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Thread: Faith and Works: The Relationship between Faith, Works, and Salvation in the NT

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    tWebber The Remonstrant's Avatar
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    Faith and Works: The Relationship between Faith, Works, and Salvation in the NT

    In this thread, I would like to enquire of participants their understanding regarding the relationship between faith and works in the New Testament. Questions such as the following may be considered:

    • How should the nature of faith be defined?
    • Does Paul contradict James on the role of faith and works in justification/salvation? (If so, how? If not, how may the two be reconciled?
    • Do you believe sola fide (faith alone) to be a doctrine that is faithful to the scriptures (or, at least, to the Pauline corpus)?
    • Are the New Testament authors non-contradictory on the relationship between faith and works? (Are attempts at harmonisation possible, improbable, or forced?)
    • On the whole, are good works in some sense necessary for salvation (particularly the attainment of final/eschatological salvation)?
    For Neo-Remonstration: <https://theremonstrant.blogspot.com>

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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Remonstrant
    How should the nature of faith be defined?
    Faith means to accept that God has given you eternal life via Jesus Christ.

    1 John 5:10-11

    10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.


    Does Paul contradict James on the role of faith and works in justification/salvation? (If so, how? If not, how may the two be reconciled?
    No, Paul is talking about how to gain eternal life. James is talking about how to use that eternal life to avoid temporal judgment, and gain blessing.

    James 2:12-13

    12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.


    James 1:25

    But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.


    Do you believe sola fide (faith alone) to be a doctrine that is faithful to the scriptures (or, at least, to the Pauline corpus)?
    Yes.

    Are the New Testament authors non-contradictory on the relationship between faith and works? (Are attempts at harmonisation possible, improbable, or forced?)
    They are non-contradictory. A core teaching of the Bible is that our assurance of eternal life is supposed to inspire us to do good works. The assurance of salvation ensures that our good work will be rewarded.

    Hebrews 11:6

    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.


    Matthew 6:19-21

    19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.


    On the whole, are good works in some sense necessary for salvation (particularly the attainment of final/eschatological salvation)?
    No.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    My go to verse on this is in Ephesians 2, and it's by Grace through Faith that we are saved. I don't think your OP addresses Grace.

    We are saved by Grace through Faith, and therefore, we do works as His people. The works are not "so that" we are or will be saved, but "because of".
    --- this space intentionally left blank ---

  4. Amen QuantaFille amen'd this post.
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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    My go to verse on this is in Ephesians 2, and it's by Grace through Faith that we are saved. I don't think your OP addresses Grace.

    We are saved by Grace through Faith, and therefore, we do works as His people. The works are not "so that" we are or will be saved, but "because of".
    I think it's a little more complicated than that, since Eph. 2 is not all that Paul said on the topic:

    Source: Phil. 2

    12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

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    I don't think we should hold the sources in tension, but interpret them in light of their contexts and each other. Thus, works figure somehow in our salvation, but should not be a cause for boasting.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. St. John Chrysostom

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    I think it's a little more complicated than that, since Eph. 2 is not all that Paul said on the topic:
    Of course it is. I just fired off a thought on my way to Wednesday Night Service.

    Source: Phil. 2

    12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

    © Copyright Original Source


    I don't think we should hold the sources in tension, but interpret them in light of their contexts and each other. Thus, works figure somehow in our salvation, but should not be a cause for boasting.
    There are those who claim that simply "accepting Jesus as Savior" is a "work".
    --- this space intentionally left blank ---

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    tWebber Obsidian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig
    I think it's a little more complicated than that, since Eph. 2 is not all that Paul said on the topic
    You haven't done anything to interpret the ambiguous verse that you recite, or to show that the "topic" in Philippians 2 is the same topic as Ephesians 2.

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    tWebber
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    Do you believe sola fide (faith alone) to be a doctrine that is faithful to the scriptures (or, at least, to the Pauline corpus)?
    Romans chapter 4 teaches justification by faith alone. In this chapter, Paul uses the example of Abraham to show that we are counted righteousness when we place our faith in Christ. Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 which teaches that Abraham was counted as righteous as soon as he believed God.

