Friday, August 24, 2012

Faith without works is Dead

In this mini Bible Study Article we will see based on the Bible, Church history and Tradition we will see how the early Christians viewed faith and works. So get your thinking caps on and get ready to do some research for selves!

"Works" In Paul's Writing"
"St. Paul uses the term "works" extensively in his letters, especially in Romans, Galatians, and Ephesians. By this term, he means human activities which he generally classifies in two categories: 1. Dead works: These can be works that are evil, such as murder, adultery, idol worship, and robbery-which the Scriptures also call "works of the flesh" (Gal. 5:19) and obviously condemn. But in addition, dead works can be works-even good works-done for the wrong reasons. These are works that are good in themselves-such as fasting, giving money, and feeding the poor-but are done to call attention to oneself or to gain standing in the community. Selfish motivation turns good works into dead works. (The solution to this problem is not to cease fasting, giving, or helping, but rather to turn from the sin of self-glorification.) 2. Living works: These are deeds that are both good in themselves and done for a good purpose: the glory of God. Good works the Scriptures commend. Paul teaches they are an outgrowth of our salvation when he writes, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph 2:10). They contribute to our faith, as James teaches, "You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only [or alone]" (Jam 2:24). When we do living works, we rely on the strength and grace of God, and we seek to bring glory to Him and not to ourselves through what we do. Some have erroneously interpreted Paul, particularly in Romans 4, to be condemning all works. A careful reading of Romans, however, reveals Paul is not putting down works in general, but dead works. St. Maximos the Confessor, writing in the seventh century, states clearly the view of the Church concerning dead works. "Many human activities, good in themselves, are not good because of the motive for which they are done. For example, fasting, vigils, prayer, psalmody [the singing of hymns], acts of charity and hospitality are by nature good. But when performed for the sake of self-esteem [vainglory, self-glorification] they are not good. In everything we do, God searches out our purpose to see whether we do it for Him or for some other motive...quite clearly He bestows blessings only when something is done for the right purpose. For God's judgment looks not at the actions, but at the purpose behind them." Thus, the Christian actively cultivates a habit of doing good works for the glory of God, and as a way of life. The writings of Paul are clear. If we are joined to Christ and cleansed from the dishonor of the past, we become "a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Tim. 2:21). God sets us apart to Himself so we will be productive and useful to Him. "Therefore, my beloved brethren," Paul tells the Corinthians, "be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (I Cor. 15:58)."

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