The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Without faith it's impossible to please God


So far the only interpretation that seems reasonable to me is DaveB’s. @anon12438761 did you reach that interpretation on your own or did you read it somewhere? If the latter, please let me know where, as I’d love to read it!


Qaz - not sure, unfortunately.


Relevant to the OP is the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46). Nowhere in that parable is faith mentioned. The sheep are favored because they did good deeds and the goats are not favored because they did not do those same good deeds done by the sheep.

Some have said the sheep likely had faith because they addressed Jesus as Lord. But so did the goats, so addressing Jesus as Lord is not necessarily an indication of faith.

Unless it can be unambiguously established that good deeds imply faith, then I don’t see the parable as saying anything, even indirectly, about faith. And of course, how could such be shown, since atheists are quite capable of doing good deeds? And indeed atheists have done good deeds, some of the same deeds mentioned by Jesus in the parable.


@lancia you raise an interesting point. So what do you make of the verse in Hebrews?


It’s kind of confusing, in the context of the parable of the sheep and the goats.


This brings to mind James’ comments on the relation between faith & deeds/works:

Js.2:17 So too, faith by itself, if it is not complemented by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that God is one. Good for you! Even the demons believe that, and shudder!

Compare Matthew’s remark in the previous chapter:

Mt.24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

For a list of verses in Matthew that speak about faith:

This article compares faith in the 3 synoptic gospels & John’s account:

Yes, & i think earlier in the same gospel Matthew confirms that as truth:

Mt.7:21 Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness.


This ties in with the SAME reality of Jn 5:29, where those who had DONE good works received the reward of life into the coming new age, i.e., post AD70; whereas those who had DONE bad works received the ruin of condemnation, i.e., death or separation from that coming new age, as per… 2Thess 1:9; Jer 23:39-40; Isa 66:24; Ezek 16:62-63.


Evidently there are many spins on how Mt.25:31-46 harmonizes with salvation by faith:


Origen, can you summarize your findings?


That would be a very long post & take days to do properly, which i’m not motivated for. BTW, here’s another spin on the passage i just happened upon that doesn’t even consider the sheep to be redeemed:


Davo, when I use the term Samaritan I don’t mean the people of Samaria. I’m referring to people who do good deeds when I say good Samaritan.


We glorify God by trusting Him for what we need and being grateful for what we have. He gets the glory or the credit because we are relying and depending on Him. Without this faith and dependence on God we take credit for our good deeds. This is self glorification. Taking credit for good deeds leads to self-esteem and self-esteem leads to ego and ego leads to sin. As C.S. Lewis states:

The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the center of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the center. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. ~~ C.S. Lewis

Total depravity makes up the T of TULIP. The term is misleading because it suggests a moral condition of utter depravity. Utter depravity means a person is as wicked as he can possibly be. Utter suggests both total and complete corruption, lacking even in civic virtue. The doctrine of total depravity, however, does not teach that man is as wicked as he could possibly be…The term total depravity, as distinguished from utter depravity, refers to the effect of sin and corruption on the whole person. To be totally depraved is to suffer from corruption that pervades the whole person…Sinners in their fallen condition are still capable of performing what the reformers called works of “civic virtue” - R.C. Sproul, What Is Reformed Theology, pp. 117-120

The psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Mississippi from “The Wisdom To Know the Difference” under the section called “The Self-Esteem Myth”

The myth says that low self-esteem lies at the core of many individual and societal problems…During the last ten years, there has been a major effort by scientists to examine whether this story about the role of self-esteem is true. As it turns out, the answer is no. High self-esteem is related to aggressiveness, bullying, narcissism, egotism, prejudice, and high risk behaviors.

The book was published in 2012

One more quote from the book “The Wisdom to Know the Difference”

Based on the evidence, we do not advise you to chase self-esteem. Some people might suppose that there is a “just right” amount of self-esteem and then go about chasing the “just right” amount. We counsel against this for two reasons. First, no one has even demonstrated that there is a magical level of self-esteem.

From the psychologist Richard Beck:

I think the self has to die. That’s what the bible seems to think. There must be a letting go, a surrendering, an emptying of the self. All efforts to define the self by acts of justification, the accumulation of evidence and data that the self is significant, have to be renounced. ~~ Richard Beck

Here’s the full article:

Self-Esteem as violence




Yes, the writer is correct. I think I mentioned it before, but as a teacher over 25 years ago, I argued against raising self-esteem in pupils. I argued that it created a bunch of arrogant little monsters. As I have already written, the other teachers raked me over the coals for opposing self-esteem.

