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Thread: Do Protestants Have A Problem With Works?

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Do Protestants Have A Problem With Works?

    Should we go on guard when we hear works talked about?

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    Is works salvation really a major issue today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

    Yesterday at a Bible Study at the Orthodox Church my wife attends, we were going through Revelation 14 and I heard the priest get to the verse about those who die in the Lord for they will rest and their works will follow them. He remarked that Protestants have a problem with this verse. For me, I was sitting right there as the Protestant in the room and thinking, “I don’t have a problem with it.” I don’t know how we could get statistics on how many Protestants might have a problem with it, but I figured it could be something interesting to write on.

    I think those of us who are Protestants have rightly emphasized salvation by grace through faith. It cannot be earned. It is a gift. It is not wages that are given out because we are good boys and girls.

    So when I see this verse in Revelation, I think it means the work that the person has done immediately is done. They themselves will work no more, but the effects of what they have done will live on. Why would that be a problem?

    If we go back to the Reformation, I am convinced the Protestants had the better arguments, but their exegesis was still not the best overall. Now I think there’s more evidence that what is being discussed in Galatians is not if salvation is by works or if it is by grace. It is instead being discussed what is the identity marker of if one is a Christian? Is it keeping the Law, i.e. circumcision, or is it faith in Christ?

    If we’re Protestants, we shouldn’t balk when we hear works being talked about. Works are great and wonderful things. Picture a man who goes to an altar one day next to a woman he loves and says, “I do.” Then he goes back home to his parents and stays there. He never interacts with his wife or has sex with her or provides for her or anything, but he insists that he is married. We would all seriously question that one.

    If you are a Christian, then along the way you ought to show the signs that you are a Christian. If you are not producing any fruit at all, we have reason to doubt your Christianity. This shouldn’t be a problem. It’s abundant in Scripture. Christ says He who abides in Him will produce much fruit. Ephesians 2:8-9 is followed by a verse saying that we are saved by grace through faith and the very next verse talks about the works that we do. While James 2 is often misunderstood, it is certainly right in the emphasis on how important works are and I would argue that James is talking about justification before men and not before God.

    While I do think the comment yesterday might have been exaggerated, we who are Protestants do not need to shy away from doing good works and we need sermons on the importance of doing good works. Again, none of this is so that we can be Christians. We do good works because we are Christians and we have a job to do. We are to do the Great Commission.

    It still is a tragedy to me today that there are three branches of Christianity today and I do look forward to the unity of all three one day. Still, we should all agree on the importance of doing good works. If a tree doesn’t produce any fruit, we can rightly speculate that the tree is dead. If we do not produce any fruit in our Christian walk, people can rightly speculate that our faith is dead.

    Again, I don’t know how many Protestants really do have a problem with the passage, but we shouldn’t. We should be greatly emphasizing the importance of doing good works. Those start with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

    In Christ,
    Nick Peters

  2. Amen KingsGambit, NorrinRadd amen'd this post.
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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Did you speak up, or wait to write about it here? Do you know if other Protestants generally think the same way you do about this verse?
    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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  4. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    tWebber Christianbookworm's Avatar
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    What exactly are good works? Is it being helpful and friendly? Being generous? Being kind?
    If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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    tWebber Dante's Avatar
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    I'm not sure how interpreting James 2 as being about justification before men addresses the question of James 2:14, much less how it doesn't jive with James 2:23 and 25, since the justification of Abraham and Rahab by their works have nothing to do with being justified before men. Not to mention how seeking to be justified before men would rather contradict Matthew 6:1-4.

    Speaking of Matthew, I wonder what's your take on Matthew 25:14-30 and 31-46.
    The fact that science cannot make any pronouncement about ethical principles has been misinterpreted as indicating that there are no such principles; while in fact the search for truth presupposes ethics. - Karl Popper, 1987

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Did you speak up, or wait to write about it here? Do you know if other Protestants generally think the same way you do about this verse?
    I tend to not speak up often in Bible study. If I do, I will speak up on many many things and there are several people, so I just wrote about it here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dante View Post
    I'm not sure how interpreting James 2 as being about justification before men addresses the question of James 2:14, much less how it doesn't jive with James 2:23 and 25, since the justification of Abraham and Rahab by their works have nothing to do with being justified before men. Not to mention how seeking to be justified before men would rather contradict Matthew 6:1-4.

    Speaking of Matthew, I wonder what's your take on Matthew 25:14-30 and 31-46.
    I think it's just saying a true faith will result in works, and both of these were lived out and we know the stories today. How do we know they were faithful? Because of what they did.

    I also would say that that's how I interpret the other passages. A true faith produces true works.

  9. Amen NorrinRadd amen'd this post.
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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    I tend to not speak up often in Bible study. If I do, I will speak up on many many things and there are several people, so I just wrote about it here.
    Respectfully, as a (known) Protestant attending the study, it is practically your duty to correct what you see as an erroneous statement of your position. If you're going to push back about something, why not push back at the person who actually stated it? It's sort of not nice to remain silent there, then respond where he's not likely to see it.

    I also note you neglected to answer my other question.

    ETA: To answer the question of your thread title, yes, Protestants tend to have a problem with works (the particular verse you cited notwithstanding).
    Last edited by One Bad Pig; 11-14-2019 at 12:13 PM.
    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

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio

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    tWebber Dante's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
    I think it's just saying a true faith will result in works, and both of these were lived out and we know the stories today. How do we know they were faithful? Because of what they did.

    I also would say that that's how I interpret the other passages. A true faith produces true works.
    Except in all of Scripture, works were never spoken of as a product of faith, but faith working together with works, and by works faith is made perfect. James 2:22
    The fact that science cannot make any pronouncement about ethical principles has been misinterpreted as indicating that there are no such principles; while in fact the search for truth presupposes ethics. - Karl Popper, 1987

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    Department Head Apologiaphoenix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Respectfully, as a (known) Protestant attending the study, it is practically your duty to correct what you see as an erroneous statement of your position. If you're going to push back about something, why not push back at the person who actually stated it? It's sort of not nice to remain silent there, then respond where he's not likely to see it.

    I also note you neglected to answer my other question.

    ETA: To answer the question of your thread title, yes, Protestants tend to have a problem with works (the particular verse you cited notwithstanding).
    I don't see how I neglected to answer. I just said I haven't got to do any sort of survey.

    Sometimes I want to say something, but I don't always get to in time before everyone has moved on to some other topic. The priest and i have a good relationship though. He follows me on Facebook and my posts are always there.

  13. Amen Rushing Jaws amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dante View Post
    Except in all of Scripture, works were never spoken of as a product of faith, but faith working together with works, and by works faith is made perfect. James 2:22
    I would have no problem with that aside from seeing those works do come from being in Christ, such as in John 15.

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