tractor

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I think we can all agree that salvation and our entry into the Kingdom of God is God's generous offer to us. Likewise, we can perhaps agree that we can't enter His Kingdom by works alone. A, because God doesn't need anything from us; B, because you can't say for sure how many good deeds would be "enough" and C, because we're weak and fail constantly.

That being said, does it mean that it's "by faith alone" that we can go to Heaven as Martin Luther claimed and his followers believe?

When I made first attempts at faith and didn't even read the New Testament, I couldn't debate that. Before I was baptized in a Lutheran church, I had to take "Bible classes" from this church's pastor.

He started our first session with the question, "Tractor, if you were dead and had to face God, what would you say to Him?"

I responded, "Well, I did this 'n that, tried to be a good man 'n sheeeeeit". He told me that it's wrong and what counts is whether you're with Jesus or not. He was right of course. But that soooooo doesn't mean that it's by faith alone.

The New Testament is filled with examples of "faith AND works" or "faith THROUGH works" and this list is not confined to the Epistle of James Luther disapproved of. Jesus Himself told repeatedly that it's not by faith alone. Sola scriptura anyone?

I. Matthew 5: 17-20

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

If the Law is not abolished, then it's in place. If it's still in place you kinda sorta have to live by it.

The second sentence in bold means that the Lutherans are fine with being called least in the kingdom of heaven (if they even inherit it). Many people (myself included) have a desire to get as closer to our Father as it can get.

II. Matthew 5: 29-30

If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.

Oh, your actions DO have consequences, huh? So if my works can drive me to hell can't they help me go to Heaven?

III. Matthew 6: 17-18

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

God will reward you when you fast? Hey Martin, sola scriptura leads me to the wrongthink... And it's only the beginning.


IV. Matthew 7: 13-14

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

The wide gate means the easiest path. Which path is easier - saying "Lord, Lord" or saying "Lord, Lord" AND trying to walk with Him? I'm not convinced, Martin.

V. Matthew 7: 21

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

It's only Matthew 7 and I feel like I should've run from the Lutheran church months ago.

VI. John 8: 7-11

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.
10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,”
Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

"Nooo, stupid hoe! Didn't you know that Martin Luther found out that it's by faith alone? Sleep around and sell nudes on OnlyFans! Trust the man who broke his vows as a monk, gave in to his passions and tried to censor the Scripture to make it fit his narrative."

VI. John 14: 12, 21

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father... Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

I'm pretty sure "love" means "believe" or "have faith" in this context. No, your faith has zero value if your works suck sh!t. ("By their fruit you will recognize them." Amen!)

VII. James 1: 21-27

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

The works help strengthen your faith. Asceticism means "exercise" in Greek. Living a humble life - being in the world and but not too dependent on it - is an exercise in faith. Refusing fleshly pleasures elevates your spirit.

If we picture faith vs. works as the chicken-and-egg dilemma, I'd suggest that faith comes first. But faith is a gift from God and it needs good soil otherwise it withers (The Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13). Works are the fruitful soil that your newly found faith needs to grow.

VIII. 1 John 3:10
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.

Can the children of the devil enter His Kingdom?


I took these examples from the tip of my head and I've only read half of the New Testament so far. I'm not convinced of the Lutheran notion of "by faith alone". In fact, you can refute it with their goofy doctrin of sola scriptura. No, it's not by faith alone. Works DO matter, just don't be a hypocrite. Do not feel pride or look down at other people.

What do you think of this?
 

Uponthisrock

Sparrow
Your salvation is through grace alone. Not grace plus whatever thing you think is good. Only grace and the grace given by the acceptence of the gift of salvation through the sacrifice Jesus made.
It is that way and no other.
If God is just and perfect than he can't be dwelling with impurity.
The Only way you can enter into true communion with him is through the blood of Christ.
Your works good or bad mean nothing when it comes to salvation and thank God.
Jesus came to fulfill the law not to do away with it.
What that means is that Jesus acts as a perpetual sacrifice and covering for every sin you have done, are doing and will do.
After all. All of your sins were yet future when Jesus hung on the cross.
As such the law has not departed but is fulfilled through Christ.
Now the question that many people may have and the one that causes confusion is --- What is the point of good works?
If I can gain salvation while being a selfish monster, why wouldnt I simply do that?
Gods blessings of course.
There is an issue many Christians have when they try to reconcile what they believe to be the different views between the book of Romans (salvation through faith) and James (proof of salvation through works).
The two go hand in hand.
If you have truly chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will obay your masters orders. You will put your desires to death in the face of your Lord. You strive to be pleasing to him in all your ways.
Luckily for us, he is gracious and patient. We arent very good servants.
One of the issues that Church has is its failure to talk about existence after our mortal death.
Dont think that Gods plan for you ends after your 80 or so years are up.
This life is more akin to a job interview. If you get hired, what are you going to be hired for?
Your works will come into play at that time.

