XII. Of Good Works.

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48 Responses

  1. Nonnie says:

    Faith in Christ will bear good fruit. I don’t see how that can be argued. It has nothing to do with works righteousness.

  2. Xenia says:

    I don’t really agree with this but my brain is fried from trying to write a difficult paper and it’s very hot here in Monterey today- it got up to 80 degrees! So I can barely think. I guess I could tell my cookie-baking allegory once again….

    I’ll make a feeble effort:

    1. No one (here, at least) believes that good works ALONE will save you.
    2. I don’t think anyone here would say that self-defined “Christian” who never produces any good works at all (no fruit) is really a Christian
    3. So, a real Christian will do good stuff. If they don’t do good stuff, maybe they aren’t a Christian.
    4. And I have found this to be very true: Faith increases good works and good works increase faith. (Assuming you are a Christian, that is.)

    Pretty pathetic, I know.

  3. Xenia says:

    And what are works, anyway? Is prayer “work?” That’s a little insulting to God, seems to me.

  4. Em says:

    sometimes i think we’d be better served to ponder the word ‘justice’ rather than ‘justification’ … how in heaven’s name can a man do anything that rises high enough to justify himself before a pure, perfect God?

    and that word, ‘works,’ too … we think of it as work for wages, perhaps? … our works might be better defined as product – produce – fruit … we are His workmanship … we confess our needy condition and learn/grow and He produces what comes forth in us that has value to Him … fruit 🙂

    God keep all close, comforted – praying for rest and healing for all

  5. Lutheran says:

    I love this article.

    I think there are plenty of church people (not on PP, of course :)) out there who think they can “help God out” a little with their salvation, by doing just a little more. Just a little more Just a little more.

    This article strikes the perfect balance.

  6. I think many people in the church are raised to believe that it is their good works that keep them saved.

    Many times I think people think that “doing good works” is doing something different now that you are a Christian – and as you can guess, I take an opposing position. 🙂 Because a person becomes a Christian, doesn’t mean that he has to change.

  7. @ #4 – So a pedophile can just keep on pedophilin’, huh?

    Yes. A Christian is a new creation. That’s a change.

  8. I always want to end my early morning posts with “Good morning Josh” 🙂

  9. I am talking “doing Good Works” and you are talking about not sinning. Once again, your objection does not relate to my point.

  10. I work with an office full of non Christians. They show up to work daily to;
    1.) provide for their family
    2.) be a good employee
    3.) provide a valued service other people.
    4.) They pay their taxes
    5.) They follow the civil laws
    6.) We have various charities around the office that everyone participates in.

    Now, if one of these folks gets save today – what do they need to change in the “good works” department?

  11. Andy says:

    How many works? If good works ‘always’ come from ‘true’ faith, then how can anyone know if they have ‘true’ faith? If someone runs to James 2, then we see that Abraham and Rahab each had only one work. So I’ll just go with John 3:16 instead. 🙂

  12. PP Vet says:

    First, hard to imagine in this country an office full of upright people with no Christians other than yourself. But possible.

    Second, God chooses hurting people and it often takes a long time, if ever, for their lives to look much better than non-Christians.

    Third, He is not interested in whited sepulchres that look good, but rather, love in our hearts and a change in the way we think. As a man thinks ….

  13. PPV,
    I didn’t say I was the only Christian – there are actually at least 5 of the 30.

    But my point is, that “many” are always saying – “where are their good works”, and I think what they mean is “no, those are their everyday doings – where are their “christian” good works?” – which is just pagan balderdash.

  14. PPV,
    “Second, God chooses hurting people and it often takes a long time, if ever, for their lives to look much better than non-Christians.”

    I think I agree with this about the slowness of change – but I think I take exception with “to look much better than non Christians.

    I know and see daily many non Christians who I aspire to look like some day. Do you use “sinner” and “non Christian” interchangeably?

  15. “Because a person becomes a Christian, doesn’t mean that he has to change.”

    Good morning MLD! 🙂

    I agree with everything you are saying as far as daily good deeds go, and in that context, I see what you mean about the above statement.

    I do think that a new sense of purpose is helpful in seeing the daily tasks as good works, unto the Lord.

  16. Xenia says:

    “Because a person becomes a Christian, doesn’t mean that he has to change.”<<<

    Possibly the worst thing I have ever read here on the PP.

    But it does bring into sharp focus the main difference between eastern and western Christianity. The goal of the western Christian is to avoid hell and to gain heaven. The goal of the eastern Christian is to become like Christ. And to accomplish that, we had better change and change quite a lot.

    I still have to wrestle with the paper I'm writing so I am opting out of today's discussion.

    See you all later.

