Your works are every single thing that you do from the time your eyes open in the morning until they close at bedtime. Everything you say and how you say it, to everything that you do and how you do it. What you think and what you read. What you watch and what you desire. Good works is how you see, what you think, and how you react to everything and everyone that comes across your path today. Every single thing that you do today will be either a good work or a bad work in the eyes of God.
What they are forgetting is a little theme that runs all through the Bible. A good example of this theme is found in the book of Matthew. It mentions something that Jesus said. Something that is very scary and that just may surprise many Christians someday. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus Christ says, "Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of the Father which is in heaven."
The will of the Father? Doesn't that mean doing all kinds of good charitable works and helping people? Isn't that the will of the Father? Being a good person and living a good clean life? Aren't those the things that will get you into heaven? But look at what the Word of God tells us.
Romans 4:2 "If Abraham was justified by works, then he has something to boast about, but not before God."
In fact there are many verses in the Bible that tell us that our good works by themselves will do absolutely nothing to gain for us eternal life.
Isaiah 64:6 "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags."
To give you an idea how absurd the idea of working your way into heaven by doing good works is, consider this. Can you just imagine someday standing before the gates of heaven with a bucket full of filthy rags, and telling God that you are ready to come in and that you have a whole bunch of real nice filthy rags that you want to use as payment for your entrance fee into heaven?
If you base your salvation and your entrance into heaven on "your good works", then you are looking inward for your salvation. Your hope for heaven is based upon the fact that you are a pretty good person, that you have helped other people, that you have given your money, that you have followed the golden rule. In other words you have saved you. Glory be to you. It kind of makes you wonder why you even need God. Faith in Christ is of little importance. If a person can earn forgiveness of sins and everlasting life through one's own efforts, then why was Jesus Christ even born? What was the purpose of his suffering and his horrible death? Why did he have to shed his blood and rise from the dead? What was the reason for his victories over sin, death, and the devil? If men can overcome these evils by their own endeavor why did God in the form of Jesus Christ even have to come down to earth? (Tongues cannot express, nor hearts conceive, what a terrible thing it is to make Christ worthless).
Many people also believe that salvation is obtained by a combination of faith in Christ plus good works. However that says that it takes you and God to save you. If that is the case then we can no longer say, "Glory be to God". Instead we should say, "Glory be to Us". To me and God. But it says in the Bible that God will not share his glory with another.
The only way to attain salvation is by having complete faith in Jesus Christ.
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.
One of the clearest teachings in the entire Bible is that we are saved through grace by faith in Jesus Christ only. And not by our own personal worthiness. Paul said, "It is a gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast." Man forgets that the only way into heaven is by the Grace of God and not by "good works". In fact many good works are done only to impress others. The following verses are good examples of this.
So that leaves us with the question, well what about good works? Don't they matter? Aren't they important?
The answer to that question is that once you have been saved you quickly find that true faith cannot be idle. Once we are saved we are suddenly energized by the Holy Spirit. We now discover that we have Jesus Christ living within us. And do you want to know something. When he came to us and saved us he did something really remarkable. He performed a little surgery on us. He proceeded to rip out our old vile, dirty, filthy, repulsive and evil filled hearts. That old heart that was jammed full of sin and corruption, and in its place he put a brand new radiant and brilliant heart, filled with goodness and love and light. A good example is Ezekiel 36:26,
A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
By heart I do not mean that constantly beating cardiac muscle that lies inside your chest and keeps your physical body alive. When the term heart is used in the Bible it usually is referring to the very core or the very essence of a person. The heart of a person is the person's character; his integrity. That is why in Matthew chapter 5 when the Lord is naming the beatitudes and in verse 8 he says, "Blessed are the pure in heart, since they will see God", the Lord is referring to the person who has a character that he approves of, a character that is pleasing to him and that he is proud of. A character where the conduct, actions and thoughts are all Godly in nature. A character in charge of a physical body which has Jesus Christ living within it. A character completely given over to Jesus Christ.
THE SECRET BEHIND GOOD WORKS.
Good works will never ever get you saved! You can do good works from sun up till sundown and they will not get you one step closer to heaven. In fact you could live 10 million years and do 10 million good deeds each and every day of those 10 million years, and all of those deeds combined would not get you an inch closer to salvation and eternal life. You cannot behave yourself into heaven.
You are saved by one thing and one thing only. And that is by having complete faith in Jesus Christ. In order to get salvation, in order to be saved, you must in your own heart truly believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and as God he left heaven and came to earth to die on the Cross at Calvary, and that the blood that he shed on that cross allowed you to have your sins forgiven. You must repent your sins and you must ask God to forgive you of those sins. If you can do those few simple things, and at the same time accept the death of Jesus Christ as full payment for all of your sins both past, present and in the future, then you will be born again and you will have eternal salvation.
The most important thing for the believer is to become righteous in the eyes of God, for to become righteous is to have his Son Jesus Christ living on the inside of you. Righteous means that you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, and that it is he that you are following and not the world.
You are righteous by Faith.
You are not righteous by works.
But once you believe, once you are saved, once you are born again then you will have a tremendous desire to lead a good life and to serve Christ and to do good works. Once you are saved you will want to please God and serve him and do everything possible to follow him. Faith is invisible. You cannot judge a man's faith by his words since men lie. No you can't see faith but you can see the results of faith. Faith can easily be seen by the type of life we live, by the way we react on a daily basis to all the various circumstances and events that come into our daily lives. Faith, although invisible, can easily be seen by how we conduct our lives on a daily basis; by the workings of our daily lives. By our daily works, be they "good works" or "bad works." Faith without works is like a car without wheels.
