our will and energy and God's will and energy working together as one in a relationship predicated on faith and grace, not on us trying to buy our way into the Kingdom, which would be works salvation. There is no conflict between salvation by faith and grace alone and the necessity of works in salvation. We must simply remember that every good gift comes from above, and that includes our own good works.
Pretty good.

In case there is some Calvinist lurking, no the first part does not mean we only want 'half a savior' or something like this which I head before.
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« Reply #16 on: December 13, 2010, 07:25:42 PM »

Salvation is work, not "works."


Selam
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« Reply #17 on: December 13, 2010, 07:32:46 PM »

As a Catholic priest once said the only work that saved anyone was Christ's. However as I believe I mentioned earlier, Faith is dynamic, not vapid or weak.
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« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2010, 06:47:35 AM »

You would be surprised. When I was Prot, in a large non-denominational church (Vineyard), I heard things that would make your skin crawl.

A well-educated, intellectually aware Protestant who has respect for historical Christianity will naturally agree with the "Clearly faith without works is dead, so works must then be an important thing in the Christian life" but some day-to-day teaching in the Protestant world, particularly among non-denoms, can get seriously hairy.

I once had a guy (in this late thirties, who had gone to "Bible college") tell me that paying more attention to regular repentance during Lent [as I was doing that year--I shared this with a "small group"] was ridiculous because "there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus" and true Christians no longer have the ability to sin. Everything they do, no matter what, is "a glory to God". This was a guy who was in a minor leadership position, and he addressed this opinion to the whole group, who nodded along. I didn't care that he was giving me the verbal smackdown--I was just so shocked by that, I wanted to ensure it was addressed so false teaching didn't spread.

When I went to my Vineyard pastor (this is a guy who ran a Bible study institute & a Christian publishing company, and who has a doctorate in theology) about this, he told me [in a very gentle nice way, he's not a bad person] that I should remember that all people interpret the Bible in their own way, and I should respect that. The implication was that this guy's view was within the bounds of "orthodoxy" (as it were) and that it wasn't worth getting worked up over.

I thought I was going to spontaneously combust and/or faint. I left that church a few weeks later.
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« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2010, 08:52:36 AM »



I once had a guy (in this late thirties, who had gone to "Bible college") tell me that paying more attention to regular repentance during Lent [as I was doing that year--I shared this with a "small group"] was ridiculous...

I thought I was going to spontaneously combust and/or faint. I left that church a few weeks later.

I have to say I kind of agree with this guy. I do understand the reason for Lent and Advent, but not technically a need for them. I think we should be equally mindful of our temptations year-round.
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« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2010, 09:58:03 AM »

Salvation comes to us alone (only by faith), but cannot remain if not accompanied by works later.

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« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2010, 05:04:14 PM »

Salvation comes to us alone (only by faith), but cannot remain if not accompanied by works later.

Not sure I agree with this. I think it is dangerous to dichotomize faith and works. I often say that faith and works are as inseparable as fire and heat.

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« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2010, 05:13:01 PM »

Salvation comes to us alone (only by faith), but cannot remain if not accompanied by works later.

Not sure I agree with this. I think it is dangerous to dichotomize faith and works. I often say that faith and works are as inseparable as fire and heat.

Selam

James tells us that faith without works is dead. To me this says that the only kind of faith there is is the kind that moves. Vapid acquiescence is not Faith.
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« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2010, 05:26:36 PM »

Perhaps it would be useful for us to clarify here what the Orthodox interpretatation of "works" is in reference to "faith without works is dead"? I have a general idea of what they are, but it may help some of us to provide specific examples.
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« Reply #24 on: December 28, 2010, 05:28:18 PM »

Salvation comes to us alone (only by faith), but cannot remain if not accompanied by works later.

Not sure I agree with this. I think it is dangerous to dichotomize faith and works. I often say that faith and works are as inseparable as fire and heat.

Selam

I talked about salvation. We get the grace of salvation by faith in Christ, and we maintain that salvation through works.
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« Reply #25 on: December 28, 2010, 05:35:46 PM »

The whole "faith vs. works" dichotomy comes from a post-schism western distinction unknown to the early church and the eastern church. These are two sides of the same coin, as closely related as "heat and fire", as well already said.

To add to the wonderful quotes here from St. James, "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." (James 2:18, KJV).
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« Reply #26 on: December 28, 2010, 05:36:39 PM »

Perhaps it would be useful for us to clarify here what the Orthodox interpretatation of "works" is in reference to "faith without works is dead"? I have a general idea of what they are, but it may help some of us to provide specific examples.
LOL. This frustrating issue is one I believe to have been manipulated and capitalized upon by both Protestant Christians and Orthodox Christians alike. Protestants are quite right that we can not earn way into Heaven by doing good deeds (in the same sense that a salesman earns a commission or a Boyscout earns a merit badge) though some sure seem like they wish we did. Meanwhile, contrary to the accusation we sometimes throw back, Protestants do not believe in a purely intellectual understanding, with no motivation to serve the Lord with Body, Mind, and Soul. Most Protestants I have known disdain empty lip service as much as we do.
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« Reply #27 on: December 28, 2010, 05:43:38 PM »

I have a few questions on this salvation by faith/works issue:

1) How was Noah rescued from the deluge? Through his faith in God or through his work of constructing the ark?
2) How were the Israelites saved from the last plague that killed all the first-born children of the Egyptians? Through faith in God or through the work of sacrificing a lamb?

