Discussion in 'Theology' started by tblaine74, Jan 8, 2008.
Can Christian faith be substantiated without works?
Perhaps at the 'moment' one 'becomes' faithful. But IF one is TRULY 'faithful' then the evidence of their WORKS is unavoidable. Not 'works' of one's OWN volition, but to follow in The Spirit IS to LOVE one's brothers and sisters and for one of faith to do otherwise is a faith DIFFERENT than that offered THROUGH The Spirit. Hence, 'Faith WITHOUT works is DEAD'.
If Ã¢â‚¬Å“a faith DIFFERENT than that offered THROUGH The SpiritÃ¢â‚¬Â is qualified by doing other than loving Ã¢â‚¬Å“one's brothers and sistersÃ¢â‚¬Â, and everyone fails at times to love oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brothers and sisters, then everyone has, at times, Ã¢â‚¬Å“a faith DIFFERENT than that offered THROUGH The SpiritÃ¢â‚¬Â. This would suggest that faith is something that comes and goes. In which case, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s coming and going would be a consequence of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s act, or work, of loving and not loving as you have described.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not sure of exactly what youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re getting at, but it is an interesting topic. WouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that be what this passage hints at?
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
This immediately came to mind when I read your post. IsnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t that what we experience as we continue to live and work out our salvation in our everyday lives? I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think the OSAS/Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnot of worksÃ¢â‚¬â„¢/Ã¢â‚¬ËœGod gives some of us faithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ scheme of theology conveys the actual biblical presentation of the gospel.
I am not too sure it can. If you are Christian and you step over a starving person and don't try to feed him, that isn't show any Christian love. If you have the means and a family you know is going hungry and have only ragged clothing and you don't feel a need to help them, then I don't see how that is showing Christian love, either. If you see someone sad and crying, do you scoff at them or do you offer them a shoulder? You can guess which one should be done by a Christian.
What I am getting at, in the reference that you have quoted, is a deduction from MECÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s post. What I am getting at, or hoping to, in my original question, is that I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand how one can claim justification by faith, as if it were something independent of works.
This sounds like you are implying that one could recognize a Christian, or a ChristianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s faith, by noting his/her works. I would agree.
I am not sure I understand exactly what you are asking here. To be sure, this is not an easy subject and the exact meaning of words like "faith" may be hard to articulate for one person and even harder to get agreement upon.
When you posted the following:
I read you as basically saying that the very concept of faith itself cannot be decomposed into a "belief" component and an "action" component. Is this is indeed your point? I certainly do not presently have a clear opinion on this matter - on whether the writers of scripture used the word "faith" to denote anything over and above belief, trust, etc. Things get wildly complicated and fuzzy here. Can it be said that Fred truly "believes" that Jesus is Lord or has "faith" in Jesus if Fred does not act in certain ways. I can see arguments for both answers to that question. I tend to lean to the position that one can indeed believe that Jesus is Lord and yet act as thought He were not. The demons do this, we are told.
For me, as you may know, the recent focus has been on whether "good works" play any role in our justification - in our being declared to be members of God's covenant family and to be given eternal life. I do think this is a different, although related issue, to whether the concept "faith" entails "works" by the very meaning of the term. In any event, I would like to identify 2 positions that one might hold:
A. Good works are a necessary pre-condition to justification - they are a criteria on which one is judged and justified if the verdict is favourable. This does not mean that "faith" (in the sense that does not involve works) is not also a necessary pre-condition for justification.
B. Good works are the inevitable result of a "believing" faith, with that faith itself being fully sufficient for our justification (and to be clear, by "faith" I am referring to 'belief', 'trust' etc. - not works).
I think that position A is correct, with the further qualification that it is through 'faith' that we are given the resources to "do the works". I believe that most within the evangelical protestant tradition believe that B is correct.
I am interested in whether any others would be willing to characterize their positions in terms of these 2 options. If you think these options are in some sense incorrect, please explain.
And, tblaine74, if you think this line takes us off track, please say so. Perhaps you are interested in a discussion as to the very concept of "faith" can have "works" sucked out of it or not. I read you as believing it cannot.
That is what I am implying. If a man is to follow Jesus, he must follow Jesus' commands as well. He is not saved by these works, but remember that Jesus said that people would know His disciples by their love for each other. I believe that if you love Jesus then you must love your neighbor, your brothers, and even your enemies and you (and I) will want to do Jesus work.
I apologize for the carelessness of my terminology. It is the obvious result of my ignorance on this subject, which in turn, is the reason I asked the question (as best I could). I am also guilty of not investigating your related thread to the extent that I understood your purpose correctly.
