Sunday, January 4, 2015
We Are Saved Eternally By Our Works... By God's Grace Alone
"The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them." (Ezekiel 18:20)
Both the scriptures and our Master, Jesus, are clear in the fact that we are saved eternally by God according to our works, but not by OTHERS' opinions of our works (judging others) nor by OUR OWN opinion of our works (demanding salvation from God) nor by how loudly we perform our works (being prideful.)
Jesus teaches us that our works are the basis of our eternal salvation, but we cannot judge ourselves, based on our own opinion of our works. That is God's responsibility. Nor can we be each other's judges. "Judge not," says Jesus, "so that you will not be judged,” – and by the same standards we judge others. (Matt. 7:1-2)
We cannot tell others that their works are not enough for God, or too much for God, and we definitely may not say that Good Works are NOT pleasing to God. Nor can others tell us that we are "not saved" by our works or lack of them. Only God can grant eternal life, not others.
It is God’s choice – His GRACE alone – that determines whether we will live with Him eternally. But it is up to us if we choose to seek this gift, and God says we demonstrate this choice by our Works.
When someone says, "That's 'works-righteousness' you are relying on, rather than Jesus," they must be reminded that ALL Jesus taught was Good Works and doing Acts of Righteousness!
We are called by Jesus to seek righteousness in our deeds, and he was consistent with all the prophets in teaching this. "DO Good," says Jesus, even to those who hate us, and even our enemies (Luke 6:27.) "DO to others what you would have them do to you." (Matt. 7:12)
And "seeking righteousness" cannot mean simply hearing Jesus’ words and claiming that we’re righteous simply by having faith in the words, but refusing to act on them. Only by DOING good and obeying God's commandments, says Jesus, will we enter into God's presence. (Matt. 7:21, 19:16-17)
But since we frequently fail to be perfectly Righteous, shouldn't we simply not attempt it? No, because Jesus tells us to repent when we fall short, and to extend forgiveness to others 7x70 times, just as God’s infinite mercy forgives those who return to Him when they stumble. (Matt. 18:21)
We must become pure and holy as Jesus and our Father, God, are pure and holy. And we know from the perfectly lived life of Jesus – a man like us – that we may accomplish all that God challenges us to do through His chosen Son.
We must EXHAUST OURSELVES in Good Works without becoming weary, doing more than required by others: going the second mile, carrying another's pack, carrying our cross, yoked in obedience to God and his servant, Jesus.
When we lose ourselves in service and Works, we gain ourselves - our true selves. If we gain the world by gathering up earthly treasure and rest smugly on our own assurance that we're going to Heaven without works, we lose our souls instead. (Matt. 6:20; Mark 8:36)
As we do our Good Works, we are instructed by the one whom God sent to be our teacher that we are NOT to be prideful, doing our works simply to be seen by others. (Matt. 6:1)
We indeed ARE told to do those Good works - feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, comforting the widow, and more. Learn to DO Good," says the Prophet Isaiah, whom Jesus quotes. (Isaiah 1:17; Matt. 25:36)
In the Parable of the Talents, Jesus says those who sit on that which they've been given and do nothing are not to be rewarded by God. Those who use what was given to them to do good and live productively ARE rewarded by God.
Those who HEAR AND DO what Jesus calls us to do are building their houses on a firm foundation. (Luke 6:46-48; 11:28) Let us avoid the sandy ground, and build our hopes on the teachings of Jesus, our firm foundation!