1 Corinthians 3:12-18
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hey, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man decieve himself. If any man amoung you seemed to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise."


Writing those words gave me chills and made me very afraid. But let them convict us all.
We are the temple of God and God is jealous with his temple.
Salvation has given you a job, how well you did during the interview will dictate your placing within the company.
 
Salvation is by grace, not by works. At all. I mean, you aren't even a Christian, by definition, if you believe in works based salvation, as the gospel is literally that Jesus atoned for all sin.
 
I also think that some of this OP is getting too into the weeds with theology, a very common mistake. Don't get me wrong, I generally enjoy these kind of conversations, but salvation was taken care of when Jesus died on the cross.
 

tractor

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Your salvation is through grace alone. Not grace plus whatever thing you think is good.

Agree. But I didn't talk about grace. Of course, it's up to God to judge the living and the dead and no list of "deeds" makes you safe.

But then you say the following:

The two go hand in hand.
If you have truly chosen Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will obay your masters orders. You will put your desires to death in the face of your Lord. You strive to be pleasing to him in all your ways.

That's entire point of my entry. You may claim you have faith in the Lord but if you walk "in darkness" you're a hypocrite.

What'S the point of calling something "sola fide" if it's clearly not that as your words indicate?

Of course, Luther was right that the Catholic practice of absolution was total and utter BS. You ask God for forgiveness and HE forgives you, it's not through money or repeating Ave Maria 50 times. But sola fide goes beyond that.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Gold Member
"Faith vs. Works" is a false dichotomy created by the western scholastic rationalist tendency to reductionism. There is no tension between these concepts prior to the reformation, where the reformers (rather understandably, really) drew parallels between Paul's criticisms of Judaizing practices and contemporary issues in the Roman Catholic world, like indulgences.

But the fact is, Paul wasn't talking about all works (and indeed, often speaks positively of works of the spirit) but the "dead works" of the old Mosaic law, like circumcision and ritual purity dietary regulations. The point was that these things never had any salvific power, but were intended to teach them God's standard and who He is. Following the Mosaic law was a way to express faith in God through obedience, but it wasn't these things in themselves that saved, contrary to the Judaizer teaching. So trying to get Christians, who have the full revelation through Jesus' life, death, and teachings, to conform to these demands was destructive.

The reason why this "faith vs. works" tension persists today is because of the tendency of reformers to extrapolate far beyond Paul's intended scope of addressing pastoral issues surrounding Judaizers. Things such as Baptism or Holy Communion aren't "works" in the sense that Paul uses the word. To claim as such is simply false equivocation. Some more astute protestant thinkers like NT Wright have figured this out (and been attacked for it, particularly by reformed scholars, since it severely undermines their paradigm.)

Of course, no Orthodox person will tell you that we are saved by "works," as though doing enough Good Stuff tips the scales to let you into heaven when you die. It's more like good works and repentance from sins are the fruit of a heart that is repentant and has placed its faith in God, but it's not these things themselves that save you. It's the same thing as in the example of Abraham that Paul cites: he offers his son Isaac as a sacrifice in an expression of faith. But it was not the sacrifice itself (which it turns out God actually wasn't seeking) but the heart-driven willingness to obey God's command that really matters. So "faith and works" have a symbiotic relationship, and there is some degree of mystery involved in it.




(Side note: A lack of emphasis on repentance within the evangelical paradigm played a crucial role in my questioning it years before I took a look at Orthodoxy. I often observed that most sermons and teachings surrounded Paul's teaching, or perhaps events from Jesus' life, with comparatively little time devoted to Jesus' teachings. When I'd read the Gospels and pay attention to Jesus' teachings, they made me quite uncomfortable because it clashed with the "faith alone" and "once saved always saved" dogmas. It became apparent that the American evangelical pop-Christianity had serious deficiencies but I just wasn't sure yet what might replace it.)

