Faith and Works

Article aE 1989

Faith and Works

Article aE 1989

This article was written because it appeared too many people felt

the fact that faith is so important makes works of less or little importance.

Faith and works are the two most vital ingredients of the Christian religion. Yet it is sad that often their functions and their relationships to one another are misunderstood, for such misunderstanding and misinterpretations will result in many individuals experiencing eternal disaster. aE-1

Hebrews 11:6 reads, "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". Jesus said, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love" (John 15:8-10). The above verses speak of faith being required to please God and speak of keeping God's commandments, being required to abide in God's love. To abide in God's love and to be pleasing to Him are quite inseparable. for it would be impossible to be pleasing to God without abiding in His love, as well as it would be impossible to fully abide in God's love without being pleasing to Him. Considering the above issues and Scriptures it becomes clear that to abide in God's love and to be pleasing to Him will require works of obedience to Christ's commandments as well as faith. aE-2

Concerning the transition between the Old and New Testament it is true that faith in Christ and His redemption has replaced the need of keeping the Mosaic law with all it's sacrifices and rituals. As it is difficult for man to change old traditions, so also it appears that the Jews found it quite difficult to fully comprehend and accept this transition of faith in Christ replacing the Mosaic law. Apostle Paul often admonished the Jews about the importance of faith and the vanity of keeping the works of the Mosaic law. Faith is repeatedly spoken of in God's word and is of utmost importance. Yet apostle Paul never meant to portray, that the doctrine of faith, makes of less importance the necessity of the works involved in the keeping of Christ's commandments. Apostle Paul throughout the whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews repeatedly reveals how the true faith creates good works and fruit in such as possess it. Apostle James tells how faith is made perfect by works (James 2:22). Jesus clearly taught the necessity of works teaching as follows, Firstly, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit" (John 15:2). Secondly, That such fruitless branches shall be burned! (John 15:1-6). Thirdly, "Not everyone that sayeth unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matt 7:21). Forthly, That such as hear His teachings but don't follow them are like a foolish man who built his house on the sand, whose house will meet destruction (Matt 7:26-27). Fifthly, That such as do the will of His Father are His close kindred (Matt 12:48-50). Sixthly, that by your words you shall be justified or condemned (Matt 12:37). The Bible teaches that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and that God's people are to be zealous of good works. The Bible repeatedly reveals that at the judgment man will be judged by his works. Clearly if one's life is not producing good works one should not expect eternal life but rather expect damnation in hell. aE-3

M God is of exalted Holiness and perfection as compared to man who has a sinful and corrupt nature. Such is spoken more of in two other articles coded aJ and aH. Within God's exalted standard of Holiness, perfection, and severity is found the secret which obviously reveals that the Bible is not teaching anything at all contradictory, in that it so often and clearly teaches that man is not saved by his good works and yet that one must strive, produce, and be zealous of good works to be saved. Because of God's exalted Holiness and perfection and man's contrasting depraved nature, man could have no part in bridging the vast gulf that exists between God's Holiness and man's depravity. The merits of man's good works couldn't contribute anything in building this unspeakable bridge. The bridge of salvation is a gift solely of God's grace or mercy. Yet because of God's Holiness, perfection, and severity He will permit no one to cross this bridge but those who sincerely do their best to please His perfection and Holiness, maintaining the good works involved in keeping His commandments. The above principle could also be similarly expressed saying, because of God's exalted Holiness and man's contrasting depraved nature, man by his good works, could contribute nothing to salvation's gift, yet because of God's Holiness and severity, He will only give a gift of such value to those who sincerely do their best to please Him and do His will. It is with respect to the above principle that Paul in Titus 3:5 said, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us..." then a few verses further said, "...I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works...", and in Philippians 2:12 said, " out your own salvation with fear and trembling" aE-4

While many think that the doctrine of faith diminishes the importance of good works, it rather sanctions and teaches the importance of them, for it is impossible to bring forth and shine with the necessary good works without the inspiration of faith. Faith is like fuel for it fuels or empowers the Christian to produce good works. This active and fervent faith is imprinted on man's heart through the Holy Ghost. By the fuel of faith a flame of spiritual enlightenment burns within one's heart, through which one is convinced and assured of the vast truths contained in God's word. When one then is thus assured, he will with desire be moved to be zealous of good works because of, firstly a living awareness of God's goodness and severity (as is revealed in God's plan of salvation and creation of heaven and hell), and secondly because of a sure knowledge that all men according to their choice of good or evil will be a subject of either God's goodness or severity through out eternity. Just as a lamp cannot shine without fuel, so the Christian cannot shine with the necessary good works without the fuel of faith. When the fuel of faith is freely flowing one cannot but speak the things he through the eye of faith has seen and heard! The true faith is alive and works, it causes one to with desire endeavor to please God, yet at the same time it makes one realize how depraved and imperfect his earthly body or tabernacle yet is and causes one to desire to be clothed upon with his body which is from heaven (2 Cor 5:2). The fuel of faith gives grace and strength, it is what inspired the church at Pentecost to spread the gospel with vehement desire, and made the martyrs to sing at the stake. "...and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). Oh may all hearts cry out for the fuel of faith! aE-5

