Doing the work of the Gospel

We live in an age where orthodoxy is at the core of most of our recognized religious denominations. Ortho meaning “right or correct,” doxy meaning “true or praise.” We have a number of faiths described with such a term, The Eastern Orthodox Church, Jewish Orthodox, Christian Orthodox and what does this mean? Traditionally it means adhering to the accepted, traditional and true meaning of the faith or teachings of scripture. The problem with many in the modern era is that they adhere so strictly to certain pieces of their orthodox faith that they become obsessed with it. A common statement among American Christians is, “one needs simply to have faith to be saved.” Well this is true in an orthodox sense, Scripture teaches us that it is only through faith that we are saved; in Romans 5:1 we read: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” And we read also in Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

The problem is that such adherence to this one orthodox principle in scripture may lead us to forget the rest of the pieces in the puzzle. I have often (with full recognition that I myself am a heinous sinner) admonished others who profess the saving faith to turn from their actions which are speaking a bit louder than their words. The common response is that I am judging, which is a topic that I could speak on at length, but the second is a quick move to point out that Jesus was speaking against the Pharisees strict adherence to the law and that He came to teach us that it simply is faith that saves us, not the practice of the law. There is truth in the statement, just not in the way it is being interpreted. I would submit to you that if Christ preached against strict “orthopraxy,” the practice of the (ortho) correct (praxy) action, or practice of the law, would He not say something similar about the strict adherence of orthodoxy only?

Throughout His ministry Jesus teaches us that strict adherence one way or the other isn’t the correct ticket. By our faith we are saved, we read that in Ephesians 2:8 and we know that our works cannot save us, Christ spoke against the very Pharisaical practice of the same. Works alone cannot earn the Grace of God: Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” So Grace is Grace and works are works. But Jesus also teaches us that many will profess the faith and not make the cut (sorry for that football term there). In Matthew 7:22-23 we read: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” This is echoed in the previous verse with a bit more sincerity: Matthew 7:21 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” This is repeated in Luke 6:46 and Luke 13:25 and echoed again through many other verses of scripture.

The reality is this: orthodoxy leads us to orthopraxy. Notice that “but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in Heaven?” As we follow in the ministry of Christ we learn the truth of His teachings, orthodoxy. Through this, out of our love for Him, we begin to practice orthopraxy, or we begin “doing the work of the Gospel.” This is part of the great commission, go forth and teach the Gospel. The root of this is the statement that Jesus speaks to us in John 14:15: ” If ye love me, keep my commandments.” With our faith comes good works, and faith alone is not the answer, because faith is simply a word. True faith is the learning of that which is true and the practice thereof, orthodoxy and orthopraxy working together leading us to do the work of the Gospel.

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