    Romans 4:5 teaches that God justifies the ungodly. "Justify" means "declare righteous." God declares ungodly people to be righteous. How can God do that? Christ's atonement paid sin's penalty and satisfied God's justice. Christ's removed our guilt. Also, God imputes Christ's righteousness to us.

  9. Amen Sparko amen'd this post.
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    tWebber tabibito's Avatar
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    How should the nature of faith be defined?
    Almost every occurrence of the noun "faith" (πιστις and its cognates) in the LXX translates Hebrew words for "loyalty," "trustworthiness," "fidelity" with some allowance for "dedication." The noun almost never translates "belief." Specifically and significantly, (Hab 2:4) "the righteous shall live by faith" translates "emunah" (fidelity) - so any claim that Paul says "the righteous shall live by belief" is scuttled. Further to that Hab 2:4 as translated into English shows ""the righteous shall live by his faith" says the Lord" (exact wording does vary). The Septuagint shows, ""the righteous shall live by my faith," says the Lord." The LXX translation has a body of support in the New Testament.

    Does Paul contradict James on the role of faith and works in justification/salvation? (If so, how? If not, how may the two be reconciled?
    No contradiction. Paul promotes works of righteousness as necessary, while at the same time declaring works of law futile in the context of salvation.

    Do you believe sola fide (faith alone) to be a doctrine that is faithful to the scriptures (or, at least, to the Pauline corpus)?
    Sola Fide, that is; "faith alone", is explicitly denied by James. Nowhere does Paul ever promote faith as the sole requirement for salvation. It isn't even necessary to show that "faith" does not mean "belief:" Scripture shows that faith in Christ is one of the requirements of righteousness, and shows that righteousness is no more than a component in securing salvation. However, if we are to claim that "faith" is good enough by itself, it becomes a matter of showing that faith can exist where the object of faith, Christ Jesus, is disbelieved. If faith can't exist where the object of faith is disbelieved, it becomes a matter of showing that Jesus did not claim that works play no part in salvation.

    Are the New Testament authors non-contradictory on the relationship between faith and works? (Are attempts at harmonisation possible, improbable, or forced?)
    Harmonisation is a simple matter, once it is realised that Paul makes a distinction between works of the law and works of righteousness.

    On the whole, are good works in some sense necessary for salvation (particularly the attainment of final/eschatological salvation)?
    Note the parables of the wedding feast, where the guest was not wearing the proper garb - I believe that is a link to "robes washed white"; the parable of the talents, where the one who had the one talent did not put it to work to provide an increase. Then there are the comments about white-washed tombs, and the cleaning of the outsides of cups. Compare those records with the claim that God does no more than provide a mantle of righteousness over a believer, without working to cleanse the believer of sin. A lack of good works demonstrates a lack of love regardless of whether faith exists, and the admonitions to guard one's own life and doctrine are also relevant.
    Last edited by tabibito; 05-23-2019 at 01:14 AM.
    και εκζητησατε με και ευρησετε με οτι ζητησετε με εν ολη καρδία υμων

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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    My go to verse on this is in Ephesians 2, and it's by Grace through Faith that we are saved. I don't think your OP addresses Grace.

    We are saved by Grace through Faith, and therefore, we do works as His people. The works are not "so that" we are or will be saved, but "because of".
    that's my view.

    The example I was told once was: A man adopted a son. The son cuts the grass and does various chores because the father asks him to. He does it out of love, respect and gratitude, not to earn or keep his place as the man's son. That relationship is finalized. It can't be undone. Now the son could be rebellious and refuse to cut the grass or do any chores, but that doesn't make him not a son, it just means his relationship with his father is strained.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    that's my view.

    The example I was told once was: A man adopted a son. The son cuts the grass and does various chores because the father asks him to. He does it out of love, respect and gratitude, not to earn or keep his place as the man's son. That relationship is finalized. It can't be undone. Now the son could be rebellious and refuse to cut the grass or do any chores, but that doesn't make him not a son, it just means his relationship with his father is strained.
    That's pretty good. I like to add that my "relationship" doesn't change, in that he's still my father, but the "fellowship" is strained.
    --- this space intentionally left blank ---

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