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Can you really get to heaven without works????

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by treesitter, Jun 20, 2007.

  1. Yes, you need to have good works to justify your faith

  2. No, the only thing you need to do is pray the sinners prayer

  3. It is a balance; you are saved by faith but your works justify your faith

Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. ticker

    ticker ...at your service!

    Hey there Godschild07!

    Nice to see you again

    Yep! :)

    Nope! :)

    You were in God's best favor the moment you accepted Jesus...and God blesses you every second of every day. He loves you and wants nothing but to bless you. You are in His love whether you are giving charity to a street person or physically abusing your spouse.

    He can't help but love you brother regardless of what you do...His love is unconditional.

    In fact, He loved us so much that He blessed us with the greatest gift we could possibly have while we were still sinners...and giving His only Son to die for us!

    So do you think that now (now that we've even become righteous in His eyes) that He only wants to bless us if we do something good? He adores us...and He'll bless us every moment from here to eternity.

    Nothing can seperate us from God's love...it's a done deal!
  2. ticker

    ticker ...at your service!

    Ya' know what...I see so many people on this thread and in the forum worrying about works, or worrying about what would happen "if", or worrying about...and it just really saddens my heart. :cry:

    It almost looks like to me that maybe a lot of us simply don't believe the gift that's ours.

    It's a gift people!!! Receive it! :clap:

    Believe in the "good news"....there's nothing bad about it...It's alllll good!

    Just take the greatest gift you could possibly think of...multiply it by a million...and sprinkle it with chocolate sprinkles...and that's what YOU HAVE. :)

    Maybe some people just don't feel they deserve it...or couldn't possibly believe it's true...or something!

    But all this doubting, and all this self-pressure, and all this fear-driven motivation seems to be a result of simply not believing that right now, at this very moment, we have everything we could possibly ever want.

    There's nothing better than what we already have!

    Nothing that will come by thinking you have to do more works.

    Nothing that will come by thinking you have to do more rituals.

    Nothing that will come by thinking you have to be a "better" Christian.

    You'll be doing plenty of this stuff and getting sanctified by living out of what you already have...a relationship with Jesus. You couldn't ask for anything more.

    God meant for us to live through rejoicing over the gift He has given us...and then just go out and love, cherish, and do all these "Christian" things we talk about because our hearts are overflowing with the greatness of the truth that we are saved, the truth that we get to live eternally in heaven, the truth that God loves us, and the truth that anything that happens in our lives is all part of God's best possible and only plan for us........because we are now in His love. There's no escape. And if you don't like that...too bad! ;)

    There's no bad news AT ALL people.

    If it sounds bad and if it burdens you...then it's not the gospel!

    So just rejoice!!! :)
  3. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    OK. My feeling is that the NT is full of the idea that we are saved (whatever that is) by God's grace, not by our efforts. On the other hand, I do know thatt there are a few verses which seem to go the other way, so like almost every other belief relating to the afterlife, there's room to have a contrary opinion. By clear, I believe I had in mind more that the verses like the one already cited are not easily misunderstood, not that there are not others that seem to lean in the opposite direction.

    The "court of law" idea seems apt, but there's something wrong with the doctor analogy. I want to say that its more like receiving an innoculation. We don't have to cooperate in its healing properties and we don't have to understand immunology for it to work. But I really haven't whipped up a cleancut replacement analogy that I am happy with at this time.
  4. holo

    holo former Christian

    No amount of good works will get you God's favour and blessings on your life. Not ever. Jesus is the alpha AND the omega.
  5. OrchidAngel

    OrchidAngel Guest

    It is a balance; you are saved by faith but your works justify your faith.


  6. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    Can we say that they "demonstrate" or "are a fruit of" your faith?
  7. weakestlink33

    weakestlink33 Member

    Here is my belief:

    Everyone is human; thus, we are all born with original sin. Because of this, we can NEVER be worthy of salvation, no matter how good we are. Lucky for us, Jesus died on the cross for us, and through God's Grace, and only by the Grace of God, we can be saved. We are not worthy of that Grace no matter what we do; however, God freely gives this gift to his faithful.

    With that said, I don't see how one can be faithful without good works. Works aren't exactly required in my opinion, but I don't honestly believe one can be faithful to God without good works (and faith is required), so I picked "It is a balance; you are saved by faith but your works justify your faith"
  8. weakestlink33

    weakestlink33 Member

    Oops! I made a post on the wrong thread somehow.lol I had this thread opened in one window after the above post which I made, and I had a chat with Chrisbot open in another window... somehow I responded to him here.
  9. suzie

    suzie Senior Member

    We do good works BECAUSE we are saved, not to get saved or justify our salvation.

