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Faith and works in the New Testament

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posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 05:00 PM
The New Testament relationship between faith and works, or faith and obedience, has been the subject of much debate, because of the anxiety that one might seem to exclude the other.
What exactly does the New Testament God expect from his people?

I believe the answer to this question is more straightforward than people have imagined.
It is clear from every part of the New Testament that God expects faith.
It is clear from every part of the New Testament that God expects active obedience.
The key to understanding the relationship is to realise that faith comes first, in order of time.

We find it spelled out in Hebrews.
“For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews ch11 v6).
We have to appreciate that this “must” is not an arbitrary command.
It is the “must” of logical necessity.
Nobody except a man who believed these two things would even try to draw near to God or to please him. If either of those beliefs was missing, there would be no point in obedient action, and nobody would think of doing it.
Therefore faith is the logical precondition of any form of action. That is why Paul speaks of the obedience that comes through faith (Romans ch1 v5).
Faith comes first in order of time.

Consider the teaching of Jesus.
Jesus demands faith, he complains about the absence of faith, he welcomes the presence of faith, and he cannot work without it.
The Sermon on the Mount provides advice about conduct, but nobody would have been listening to that advice if they had not come to trust him first; at the very least, believing in his authority as the one sent from God.
The woman who weeps at his feet is told “Your faith has saved you” (Luke ch7 v50).She is weeping with gratitude because her sins have been forgiven. She knows her sins are forgiven, because she trusts in the testimony of the man who told her so.
Jesus said; Your faith has saved you
Will the Son of Man find faith on earth?
Faith and obedient action are both needed, but faith comes first, in order of time.

Consider the teaching of Paul.
Everybody knows that Paul emphasises the importance of faith, but this is about the priority of faith.
Paul gives a lot of advice about right conduct, which ought to show that that he does not underestimate the importance of right conduct.
He does not argue against “works”, as such, but against works as a substitute for faith.
In his teaching, we establish a new relationship with God, through faith, and right conduct is the consequence of that relationship.
We have been released by faith from the dominion of sin, and for precisely that reason are urged not to “let sin reign in your mortal bodies” (Romans ch6 v12)
That is what is meant by “walking in the Spirit, not in the flesh” (Galatians ch5).
Galatians; The Spirit and the flesh
We have been “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians ch2 v10).
Faith and obedient action are both needed, but faith comes first in order of time.

Consider the teaching of James.
Everybody knows, or thinks they know, that James argues the insufficiency of faith.
Yet if we look closely, we find that even the teaching of James begins and ends with faith (ch1 v3, ch5 vv13-20).
James is not criticising dependence upon faith.
His rebuke is directed against those who merely say they have faith, which is not the same thing. His point is that genuine faith includes the work which expresses that faith.
To those who try to separate their faith from his works, he replies that they cannot show their faith without works, but he will use his works to demonstrate his faith.
But the offering of works as the evidence of existing faith implies, again, that faith has come first. So even this teaching is in harmony with the teaching of Paul, that Christian conduct follows on as a consequence from faith.
James is actually arguing with a misunderstood version of Paul, which ignores this consequence. The misunderstanding may be his own, or it may have been adopted by over-enthusiastic followers of Paul.
He is also sarcastic about putting one’s trust in “believing THAT”, as in “believing that God is one.” But that was never the true understanding of saving faith, which rests upon “believing IN”, the attitude of trust. It is the attitude of trust which James himself recommends; “Let him ask in faith with no doubting” (ch1 v6).
James; Faith and works
So the teaching of James is congruent with the teaching of Paul;
Faith and obedient action are both needed, but faith comes first in order of time.

Once this relationship has been clearly understood, the old controversy between “faith and works” ought to be melting away. One is not excluding the other.
They are both part of the Christian life, as portrayed in the New Testament, but faith must come first in the order of time.

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 05:14 PM
Yep, faith will show works ..........just naturally

Rom 16:25.........surprises most one....

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 05:41 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI

I find it very interesting that the Jewish religion puts basically zero importance on faith , but total importance on works..

I find the structural differences between the two religious fascinating.

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 05:50 PM
a reply to: JustJohnny
I suppose it's possible that the Jewish religion, like the modern Roman Catholic approach, is reacting against the Pauline/Lutheran focus on faith.
It would not be hard to find "trust in God" as one of the fundamental themes of the Old Testament.

edit on 5-7-2019 by DISRAELI because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 05:54 PM
a reply to: GBP/JPY

Well that would mean there was no, or relatively no cases of someone of unshakable faith perpetrating horrible works, and I guess no case of someone without faith who ran around doing good works..

Well obviously that isn’t the case, so the two cannot be directly connected

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 08:14 PM
a reply to: JustJohnny

Sorry, it doesn't work quite like that.

We, as Christians, know we are not perfect. That was one of the problems with the Old Testament law, Mosaic Law, no one could keep it perfectly. Furthermore, you had the issues of legalism where the Jews substituted the works of the law with issues of faith, as you pointed out. Following the letter of the law does not make on faithful to God. This was demonstrated by the pharisees' attempts to use the law to trap Christ so they could accuse him and execute him.

They were like modern day lawyers in using the letter of the law to achieve their personal ends, not to live in faith in God.

