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Faith and Works

Have you ever heard this before?

  • The old covenant is no longer valid
  • Jewish law is about “works”. Works cannot save you. Only faith.
  • You cannot under any circumstances get saved without Jesus (you NEED Jesus for Salvation).
    • i.e. The law is reproof or correction. All 613 of them!
  • The Old Testament points towards Jesus for salvation.
  • The argument of “types”; i.e. Abraham sacrificing Issac was a 'type' for the crucifixion.

All of this comes down to a fundamental statement by the Christian church that the Law is based on works while belief in Jesus is predicated upon faith. And that therefore, the Law itself is not a complete means of salvation, but that it was only a “schoolmaster” to lead us to Jesus (to quote Paul himself in Galatians 3:24).

Let's touch upon the heart of the matter first, and then example it's implications.

The Law is predicated upon Works

First, the fundamental error here is the claim that the Law is invalid because it is predicated upon works. It is invalid in two ways; one, it is invalid because the law is not predicated upon works, but faith. Secondly it is invalid because even if it was predicated entirely on works (which it is not), the fact is that God commanded (us) to perform certain works. They are not optional – The Christian does not get the right to make such a distinction. The Christian who picks and chooses which commandments of God are acceptable to him is really just an apostate Jew.

What are the Christian Objections to Works?

The Christian usually defines work in some way that provides objectionable grounds:

A work is something we were told to do, which we do not understand.

For example, why can't Jews eat shrimp? We don't really know. Christians object to these laws as laws which were put there to make it very hard not to “break the law” and therefore teach us it would be “impossible to keep”.

A work is something we were told to do, which we cannot do.

For example, Christians often say that without blood there can be no remission of sins (Hebrews 9:22). However there is no such statement in the Old Testament (see: Does God Require a Sacrifice).

A work is something we were Commanded (like slaves) to do.

Many Christians object to the idea that God is “like a father” in the sense that he gives us rules and regulations to follow. They reject this notion for the idea that “God Loves Us” and would never order us around “like a slave” or would never punish us for something illogical. This is related to the above; Frequently quoted is the death penalty for breaking the sabbath. “Oops, you broke the sabbath! Might as well kill yourself!”

A work is something that is done without love for, or belief in God.

Many Christians use the example of “empty sacrifices” from the prophets or the idea of the “hypocritical rabbi” from Jesus' time (or earlier times as a “type”) to show that Jews who trust in the law are not trusting in God. That is to say, they are trusting in their own mind, their own wisdom versus trusting in God's wisdom. Or they are somehow rejecting God's love to follow a set of rules. I.E. they are trying to “lawyer” their way into heaven, even without believing in God or loving God at all!

Christian Works

Some Christians also believe in a sort of Christian works.

Christan Works are those actions which stem from “a living and active faith in Jesus Christ.” Jesus exemplified those works well in Matthew 25:35-40.“ (-mp) Continuing, “we are saved by grace, through faith, not by works. Works do not result in salvation, but salvation does result in works.”

In this sense, 'works' does not refer to the Jewish Law at all, nor as a foil to Paul's “justification by faith alone (not works).' Hebrews 11 provides an entire list of those saved by faith, not works (-mp).

MP continues, “I believe Jews followed the law because they believed in the lawgiver. This is the same faith resulting in works as we see in the New Testament. We don't believe in God because we obey His law, rather we obey his law because we believe in Him.”

Forced to Comply

As it is therefore seen, “Christian Works” is considered to be separate from 'works' performed under the law.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.2Cor9:7 (NIV)

RG/VP writes, “Actually… wouldn’t “compulsory charity” be more akin to a tax?” “that would also qualify as not charity.”

  • “it is literally impossible to perform charity by compulsion. thats otherwise known as extortion.”
  • “you are going to give us a donation, or bruno will make you walk funny”

These statements illustrate vp/rg/mp/etc do not really understand what the law is, or why there is no separation between Christian Works as in “there can be no works without faith”.

No Reward for Commands

Another way that Christians misunderstand the law is shown in Luke 17:9 (this should be moved to another section of this document).

Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.Luke 17:9 (KJV)

This statement, of course, stands in direct contradiction to God's word in Deuteronomy 30:19 and in many other places,

At this point the best way to approach the subject is to go back and find out what works really mean, according to the bible.

So What is a Work, Anyway?

A work is simply something which God has commanded us to do, such that if we may do it, we may complete our covenant with God. Please analyze this very carefully to avoid making a mistake:

1. Something which God has commanded us to do.
2. To fulfill a covenant.
3. It's optional.

What is often lost here are the two important points that God has ultimate ecumenical authority. A commandment issued by God is not a joke, and you don't even have to agree with it. Luckily God is a very fair and loving God, so he has not forced us to follow his commandments (they're optional). But then why would we want to keep such commandments?

