The Good of Faith is Not Possible Without Works

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The good of faith produces works, because the good of faith is not possible without works, just as thinking good and willing good are not possible without doing good. The one is the internal, and the other the corresponding external. Furthermore, in regard to works, unless they correspond to the good of faith they are neither works of charity nor works of faith; for they do not come from their internal, but are dead works, in which there is neither good nor truth; but when they correspond, they are then works either of charity or of faith.

Works of charity are those which flow from charity as from their soul; but works of faith are those which flow from faith.

Works of charity exist with the regenerate man; and works of faith with him who has not yet been regenerated, but is being regenerated; the case being the same as it is with the affections of good and of truth; for the regenerate man does good from the affection of it, thus from willing good; but the man who is to be regenerated does good from the affection of truth, thus from knowing good. The nature of the difference has already been repeatedly shown. From this it is manifest what works are.

Moreover, in regard to works the good of faith is comparatively as are man’s will and the derivative thought to his face, which is well known to be an image of his mind, that is, of his will and the derivative thought. If the will and thought are not presented in the face as in their image, what is seen there is not the will and thought, but hypocrisy or deceit; because the man presents a face different from that which he wills and thinks. The case is the same with every act of the body in respect to the interiors which are of the thought and will. Man’s internal lives in his external by act or by acting. If the act or acting is not according to his internal, it is a proof either that it is not his internal that is producing the act, but an impulse recurring from custom and habit; or else that it is something feigned, as in hypocrisy and deceit. From this it is again manifest what works are; and from this it follows that he who makes profession of faith, and still more he who makes profession of the good of faith, and denies works, and still more if he rejects them, is devoid of faith, and yet more of charity.

Such being the nature of the works of charity and faith, and as man is never in charity and faith unless he is in works, for this reason “works” are so frequently mentioned in the Word; as may appear from the following passages:
Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of man, to give everyone according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his works (Jer. 32:19).
Be ye converted everyone from his evil way, and make your works good (Jer. 35:15).
I will render to them according to their work, and according to the work of their hands (Jer. 25:14).

In Hosea:
I will visit upon him his ways, and render to him his works (Hos. 4:9).

In Micah:
The land shall be a desolation because of them that dwell therein, for the fruit of their works (Micah 7:13).

In Zechariah:
Thus said Jehovah Zebaoth: Be ye converted from your evil ways, and from your evil works. As Jehovah Zebaoth thought to do unto us according to our ways, and according to our works, so hath He done to us (Zech. 1:4, 6).

In John:
• Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works follow with them (Rev. 14:13).

In the same:
• I saw the dead small and great stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of the things that were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it; and death and hell gave up the dead that were in them; and they were judged everyone according to their works (Rev. 20:12-13).
Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according to his works (Rev. 22:12).

In John the Evangelist:
• This is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their works were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved; but he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they have been wrought in God (John 3:19-21).
The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that its works are evil (John 7:7).
Jesus said to the Jews, If ye were Abraham’s sons ye would do the works of Abraham. Ye do the works of your father (John 8:39, 41).
If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them (John 13:17).

In Matthew:
• Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works. Whosoever shall do and teach them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 5:16, 19).
• Not everyone that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens; but he that doeth the will of My Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied by Thy name, and by Thy name have cast out demons, and in Thy name done many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from Me ye that work iniquity (Matt. 7:21-23).

In Luke:
• The master of the house shall answer and say to them, I know you not whence ye are; then shall ye begin to say, We did eat and drink in thy presence, and thou didst teach in our streets; but he shall say, I tell you I know you not whence ye are, depart from me all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13:25-27).

In Matthew:
• Everyone that heareth My words, and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man; but everyone that heareth My words, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man (Matt. 7:24, 26).
• The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then shall He render to every man according to his works (Matt. 16:27).

From these passages it is evident that works are what save man, and what condemn man; that is to say, that good works save, and evil works condemn; for in his works is man’s will. He who wills good, does good; but he who does not do good, however he may say that he wills good, still does not will it when he does not do it. This is as if he should say, I will it, but I do not will it. And because the will itself is in works, and charity is of the will, and faith is of charity, it is manifest what of the will, or what of charity and faith, there is in a man, when he does not do good works; and especially when he does the contrary, or evil works.

Moreover be it known that the Lord’s kingdom commences in a man from the life which is of works, for he is then in the beginning of regeneration; but when the Lord’s kingdom is in a man, it terminates in works, and then the man is regenerate. For his internal man is then within his external man in correspondence therewith; and his works are of his external man, while charity and the derivative faith are of his internal man; and therefore in this case his works are charity. As the life of the internal man thus comes forth in the works of the external man, therefore the Lord in speaking of the Last Judgment (Matt. 25:32-46), recounts nothing but works, and says that those who have done good works shall enter into life eternal, and those who have done evil works into damnation. From what has been said it is also evident what is signified by that which we read of John-that he lay at the breast and on the bosom of Jesus, and that Jesus loved him more than the rest (John 13:23, 25; 21:20); for by John were represented good works.

(Arcana Cœlestia 3934)
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About mike

Finding out that the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and from the human race the angelic heaven would be formed, my entire focus on life changed. The reason for my creation was to perform Divine uses - The Divine Providence looks to eternal ends. My gain, honor or reputation no longer could be the focal point of what drives the engine. One day I will lay aside this material body and will wake up in the spiritual world never to return; there will be a continuation of life, and my ruling love will be what guides me to my final situation. 'Where a tree falls, there will it lay' (Ecc 11:3) We only have a few years in these bodies compared to eternity. What is fossilized on our souls in this short period is important to how we spend eternity. We are not left to blind faith, The Lord has come in His Word to reveal rationally how we can be made 'a vessel of honor, able for the master's use.' I truly hope the post create a thirst. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to email me. --Mike
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