    Read Scripture --its in there...

    Romans 10:10 "For it is with your heart that you believe and are JUSTIFIED, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are SAVED"

    Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart tht God raised him from the dead you will be saved"

    When we are saved we die to self and take on Christ. The Holy Spirit dwells within us and begins to bring new change to our lives. As we allow the Spirit to work in us, our desires change to please God and not self. We see with new eyes and heart. God then uses us for His good to be His hands as we submit to His will for our lives. Its a great journey!!
  10. IamAdopted

    IamAdopted Well-Known Member

    Our Faith produces the works. Our works do not produce the faith. Our works do not get to heaven. They are judged. The only way to Heaven and all it contains is through Christ and Him alone. :)
  11. Macarius

    Macarius Progressive Orthodox Christian Supporter

    Eastern Orthodox
    Ah! So the problem wasn't necessarily with the analogies themselves - they adaquetly displayed a disagreement.

    You do find the courtroom analogy apt, and the hospital analogy lacking. I am the opposite.

    I find the courtroom analogy lacking and the hospital analogy apt. Though granted both are metaphors and not to be extended too far in our theologies.

    That's all I really wanted to accomplish - to point out that there is a fundamental disagreement in the way we view salvation which leads us to different conclusions in the faith v works dichotomy.

    (As a second point within this post, I wanted to offer this explanation of my view of the relationship between faith and works. I had posted it in the "define faith" thread, but I think it belongs here)

    Faith, in the Greek, is synonymous with "trust" - they are the exact same word, actually. When we talk about "faith in God" we are talking about trusting God.

    It's the same as if I were to say "I have great faith in Mr. Bob as CEO of that company."

    That is why Christ is so often frustrated that people don't have faith - especially the Jews who have seen the providence of God and should trust Him.

    I also think that faith can, therefore, come in degrees which deepen and grow as time goes by. It is possible to trust someone a little, a lot, or completely. While it is easy to declare that we trust someone completely, it is very very hard to actually live that way. It takes a growing relationship, and experience of that person's trustworthiness.

    This is part of the importance of the scriptures - especially the Old Testament, Gospels, and Revelations, in that they reveal God's providencial hand throughout history and allow us, even if we have never experienced God directly, to have a seed of faith that He ought to be trusted - that we should have faith in Him.

    Faith is critical to the Christian life because it is the ground of all repentance - by which I mean it is the ground of all good moral action and the means by which our actions are changed.

    This is on two grounds - the first is what you were speaking to (and this is where we wholeheartedly agree): we must trust the promises of God and their ultimate fulfillment in Christ's two comings. We must trust that death has been conquered by Christ so that we are freed from it's bondage (otherwise the repentance has no relevance since we will die eternally just the same). We must trust that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead - that what we do in this life matters into eternity. This trust in God gives us no excuse. It makes us face the result of our sin in the cross of Christ where we see the corruption of this creation in killing its creator. This is the beginning of repentance: seeing our sin and it's consequence (death). This is the word of the cross, and it begins with faith.

    The second thing faith does is establish the grounds for reformed action - for true dispassion (that is, freedom from the passions control over us). How? Because to trust in God is to be unable to sin. Insomuch as we trust God, we cannot sin.

    If I trust God absolutely, then everything which happens to me I believe to be for my ultimate good - even if not a part of God's "original" plan, I trust God's providence to the point that I know He can incorporate all things to the ultimate aim of His will. This is not something I can argue you to believe in. It is a matter of faith and learned gradually. According to the way I act, I have not even begun to learn true faith (so I'm a poor teacher anyway).

    If I have true faith, I trust that each person brought to me is for my good, each event, each blessing, each hardship. I can no longer get angry about anyone cutting me off in traffic. I can no longer worry about money (which means I cannot cheat, steal, nor lie). I can no longer do violence (because I trust that God has made the person to whom I would do violence, and I trust His providence to guard that person's life until He sees fit to allow it to end). I can no longer do anything except love. That is all that is left to me, because in faith I can percieve that the person and creation in front of me has been given for my good, but also that I have been given for theirs. Thus, to trust God IS to love my neighbor, IS to repent and act within God's will.