So because we are not perfect and may error (sin), you will see those who are indeed faithful make mistakes. And you will also see those who are not faithful do what would otherwise be good works of faith on their own, too. People of faith sin because we are not perfect and we make mistakes. Not only that, but are we humble enough to see our mistakes and own them and atone, feeling remorse for them. Additionally, can we accept God's version of right and wrong, not our own preferred version, or the version society at large prefers?

As for works not done through faith, well, why were they done? Was it because they needed to be done or because someone wanted to be recognized for their generosity? There is the passage saying not to pray ostentatiously in the streets just so everyone can see how pious you are? Well the same applies to everything you do, even good works. It's just stuff that needs doing, not anything anyone needs recognition or civic awards for. Certainly nothing to brag about, right?

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 08:39 PM

originally posted by: JustJohnny
a reply to: DISRAELI

I find it very interesting that the Jewish religion puts basically zero importance on faith , but total importance on works..

I find the structural differences between the two religious fascinating.

Perhaps the difference is one of 'blind faith' versus "experienced faith".

The Christian interpretation of "faith" gives rise to blind faith. It could be argued that if God is Alpha and Omega, how can one have faith in something the intellect can never point too. If no distinction in God can exist or be discerned, then anyone that sees duality or distinction, will never be able to find God.

So true faith is something that cannot be realised by the intellect or lack thereof. It might only be born from experiencing divine love in prayer and meditation (aka submission or inner works). Many Christians do pray daily (55% according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey). But prayer doesn't seem as emphasised in Christianity as it is in other Abrahamic religions.

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 09:07 PM
a reply to: DISRAELIThe word translated in most versions servant should be slave. A slave to the will of God having no rights. What a very different concept the modern church has today.

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 09:58 PM
a reply to: PhilbertDezineck

Adam and Eve were to choose to live in perfect obedience to God, yes. That they exercised their rights, as you would put it, led us to the fallen world we live in today. We may know right from wrong, and yet, so very often we fail to properly choose right. Most of the misery in the world stems from that failure.

But we are allowed to make that choice and continue making it.

posted on Jul, 5 2019 @ 10:59 PM
Karma can be looked at in similar ways, via reward an punishment which is a bitter sweet fruit to swallow. From what I see in its original meaning though is that it more or less just describing just good an evil qaulities. Then goes onto acts, deeds, an works too.

Then theres Pandora an Box, where a different cultures God gave to her an told her not to open it, but she did any way, an paradise was lost but Hope was in the box too.

Theres one parable where Jesus does say that Heaven is like a farmer who does good seed, or grain, but the thief planted weeds when he slept.

It one thing to have faith, and preserve or endure, but isn't gluttony a sin?

edit on 5-7-2019 by Specimen because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 6 2019 @ 01:08 AM
a reply to: glend
The esssence of Biblical faith is "trust". There is a distinction between believing IN (a person), which is primary, and believing THAT (something is true), which is only secondary.

posted on Jul, 6 2019 @ 01:12 AM
a reply to: PhilbertDezineck
Either word will do. If you have come into existence and maintain your existence entirely at the will of someone else, the idea of having "rights" against them is absurd. I'm not sure who in the modern church would try to claim rights against God. The idea is essentially a secular one, coming from people drawing a false analogy from the fact that humans (being made equal) can claim rights against each other.

posted on Jul, 6 2019 @ 11:16 AM
a reply to: DISRAELI

If that trust results in you achieving what Matthew 18:20 describes as having two people within you, then all the power to you,

posted on Jul, 6 2019 @ 01:38 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
Faith comes from God by the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Without conviction it is just a mental decision. Obedience is a constant battle from the lust of the eye lust of the flesh and the pride of life.

posted on Jul, 6 2019 @ 01:42 PM
a reply to: PhilbertDezineck
Sorry, it looks as though I misunderstood you earlier. I thought you were a secularist criticising the "slave of God" concept, and responded accordingly.

posted on Jul, 8 2019 @ 01:47 PM
a reply to: DISRAELI
I was trying to point out the paradige shift from the biblical idea of a slave who had no rights to the modern church
idea of what can we get from God.

posted on Jul, 12 2019 @ 12:51 AM
a reply to: JustJohnny

Judaism is real spirituality and Christianity is fantasy spirituality. Not a jew on earth is confused about the nature of God, reality, or religion. Christians who read the old testament are self admitted openly proud idiots on multiple levels. Its incompatible with their new testament fantasy, they should be attacking Jews and destroying their literature if they truly believed for themselves, surely not supporting them.

No wonder there is no such thing as a Christian scholar. Christianity is a riddle book which contains all the bad science and social practices of previous religions (sans incest) and adds extreme levels of fantasy while literally telling it's victims not to cheat by accidentally acknowledging it's authors obvious astrological backgrounds and time sensitive adaptations that correlate with astronomical events (you really think the worlds annual dating system is based on the birth of a human of significance to a regional religion, when the only consequence relates to global seasonal and processional shifts? No, it was just the best science they had at the time,to categorize the ending and beginning of pie slice arcs as we travel around our initial loop around Sagittarius A*)

News flash humanity: the Vatican has all these crazy telescopes because that's their thing. Thats religions thing the past 5k years. Before that it was based on microbial life.

If EVERY modern religion comes from the mother whore in Rome, why would any of them be trustworthy? You're Bible tells you they are #ing with you, flat out proclaims 99.9% of you to fall for it. And you just nod your heads

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