  17. Lutheran says:

    One of the wonderful fruits of Justification is that it frees us to not do our good works to please God. Not that we don’t want to. But it sets us free to help others.

    Martin Luther: “God does not need our good works. But our neighbor does.”

  18. Do I get a trophy for the worst comment ever? 🙂

    I am trying to make the distinction between “I have to change” vs the Christian position of “I am changed.” The difference is, being grafted into the Vine – it is the Vine that produces fruit in us… not me changing and now doing Good Works.

    From my list in my #10 – what does the non Christian have to change now that he has become a Christian.?

    I think too many people identify not sinning as good works, while I claim that we are all still sinners but now good works flow through us.

  19. PP Vet says:

    “I know and see daily many non Christians who I aspire to look like some day.”

    As Moe would say, “Soitenly”.

    It is written, it is hard to distinguish the wheat from the tares, and in many cases, yes, the tares are in better shape.

    And throughout my life, when I have seen a “sinner” (colloquial and terribly imprecise term for “unsaved person”) ahead of me in some area that I value, such as love or decency or graciousness or humility or whatever, that example has inspired me in the direction of allowing myself to be transformed accordingly.

    Not to perform, but to be transformed.

  20. PPV
    I think your “Not to perform, but to be transformed.” = my “but now good works flow through us.”

  21. I would like to thank the PP Academy for presenting me with this award. 😉

  22. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    PPVet said:

    “Second, God chooses hurting people and it often takes a long time, if ever, for their lives to look much better than non-Christians.

    Third, He is not interested in whited sepulchres that look good, but rather, love in our hearts and a change in the way we think. As a man thinks ….”

    This^^^

    I myself tire of Brady Bunch Christianity that seems fake. Look at King Solomon, David, Saul, Peter, John The Baptist, men who were rough around the edges or had major failings in their life but yet they had a heart for God. So much of todays mainstream Christianity seems like a milk and cookies version.

  23. Lutheran says:

    Justification is the wonderful “engine” that is the basis for the Christian life.

    “What does this mean? That he has justified our race not by right actions, not by toils, not by barter and exchange, but by GRACE ALONE. Paul, too, made this clear when he said: “But now the justice of God has been made manifest apart from the Law.” But the justice of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ and not through any labor and suffering.”

    John Chrystostom, Early Church Father and Archbishop of Constantinople, Discourses Against Judaising Christians, Discourse VII:2

    Faith alone? You betcha.

    “They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed. John Chrystostom (First Corinthians, Homily 20, PG 61.164)

  24. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    I say that we are Saints that sometimes Sin

  25. SolRod,
    You mean we have an occasional oopsey?

  26. To use your terms, I think we are sinners who sometimes turn to God.

  27. Solomon Rodriguez says:

    Galations 3:26-“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

    Romans 8:14-“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

    2 Corinthians 5:17-“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

  28. Xenia says:

    If we are going to bat St. John Chrysostom back and forth:

    Let this be the difference between a Christian and the ungodly person: that he [the Christian] wishes to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit. Let us not pride ourselves in name only, nor be conceited on account of external appearance. But even if we would possess the things, we should not be greatly conceited, but rather should we humble ourselves even more. Scripture says: ‘when you have done all, say we are unworthy servants’ [Lk 17:10]. If we would think thus and be concerned about our own salvation, we will be able to benefit ourselves and also rescue from the future hell those who have us for their teachers, so that when we accomplish with strictness this course of life, we may be deemed worthy of God’s love for mankind in the future age. [69]

  29. I would toss around St. John Chrysostom – but I don’t know how to spell it. So I will toss out someone with a shorter name PAUL

    “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”

    But then I am weak on sanctification 😉

    http://www.newreformationpress.com/clothing-apparel/tshirts/weak-on-sanctification-tshirt.html

  30. Lutheran says:

    I don’t see any contradiction between what I posted and what you posted, Xenia. I don’t see anyone, including me, arguing that good works aren’t a part of a Christian’s life. To me, that’s a no brainer.

  31. I would toss around some St. John Chrysostom – but I don’t know how to spell his name – so I will choose someone with a shorter name PAUL

    “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,”

    But hey, I am weak on sanctification. 😉

    http://www.newreformationpress.com/clothing-apparel/tshirts/weak-on-sanctification-tshirt.html

  32. Xenia says:

    Lutheran, but if you read the paragraph previous to the one you provided you will see that St. John is talking about works of the Law as the passage is talking about Judaizers.

    “… (snip)…. All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King’s loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.”

  33. Lutheran says:

    ??

    I don’t get your point.

  34. Xenia says:

    St. John is saying that the works of the Law (the Hebrew system of sacrifices) does not save.

  35. Xenia says:

    It says right there in your quote: Discourses against Judaizing Christians.