    Faith IS action. This is why faith without works is dead - it is no faith at all that isn't action. It is also why actions without faith are dead. It is no truely righteous thing that is done for any other motive than God - it is, in fact, an act of idolatry (since to worship is to dedicate one's whole self to the thing worshipped, to dedicate any act to something other than God is to worship it and therefore commit idolatry). Anything done not out of faith is dead.

    This faith is nurtured not by us, but by God in synergy with the free will He has granted us. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." Faith is the gift of God, though if I bury my gifted talent in the ground (if I don't act upon and invest that faith) I will lose it (and from those who have not, even what they have will be taken away).

    Faith is, therefore, the ground of our repentance, whose aim is nothing less than the love of God itself - to become the image of God again.

    Anyhow - that's my perspective on it.

  12. JonF

    JonF Sapere Aude! Supporter

    I agree! I even take it one step further; faith doesn’t save you at all. But, it’s grace that saves, not works.
  13. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    I wouldn't say that. I agree that you seemed to be on the right track with the analogies; obviously reformed Christianity and Catholic Christianity ARE different in ways that can be described. It was the second analogy that just seemed to imiss the mark. But it was just my reaction, that's all.

    Well, what about the sketchy alternate hospital/doctor comparison I mentioned?

    I don't see a problem with that explanation or anything for the believers in Sola Fide to object to
  14. SoldierOfTheKing

    SoldierOfTheKing Christian Spenglerian

    United States
    Does it occur to the author of the poll that saying the sinner's prayer is a work?^_^
  15. Uphill Battle

    Uphill Battle Well-Known Member

    This passage clearly defines to me much regarding the value of works regarding salvation.

    1st Corinthians 3:11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

    We as believers are building on the foundation, Christ.

    Our deeds, our works, are either Gold and Jewels, or Wood hay and straw. Good works will stand the test of the day where all deeds will be tested by fire, and the believer shall receive a reward of them.

    If you did not build with Gold and Jewels, but in Wood and Straw, (lack of Good works) they will be burnt and discarded, and no reward will be offered. However, in Verse 15: If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

    So then, we see where works or lack do not gain salvation, they do effect your rewards.

    What those rewards are, I don't know. I must keep silent with reverent agnosticism on the matter. (knowing that the rewards do exist, but not knowing what they are) reverently so, to think that God would offer even more rewards beyond our salvation, which is reward beyond compare.

    I've posted this elsewhere, yet I have not seen ANY response. It kind of throws a wrench in the "you must work to be saved" camps argument, it CLEARLY demonstrates somebody who's works are burned up (no good works) yet is still saved!

    Could you earn salvation through works? I don't think anyone here would say so.

    how then, can you keep it or lose it based on works? It doesn't make any sense to state that.

    now, some would say "apostates etc..." as proof regarding works for salvation, that in itself is a seperate issue.

    IMHO, someone who rejects Christ, after turning to him in the beginning, never had a saving faith in the first place. A saving faith DOES NOT TURN AWAY. So, yes, someone could say "I believe!" but then deny Christ later. I don't believe salvation was ever theirs in the first place. "No turning back." (hence the "if any man turns back after putting hand on the plow is unworthy of the kingdom" verse.)

    I have a theory that the "depart from me, I never knew you" people will be the ones who professed faith in Christ, but then turned away. Their last ditch effort will be to point to the time in their life where they said "I believe!" in Jesus, yet did not persevere to "the end of the race" as in a faith that endures.

    My 0.01 (props to CaliforniaJosiah!)
  16. Macarius

    Macarius Progressive Orthodox Christian Supporter

    Eastern Orthodox
    If you agree with my musings on faith then wonderful! We have good grounds for further discussion. I did try to phrase it in a way that would be comfortable to those accustomed to sola fide, though I think that term is misleading (except in the Calvinist case), since free will implies that faith itself is a work. Anyhow, I’d like to start with that groundwork, and extend the discussion. If we agree on the definition of faith and works, and that the two are a false dichotomy, the next logical question would be “what is the definition of salvation?” If we agree on that definition then we can truly answer the OP’s question about whether or not faith and works are both necessary for salvation, at least within the context of our own discussion.

    To define salvation, we would first need to define what it is we are being saved from and what we are being saved too. That must necessarily start with anthropology – the nature of humanity – both in our created newness, our falleness, and God’s intent for us.

    Let us start from the beginning - in the first chapter of Genesis God describes His hope for His newly created man and woman (all biblical quotes are NKJV):

    Gen 1:26 Then God said, 'Let us make man in Our image, according (after) our likeness.'

