Faith or Good Works?

There has been a long, ongoing battle between Christians as to whether one is saved by faith alone or with the augmentation of good works. Something as important as eternal salvation needs resolution.

An effective means for throwing light on a particular subject is through the use of analogy. Analogy lets us tie together something unknown with something known and experienced. So I would like to use the power of analogy to help us get to the bottom of this most important issue and settle the debate over faith and good works.

The difference between faith and good works is analogous to the difference between sowing seed and growing seed. Having faith and belief (along with its religious doctrine) is like God sowing spiritual seed in our mind – which is the soil of our spirit. But only having faith and belief in the Lord as savior is like leaving seeds sitting on top of the soil.

It is a scientific fact that the seeds of nature’s plant kingdom will not take root and grow until the soil conditions are favorable. Same thing with the seeds of faith, which remain as mere data in one’s memory, until the conditions of the heart and mind become favorable.

The “perfect” conditions that allow for faith to take root and grow have to do with spiritual love. It is a desire to be helpful to others from a spiritual principle. This state of the human spirit is called loving God and loving the neighbor (which are the two principles of religion that all the commandments hang on).

Love (like the vernal warmth of Spring) provides the spiritual warmth that releases the productive principle within the seeds of faith, allowing God’s lessons to take root and in our hearts and mind, where it then grows into living activity.

Growth is action. Likewise, faith must grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Faith has no life unless it grows and is productive. In other words, faith cannot reach its potentials without good works. Good works (spiritual love) are the very life and living activity of faith.

Love is faith put into action.

This is why the Lord said to “judge them by their fruits.” The Lord did not say to “judge them by their faith.” Good works are one’s faith manifested in the world, that is, finding concrete reality in action.

However, there is a caveat. Good works must be carried out with humility, be aligned to a true love of the Lord God, and an acknowledgment that God is the Gardener. Otherwise, we take merit for our charitable actions and good deeds.

What say you?

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About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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