    You know as well as I do that St. Paul was very concerned that the Jewish believers wanted to keep as much of the OT Law as they could and wanted to put this burden upon Gentile converts as well. Paul wrote quite a lot on this this and it was the topic at the Council of Jerusalem and the whole book of Galatians is about this. it is a mistake to conflate the OT Law with “good works” such as acts of charity, etc.

  36. I think we just do what we do – be the parent / spouse we are suppose to be, be the civic minded person we are to be, be a good employee / employer as we are to be, and be a good neighbor helping your neighbor and God works with that since he is the one who has appointed us to our vocations. And when we stand at judgement, we won’t have a clue that we did any good works.

    I have a feeling that it may be to our harm, if we do our good works because we think we will have to give an accounting.

  37. Xenia says:

    Mat 12: 36 But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.

    For example.

  38. Xenia,
    I agree that the wicked will have to give an account – Jesus is speaking to the bad guys.

    Look at Matt 25 – the sheep don’t give an account – they are totally unaware of doing any good works. But look at who is trying to give an account of their works… the goats.

    If you actually want to apply Matt 12 to Christians, I just don’t know why you are hesitant to belly up to the bar and proclaim – “It is our words and actions that justify or condemn us…” just as that passage says.

  39. (My previous is in moderation)
    Xenia,
    I agree that the wicked will have to give an account – Jesus is speaking to the bad guys.

    Look at Matt… 25 – the sheep don’t give an account – they are totally unaware of doing any good works. But look at who is trying to give an account of their works… the goats.

    If you actually want to apply Matt… 12 to Christians, I just don’t know why you are hesitant to belly up to the bar and proclaim – “It is our words and actions that justify or condemn us…” just as that passage says.

  40. Xenia,
    I take back my last challenge. It’s not up to me to tell you how you should represent your position. 🙂

  41. Lutheran says:

    A couple more quotes on justification from John Chrystostom from his Bible commentaries.

    “And this he removes, with great skill and prudence, turning their argument against themselves, and showing that those who relinquish the Law are not only not cursed, but blessed; and they who keep it, not only not blessed but cursed. They said that he who kept not the Law was cursed, but he proves that he who kept it was cursed, and he who kept it not, blessed. Again, they said that he who adhered to Faith alone was cursed, but he shows that he who adhered to Faith alone, is blessed. And how does he prove all this? for it is no common thing which we have promised; wherefore it is necessary to give close attention to what follows.” NPNF1: Vol. XIII, Commentary on Galatians, 3:8.

    God’s mission was not to save people in order that they may remain barren or inert. For Scripture says that faith has saved us. Put better: Since God willed it, faith has saved us. Now in what case, tell me, does faith save without itself doing anything at all? Faith’s workings themselves are a gift of God, lest anyone should boast. What then is Paul saying? Not that God has forbidden works but that he has forbidden us to be justified by works. No one, Paul says, is justified by works, precisely in order that the grace and benevolence of God may become apparent. Homily on Ephesians 4.2.9. Mark J. Edwards, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 134.

    Here are a couple from Ambrosiaster (366-384) each containing that horrid phrase, “faith alone”:
    🙂

    mbrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 4:6, “‘righteousness apart from works’: Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone.” Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 113.

    Ambrosiaster (fl. c. 366-384), on Rom. 2:12: “For if the law is given not for the righteous but for the unrighteous, whoever does not sin is a friend of the law. For him faith alone is the way by which he is made perfect. For others mere avoidance of evil will not gain them any advantage with God unless they also believe in God, so that they may be righteous on both counts. For the one righteousness is temporal; the other is eternal.” Gerald Bray, ed., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VI: Romans (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998), p. 65.

  42. Wouldn’t it be good to put away the discussion works in relation to faith and just admit that the saved have both.

  43. pardon ze interrupcion. says:

    All works are tainted. And we sin unknowingly. So forget yourself and look to Jesus, man!

  44. Babs,
    So why does your tribe knock each other down in the spirit to show faith – instead of showing your good works?

  45. Xenia says:

    I vote for Dread’s number 41.

  46. Xenia says:

    My final appeal to our father among the Saint, Saint John:
    ———
    Let us then always consider context. For it is not the right course to weigh mere words, nor examine language by itself, as many errors will be the consequence, but to attend to the intention of the speaker. And unless we pursue this method in our own discussions, and examine into the mind of the speaker, we shall make many enemies, and everything will be thrown into disorder.

    – St. John Chrysostom, Commentary on Galatians, Chapter 1

  47. Lutheran says:

    #45

    Of course, St. John was here not referring to himself and his Bible commentaries. He was appealing like any good Scriptural exegete, to how very important it is to handle God’s Word deftly and in context.

    This quote, in fact, is a good argument for all of us not to take words out of context.

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