    A modern polemical Orthodox writer, Clark Carlton (whom I generally find too offensive towards others to tolerate) does a good job with this topic, so you'll hear me quote him often.

    On this passage, he notes: "Notice... that two different words are used in this passage, image and likeness. Many Fathers understood this to mean that there is a distinction between man as he was originally created and the final goal of man's life. Man is created in the image of God, but He is called to grow into the likeness of God by the use of his free will." (The Life, 16)

    Rom 8:29 affirms this: For whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

    This is also affirmed by other passages of Scripture, which I will analyze later (when talking about Theosis).

    As for humanity having free will to choose growing towards the likeness of God let us turn to the Old Testament again:

    Deut 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.

    Aside from being called towards a dynamic and growing likeness to the all-infinite God (a process which must, by conclusion, also be infinite since we are, in contrast, finite), we are also called to relationships with God and one another. This means that love is a necessary part of personhood - indeed it is the definition of personhood since we derive our personhood from God's, and "God is love" (1 Jn 4:8). Incidentally this is also why the doctrine of the Trinity is so important - God is love in and of Himself because in His one nature are three persons who exist in an eternal state of love for one another. Therefore to grow in love is to grow into the likeness of God.

    Hence Gen 2:18 And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.

    And again, Gen 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

    This love is also to extend to the physical world, the creation of God, which He called "good" over and over again. We are to be His presence within it, His stewards and the Kings and Queens of this creation. Because He created it, He loves it, and if we are to be the likeness of God we must grow in love toward it as well, not at all for its own sake, but for the sake of growing into the likeness of the God who created it, for the sake of growing within the loving communion of God.

    To quote Carlton quoting Fr. Dimitru Staniloae, "The glory to which man is called is that he should grow more godlike by growing ever more human." (The Life , 23)

    Let us now turn our attention to the fall - to how things have actually turned out.

    As it does for Carlton's section on this topic, St. Athanasius will serve as an apt introduction here:

    "But men, having turned from the contemplation of God to evil of their own devising, had come inevitably under the law of death. Instead of remaining in the state in which God had created them, they were in process of becoming corrupted entirely, and death had them completely under its dominion. For the transgression of the commandment was making them turn back again according to their nature; and as they had at the beginning come into being out of non-existence, so were they now on the way to returning, through corruption to non-existence again. The presence and love of the Word had called them into being; inevitably therefore, when they lost the knowledge of God, they lost existence with it; for it is God alone Who exists, evil is non-being, the negation and antithesis of good." (On the Incarnation I:4, SVS Press 29-30)

    Sin, being by definition the free choice to act in a way that breaks communion with God, breaks communion with life and the continuous fountain of life (for each moment is an act of free creation by God). It is, therefore, completely equal to death. To sin IS to die. There is no difference.

    If you recall, there are multiple places in scripture where people who sin die immediately (Acts 5 comes to mind).

    Suffice it to say, as sinners, each moment of life, each opportunity to repent, is a precious gift of absolute, unmerited mercy whereby God saves us (in each moment) from the natural consequence of our actions, delaying it, allowing us the chance to change our course. This alone (regardless of what more I will say below) proves that we NEVER merit salvation of any sort. Period. Even the opportunity to repent is a gift. The life which we walked from is a gift, the one which we are called to return to and to grow into is a gift, the path on which to walk is a gift, the legs are a gift - we were given everything, spat on it, and are being offered it continually despite that. That amazes me every time I stop to contemplate it.

    Yet what is it that we do to separate ourselves from God?
    A modern Orthodox writer, Fr. Alexander Schmemman, calls that tree of the knowledge of good and evil "the image of the world loved for itself, and the eating of it is the image of life understood as an end in itself."

    It is literally by pushing God out of the "economy" of our life that we remove ourselves from that communion of love and thereby kill ourselves. We do that by finding meaning in our life in something other than God - dedicating ourselves to something other than God. This is the meaning of worship to the Orthodox: To dedicate our whole self to the pursuit of it, to serve it unquestioningly and to seek it uncompromisingly, not counting the cost.

    As Rom 1:25 says, [we] exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

    Carlton again summarizes effectively, "We were created in the image of God to live in perfect communion of love with God, with one another, and with the entire created order. Yet in our self-centeredness we have abandoned the only true source of life and love. We have sealed ourselves off from one another within the impregnable fortresses of our own egos. We have turned a garden of delight into a toxic waste dump. We were born to be Kings and Queens, but instead we live as paupers in a slum of our own making, fighting each other for a few scraps of bread that will keep us alive only for a short while... We pride ourselves on our technological achievements, yet in this advanced and "enlightened" century more than 50 million people have been systematically executed by their own governments" (The Life, 28-29).