What I expect, without having the proper understanding or readiness to demonstrate, is not that faith is divisible into Ã¢â‚¬Å“beliefÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“actionÃ¢â‚¬Â components, but that faith, not as mere belief, but as something more like acceptance, is not substantial without action.
I see now that this should not be explored, until it can be demonstrated what is meant by faith in traditional Christian teaching. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t personally know anyone better to answer for that than you. If I may start on that, why, if faith is only belief, would faith be used to convey, rather than belief? Is this a result of error in translation?
Have any of you ever read Galatians?!?
MEC was right about it not necessarily being so the moment you are saved, because you can be saved on your deathbed, never having worked a good work, and still be saved. But given that rather rare scenario faith is demonstrated ultimately through works because it shows that you have faith deep enough (thus evidential faith - of salvation that is) to let it drive your actions. We cannot always be active, and sometime God even calls us to rest, just as like in Ecceliastes Solomon says there is a time for everything, including work and rest (which even God did in creation). Faith does not dissipate when works are not immediately present because it is a hope, a root, and inner disposition (an anchor for our soul - just like Hebrews says hope is to us) which has believed in Christ's sacrifice once and for all and continues on that path in life on that firm conviction and foundation. In God's eyes justification occurs immediately upon salvation, though positionally we experience this righteous call through sanctification, though it in no way negates God's electionary justification of the soul he saves. I hope this gets somewhat at the heart of your question, but I stop here since I do not know the specifics of your inquiry. I will await your reply, so I can clarify on any points needed.
I liken faith to being in the Vine (which is Christ).
And I liken works to the fruit of the Spirit that is produced as the result of being in the vine.
The fruit can only stem from being in the vine. This is the fruit of righteousness.
Any attempt to produce fruit in order to be made part of the vine is self righteousness and an abhorrence to God.
I think I have caused some confusion in using the word substantial. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean to question the nature of faith as substance, so much as I would question the nature of faithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s substantiation. I think this would be similar to questioning how a cause can be substantiated without its effects.
If faith is only belief, then one should have no trouble admitting that the demons have faith in Christ. I would think, however, that the common connotation of that suggestion might prompt one to consider either that the term has been misused, or that it is misunderstood.
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t doubt it. However, in this scenario, one would have nothing to demonstrate the faith that has saved. While it is true that Ã¢â‚¬Å“only God knowsÃ¢â‚¬Â, in any given scenario, the point is that, in the scenario given, no one other than God has anything with which to evaluate the dying mans faith. If the dying man should proclaim acceptance of Christ, then that action provides something for evaluation. If the dying man should accept Christ in thought alone, then that action provides something for evaluation by him alone.
Ah, you hit the nail on the head with the issue, albeit indirectly! Without its effects where? Works are manifestations of faith on earth, but one of the greatest truths of the Christian life is the effects done in the heavenly realms. In Colossians or Ephesians (probably both -they're so similar) it talks about how we were raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places, and talks about how our war is not with flesh and blood but in the spiritual realm, along with many other references to manifestations of our life as Christians in the spiritual realm. Ephesians also says that one of the functions of the Church is to demonstrate the victory of Christ to heavenly principalities (spiritual principalities). So I say your faith is always subtsantiated in someway, but that earthly works is not the only manifestation of it.
IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m happy to see the word, Ã¢â‚¬Å“onlyÃ¢â‚¬Â there, Josh, but now you have opened another can of worms and we will have to differentiate between not only works of the flesh, works done in the body, ceremonial works of the law, works of faith, and hypocritical works for self advancement, but also the works done on earth from those done by the Spirit in heavenly places against spiritual powers on our behalf in response to our prayers and faith. Thanks. Now my sentences will be longer and so will my posts. :
The idea that the deathbed confession has no earthy works also needs some attention. Your forgiveness of others and the forsaking of revenge can be done right there on your pillow, and I would be willing to bet, has been done by even unconscious persons who never woke up. The thief on the cross, who is the most famous example of a deathbed (roughly speaking!) confession, openly exonerated his executors by admitting he was being crucified justly for crimes committed. He also confessed Jesus as the Christ before witnesses, no less. He should be listed in the hall of faith. Imagine asking a man dying on a cross beside you to remember you when he came into his kingdom! That's amazing to me!
I agree, but can you evaluate your faith outside of earthly works? As I said, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean to question the nature of faith as substance [manifestation], so much as I would question the nature of faithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s substantiation [demonstration of manifestation]. Faith cannot substantiate, or demonstrate, itself. That requires rational. How are we to attend to our faith with things of which we are unaware? Our suggestions are not opposing, they are only different.
