Conservative Colloquium

An Intellectual Forum for All Things Conservative

Crucial Role of Works/Obedience for Salvation

Posted by Tony Listi on March 6, 2008

How do Protestants rationalize sola fide with verses that talk about works as a means to salvation with no mention of faith whatsoever?

When the Bible talks about Judgment Day, works seem to take on great importance and the concept of faith is absent.

Matthew 7:16-27 “You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will know them by their fruits. Not every one who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.”

Matthew 25:31-46 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

2 Cor 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.”

1 Peter 1:17 “And if you invoke as Father him who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile.”

Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.”

Ecclesiastes 12:14 “For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

St. Paul does not dismiss the role of works in justification:

Romans 2:5-13 “But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”

In view of these verses , isn’t it more likely that faith and works/obedience are inseparable, that you cannot have one without the other, and therefore that BOTH are needed to achieve salvation?

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2 Responses to “Crucial Role of Works/Obedience for Salvation”

  1. becky said

    TRUE faith will ALWAYS produce its own fruit/works. There is no such thing as faith alone, as faith without works is dead, therefore not true faith. The devils believe there is a God and tremble. But they do not act on their belief in obedience to Him, therefore it is not accounted to them as true faith. But works do not produce faith.

    By the way, the email address above is made up because I don’t want my real email address put out here to be picked up by scanners. My correct email address is onlybcc att justemail dott net. Just replace “att” and “dott” with the correct symbols.

  2. foospro86 said

    I’ll take issue slightly with the claim that “works do not produce faith.”

    This is less true the younger the person is. Does any Christian really believe that they can raise their children into the faith without encouraging (or even demanding) that they do good and avoid evil?

    Yes, faith may be the dominant partner in the relationship. But good works can help prepare one spiritually for a deeper faith, especially if one is young and in the care of another. Christians of good faith have always embraced Aristotle’s wisdom that virtues are habits and, as such, must be learned and cultivated through practice.

    Are Christians to believe that their faith will grow and deepen if they do not practice their faith (i.e. do good works, obey God’s commands)?! Nonsense.

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