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.)

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)

 

 

A Sinless Life and a Sacrificial Death: The Works of Jesus

Jesus H. ChristA Sinless Life and a Sacrificial Death: The Works of Jesus

 James R. Aist

“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.” (John 6:27-29)

Introduction

Salvation is free to us, but it cost Jesus His life. Is there a special relationship of the life that Jesus lived to the death that He died? It seems to me that, in the Christian church, we put major and primary emphasis on the fact that Jesus suffered and then died on a cruel cross to pay the penalty for our sins. And, that’s as it should be, for, apart from that, none of us would have any valid hope of escaping an eternity in hell and spending our forever with God in heaven. But, lately, I have been pondering the fact that Jesus managed to live for 21 years as a morally responsible adult in a terribly fallen world – a world not all that different from ours today, where sin and evil abound – without even once committing a sin. So, one day an interesting question occurred to me: Which was the more difficult thing that Jesus did for us: being tempted in every way as we are for 21 years without sinning, or dying on the cross to pay for our sins? Let’s take a few moments to explore the two aspects of this question a little further and see where it leads us.

The Sinless Life of Jesus

The Bible says that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are, but was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not convinced that I have been able to live even one day without sinning! So, it’s hard for me to imagine how hard it must have been for Jesus, who was fully man (and fully God), to live 21 years (that’s 7,665 straight days) without sinning even once, when He was being tempted in every way as I have been. Add to that the facts that 1) Jesus was hated and hunted by His own people, and 2) as the Son of God, He was tempted in three ways that neither you nor I even could be tempted (Matthew 4:1-11), and it’s easy to see that His sin-free life was truly remarkable and extraordinary.

The Sacrificial Death of Jesus

After Jesus was arrested, He was shamelessly and publicly mocked and brutally beaten before He was convicted of a capital crime and taken away to be put to death on a cross (John 19:1-3). Much has been said and written about the intense pain and agony inflicted by the beating and the cruel invention referred to as “crucifixion” (click HERE). Now, a literal lamb that was led to slaughter in those days had no idea what awaited him, and his demise was relatively quick and painless. But Jesus, the very human Lamb of God, would have been well aware of the kinds and intensity of pain and agony inflicted by crucifixion, as the Jews were given many opportunities by the Romans to witness this public display of punishment, as a means to dissuade other would-be law-breakers. Yet He willingly subjected Himself to this slow and unspeakably painful and undeserved death, in order to pay the price for our sins. The difficulty of actually bringing oneself to submit to such a cruel and painful death cannot be overstated.

So, His Life or His Death: Which Was the More Difficult Accomplishment?

By this time you may be thinking that, perhaps, I have posed a moot question, and you would be right. But I did so to make a couple of critical points. First, we should be quick to remember and appreciate the difficulty of the sinless life that Jesus lived, and not just the difficulty of His willfully enduring death on a cross for our sake. And second, let us remember that both His sinless life and His sacrificial death were necessary in order for Him be the Savior of the world. If Jesus had committed even one sin during those 21 years, then His death on a cross would have been payment for His own sin, not ours. That would have left us with no hope of escaping hell and qualifying for heaven. In other words, Jesus’ sinless life wasn’t just an amazing accomplishment that we all can and should admire from a distance; it was an absolute necessity in God’s one-and-only plan for our salvation that powerfully impacts our lives “up close and personal”, forever.

As the saying goes, “He lived the life we could not live to pay the ransom we could not pay.”

Addendum

Some would say that the most difficult thing that Jesus did for us was to allow the full  weight of the evil of all of our sins to fall upon His shoulders, and that’s why He said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). Still others suggest that it was the separation from His Father that was the worst part of it all, causing Him to cry out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). In any case, we know that all of these things had to happen in order for His salvation to be complete and effective. And finally, what we can be absolutely sure of is this: in Jesus, we have a truly awesome Redeemer!

(For more articles on biblical teachings, click HERE)

The War of the Wills within Us

The War of the Wills within Us

James R. Aist

Introduction

“So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.” (Romans 7:21-23). Paul is speaking here of various “laws” at work within him (and, by extension, within us). And, like us, he senses that there are opposing forces within us that are at war against each other. How can we make sense out of these inner struggles, and how can we turn a better understanding of them to our advantage as we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”? 

The Wills within Us

Perhaps it would help if we first try to identify and define the different “laws” at work within us. To do this, I find it useful to think of them as “wills” instead of “laws.” If we subscribe to the idea of the triune nature of man as spirit, soul (mind, will and emotions) and body, then we can identify three different wills of man by re-examining the structure of Romans 7:22-23 in a slightly different way, as follows: For in my inner being I delight in God’s law (will of my spirit); but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind (will of my soul) and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me (will of my body). This analysis suggests that everyone is born with three wills: the supernatural will of the human spirit, the natural will of the human soul and the natural will of the human body. Each of these wills is able to influence what we do and don’t do in life (i.e., our behavior), and we can easily get a sense that they are often at war with each other when we are tempted to do something that goes against our “morals” or “ethics”, regardless of how we may have come by them. If this is, indeed, the “order of command” in a person — spirit commands soul commands body — then, for example, the will of the body may be to get drunk on wine because it feels good, the will of the soul may not think it is a good idea to get drunk because it is harmful to your health, and the will of the spirit is left to mediate between these warring wills and make the final decision. Inevitably, one of the warring wills will lose out.

Enter Even More Wills!

Unfortunately, because of the fall of man, our natural inclination is to do evil all the time (Genesis 6:5); we are born with a fallen conscience and are at enmity with God (James 4:4). But God has come up with a remedy for this problem: we call it “salvation.” In the process of being “born again”, we receive a new human spirit from God (click HERE), a spirit that is morally pure, delights in the things of God and is not at enmity with Him. But wait, it doesn’t stop there. We also receive the Holy Spirit of God (Acts 2:38) who takes up residence within our new human spirit and has His own will. Now we have not three, but four, wills within us: the supernatural Holy Spirit of God, the supernatural will of our new human spirit, the natural will of the human soul and the natural will of the human body. And the order of command now becomes Holy Spirit commands human spirit commands soul commands body. This is, of course, the way God intends for it to work, and to the extent that we are obedient to the Holy Spirit within us, it does so. But, unfortunately, the “old man” doesn’t give up easily, and so we have to go through a process of “sanctification” to align our wills with the will of the Holy Spirit living within us. Thankfully, it is the work of the Holy Spirit living in us to sanctify us (2 Thessalonians 2:13) and to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Summary

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,  for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)

(For more articles on BIBLICAL TEACHINGS, click HERE)