The true faith is a heavenly fuel which gives sanctifying strength to those which partake of it to produce and possess a humble, pure, and contrite heart, who then may come and dwell within the good pleasure of God and there be a recipient of eternal life at His hand. Forth coming good works and fruit of the body (outward man) definitely will follow with the exception of physical disabilities. Paul knowing the importance of faith said, "But without faith it is impossible to please him (God)". The true faith cannot but produce and be zealous of good works and without this faith it is impossible to provide proper fruit and works, it is with respect to this principle that God's word so often teaches the importance of faith and yet says at the judgment we will be judged by our works. aE-6

The true faith makes one aware of the deceitfulness of his heart and his proneness to permit his depravity to overtake him and thus make him fall short of his salvation. The true faith thus makes one sober and grave, it makes one watch and pray, for it realizes the vitalness and dangerousness of life. Yet it creates within it's possessors a living hope of eternal life and makes them to, "...rejoice with joy unspeakable..." (1 Peter 1:8), and "...rejoice with trembling" (Psa 2:11). aE-7

Ephesians 2:8 reads, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God". Man is saved by the gift of God's grace enclosed in salvation's plan, through faith which is also a gift from God. A most important aspect of faith, which God teaches and requires of all, is that of accepting, one's sinfulness, need of mercy, and God's ransom (Job 33:14-30). Eph 2:9-10 reads, "Not of works lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works...". Man is not saved by his works, because only by God making him a workmanship created unto good works, can man have the potential to produce genuine good works. Through the power of grace and motivation of faith one becomes the workmanship of God created unto good works. Thus man is saved by faith rather than works, because it is through the inspiration and enlightment of faith that one becomes a workmanship of God created unto good works. Yet man has a part or work to do in being saved, yet his part or work is not in many works or doings but rather in a total giving of himself to God, permitting God to teach him, mold him, and make him a workmanship created unto good works. Man must always strive to be as clay in the hands of the potter. Yet even at man's best his works are insufficient for he fails (although not willingly), and he comes short of the glory of God, and the grace and mercy of God must and does complete his salvation. Grace, faith, and works somewhat connect as follows; Grace is that mercy of God which provided salvation's plan. Faith is that element which currently connects this grace of God to man, (note, faith currently teaches man of this grace, his current need of it, and of the current requirements to be eligible for this grace). Works involves man's part in receiving the message which faith teaches. aE-8

The word faith in it's different applications in the Bible contains varying ingredients. Sometimes the word faith pertains to and means solely that power and gift from God's Spirit to man which assures and teaches man of his sinfulness and need before God and of God's Holiness judgments and mercy. Such meaning of faith contains only this one sided element and involves nothing on man's part. The Bible speaking of the faith with this meaning says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it (faith) is the gift of God: (Eph 2:8). Other times faith as used in the Bible includes the above element and includes man's involvement of having a prepared heart to hear God's message and receive this gift of faith. The Bible, so often speaking of Abraham's faith being counted to him for righteousness, is speaking of a faith involving both elements (the gift element and man's part in receiving it). Abraham faith was counted to him for righteousness, yet it had become his faith by him having a prepared heart to receive it. Man cannot be saved by the faith with the one sided element without works. Yet man can be saved by the faith which includes both elements without any works except those that were involved in receiving this faith. Outward works of the body will follow as opportunity affords. aE-9

V The faith of such importance, as the faith spoken of repeatedly in God's word, is not a simple believing faith of the mind onto that which it has been taught by others, or self education, and otherwise seemingly unknown. The world is full of people whose faith is as simple as such and they are deceived. How sad it is that the faith of most is no deeper than learning from man. The faith so often spoken of in God's word, by God's word is said to be, a gift from God, an operation of God, and evidence of things not seen (Eph 2:8, Col 2:12, Heb 11:1). A faith that is anchored in what it has been taught by self education or others is anchored in flesh and blood while the true faith rather than being anchored in such, is anchored in a revelation from God Himself. Jesus concerning Apostle Peter's true faith in Him said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Matt 16:17). It must be considered that Jesus had first told Peter "... flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven" before He so greatly blessed Peter saying ".. thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". Justification by faith does not only include that thing which one believes, but also that revelation from the Father, as had Peter, which assuredly convinces one of that thing he believes! It is with respect to the inspiration acquired through this revelation from the Father that Jesus said, "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). aE-10

