FAITH AND WORKS

Nov 05, 2020

Faith is “a confidence or trust in God”. Faith gives assertion to the things we hope for and explains the things that we cannot see.

This was the testimony that was given to the fathers. (Heb. 11:1-2). Faith can attest to and explain those things that cannot be seen as concrete when it can be demonstrated in action and deed. The patriarch Abraham, Rehab, the holy prophets and martyrs are among the exalted examples of great faith. (Jas. 2:14-26).

The church believes that it is impossible to please God without faith. It teaches its followers that the Kingdom of God shall be inherited by faith. In fact the greatness of faith is attested by the words of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who said, “for verily I say unto you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, “remove” hence to yonder place: and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you” Mat. 21:21. Our Lord also said, “if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say unto this sycamore tree, be you plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea, and it should obey you.”  Luk. 17:6 so that the apostles said unto the lord “increase our faith” Luk. 17:5.

The bible also mentions the many roles that faith has in spiritual life: Faith heals Mat. 9:20 Mat 9:29 Faith makes us whole Mar. 10:52 Luk. 18:42. Jesus Christ saw their faith and he said unto him “thy sins are forgiven thee” Luk. 5:20. Faith saves Luk. 7:50. Faith is strengthened through prayer Luk. 22:32. Faith makes us strong Acts 3:16. Faith purifies the heart Acts 15:9. Faith sanctifies Acts 26:18. Faith also justifies Rom. 3.28. Through faith, the law is established Rom. 3:31. Faith is counted for righteousness Rom. 4:5. Faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit 1st cor. 1:9.

However faith alone doesn’t save. Our Church teaches and believes that when faith and works are both in a Christian life, they bring forth Salvation. Of course, faith comes before work. Hence St. John Chrysostom’s famous dictum “Faith is the foundation, the rest (i.e. works) are building and walls.” Elucidating this point further, St John says “as the foundation bears the building; faith also embraces deeds,” i.e. as a building cannot stand nor be seen if it is without foundation, a Christian cannot be saved without good deed. (Homily of John Chrysostom 9).

The Apostle St. James underlines the fact that faith and work should go together when he wrote “What good is it my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? .... As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

That is why it is written as “And now abides faith, hope, and charity. These three: but the greatest of these is charity” 1st cor. 13:13. Of course charity is “faith in action”. Hence the apostle says “and though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge: and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” 1st cor. 13.2.

In emphasizing the role of good deeds, our Lord Jesus Christ said that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Mt.7:19). Again it is written that, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of Heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in Heaven. (Mt. 7:21; Luk. 3:8). This shows that to be worthy of the kingdom of Heaven what one does should be rooted and manifested in faith. On the Day of Judgment, one will be judged on what he did in faith and not on the basis of his faith alone. (Mt. 25:41-45). Or else why would it be written as “…. He will reward each person according to what he has done.” (Mt.16:27; Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 14:13; 20:21, 22:12).

On this basis therefore the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church believes and teaches that faith should be practiced along with deeds and that faith as such by itself would not count for much.   

Glory to God.

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