In her art class, one teacher of grade 3 displayed on her bulletin board, a very messy, ugly piece of “art” along with the attractive art work of the others in her class. She did it so that the girl would maintain her self-esteem and not feel inferior. However, when the girl’s father visited the class one day and saw it displayed, he thought the teacher had displayed it in order to ridicule his daughter.

However, much as I rejected raising pupils’ self-esteem, I did advocate encouraging pupils.
Some children have been put down by their parents and told that they are no good and never will be any good or amount to anything. These pupils need encouragement, and teachers ought to praise such pupils in front of their peers whenever they actually do perform well in their work.


Sorry Paidion but Jesus didn’t accept the praise of man and neither do I. As someone diagnosed with schizoaffective (Bipolar type) I can say that praise from man for me leads to ego. I find my joy in praising and glorifying God. It’s a humble broken hearted joy but more secure than the praises of man. Self exaltation for me is at the root of sin in my life. God gets all the glory. Anything good I have comes from God and I’m thankful. True Joy is found in gratitude to God and praising God. I seek the glory of God not the praises of man.

"I do not accept praise from men, but I know you. I know that you do not have the love of God in your hearts. I have come in my Father’s Name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the glory that comes from the only God?” (John 5:41-44)

John Piper’s recent work “Living In The Light: Money, Sex, and Power” says it perfectly. It shows how money, sex and, power are connected. Self-exaltation and wanting to be the center is at the root of these three dangerous opportunities. We exchange the glory of God for created images (especially the self in the mirror). What I saw when reading this book is that it’s about becoming poor in spirit and humbly depending on and exalting God who should be at the center of our universe. With God at the center, money, sex, and power are deployed into their proper orbits around the blazing center. When the glory of God is exchanged for created images God hands us over to our corrupt desires.

People with so called “low self-esteem” paradoxically feel that way because of an intense desire to be great. It’s not about high or low self-esteem but simply being a child of God. That inoculates the self from fear. Faith in God is what brings hope and that raises one up out of the dumps.


So why are you telling me this? Is it because I suggested recognition for the little kids who had always been put down by their parents, and told that they were worthless? This kind of “praise” will not lead to ego. It is an encouragement to such kids, and can bring them out of a feeling of worthlessness. It is not at all the same thing as trying to raise every kid’s self-esteem. I have already told you that I was opposed to doing that, and my stance had greatly angered my fellow teachers who supported self-esteem because it was the philosophy of the day.



The way to bring about true and lasting joy is to talk about God. The pursuit of joy and humility are one pursuit. It is in a contented lowliness and an increasingly cultivated Other exalting reflex that this broken hearted joy is found. It’s about getting rid of the intense desire to be and look great in the worlds eyes. The best joys cast the soul down low in humility and poverty of spirit. It’s a much sweeter joy than that which elevates the soul. It’s when one becomes lost in the greatness of God as the self becomes nothing but an empty vessel that the soul is filled with joy. It’s a lamblike and dovelike spirit. Befriended by the gentleness of Christ in His lamblike spirit we reflect the divine tenderness to others in the sense of our own unworthiness and the need we have of divine pity and forgiveness.

To be gentle is to be Christlike.


Hollytree, it sounds like you’re teaching that people should feel worthless. I couldn’t disagree more. Self-hatred is disgusting. No one should feel that way.



No not saying that you should hate yourself. Self-esteem is different than self-care. We die to self and empty the self and become nothing as we are united to Christ. The sense of dignity you are looking for comes when you are in Christ. As the psychologist Richard Beck states it:

As Thurman describes it, the eccentric identity - “the ground of personal dignity…a profound sense of personal worth” that comes to us when we receive our identities as children of God - immunizes the self from “churning fear”. Anxiety is replaced by a state of relaxation. And this relaxation - grounded in the fact that the “individual now feels that he counts, that he belongs” - inoculates the ego from fear. This relaxation or peace comes from the “awareness of being a child of God,” which stabilizes the ego and "results in a new courage, fearlessness, and power.

We’re warned about self-esteem:

For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,


That’s not self-esteem that’s self-infatuation. Paul says this…

Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

He doesn’t say we shouldn’t think highly of ourselves BUT rather, not to think MORE HIGHLY than we ought… there’s a difference.