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Thread: Is faith a work?

  1. #1
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    Is faith a work?

    My brother and I were raised Lutherans, and we have been having a discussion about whether Faith is a Work. We left the Lutheran Church for other denominations about 50 years ago, but we both have strong Protestant convictions. My brother is Arminian, and I am Predestinarian, but we are both Free Will adherents. Don't try to figure out at home how I can be a Predestinarian and a Free Will adherent!

    So what do you think? Is our Free cry out to God for salvation a Work--is it without Christian virtue and just the cry of one who wants Christian virtue?

    Protestantism under Luther kind of swept this under the rug. Calvinism and Lutheranism seem to just consign our free choice to Predestination, not really answering the question.

    Works cannot get us into heaven because we need Christ to 1st forgive us of our transgressions. So how can we, through faith as a Work, obtain Salvation? If faith lacks Christ we should not be able to obtain Salvation, right? And yet the Bible tells us we are saved by our faith!

    No, this is *not* a trick question!

  2. #2
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    Re: Is faith a work?

    I would not consider faith as a work.

    To me works are referring to what we physically do with our body. We transfer our physical body to church. We physically dunk our body in water for baptism. The cry for God, for relationship is a heart/soul/spirit thing apart from any physical manifestation.
    "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
    C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."

    "Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years"
    "Sometimes the sky rains night after night, When will it clear?"

    "But our Hope endures the worst of conditions"
    "It's more than our optimism, Let the earth quake"
    "Our Hope is unchanged"
    "Our Hope Endures" Natalie Grant

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    If faith is a work, then all the NT does is transfer the "work" that God expects from carrying out the law to upholding the faith. And I thought the whole point is that works cannot save. So no, faith can't be the same thing as work.
    "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord."..."For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace totter," says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

    Isaiah 54

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Faith is like an infant coming to his/her mom for sustenance.

    No works involved there...and no works required either.

    Doesn't "El Shaddai" indicate that relationship?
    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fenris View Post
    If faith is a work, then all the NT does is transfer the "work" that God expects from carrying out the law to upholding the faith. And I thought the whole point is that works cannot save. So no, faith can't be the same thing as work.
    Excellent ..........

    ...

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Old man View Post
    I would not consider faith as a work.

    To me works are referring to what we physically do with our body. We transfer our physical body to church. We physically dunk our body in water for baptism. The cry for God, for relationship is a heart/soul/spirit thing apart from any physical manifestation.
    Totally reasonable position! You are taking my brother's position, who is the more scholarly one among the two of us. I am the more philosophical one.

    I've argued that Faith itself is a Work of sorts, but not a Work in the sense that it lacks Christ. Somehow, the word of Christ comes to us first, and then we reach out in a combination of faith and Christian virtue to obtain his salvation. Responding to his word is, in fact, partaking of his virtue, and thus obtains for us salvation.

    How Christian virtue gets into our Faith would be something I have to answer. My answer would be that in approaching us with his word, Christ is inviting us to respond to his word and in the process participate in both my free choice and his divine virtue in order to make a choice that leads to salvation.

    I hope this doesn't get too convoluted for anybody! I think it very possible that we are saying the same exact thing. However, the issue is much bigger for me in this. My thought is that if indeed Faith is a kind of virtuous Work, then Christian Works are themselves a part of our salvation--unlike Protestant Theology often states.

    James emphasizes the need to verify our Faith by Christian Works. Without Works Faith is dead, right?

    So, saying that Christian Works is part of our salvation is nothing more than saying we are not saved by our own independent Works, but rather, by Works operating conjointly by us with Christ. This might explain how, under the Law, Israel was justified on a temporary basis, until Christ could come.

    The only difference, I would argue, between temporary justification under the Law and eternal justification through Christ is the temporary nature of the Law. Disposing of peripheral requirements, no longer necessary after the Cross, liberates us from a bondage to unnecessary rules. But we still are required to do Christian works. Some call it "Christian fruit." But the Scriptures call it "Christian works." Or, am I wrong? In my view, all of our Christian Works are operating by Faith--the very principle that saves us!

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    No, it is not a work.

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by randyk View Post
    Calvinism and Lutheranism seem to just consign our free choice to Predestination, not really answering the question.
    Is belief really a choice though? Is it possible to convince yourself something is true when you "know" it isn't?
    여러분은 주님 안에서 항상 기뻐하십시오. 내가 다시 말합니다. 기뻐하십시오.
    모든 사람을 너그럽게 대하십시오. 주님께서 오실 날이 가까웠습니다. Philippians 4


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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Why would Paul made a "distinction" between saved through FAITH, NOT WORKS in Ephesians 2:8,9 if faith is just another work like all other works?

