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THE ORTHODOX FAITH:
What's Orthodoxy?
Who started it?
Is it 2000 year old,
before catholicism
and protestantism?

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Faith acting through love


Is there an interrelationship between faith and good works? Some ask: is faith alone sufficient for salvation, or are good works also necessary? The fact that many contemporary Christians oppose faith to good works reveals how impoverished and distorted their concept of Christianity has become. True faith extends not only over man's mind but over all the powers of his soul, including the heart and will. Many contemporary preachers have narrowed the concept of faith to a rational acceptance of the Gospel's teaching. They declare: "Only believe, and you will be saved." The error here, just as with the pharisaic approach, consists in the formal and legalistic understanding of salvation. The Jews in Christ's time taught justification by fulfillment of the Mosaic Law, while Protestants since Luther's times teach justification by faith alone, independent of good works. Traditional Christianity, however, calls for complete spiritual re-birth: "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation" (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation is not only the resettlement from earth to paradise but the grace-filled state of man's renewed soul. According to our Lord: "The Kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). In this renewed state a complete harmony is established between internal convictions and external behavior. Here good works become fruits which naturally grow on a healthy tree. And on the contrary, lack of good works testify of an ill and dying soul.

Now, spiritual re-birth is not achieved instantaneously. Christ's words to those who believed, "Thy faith has saved thee," (Matt. 9:22) refer to that crucial turning point made by those who have decided to break with the past and follow Jesus Christ. Without this radical change in thinking, any improvement and spiritual progress are impossible. Naturally, after a person has chosen the right path he must subsequently walk on it, i.e., apply its high principles with patience and perseverance. All New Testament books speak about working on oneself and becoming more like Christ: "We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:4). What is needed here is not abstract faith but that which acts through love (Gal. 5:6).

The Apostle James firmly rises up against those who separate faith from good works, saying: "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, `Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? But someone will say, `You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble!" Further, the apostle gives examples of righteous men and women of old who proved their faith by their works, and he draws the following conclusion: "Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (James 2:14-26).

The Apostle Paul likewise does not recognize faith without its fruit: "Though I have the gift of prophesy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2-3). Therefore, correct understanding of faith dispels all doubt as to which is more important faith or works. They are inseparable, like the light and warmth of a flame.

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