I think James may have had these kinds of works in his mind while teaching that man is justified not by faith alone, but also by works. The works that illustrate one's faith...
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« Reply #28 on: December 28, 2010, 06:00:04 PM »

I have a few questions on this salvation by faith/works issue:

1) How was Noah rescued from the deluge? Through his faith in God or through his work of constructing the ark?
2) How were the Israelites saved from the last plague that killed all the first-born children of the Egyptians? Through faith in God or through the work of sacrificing a lamb?

I think James may have had these kinds of works in his mind while teaching that man is justified not by faith alone, but also by works. The works that illustrate one's faith...

Bingo. Someone give this gentleman a cookie.  Grin
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« Reply #29 on: December 28, 2010, 06:47:38 PM »

I have a few questions on this salvation by faith/works issue:

1) How was Noah rescued from the deluge? Through his faith in God or through his work of constructing the ark?
2) How were the Israelites saved from the last plague that killed all the first-born children of the Egyptians? Through faith in God or through the work of sacrificing a lamb?

I think James may have had these kinds of works in his mind while teaching that man is justified not by faith alone, but also by works. The works that illustrate one's faith...

Bingo. Someone give this gentleman a cookie.  Grin

Illustrate to whom?
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« Reply #30 on: December 28, 2010, 07:15:34 PM »

Perhaps it would be useful for us to clarify here what the Orthodox interpretatation of "works" is in reference to "faith without works is dead"? I have a general idea of what they are, but it may help some of us to provide specific examples.
LOL. This frustrating issue is one I believe to have been manipulated and capitalized upon by both Protestant Christians and Orthodox Christians alike. Protestants are quite right that we can not earn way into Heaven by doing good deeds (in the same sense that a salesman earns a commission or a Boyscout earns a merit badge) though some sure seem like they wish we did. Meanwhile, contrary to the accusation we sometimes throw back, Protestants do not believe in a purely intellectual understanding, with no motivation to serve the Lord with Body, Mind, and Soul. Most Protestants I have known disdain empty lip service as much as we do.

The issue derives from and is generally framed in terms of a disagreement between Medieval Roman Catholics and the Protestant Reformers. Not that the debate hasn't developed over the years; but even if it has, it is still a debate that is really outside the whole Orthodox way of thinking about, believing, and living the Apostolic Tradition.

Quote
Most Protestants I have known disdain empty lip service as much as we do.

Agreed (for the most part). But their ignorance of the true Life in Christ, which is in the Church, causes them to tend toward antinomianism nonetheless.

I think we should mostly just avoid interacting with the Protestants on this issue (and also avoid mimicking RC apologetics on this issue, as the RCs are not necessarily defending the Orthodox position), and focus on living out the Orthodox Tradition as we have it. We shouldn't let either the RCs or the Protestants define the terms and concepts of the discussion.
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« Reply #31 on: December 28, 2010, 07:38:56 PM »

It seems to me that, biblically speaking, faith is necessary, but never alone.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6)
Faith alone without works is dead. (James 2:17)
Faith that can move mountains without love is nothing. (1 Cor 13:2)
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« Reply #32 on: December 28, 2010, 08:01:32 PM »

It seems to me the simplest and most inclusive statement would be something like: we are saved by, through, in, and for Christ.
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« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2010, 01:14:10 AM »

You would be surprised. When I was Prot, in a large non-denominational church (Vineyard), I heard things that would make your skin crawl.

A well-educated, intellectually aware Protestant who has respect for historical Christianity will naturally agree with the "Clearly faith without works is dead, so works must then be an important thing in the Christian life" but some day-to-day teaching in the Protestant world, particularly among non-denoms, can get seriously hairy.

I once had a guy (in this late thirties, who had gone to "Bible college") tell me that paying more attention to regular repentance during Lent [as I was doing that year--I shared this with a "small group"] was ridiculous because "there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus" and true Christians no longer have the ability to sin. Everything they do, no matter what, is "a glory to God". This was a guy who was in a minor leadership position, and he addressed this opinion to the whole group, who nodded along. I didn't care that he was giving me the verbal smackdown--I was just so shocked by that, I wanted to ensure it was addressed so false teaching didn't spread.

When I went to my Vineyard pastor (this is a guy who ran a Bible study institute & a Christian publishing company, and who has a doctorate in theology) about this, he told me [in a very gentle nice way, he's not a bad person] that I should remember that all people interpret the Bible in their own way, and I should respect that. The implication was that this guy's view was within the bounds of "orthodoxy" (as it were) and that it wasn't worth getting worked up over.

I thought I was going to spontaneously combust and/or faint. I left that church a few weeks later.

The Vineyards have been making a splash in my city lately. They seem to have a Jeckyll-and-Hyde routine where they morph back and forth between Bible-thumpers and laid-back fluffy-squishy relativists. Perhaps an adaptation to convert the post-modern world. They've been doing some very bizarre things, like doing dream interpretations to convert people. And succeeding at it.
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« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2012, 04:45:59 PM »

We are saved by faith (in Christ alone); we are not saved (by faith alone) in Christ.
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