    So what is it that we need to be saved from then? Nothing less than sin itself. Sin IS death, one cannot conquer one without conquering the other. We cannot separate the "consequence" from the "work" because the work directly leads to the consequence - that's the nature of a consequence.

    Therefore, St. John writes in his first general epistle, in 1 Jn 2:15-17; 3:7-8,15,17:
    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever...Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil... Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him... Whoever has this world's goods and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?

    We have to be saved from death and sin (both) or we can never return to that path of growing into the likeness of God within that communion of love originally planned for us.

    So how are we saved from sin and death? By the cross of Christ and the grace delivered through it, but that is the material for another post, as this one is already pushing the limits.

    Here is what I hope I've accomplished: establishing that sin and death are what we need to be saved from as they are the natural consequences to our actions (in contrast to needing to be saved from God's wrath or God's need for justice), and that we need to become the absolute image of God - an eternally deepening communion of love which we call "theosis" or deification in the East.

    If we have come that far, then we may talk about the cross - for now we have set out what it is that needed to be done: the conquest of death, and the opening of the path to repentance and complete union with God in the love between His infinite persons and our finite persons.
  17. Macarius

    Macarius Progressive Orthodox Christian Supporter

    Eastern Orthodox
    This passage refers to the appointed clergy and their work in building on Christ's foundation. The bishops and priests will be judged for their parishes, but the salvation of the individual members of those parishes will not of itself condemn a priest or bishop, though it may remove from them the honor due to a servant of the church.

    That, at least, has been my take on it. I don't see it as having universal application because in many other places in Paul's writings works are listed as the primary criterion for how we are judged - that is, for salvation itself. This being the exceptional case - the one which stands out as being unusual - it is important to look at context and what else Paul might mean here.

    Notice that in 1 Cor 3:1-4 Paul is talking about how a minister of the faith is in charge of what to feed his flock, and then he takes a tangent in 1 Cor 3:5-17 to talk about the nature of ministers and how they build upon the foundation of Christ, how they will be judged for how they build upon it (yet not condemned completely for it if they fail), and why that judgment is so important (because we, the people of Christ, the laity, are the temple of God and a corrupt clergyman is corrupting the temple of God).

    Hopefully that suffices to explain how a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Christian might view this passage. At the very least, you can now say that someone has replied to you!

  18. WhoeverLovesGod01

    WhoeverLovesGod01 Veteran

    Answer to the topic: Yes you can. However, God alone is the judge of what's in our hearts. Saying "the sinner's prayer" won't get you into Heaven. You must believe that Jesus died for you and is your savior on account of your sins, and you must believe this in your heart. Works reflect our faith, but there is NOTHING you can -do- on earth to earn your way into Heaven.
  19. IamAdopted

    IamAdopted Well-Known Member

    Well it is not our works that are going to get us to heaven. They will not even save us. It is the blood of Jesus and Gods grace that get us to heaven. Only through the blood of Jesus can anyone be saved by Gods grace. For Jesus is the way the truth and the life. :) It is even the gift of faith from God that we can believe in Christs work on the cross. Works are the fruit that is seen after ones regeneration from the New birth. For once We were sinners and slaves to sin. After being born again we are now Imputed with Christs righteousness and slaves to righteousness. For it is the working of the Holy Spirit in us that changes lives. When born again we are brand new with a new nature. Gods nature at work in us through the Holy Spirit. Paul said this..
    1Co 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
    1Co 6:10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
    1Co 6:11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
    1Co 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
    1Co 6:13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body.
    1Co 6:14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power.
  20. Albion

    Albion Facilitator

    Bu that reasoning, might we also say that thinking, using your brain, when you have Faith is a "work?" I've even heard it argued that to allow yourself to be baptised is a "work" because you have to get yourself to the baptistry.

    I'd say that this is a misuse of the word "work" as we mean it in this context.

    But also, the question itself as posed is misleading. NO, you can't be saved without works because if you have the Faith that alone saves, you will do works. If you decline to do any, you don't have the Faith that saves, and so you won't be saved by Faith, which is the only way we can be saved.

    An unambiguous wording to the question of the OP would have concerned whether or not works in themselves have merit, even in part, to bring salvation.
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