The "faith vs. works" debate persists because, to be frank, it sells. Modern American evangelicalism (sold worldwide under various protestant mission groups) has created a version of Christianity, borne out of 19th century revivalism, that is very "marketable." Pray this prayer, and go to heaven when you die. Sure, you'll be encouraged to go to church and Bible study, but there's really not much at stake, not much pressure or reason to change much about your life. When I was in an evangelical mediumchurch (probably around ~1000 people or so per week) that was filled with young people who seemed "passionate" about God and raising their hands in worship and talking about "what God is doing in my life," I always found it jarring that outside of these aspects, their lives really didn't look any different from others in their demographic. They got drunk, had sex, and generally engaged in standard urban millennial behavior with just the most cursory veneer of Christian morality. But can you really blame them? In the paradigm of our church, there just wasn't much at stake. There wasn't really anything to struggle or grow toward.

The authentic Christian life I've found in Orthodoxy is far more challenging, and much more intimidating, but also vastly more rewarding. Here, I found the closeness and experience of God I sought but never came close to attaining in evangelicalism. The things evangelicals might dismiss as "works" in Orthodoxy like fasting, structured prayer, confession, and communion aren't about "impressing God" or showing off (as the Pharisees were rightly condemned) but avenues through which we develop spiritual discipline and maturity, and victory over sin. They are spiritual tools that God uses to shape us into the people he desires us to become.
 

tractor

Woodpecker
Orthodox
(Side note: A lack of emphasis on repentance within the evangelical paradigm played a crucial role in my questioning it years before I took a look at Orthodoxy. I often observed that most sermons and teachings surrounded Paul's teaching, or perhaps events from Jesus' life, with comparatively little time devoted to Jesus' teachings. When I'd read the Gospels and pay attention to Jesus' teachings, they made me quite uncomfortable because it clashed with the "faith alone" and "once saved always saved" dogmas. It became apparent that the American evangelical pop-Christianity had serious deficiencies but I just wasn't sure yet what might replace it.)

The "faith vs. works" debate persists because, to be frank, it sells. Modern American evangelicalism (sold worldwide under various protestant mission groups) has created a version of Christianity, borne out of 19th century revivalism, that is very "marketable." Pray this prayer, and go to heaven when you die. Sure, you'll be encouraged to go to church and Bible study, but there's really not much at stake, not much pressure or reason to change much about your life. When I was in an evangelical mediumchurch (probably around ~1000 people or so per week) that was filled with young people who seemed "passionate" about God and raising their hands in worship and talking about "what God is doing in my life," I always found it jarring that outside of these aspects, their lives really didn't look any different from others in their demographic. They got drunk, had sex, and generally engaged in standard urban millennial behavior with just the most cursory veneer of Christian morality. But can you really blame them? In the paradigm of our church, there just wasn't much at stake. There wasn't really anything to struggle or grow toward.

The authentic Christian life I've found in Orthodoxy is far more challenging, and much more intimidating, but also vastly more rewarding. Here, I found the closeness and experience of God I sought but never came close to attaining in evangelicalism. The things evangelicals might dismiss as "works" in Orthodoxy like fasting, structured prayer, confession, and communion aren't about "impressing God" or showing off (as the Pharisees were rightly condemned) but avenues through which we develop spiritual discipline and maturity, and victory over sin. They are spiritual tools that God uses to shape us into the people he desires us to become.

My wife, who is a parishioner in the same Lutheran church which she entered 7-8 years ago, complained to me recently that her faith is weak. Is it a magical coincidence that she doesn't do any of those dispised "works"? She doesn't see the point of confession or fasting. She doesn't pray in the morning and in the evening, only some basic "thanks for the food, Lord" before we eat which doesn't stop her from swallowing a dozen of pancakes for breakfast once in a while.

I'm happy for the protestant brethren in Christ who got their sh!t together in their churches but our Lutheran church (although very traditionalist) doesn't seem to deliver from the evil very much. And I blame the sola fide.
 

Uponthisrock

Sparrow
Agree. But I didn't talk about grace. Of course, it's up to God to judge the living and the dead and no list of "deeds" makes you safe.

But then you say the following:



That's entire point of my entry. You may claim you have faith in the Lord but if you walk "in darkness" you're a hypocrite.

What'S the point of calling something "sola fide" if it's clearly not that as your words indicate?

Of course, Luther was right that the Catholic practice of absolution was total and utter BS. You ask God for forgiveness and HE forgives you, it's not through money or repeating Ave Maria 50 times. But sola fide goes beyond that.
I standby what I said.

John 6:39 "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."