Tblaine (would you mind giving me your real name? It seems friendlier that way),
I understand exactly where you are coming from and what you are asking, but let me ask this: Do we really need to evaluate our earthly works (given that we are strictly talking of good works that do indeed manifest from faith - not evil works, which if we included unred would be right about the variety on the topic required)? We first of all don't need to necessarily evaluate ('scrutinize' perhaps is the sense I'm looking for) other's works, as they stand or fall to their own master and do not recieve judgement of their works from our hand. But if you are concerned as for yourself and your own standing before God, and you feel in some way you are failing to meet a "quota" of works before God (and therefore feel a need to evaluate to see if it adds up to please God), rest assured that God does not legalistically (we were set free from the condemnation and rigidity of the law) hold us to works nor a "quota", as long as we walk before the Lord in good conscience and are demonstrating our walk in proportion to our faith (which is different for each person, and changes, as they advance in relationship with God).
You see I'm also trying to apply a practical conclusion from your questions, although I don't know from what vantage point you are wondering about this issue (your motive in asking). You see, faith is a very personal thing and thus I try to make it apply in a personal way. We need not fret that works are not ever present for God's grace carries us and makes us adequate as participants in the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6), this includes covering us in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9) and building up of our faith when we need it, as long as we have faith in what He is able to do over what we think we can accomplish. Works aren't every thing, but perform what ever you find your hand to do with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10) and seek the approval of God and he will strengthen you (Colossians 1:11) and establish the work of your hands (Psalm 90:17).
Wisdom it is that you offer and NOT that offered of this world.
Faith without works IS DEAD. And NOT work that comes from 'obligation', but that which comes from an 'understanding and ACCEPTANCE' of Love. "Staight from the heart", so to speak.
I can see once again that the 'churches' have 'spoiled' the understanding of some in that they do NOT understand the simplicity that has been offered to mankind.
We are UNABLE to please God of our OWN 'understanding'. This is IMPOSSIBLE. And I would ask, WHAT is it that God has offered. Throughout ALL of history since Creation to the 'sending of His Son' WHAT is the ONE thing that it ALL adds up to?
See, if you Don't understand this, then you most certainly would NOT understand my 'answer' that I offered in my first reply to this question.
Here is a 'bit' of milk for those that are NOT able to receive MEAT. Christ was asked by the Pharasees WHAT is the MOST important commandment? Do you recall His reply? Love God with all your heart, mind and soul. This IS the GREAT commandment. And the second, much like the first; Love you neighbor As YOURSELF. And ALL the law, and ALL the PROPHETS hang on these two. Get it? THESE TWO. And then when we consider the TRUTH that Christ came to offer EXAMPLE of this LOVE, then we are able to CLEARLY SEE that there was ONE LESSON that God wished for us to LEARN. Regardless of your 'pagentry', regardless of your tradition, regardless or ANYTHING ELSE. What God wished for us to learn IS LOVE.
So, the evidence of works is NOT the 'traditional pagentry' offered INTO Christianity, the Works in reference ARE the love of God and the love of our neighbor. And WITHOUT this BEING in one's heart, then there IS NOT FAITH in ANYTHING that matters. For there will be MANY that 'claim' to follow Christ. But IF you are NOT able to Love God above EVERYTHING ELSE, and love your NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, you are simply FOOLING YOURSELF into believing 'something' that doesn't matter in the least. Religion, my friends, means PRACTICALLY NOTHING. It's the MESSAGE that matters. And once the message is received and becomes MANIFEST in one's heart, it is ONLY then that 'belief' means ANYTHING AT ALL.
So, tblaine, Faith in ANYTHING but TRUTH is NO FAITH at all. For ANYTHING other than that which has been offered from above is of 'this world' and USELESS in the presence of The Spirit.
It would seem that if it is our faith that saves us, then our challenge lies in cultivating that faith. As with anyone who examines his/her conscience, in hopes of discovering what course he/she is on, how he/she may improve, etc., the process depends on the evaluation of action; what have I done, why did I do it, etc. I wonder that this is, in part, why St. Paul maintained such modesty with respect for his own salvation, as no one can possess certainty as to the fullness of his/her faith. I suppose I am cautious, though not enough, of taking faith to lightly, as I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think some faith, such as a mere belief in Christ and what he did, is expected, but a perfect faith. Further, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think a true understanding that we will not attain perfect faith in this life, relieves us from our liability in trying. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect you to disagree with any of this. I am only trying to give you more works, which you may use to evaluate the essence of my thought . I wonder how those who do not appreciate the value of their works with respect to their faith, can ever approach a full appreciation of the value of their faith with respect to salvation.
My only motive is from the vantage point of wonder. Reading DrewÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s thread sparked thoughts in me that are unrefined, thus, refinement is my goal here.
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