What Comes First Faith or Works

Are you a good person because of your faith or are you a faithful believer because you are good?

Three complex ideas running around in my brain this morning:

1.  If you’re a good person because of your faith are you really a “good person” in the eyes of God?  Before you answer consider this: God judges a man by his heart (1 Sam 16:7) and there are many who will say at the end of days that they did good things in God’s name but He will say “I never knew you” (Matt 7:22).  Therefore, if your heart is not good and your good deeds are done with one motive, Salvation from eternal damnation, are your good deeds really good?  If an Atheist and a Christian both go to Haiti to help rebuild homes, who’s good deed is more pure?

2.  Or does your faith enhance your “good works”?  If you are a person who does good deeds, can you find spiritual/religious connection and meaning through it assuming you aren’t religious beforehand?  Will enough good deeds lead you to spiritual enlightenment and meaning that you otherwise wouldn’t find?  And if you are already spiritual, can your good works lead you to a higher connection with God by which mere study and meditation could not?

3.  Good works are not limited to one religion in particular nor is it limited to the religious as Atheists are good people and can do good deeds.  However, can religion exist without good works?  Can you simply be a good person, meaning you just don’t do bad things, and still go to heaven?  If so, wouldn’t that make you lukewarm and a bitter taste to God (Rev 3:16)?  But doesn’t discipleship require an expression of God through good works?  Could you call yourself religious and not do good works?

Too many questions and not enough time.

Related Blog Posts: Who is a Good Person?

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