Once saved always saved, cliche as that does sound and I do dislike cliche Christian sayings.
Your behaviour after salvation affects rewards.
I don't believe all who enter heaven do so as joint heirs to the kingdom.
 

Papist

Robin
Luther apparently wanted to remove James from the Bible because he wrote 'faith without works is dead'.

Can one have real, genuine faith and not try to do good works? If you actually read the Bible, and try to live as our Saviour taught us to live, would good deeds not be forthcoming?
 
I standby what I said.

John 6:39 "And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day."

Once saved always saved, cliche as that does sound and I do dislike cliche Christian sayings.
Your behaviour after salvation affects rewards.
I don't believe all who enter heaven do so as joint heirs to the kingdom.
So what do "once saved always saved" and "by faith alone" actually mean? I heard many protestants trying to explain these but most of the times it was just a very convoluted way of saying "it's faith alone but if you're not a good person then you don't really have faith..." or something in that vein (which is pretty much the same what Catholic and Orthodox churches teach).
Am I saved if I say out loud "Jesus is my Saviour!" but then proceed and commit every possible sin in the book?
 
So what do "once saved always saved" and "by faith alone" actually mean? I heard many protestants trying to explain these but most of the times it was just a very convoluted way of saying "it's faith alone but if you're not a good person then you don't really have faith..." or something in that vein (which is pretty much the same what Catholic and Orthodox churches teach).
Am I saved if I say out loud "Jesus is my Saviour!" but then proceed and commit every possible sin in the book?

I'm just curious from reading this what you believe.

I know I am saved. I know I will spend eternity in paradise. I know this because I know it has nothing to do with me. I simply acknowledged what Jesus did.

FWIW, yes, that is basically what I did, except I cried out directly to Jesus. It was akin to the Jesus Prayer but just whatever came to my heart.
 

Nacho

Sparrow
@Hermetic Seal nailed it! The faith vs works debate is a trap and false dichotomy stemming from a western christian tradition steeped on viewing everything forensically speaking.

It's a non starter for the Eastern Orthodox and the near 2,000 plus years of church tradition. When you try to break everything down into an a +b = c formula, you are viewing through a faulty lense of understanding. The church fathers would composite that faith and works are essentially one in the same thing. How would you separate the two? A believer that has true faith will naturally do good works.
 

Nacho

Sparrow
I would agree with this. However, GRACE vs works is the real question, and imo it is g

I agree Grace is the starting point. There is no grace vs works debate in church history though. That's something only an Oneness Pentecostal could come up with. It's pointless in trying to debate someone over it they are so far out in left field.
 
I'm just curious from reading this what you believe.

I know I am saved. I know I will spend eternity in paradise. I know this because I know it has nothing to do with me. I simply acknowledged what Jesus did.

FWIW, yes, that is basically what I did, except I cried out directly to Jesus. It was akin to the Jesus Prayer but just whatever came to my heart.
I am catholic so I believe that only God knows who will be saved and who will be damned.

So tell me, what happens to a person that proclaims "Jesus is Saviour!" but then week later reads a Stephen Dawkins book and decides there is no God? Or even worse, blasphemes God and declares Satan is his master?
Or breaks every single commandment multiple times and never repents?
How does that work?
 
I agree Grace is the starting point. There is no grace vs works debate in church history though. That's something only an Oneness Pentecostal could come up with. It's pointless in trying to debate someone over it they are so far out in left field.

I think you are misunderstanding my point. When I say it is grace vs works, i mean that is what people really mean by faith vs works. "Faith" still implies we are doing something to save ourselves. "Grace" is an undeserved gift, meaning we don't save ourselves at all. Grace means God/Jesus did it. Grace and works are opposites; faith and works are not opposites.
 
I am catholic so I believe that only God knows who will be saved and who will be damned.

So tell me, what happens to a person that proclaims "Jesus is Saviour!" but then week later reads a Stephen Dawkins book and decides there is no God? Or even worse, blasphemes God and declares Satan is his master?
Or breaks every single commandment multiple times and never repents?
How does that work?

I don't think we can lose our salvation.

However, you prefaced that by saying "what happens to a person that proclaims "Jesus is my savior...'" Why did you choose to say that rather than "what happens to to a person who is saved..." Was that intentionally misdirecting or, what, do you not think ANYONE is saved?
 
Because I do not believe that saying this sentence equals being saved. And because you do, I am asking you what happens in such scenarios? I don't mean to be an a-hole, just am genuinely curious what is your line of reasoning.
 
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