Why Do Christians Do Good Works?

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Why Do Christians Do Good Works?

James R. Aist

Why do we do good works after we are saved? There is a correct answer to this question, and there is an answer that is unequivocally incorrect. It is important for us to know the incorrect answer, so that we can avoid falling into a dangerous heresy.

Let’s consider the correct answer. God created us to reflect and magnify His own glory (Isaiah 43:7 and 21; Ephesians 1:12). All of our good works – e.g., acts of praise, worship, obedience, generosity, compassion, mercy, sharing the Gospel of Christ, making disciples – have one thing in common: they all ultimately reflect and magnify God’s glory. The Bible says that God has prepared – in advance – work for each one of us to do, and that, in doing these things, we are fulfilling the purpose for which God created us (Ephesians 2:10).

But, it is all too easy for us to fall into the mindset that, in doing good works, we are repaying Jesus for what he did for us. After all, shouldn’t our gratitude for Jesus saving us motivate us to do good works in response? That seems logical, doesn’t it? But, that cannot be the reason we do good works, and here’s why: we are saved by grace… it is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). And, if it is a gift of God, then there is nothing for us to repay; gifts are free. In the same way that we cannot do good works to earn salvation (Ephesians 2:9; 2 Timothy 1:9), so also we cannot do good works to repay Jesus for the gift of salvation after we receive it; both would be a form of the “salvation by works” heresy. When Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, our debt was canceled, not mortgaged! No, we do good works because that is what God saved us to do: the work that he prepared in advance for us (Ephesians 2:10).

If there is a debt, it is only a debt of gratitude, not of good works.

(To read more of my articles on Biblical Teachings, click HERE.)

What Is Jesus Waiting For?

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What Is Jesus Waiting For?

 James R. Aist

“Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things have continued as they were since the beginning of the creation.” – 2 Peter 3:4

Jesus promised that, one day, He would return, do away with evil deeds, punish evildoers forever, and establish His righteous and everlasting Kingdom on earth (Revelation 21:1-8). But, it’s been more than 2,000 years since He ascended into heaven, and still, He hasn’t come again as He promised. So, you may ask, as many others have (e.g., 2 Peter 3:3-4), “What in the world is He waiting for?” In this article I will try to shed some light on the answer to that question. As you read further, please bear in mind that the Bible mentions many things that will happen before the Second Coming, but most of these things do not relate directly to the purpose, or the “end game,” of His waiting. So, please bear in mind that here, I am focusing specifically on what it is that God is accomplishing by having Jesus wait.

To do that, I want to begin at the beginning. The evil that we witness or experience today has its origins in the original sin of Adam, which is commonly referred to as The Fall of Man (Genesis 3). As a result of The Fall, mankind has been separated from God, born with a sinful nature and living in a cursed creation ever since. At some level, all of the evil in the present world can be traced back, directly or indirectly, to this entry of sin into the world. This means that mankind, not God, is the root cause of evil in this fallen world, so, let’s be careful to not blame God for it. God will eradicate evil and restore righteousness to the earth some day.

But that begs the question, doesn’t it? Why does God continue to allow evil to continue when He has been planning to end it all along? My response to that question would be that He will end it when the time comes. So now we have arrived at the topic of this article: What is Jesus waiting for, anyway? I believe the Bible provides an answer, and I will try to explain it, but I can’t promise that it will satisfy you.

About the Second Coming, Peter wrote, “The Lord is not slow concerning His promise, as some count slowness. But He is patient with us, because He does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). In context (2 Peter 1 and 3), “any”, “all” and “us”, refer specifically to born-again believers (2 Peter 1:1), the elect of God (2 Peter 1:10), so that a fuller exposition of the meaning of 2 Peter 3:9 would be, “…He does not want any (of His elect) to perish, but all (of His elect) to come to repentance.” Peter is saying that Jesus will not come again until all of His elect have repented and have been saved.

And Paul struck a similar note when he wrote, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, and so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 11:25-26a). The phrase “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” is rendered a little differently in the various English translations, but I believe that the New Living Translation captures most clearly the full intent and meaning of the phrase thusly: …”until the full number of Gentiles comes to Christ.” Thus, when the full number of Gentiles has been saved, then the partial hardening of Israel will be lifted, all Israel will be saved and end times events can proceed to completion, including the Second Coming.

Taken together, then, these two verses tell us that what Jesus is waiting for is the salvation of all God’s Gentile elect. And, from God’s perspective, this is, indeed, a very good reason for Jesus to wait, don’t you think?

There are a couple of related and supporting verses that also  should be noted here. One is Matthew 24:14, where Jesus said, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” How does this relate to the topic at hand? Here’s how: It is the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world that will result in the salvation of all God’s Gentile elect, so that end times events can proceed to completion, including the Second Coming. The other verse is Romans 8:19-21, where Paul wrote, “The eager expectation of the creation waits for the appearance of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The “appearance of the sons of God” will not be completed until the salvation of all God’s elect is accomplished, because these are “the sons of God”. Thus, the creation also is eagerly waiting for the same thing that Jesus is waiting for. Following that, there will be “a new heaven and a new earth”, and “the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption.”

(To read more of my articles with a biblical theme, click HERE)

 

Why Must Christians Appear at the “Bema Seat” of Christ?

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Why Must Christians Appear at the “Bema Seat” of Christ?

