Faith and works

This is a translation of a scriptural meditation from the Russian book, “Day by Day” Lewis connection follows:

Scripture: “Jesus took Peter, James and John…and brought them alone to a high mountain, and was transfigured before them” (Mt: 17: 1, 2)


"It is sometimes useful for a person to elevate his thoughts to all that is divine and holy, to delve into the deep meaning of the word of God and to have the heavens open up before him, so to speak. Then, smitten by the perception of God’s greatness, he burns with love for his Savior.

"Nevertheless, now, as in the time of the apostles, one should not forget about one’s earthly labor, having been carried away by contemplative rapture. Our love for God should not depend on a momentary fascination; when it is not given to us to feel the burning flame of this love, then we must kindle it with works of mercy, hastening to do our part in serving our neighbor even when it seems to us that we are doing this only superficially, with a cold heart. The Lord will look at our intentions, condescend to our efforts and after what we have done will send us the warmth of feeling as well.

“The apostles had to leave mountain Tabor and the wonderful vision which appeared before them in order to get down to their work. Believe me, it is the same for us, that every act of love and self-denial, a glass of water given in the name of Christ, denying our will and conquering oneself, are worth all of the raptures and all the inspiration of a contemplative life. The good fruits indicative of a good tree are the deeds flowing from our faith, and not unproductive bursts of rapture.”

One of the places where Lewis speaks of the connection between faith and works is a letter to a Mrs. Johnson of Nov 8, 1952:

“I think that every prayer which is sincerely made even to a false god or to a v. imperfectly conceived true God, is accepted by the true God and that Christ saves many who do not think they know Him. For He is (dimly) present in the good side of the inferior teachers they follow. In the parable of the Sheep & Goats (Matt. XXV. 31 and following) those who are saved do not seem to know that they have served Christ.”

Lewis’s words go farther, of course, than what the author of the Russian meditation says – Lewis talks about works being valuable even apart from faith.


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

And then represented this idea by the character Emeth in “The Last Battle.”