    The word translated faith is found in the Greek lexicon of the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and is defined as follows: #4102; pistis; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), *especially reliance upon Christ for salvation*; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:--assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

    Strong's #2041 érgon (from ergō, "to work, accomplish") – a work or worker who accomplishes something. 2041 /érgon ("work") is a deed (action) that carries out (completes) an inner desire (intension, purpose).
    ergon: work
    Original Word: ἔργον, ου, τό
    Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
    Transliteration: ergon
    Phonetic Spelling: (er'-gon)
    Short Definition: work, labor, action, deed
    Definition: work, task, employment; a deed, action; that which is wrought or made, a work.
    Galatians 6:14 - But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aviyah View Post
    Is belief really a choice though?
    I would argue it isn't. Is that a different discussion from the original topic? Not sure...
    "For a small moment have I forsaken you, and with great mercy will I gather you.With a little wrath did I hide My countenance for a moment from you, and with everlasting kindness will I have compassion on you," said your Redeemer, the Lord."..."For the mountains shall depart and the hills totter, but My kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of My peace totter," says the Lord, Who has compassion on you.

    Isaiah 54

  11. #11
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    Re: Is faith a work?

    I should write more than a short one liner on this subject. I studied Abraham's relationship with God a while ago, and this is what I understand....

    I started in Genesis...here.....

    1 After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision:“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

    2 But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit[c] my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

    3 And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

    4 Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” 5 He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

    6 Abram believed (aman) the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.


    The Hebrew word for "believe" is "aman" I wanted to understand why this term carries a 100% probability with it. As I understand it, "aman" means "to verify, establish, confirm or 'cause to be nourished.' I found that definition interesting because when God appeared before Abram in Genesis 17:1 He told Abam He was Abram's "El-Shaddai." So I studied "Shaddai" and my understanding is that "shad" can typify a nursing mother - protecting ferociously and nurturing lovingly.

    This promise was something Abram could not accomplish by himself. I like Scripture teaching Scripture, so I read this in Romans 4:

    1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.


    It doesn't sound like Paul is saying that "believe" is merely a mental exercise.

    Hence my comment earlier about the infant. An infant can not provide for itself. Sustain itself. Protect itself. But the infant does do something in finding nourishment. In doing so, it doesn't 'earn' the nourishment or preservation. The mother provides the sustenance and the preservation. In a childlike state, when all you have is mom, all you need is mom.

    Which is repeated in Mark 10:15 - "whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child (infant) will by no means enter it."

    This is the substance of faith. It's not a work. But it is an action. Think about how that infant "believes" in his/her mother.

    It is written in Habakkuk 2:4 "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by faith (emunah). Emunah - the noun form of "aman"

    In Hebrews 11:1 we read: "now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." and it goes on to say "But with out faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."

    Going back to Genesis, we read that same awesome truth:

    "After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.".....

    "And he (Abram) believed (aman) in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for rightouesness...."


    While "faith" isn't a work, there are definite actions related with faith. As we sift through the Biblical record of believers, think about the actions the believers below took upon their faith:

    Abel
    Enoch
    Noah
    Abraham
    Sarah
    Isaac
    Jacob
    Joseph
    Moses

    We know that faith is definitely not a "passive" thing, but something that motivates action.

    We read in Ephesians:

    8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

    And we are compelled to answer some questions:

    1. How are we saved?
    2. What is the purpose of faith?
    3. What is the purpose of salvation?

    James may offer some ideas that offer some tie-in:

    14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.


    Really thing about 'believe/faith.' And what actions follow true faith? And how does this tie into ALL of the Bible? It does!

    In Romans 10:8 Paul writes: "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart." Paul did not write that in a vacuum:

    "For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you , nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it? Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it."

    Is it possible for us to 'believe in our heart?'

    Some...and we have seen them come and go around here....might arrive at a conclusion that faith is 'works' - that somehow it has a redemptive value in and of itself. Nothing is further from the truth. We need to affirm that our relationship to God compels us to act as servants, in active service to our Lord. He expects participation - in fact He created us for participation!

    Faith is not thinking or agreeing with some axiom. Believing places us in the care of the One we believe in. And that takes a lot more than nice thoughts and happy Sunday sermons - or correct doctrine.

    The beauty of God's work in our lives is that, as we act out these things of faith, He rewards us with more faith to be exercised. We know that all this 'doing' is obviously tied up in relationship, and it permits us to enjoy that relationship...to breath in the breath of God into our lungs. It's His breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise.....That is joy brothers and sisters!

    It's not about what we think, it's about what we believe, and Who we place that trust in. In another part of this forum, I read a quote - "you don't know that God is all you need until God is all you have."

    AMEN to that!
    Those who seek God with all their heart will find Him and be given sight. Those who seek their own agenda will remain blind.

