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Author Topic: Salvation through works  (Read 608 times) Average Rating: 0
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Timon
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« on: August 02, 2011, 06:55:39 PM »

I know one of the common misconceptions about Orthodox/Catholics is that you can only be saved through works.  Although, I admit, I dont completely understand what this means.  Do works have anything to do with it?  And when the word "works" is used, are people referring to actual good deeds and charitable acts?  Or does it have something to do with works of the law.  I just ask so I can better understand the Orthodox view of "works" and how it applies, if at all, to salvation.
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

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NicholasMyra
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2011, 07:01:21 PM »

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God.

You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Epistle of St. James 2:14-26
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2011, 07:13:08 PM »

The Bible says in many places that we will be judged according to our deeds (Mt. 16:27; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 20:12; 22:12; and so forth), so yes, works have a part to play.  The thing about it is, all good things are from God (John 3:27; James 1:17), even our good intentions (Phil. 2:13), so it's not really we who are doing the works; rather, we're just cooperating with God through grace to do them (1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1).
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2011, 10:47:43 PM »

I will add there is a difference in being doing good works as part of our salvation and being saved on account of the merits of our good works. 

Orthodox believe we are saved by grace, through faith, and that good works are necessary to live out that salvation, but not meritorious toward it.  Which is to say God does not save us because we do good works, He saves us because He loves us and He wants us to be saved.  We do good works as part of that salvation because God has told us they are good for us, like eating broccoli and exercising are good for the body.  Good works are for our benefit, not God's.
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2011, 10:57:42 PM »

Thanks for that clarification. I think that stance is something that even most Protestants (what most of my friends and family are) would agree with deep down. Sounds kind of hard to argue against it.  How does this view differ, if at all, from the Roman Catholic view?
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

— Chrysostom

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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2011, 10:36:59 PM »

Read St Seraphim's conversation with Nicholas Motovilov.


Link


Also Fr Thomas Hopko gives an excellent talk on this conversation.


Link
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2011, 01:07:25 AM »

You might find this helpful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synergism_(theology)
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HabteSelassie
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« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2011, 08:10:48 PM »

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

Lets get this straight firstly, Salvation is entirely a matter of the Grace of God, it is not earned through works.  It is a Gift entirely from God and not of ourselves or our own efforts.  However, Grace by itself, unactivated so-to-speak, it merely the Eternal potentiality of Salvation.  Worship, prayer, and good works are the physical manifestation, the operation of this Grace.  Faith and Works combine perfectly in cooperation, so that Faith in Grace sustains the works and the works manifest this Grace in the operative, verb sense.  So we are always saved by Grace, but the way this Grace manifests Itself in the Divine Economy is through "works".  Its really like the Chicken and Egg question and the answer is the same, they both mutually manifest each others causality, the Egg brings forth the Chicken but the Chicken brought forth the Egg just as Faith/Grace brings about Works and yet the Works brings about the operations of Grace.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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"Yet stand aloof from stupid questionings and geneologies and strifes and fightings about law, for they are without benefit and vain." Titus 3:10
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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2011, 11:44:22 PM »

When we read in the New Testament about works, what it means in any given passage depends on who's saying it and the context of that passage.

In many cases, St Paul contrasts Christ and the Law as two ways that people, particularly former Jews, might try to "reach God". The Old Covenant (i.e., "works of the Law") cannot unite us to God. Only union with Christ ("faith") can do that. So when Paul says that it's "faith" and not "works", he's saying that it's "faith in Christ" (which is much more than an intellectual assent to a set of facts about who He is and what He did) and not "obedience to the Law of Moses".

But not every New Testament author uses "faith" and "works" as shorthand for something more complex. In the case of St James, "faith" is "believing something to be true" and "works" is "the things that we do". So we're not justified by simply believing something to be true. The demons have that much down pat! Rather, the christian life is characterized by a heart that responds to God. If I'm a small child and my dad says "jump, I'll catch you", and I say, "OK, I believe you" and never jump, what good does that do? My "faith" in my dad's words is useless. But if my dad says, "jump, I'll catch you", and I jump, that demonstrates that I actually trust my dad. In fact, the act of jumping itself is faith. "Real faith" is not just believing something. Faith is a condition of the heart which permeates our whole life. It is impossible to separate our acts from our faith, for our acts are a living part of our faith. It would be like trying to separate my breathe from my heartbeat - one happens for and because of the other.
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2011, 01:08:03 AM »

VERY good responses everyone! Its helping a lot! I am considering conversion more seriously than I ever have.  Pray for me!
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Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God's mercy and His love for men. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved.

— Chrysostom

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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2011, 08:12:21 PM »

VERY good responses everyone! Its helping a lot! I am considering conversion more seriously than I ever have.  Pray for me!

Excellent to hear.

May the Lord guide and keep you.  angel
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