If you come across an elderly lady waiting to cross a busy street and you are patient and take her arm and help her across the street, than that would be considered a "good work." However, if you shove her aside and tell her that she is just slowing you down, then I'm sure you would consider that as a "bad work." Likewise, every single action that you perform, every single thing that you do, can be considered either a good work or a bad work in the eyes of God. Colossians 1:21 describes it when it says, "Indeed, you who were once alienated and enemies because your minds were on works that were wicked."
Faith and good works do go together, but you must first have faith in order for the good works to matter. This is why James said, "And I shall show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18)
The steps of faith and good works can be seen like this.
James 2:22, "By his works is his faith perfected."
James 2:26, "Faith without works is dead."
So the question comes to mind, Just what do they mean by good works?
There is alot more to good works than giving money to charities. First it means loving God, and trusting him completely. It also means obeying the 10 commandments of God. It means that when you sin you ask for forgiveness and make a real effort not to sin again. It means prayer to God and the reading of his Word. It also means loving your fellow man and helping him whenever you get a chance. It means forgiving another person when he wrongs you. It means not taking advantage of another person, but instead, hoping for the best for them. It means not getting angry or seeking revenge toward another person. It means thinking good thoughts instead of bad or evil thoughts.
So what are good works? It is you letting Jesus Christ guide you step by step through each and every day of your life. Good works are you leading a Godly life. And that is because your "works" are every single thing that you do from the time your eyes open in the morning until they close at bedtime. Everything you say and how you say it, to everything that you do and how you do it. What you think and what you read. What you watch and what you desire. Good works is how you see, what you think, and how you react to everything and everyone that comes across your path today. Every single thing that you do today will be either a good work or a bad work in the eyes of God.
That is also why the believer who has surrendered to Jesus Christ does not work for God, but instead allows Jesus to work through them. If you worked for God, then you are attempting to gain salvation through the good works that you do. When you allow God to work through you, then you are allowing God to carry out his plan, to do his work, to do his will, all for his own purposes and his own reasons, and all done through you.
An example of how God is working through us is found in James 2:14-18 "My brothers and sisters, if people say they have faith, but do nothing, their faith is worth nothing. Can faith like that save them? A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. But if you say to that person, "God be with you! I do hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat," but you do not give what that person needs, then your words are hollow and worth nothing. In the same way, faith that is alone -- that does nothing -- is dead. Someone might say, "You have faith, but I have deeds." Show me your faith without doing anything, and I will show you my faith by what I do. (New Century Version)
What James is saying is that someone who says that they have faith and does not spend his life doing "good works" is deceiving themselves. Why? Because if they were truly saved and had the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ dwelling within them, then they would want to spend the rest of their life doing nothing but good works.
Helping those in need will not earn you salvation, but those who have salvation will go out of their way to help those in need.
Keeping the laws and commandments of God will not gain you salvation, but those who have salvation will have a powerful inner desire to keep and obey all of his laws.
Reading the word of God will not obtain for you salvation, but those who are saved will have a tremendous urge to read and study the Word of God.
Those moments spent in prayer and praise to God will not obtain for you eternal life and eternal salvation, but true believers will have hearts that want to pray and praise God constantly.
Matthew said it best when he said at, Matthew 5: 16 "Let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven."
The results of the above can be simply stated by saying that those who have salvation will show that salvation through all the things that they do, each and every day of their lives. And it will be when the above happens that we will finally be able to say that we are the image and likeness of God.
So if you really think about it, it is our actions and deeds that reflect what we really believe in. And that is why our actions are so extremely important to God. For it is our actions that tell God whether we have Jesus Christ living within our hearts. Our actions and deeds tell God whether we are a Christ hater, or a Christ lover. The following few verses help point this out, and they also show that in fact doing good works is basically why God made each one of us.
2 Corinthians 5:10 "For all of us must appear before Christ, to be judged by him. We will each receive what we deserve, according to everything we have done, good or bad, while in the body".
Matthew 16:24 "For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."
Ephesians 2:10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them".
Revelation 22:12 "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work."
Ecclesiastes 12:14 "For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every hidden thing, whether good or evil."
Most Christians think that good works means giving money or time to charities. But in reality that is only an extremely small part of good works. There is a whole world of good works out there because every single thing that you do in your life can be considered a work.
Eternal salvation starts with faith but other things soon follow. Peter said it best at 2 Peter 1:5-8 when he said,
And what about you? Do you think that when you get to heaven you are going to have any fear of being mugged, robbed, or raped? Do you think that anyone is going to mislead you or lie to you in heaven?
What God is looking for are not those who speak the words of Christ. What he wants are those who live the words of Christ.
When a person dies and their soul steps through that curtain to be with the Lord, they take absolutely nothing with them except for one thing. And the one and only thing that a departing soul takes with it, is its accumulation of a lifetime of works. It is spelled out so very clearly in Revelation 14:13, Revelation 19:8, and in Revelation 20:12.
And finally, in almost the very last thing that he told us in the Bible, the Lord spoke of good works and their extreme importance. In Revelation 22:12 the Lord tells us, ""And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
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