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aviyah View Post
    Is belief really a choice though? Is it possible to convince yourself something is true when you "know" it isn't?
    Right. It is not possible to convince yourself of something you know is false, or don't know is true. Sure, we might enter into a delusionary state, just for the sake of the "spiritual high." But this isn't what we mean by "faith."

    Faith for me must have a firm object. To believe something is true, it must have as its object the truth. When it comes to spiritual truth, we are talking about invisible things, and this tests our ability to see and reason. Since we are obviously flawed, our vision is impaired, and we may doubt, even though the object of our faith is the truth.

    So how can we know the truth in this imperfect world? If God exists, and I believe He does, His revelation must penetrate our obtuse attitudes, so that we can rest our faith on something solid. Faith believes in what it *knows* to be true. Despite all of the mistiness and confusion, the truth of God's existence is a reality which, if we open ourselves to it, becomes a certainty. Not all of the details will be so clear, but God's existence itself will be more than sufficient to base our trust on.

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by mailmandan View Post
    Why would Paul made a "distinction" between saved through FAITH, NOT WORKS in Ephesians 2:8,9 if faith is just another work like all other works?
    Yes, it depends on how you define "Works?" I believe there are 2 definitions for Works in the Bible (at least). Paul refers to Works in the sense of the Autonomous Man, who operates without God's Spirit, who makes choices completely apart from reference to God's word. God's word is not always directive in the sense of telling us specifically what to do on each occasion. Sometimes--most often--it is simply a general directive to act consistent with His love, so that we make enlightened choices based on His spirituality.

    The most important directive of God we receive is very specific, however, and involves our requirement to embrace Him as the source of both specific and general directives. He becomes our Lord, whether as a servant or as a son. He rules over us in all aspects of our life. So what we do, with respect to works, is the product of His directive and our compliance.

    Faith, therefore, is for me a Work. It is our compliance with God's word. God's virtue and our virtue are conjoined in the initial act of accepting Christ. And thereafter, our works continue to be important, because they are evidence that our Works are the product of our living in compliance with God's word.

    Paul's emphasis is on our need to distance ourselves from Works that do not justify. They are Works that are done independent of God, and not in conjunction with the Spirit of Christ. Therefore, Works can never justify us, inasmuch as they do not include Christ.

    Protestants sometimes go much farther by saying that *Christian Works* do not justify us. But I think they do in the same way that initial Faith saves us, because they are both the product of Christ's virtue and our choice to live in that virtue. We do not demonstrate perfection in our Works. But because we demonstrate Faith in the Sacrifice of Christ, we know that the Works we produce in Christ only show the perfection of Christ, and forgive our own imperfections. Thus, Christian Works justify us. Paul was not, I think, denying that. James flat out says it!

    Quote Originally Posted by mailmandan
    The word translated faith is found in the Greek lexicon of the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and is defined as follows: #4102; pistis; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), *especially reliance upon Christ for salvation*; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:--assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity.

    Strong's #2041 érgon (from ergō, "to work, accomplish") – a work or worker who accomplishes something. 2041 /érgon ("work") is a deed (action) that carries out (completes) an inner desire (intension, purpose).
    ergon: work
    Original Word: ἔργον, ου, τό
    Part of Speech: Noun, Neuter
    Transliteration: ergon
    Phonetic Spelling: (er'-gon)
    Short Definition: work, labor, action, deed
    Definition: work, task, employment; a deed, action; that which is wrought or made, a work.
    Faith, for me, requires God, or Christ, as its object. It is not faith unless it responds to a real word of God. In responding to Christ, our faith appropriates the word of Christ into our lives. Hence, our Christian Works justify us, having our sins and carnality disposed of at the Cross.

    I don't think Paul was denying that. He was only denying the Works of the Law, practiced after Christ had atoned for our sins for all time. Returning to the Law to try to justify ourselves by forms of atonement that were temporary was the equivalent of rejecting Christ's eternal atonement.

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    Re: Is faith a work?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aviyah View Post
    Is belief really a choice though? Isit possible to convince yourself something is true when you "know" itisn't?


    I believe it can be.

    Rom 1:18-21 “… because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

    John 3:19-20 “This is the judgment, that the Light has comeinto the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for theirdeeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not cometo the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”

    These verses seem to indicate that belief is notpredetermined but chosen based on what is most important to a person.
    "He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion."
    C.S. Lewis, "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe."

    "Oh, but sometimes the sun stays hidden for years"
    "Sometimes the sky rains night after night, When will it clear?"

    "But our Hope endures the worst of conditions"
    "It's more than our optimism, Let the earth quake"
    "Our Hope is unchanged"
    "Our Hope Endures" Natalie Grant

  15. #15

    Re: Is faith a work?

    Faith is not a work.

    Rom 4:5 "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

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