what exactly constitutes the "works" as mentioned in the scripture "faith without works is dead"?

my thought is maybe the biblical definition of "works" is not as defined and understood by works-based religions

27 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best answer

    I personally think it has to do with "bragging rights" for the individual. We as Christians have no right to brag about the undeserved grace that saves us, however Christians involved with works-based religions keep track of their "works" and compare them to national or worldwide averages among their parishioners or against other religions: "Our members did this amount, how much have other Christian religions done?" things like that.

    I also believe that they cannot accept grace because they have not allowed Christ fully into their heart, for if they had then grace would open their hearts and spiritual minds to the full spectrum of how Christ can change us mentally, physically, spirituall eternally.

    Sorry, I misread your question.

    But to actually answer it:

    Works that go along with faith are the questions that Jesus asked about his apostles when they replied:

    When did we see you naked, hungry, etc, etc.

    Then Christ said, to the extent that you did them to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

    If we truly have faith in Christ then we will be moved by an honest heart filled with love of God and neighbor (the 2 new commandments that Christ gave after fulfilling the Mosaic Law) to do good which also include leading the lost to grace.

    It certainly doesn't mean that we earn salvation by or works, but it's much like a diploma. I may have a PhD in a certain discipline, but if I do nothing with it the PhD does not good. Just having the PhD means you met the requires for having it, but to be a successful person, you need to use it.

    Source(s): Life Experiences
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    When we read Scripture, it will usually explain itself. It's hard to get the meaning the author intends by reading only one or two verses.

    2:14-26 James continues his series of tests by which his readers can evaluate whether their faith is living of dead. This passage the composite test - the one test that pulls the others together: the test of works, or righteous behavior that obeys God's Word and manifests a godly nature (cf. 1:22-25). James' point is not that a person is saved by works (he has already strongly and clearly asserted that salvation is a gracious gift from God; 1:17, 18; cf. Eph. 2:8, 9, but that there is a kind of apparent faith that is dead and does not save (vv. 14, 17, 20, 24, 26; cf. Matt. 3:7, 8; 5:16; 7:21; 13:18-23; John 8:30, 31; 15:6). It is possible James was writing to Jews (cf. 1:1) who had jettisoned the works righteousness of Judaism but, instead, had embraced the mistaken notion that since righteous works and obedience to God's will were not efficacious for salvation, they were not necessary at all. Thus, they reduced faith to a mere mental assent to the facts about Christ.

    Knowing that Jesus was crucified for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day will not save you. That's only "head" knowledge. Salvation comes from transferring that knowledge to your heart by taking in God's Word and allowing it to change your lifestyle to conform to that of His Son's.

    Source(s): NKJV Bible
  • 1 decade ago

    Stay far away from the works of the fallen flesh and cultivate the fruitage of God’s spirit, thus remaining “healthy in faith.”—Gal. 5:19-26.

    Of equal consideration is the story of the slaves and the talents given by the master in Mt 25:14-30. The slave that buried his talent in the ground instead of finding a way to make it increase was called , "Wicked and slothful servant" RSV

    I think both these examples can be tied in with "Go and make disciples teaching them the things I have commanded you " as stated at Mt 28:19 Once we learn the truth, we are obligated to share that information with our fellow man.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Your thoughts are correct Pedi. Works in the Bible include constant prayer, obedience, love, testing ourselves, witnessing, exposing false teachings, counting ourselves and the world and the things of this world as dung, mercy, IMITATE CHRIST. Works don't save us according to Eph. 2:8-9, Titus 3:5, and Is. 64:6. However James 2 in context is saying that if we are truly Christian then we have evidence (works) of it. If I say I'm Christian then if you put me on trial my evidence should point in that direction. If I don't have evidence, then I would be a false convert.

    You can't have faith without works and you can't have works without faith. They go hand in hand according to the Biblical definition otherwise it's nothing more than a "works based" religion...and no mans works will get him to heaven. They will only condemn him.

    Source(s): The Bible
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  • quaver
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    There are so many wonderful things we can do that fall into the category of "works":

    Following the commandments of Jesus in carrying out the ways we should act in situations where love of our neighbors are involved is a good place to start. Looking after widows, orphans, the poor, and others who are giving of themselves for the sake of following Jesus' commands. We can forgive others endlessly, settle arguments peacefully, discouraging gossip, obeying the laws of the land and the laws of our Creator and certainly not last and not least, try to encourage and teach our children to have a bible trained conscience to help guide them against the bad influences of the world and to respect decency.

  • 1 decade ago

    I assume faith without "works" means if you don't put it into practice than it is "dead"- or meaningless. Having faith is one thing, but living through with these beliefs is a whole other aspect you must explore to really be considered a follower. Thus,"works" is living out the faith and beliefs day to day and i guess spreading the word of God is included in that also.

  • Most posters have described what they believe 'works' to mean, most correctly according to scripture. Pauls letter to the Ephesians is full of examples of 'works', such as truthfulness, honesty, upbuilding talk, kindness,compassion, forgiveness of our fellow man, morality, thanksgiving, and so on (Ephesians 4:21 - 5:21). However, what I really like about this letter, is that Paul makes it very clear that 'works' are not the way to salvation, as some groups may claim. Eph 2:8,9 says 'For it is by HIS GRACE you have been saved, through faith - and this not by yourselves, it is the gift of God - NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast.(capitals mine). Works then, is the putting on of the Christian personality and demonstrating these characteristics in your everyday life; loving your fellow man, and demonstrating that love with action, not just words; and, by your actions also demonstrating that you a love God. The Bible makes it very clear that 'works' is not knocking on doors with a smug and self righteous attitude that only your group has the 'truth'.

    Source(s): The Bible
  • 1 decade ago

    "Works" here is from the Greek word ergon, which translates as "deed, doing, labor." It's not meaning "works" in a way that is legalistic though. The Bible is very clear that if you truly believe in Jesus, then you will live in a way that demonstrates your transformed heart and renewed mind. You're going to live like Him. It can also be translated "faith without action is dead."

  • 1 decade ago

    The passage in James is referencing a specific problem the Apostle was dealing with in his congretation. There were people saying they were Christians, but having no evidence to that fact.

    That is why OSAS is not a Christian doctrine - Once Saved Always Saved. One cannot claim to have trusted Christ and then have absolutely no evidence to this claim.

    We believe in Perserverance of the Saints. While we indeed sin and grieve God, we are aware of our sin and sorry for it and repent and live for God.

    Ultimately though, God is the judge of who is His.


  • 1 decade ago

    Good works would be obedience to the commands found in the Bible.

    Belief in Christ is frequently contrasted with works, so the act of acceptance of salvation is not a work.

    Good question.

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