Faith versus Works

In reading the Orthodox study bible, I came across the commentary on Romans 5.  It states, “In Western Europe during the sixteenth century and before, justifiable concern arose among the Reformers over a prevailing understanding that salvation depended on human works of merit, and not on the grace and mercy of God.  Their rediscovery of Romans 5 lead to the slogan sola fides:  justification by faith alone.  This Reformation debate in the West raised the questions for the Orthodox East:  Why this new polarization of faith and works?  It had been settled since the apostolic era that salvation was granted by the mercy of God to righteous men and woman.  Those baptized into Christ were called to believe in Him and do good works.  An opposition of faith versus works was unprecedented in Orthodox thought…..Rather than justification as a legal acquittal before God, Orthodox believers see justification by faith as a covenant relationship with Him centered in union with Christ.”  And, if I may springboard of that, works will then automatically follow.  It must.  Works are the natural outgoing of a covenental relationship with God that is based on love, faith, and hope.  God’s role in that is justification of our sin and our role in that is to believe it because we didn’t earn it.  Works comes when these two points connect in covenant.  I think this is James’ point (James 2:18).  This also seems to reflect first century Jewish/Christian thought on the covenental relationship between God and His people.

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