Because God has issued them as part of a covenant. That is, barring anything else, so long as we keep them, we will “go to heaven”, so to speak.

That's it. That's all.

Argument by Assertion

The Christian's argument is essentially by assertion, and is made based on not knowing what the Law says or what “works” really are. A short few examples of the actual laws should dispel misunderstandings 1-3 above; Judaism 101 lists several commandments as follows:

No. Commandment Source
1. To know that G-d exists Ex. 20:2; Deut. 5:6
4. To hallow G-d's name Lev. 22:32.
6. To love G-d Deut. 6:5
7. To fear Him reverently Deut. 6:13; 10:20
9. To imitate His good and upright ways Deut. 28:9

We see right away that half the commandments in the first ten alone are appeals to emotion – to love God, to fear God, to imitate the good and upright ways of God, to keep his name Holy – to know that he exists.

What the Christian does not realize in objections 1-3 is that while the Law does contain commandments so-to-speak, these aren't commandments at all. They are statements of faith.

Here are a few more examples;

  • To honor the old and the wise (Lev. 19:32)
  • To learn Torah and to teach it (Deut. 6:7)
  • To cleave to those who know Him (Deut. 10:20)
  • To pray to G-d (Ex. 23:25; Deut. 6:13)
  • To recite grace after meals (Deut. 8:10)
  • To love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18)

Against causing others to sin:

  • Not to give occasion to the simple-minded to stumble on the road (Lev. 19:14) (this includes doing anything that will cause another to sin).
  • To rebuke the sinner (Lev. 19:17)
  • To relieve a neighbor of his burden and help to unload his beast (Ex. 23:5)
  • To assist in replacing the load upon a neighbor's beast (Deut. 22:4)
  • Not to leave a beast, that has fallen down beneath its burden, unaided (Deut. 22:4)

Charity for the poor:

  • To leave the unreaped corner of the field or orchard for the poor (Lev. 19:9)
  • Not to gather gleanings (the ears that have fallen to the ground while reaping) (Lev. 19:9)
  • To leave the gleanings for the poor (Lev. 19:9)
  • Not to gather ol'loth (the imperfect clusters) of the vineyard (Lev. 19:10)
  • To leave ol'loth (the imperfect clusters) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10; Deut. 24:21)
  • Not to gather the peret (grapes) that have fallen to the ground (Lev. 19:10)
  • To leave peret (the single grapes) of the vineyard for the poor (Lev. 19:10)
  • Not to return to take a forgotten sheaf (Deut. 24:19) This applies to all fruit trees (Deut. 24:20)
  • To leave the forgotten sheaves for the poor (Deut. 24:19-20)
  • Not to refrain from maintaining a poor man and giving him what he needs (Deut. 15:7)
  • To give charity according to one's means (Deut. 15:11)

To Love all people:

  • To love the stranger (Deut. 10:19)
  • Not to wrong the stranger in speech (Ex. 22:20)
  • Not to wrong the stranger in buying or selling
  • To honor father and mother (Ex. 20:12)
  • Not to smite a father or a mother (Ex. 21:15)
  • Not to curse a father or mother (Ex. 21:17)
  • To reverently fear father and mother (Lev. 19:3)
  • Not to stand by idly when a human life is in danger (Lev. 19:16)
  • Not to wrong any one in speech (Lev. 25:17)
  • Not to carry a tale (spread rumors) (Lev. 19:16)
  • Not to cherish hatred in one's heart (Lev. 19:17)
  • Not to take revenge (Lev. 19:18)
  • Not to bear a grudge (Lev. 19:18)

There are more than 20 commandments against specific amoral relationships such as adultery. There are more than 20 commandments against specific amoral business practices such as withholding wages or unfair treatment of employees or cheating on the job.

Based on this some of the criticisms (but not all) against the law, keeping the law, and Jews who try to keep the law are incomprehensible to me. One can say “faith without works is dead”, but one may also say “works without faith is dead”. Indeed it is ironic that these points are being made by the opposite camp; “faith without works is dead,” is a statement from James; where I make the antecedent merely to show that it is true (and therefore the original claim that the law is dead without faith is invalid in either case).

The True Meaning of "Works"

As we have seen, most laws are either common sense morality or statements of faith. The Fact Is, that works are not just works – there is no such thing as “just works” or “empty works”. If you are trying to keep the law by works alone, then you are doing it wrong and you are not actually keeping the law.

The Law is predicated upon Faith, not Works

There are many examples of this throughout scripture; God warns the Israelites to turn to him and keep the law wholeheartedly. God warns people they are not keeping the law properly. Here are some examples which show that God requires faith, and not works:

  • check exhibits a and b first
  • prophecies of explulsion


faith_and_works.txt · Last modified: 2018/03/16 05:00 by serena