James R. Aist

“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with Me to give to each one according to his work. (Revelation 22:12)

The Bible refers to two different judgments, both presided over by Christ, whereby all mankind will be judged. At the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15), non-Christians will be judged, found guilty of their sins and condemned to hell (the Lake of Fire). But, it is at the Bema Seat of Christ that Christians will be judged (2 Corinthians 5:10). Have you ever wondered why born-again Christians will be judged? After all, Jesus died to pay the price for our sins, and God has forgiven them, right? So, what is left to be judged? Answers to these questions can be found in the unique nature and purpose of the Bema Seat of Christ, the judgment reserved for all true believers.

The Apostle Paul described the process of this judgment in this way: “For no one can lay another foundation than that which was laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble, each one’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If anyone’s work which he has built on the foundation endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Thus, the purpose of the judgment that Christians will undergo is to reward them for their good works done to build on the foundation that Jesus laid. So, it is not Christians themselves that will be judged, but their works as Christians. And, God has prepared, in advance, good works for each Christian to do (Ephesians 2:10). How well we perform these works will determine the rewards we will receive at the Bema Seat.

So, while we will probably not enjoy having our bad works exposed in this manner, we should, nonetheless, look forward to this judgment, because we just might receive a reward or two from Jesus for our good works!

A much more in-depth treatment of this topic can be found by clicking HERE. You will find it very informative and heavily documented.

(To read more of my articles on biblical topics, click HERE)

 

 

The Two Kinds of Faith

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The Two Kinds of Faith

James R. Aist

“There are two kinds of faith. There is the natural faith. But the supernatural faith is the gift of God.” – Smith Wigglesworth, in “Faith that Prevails”

Introduction

Several years ago I heard someone make the statement that “To help someone accept Christ, just show them that they already use faith in their everyday life, and explain to them that all they have to do is use the same faith to believe in Jesus.” Well, I didn’t know why at first, but that statement just didn’t seem to ring true, especially in light of what the Bible actually says about faith. So, I began to search it out more carefully, and that’s how I came to realize that there are actually two kinds of faith, and that they are really very different.

Natural Faith

(Matthew 16:2-3a) “He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky…’” Jesus is speaking here of a kind of faith that I call “natural faith.” Based on the appearance of the sky, we believe that the weather will be fair or stormy. And so, we plan and proceed with our day accordingly, using our natural faith.

What I mean by “natural faith” is the faith that we are born with, the kind of faith that we come by naturally. This kind of faith is in our “nature” from birth. Everyone, even atheists and scientists, has natural faith and uses it every day.

Here are some additional illustrations of the daily working of natural faith, to help you see more clearly what I mean by “natural faith.” By our natural faith, we believe that if we turn the ignition key, the car will start, and so we do it “on faith.” By our natural faith, we believe that the chair we are about to sit on will be strong enough to support our weight, and so, by faith, we “take a seat.” By our natural faith, we believe that if we put a dollar bill into a change machine, it will return four quarters, and in it goes. And by our natural faith we believe that the peaches we see at the supermarket will be juicy, sweet and tasty, and so into the cart (“buggy” in the South) they go. We are all very familiar with this natural faith.

So we see that natural faith enables us to operate successfully and productively in this natural, material world in which we live. It helps us to overcome daily uncertainties that would otherwise paralyze us with fear and render us helpless.

While natural faith is a necessary part of successful and productive living in this natural world, it is not perfect, as witnessed by the fact that the car doesn’t always start, the chair doesn’t always hold, the change machine doesn’t always return four quarters and the peaches are not always juicy, sweet and tasty. And still, we continue to use it. What choice do we have, really?

Supernatural Faith

But there is another kind of faith, sometimes referred to as “saving faith.” Saving faith is the gift of God that enables us to believe the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that saving faith comes from God in Matthew 16:17 – “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven”, and in John 6:64-66 – “But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

Paul spoke of this gift of supernatural faith in Romans 12:3 – “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you”, and in Philippians 1:29 — “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…”

And in Ephesians 2:8-9, Paul elaborates on the same teaching: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (For a scholarly exposition on the meaning of this passage as I understand it, click HERE). In this passage we have the two kinds of faith juxtaposed and contrasted:

  • this faith is “not from ourselves”; i.e., it is not something that we were born with and possess naturally; and
  • this faith is “the gift of God”; i.e., it is a present that is given, or added, to us by God (hence, “supernatural”)…that’s how we get it.

So, what does supernatural faith do for us? Well, among many other things,

  • it enables us to qualify for heaven – (John 6:27-29) “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent”;
  • it enables us to stand firm in the faith to the end (Matthew 10:22);
  • it enables us to understand spiritual things – (1 Corinthians 2:14) “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”; and
  • it enables us to extend the “resources” that we can call upon, as we are no longer limited to what we can do for ourselves, but we can now appeal to God for His help and provision – (Psalms 46:1) “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Will this supernatural faith ever fail us? No, contrary to natural faith, supernatural faith will never fail us: “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.” (2 Corinthians 1:20). And, God is faithful, even when we are not (Romans 3:3-4).

Conclusion

We see, then, that our natural faith is necessary and sufficiently effective to enable us to operate successfully in this natural world, but it will not enable us to qualify for heaven. It takes a special gift from God – supernatural faith – to do that.

(For more articles on Biblical Teachings, click HERE)