Q&A: Do I earn God’s grace by works?

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7 thoughts on “Q&A: Do I earn God’s grace by works?”

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      Hi Andrew,

      A person can want to struggle with a sin for the sake of love, or for reasons of ego. It’s one thing to say, “man, I want to overcome lust because how can I give my whole love to God if I’m indulging in this” and another thing to say, “Man, I can’t believe I’m still falling into this sin, this is so not me!” The former is for love, the latter is because one thinks himself above sin.

      The right reasons for fighting sins – because a person wishes to be struggle for holiness, to look beautiful for the Bridegroom (i.e. acquire virtue), because of a deep sense of love for God and the feeling that the sin is what is keeping me from knowing Him or loving Him more deeply.

      Wrong reasons: this sin is below me, I’m not the kind of person who sins, I want to prove that *I* have self-control, I want to make a point of any kind, ‘bad people in the world do this’, my priest/family/friend think that I can’t get over this, I’m not a sinner

      A truly humble person will consider himself capable of any sin, but trusts that the love of God and grace of God are what preserve him. God’s love and grace transform him out of sin, rather than his own physical capabilities.

  1. Hello Abouna,

    What do you mean by this, “This can be understood with a simple question, if an atheist does good deeds, reads prayers, gets baptised in a font and partakes of Eucharist but in His heart is still an atheist, will he be saved? Yes, it’s rhetorical.”

    Thank you

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      Hi Mike,

      The idea is that if works were intrinsically the source of grace or progress, than an atheist should be able to do those same works and be saved. Yet we all would probably agree that if an atheist were to simply physically carry out tasks but not have a relationship with God (e.g. Love), the acts themselves are not life-saving. Sure, the acts might get him to *think* about having a real relationship and help get him there, but the acts themselves are not going to save him. Does that clarify?

      Pray for me!

  2. Hi abouna,
    I was told by an Coptic orthodox bishop that like you mentioned Grace is a GIFT but a gift is not considered a gift unless the recipient actually accepts it; and to show God that we are accepting the gift is abiding by His commandments and accepting the church sacraments ( baptism, confession and repentance , and Communion). So works is the sacraments and not simply say that grace is free and therefore the sacraments are not needed.
    Do you agree with that concept ?

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      Hi Mareya,

      Grace is free no matter what. To say that grace is not free means to say that we pay for grace. We do not.

      What HG seems to be saying is the same idea as what was said above, which is that grace requires a response, but the response does not mean the grace was paid for. I respond to grace with my own will (which is a work), but that own will didn’t earn me His grace, because He didn’t have to give me anything in the first place. The giving of the gift is grace, the receiving of the gift is my will. So my work is involved in receiving grace, but it would be wrong to object to saying that grace is free. By the very definition of the word, grace has to be free. That needs to be exceptionally clear.

      Having said that, believing that grace is free does not nullify the need for Sacraments, so I’m not sure why that is up for discussion. Just because grace is free does not mean that I have no need for sacramental life. Sacraments are one means of grace (not the only ones), and they are not optional. Our Lord didn’t say, “Hey, I gave you my Body and Blood as a gift, if you feel like it, partake”, He said, “Unless you eat of my body and drink of my blood…you have no life in you”. That’s not an option. I won’t turn this into a lecture on the sacraments, but what I’m trying to say is that just because grace is free does not mean that we have nothing to do. 🙂 As mentioned in the article above, by living in a life of relationship (which includes sacramental life), we become active members in a life of grace.

      Does that clarify?

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