The true faith has "... tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come" (Heb 6:5), thus it creates within it's possessors a living fear of the eternal contrasts and draws men away from all earthly things to the heavenly goal. The true faith causes it's possessors to shine with good works for they set their affections on heavenly things, seek those things which are above, and lay up treasures in heaven. This faith makes it's possessors, to together with Abraham the father of faith, confess they are pilgrims and strangers on earth and declare plainly they seek and desire a better country and city "which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb 11:8-16). The true faith makes it's possessors to, in the fear of God speak often one to another about heavenly things, for it is as apostle Paul said of the Philippians, "For our conversation is in heaven...". According to writings of Christian forfathers the number one sign of God's true church is of her people being drawn away from all earthly things to the heavenly riches and having their conversation in heaven. Such writings earnestly teach that saving faith draws and impells it's possessors from all visible and perishable things (earthly things) to the living God and His heavenly riches. aE-11

Such as possess the true faith which has it's anchor in a revelation from God through His spirit, produce good works or fruit because God has made them a good tree! Because of their living faith their lives will be adorned with good works and fruit, yet it will be far from them to become proud of their good works, rather they realize at their very best in God's sight and in truth they are yet sinful, undone, poor, and needy. Such at the judgment shall be of those who were not so aware that they cared for the hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, and prisoner, but shall hear these words, "...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me," Matt 25:40). "...Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:" (Matt 25:34). aE-12

It is very sad, and the results will be unspeakably bitter, that many possess a dead faith. A dead faith lacks Christ's sanction of, .... flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee but my Father which is in heaven", thus is anchored only in teachings from others and self education and lacks inspiration from God. A faith that is without revelation and inspiration from God lacks good works and fruit but often is not aware of it. Such a faith lacks the motivating fear of God, lacks earnest desire, and lacks heavenly aims, meditations, and conversation. Possessors of a dead faith are lukewarm, of which God said he would spue out of His mouth (Rev 3:16). A dead faith endeavors to hang good fruit on a corrupt tree. Such are very aware of and become proud of the little fruit they produce. Such as possess a dead faith shall at the judgment be of those who thought they cared for the hungry, thirsty, naked, stranger, sick, and prisoner, and, oh, what deception and disappointment for they shall hear these soul shuttering words, .... Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these (my brethren), ye did it not unto me" (Matt 25:45). "...depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" (Matt 25:41). aE-13

God's Spirit teaches and offers faith to all men. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God, which includes the Bible and the Holy spirit (Romans 10:17). It is through the faith that God's Spirit offers to all man, that man can have desire and be motivated to hear God's Word, after which hearing one then receives the possession and inspiration of faith and the Holy Spirit and is saved. Men possess faith in different measures. Some are weak therein, it is by prayer and fasting that the greater measures are received (Matt 17:20-21). Some have great knowledge while some have little. Knowledge of God and Christ and faith in them is of utmost importance, yet it is of more importance to know Christ as the eternal Godhead and in Spirit, as revealed by God's Spirit, than to know Him in respect to His earth life. It should be considered that Old Testament characters were saved by faith, as was also Abraham who was the father of faith, and many of them did not have a clear understanding of Christ's earth life and redemption. It is clear that God calls all men to repent and be saved. Jesus is a light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9, Job 33:14-30). For Jesus is the grace of God that bringeth salvation, that hath appeared to all men (Titus 2:11). The Bible clearly teaches that all men have the opportunity to believe in the Godhead, and are without excuse, reading, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:" (Romans 1:20). The Bible clearly teaches that God and Christ, are one with God's Word, and teach that God's Spirit offers God's Word (teaching, will, and law) to all (Rom 2:14-15). Thus all can believe in God's Word and in Christ who is one therewith. The 33 articles of faith, where speaking about the knowledge of Christ, teach that it is of more importance to know Christ as the Godhead and Spirit than to know Him after His earth life. Although God thus frees Himself on all men, God has yet commissioned His church on earth to give men an effectual additional invitation to salvation. "The Spirit and the bride (church) say come..." (Rev 22:17). How can it be that all are invited, yet so few come, thus forfeiting eternal life and will suffer eternal death? Is it not man's depravity and the workings of Satan himself? aE-14

May all in all honesty and carefulness examine themselves to see whether they possess the true faith which works, for if not they are reprobates awaiting citizenship in hell, the lake of fire, with Satan who is the author of all sin and evil. May all hear God's Word in Spirit and in truth and receive the true faith, thus be fitted for eternal life and joy, before it is forever to late. Jesus said be of good cheer I have over come the world. With what can we over come the world? "...and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (1 John 5:4). aE-15

(Count 3561 2/17/01)