I’d like to begin with Ephesians 2:8-9.
This is one of the most POPULAR & ESSENTIAL Bible verses we use when we go soul winning & preach the Gospel …
It’s the #1 verse that we use when explaining to people that SALVATION IS BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH ALONE …
… & not of WORKS …
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This is the most direct & clear Bible passage about SALVATION being of GRACE & not of WORKS.
But keep reading in V. 10: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The very passage that emphasis that SALVATION is NOT OF WORKS …
… is followed up with WORKS …
…. that we have been CREATED for the PURPOSE of DOING GOOD WORKS.
And it’s interesting that these GOOD WORKS were ordained …
… before the FOUNDATION of the WORLD …
These GOOD WORKS were ORDAINED for us as SAVED BELIEVERS that we should WALK IN THEM.
So there is a clear directive given to us TO DO GOOD WORKS, after we are saved.
The placement of these VERSES together in Scripture is not co-incidental.
It’s like Paul is saying: You got saved by grace through faith apart from works?
Not get to work!
Now, this might sound controversial, but Christianity is a WORKS religion.
If you are not doing GOOD WORKS as a Christian, you have become UTTERLY USELESS.
Your FAITH IS DEAD … like James talks about.
You’re still saved … but you’re your FAITH is INACTIVE in doing good for others or for God.
PRIOR to our salvation, we were unable to do GOOD WORKS that were pleasing to God.
Romans 8:7-9 says:
7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you …
Before we got saved, we could not do good, because all of our works were of the flesh.
& the sinful flesh is at enmity with God.
It means that we were God’s enemies.
You probably know Isaiah 64:6, which says that: “… all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags …”
But Isaiah 57:12-13 is a companion verse, which says:
12 I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee. [He’s saying your works will not benefit you for salvation].
13 When thou criest, let thy companies deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them: but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;
You see, salvation has always been by GRACE through Faith.
Faith in trusting in God’s righteousness imputed unto us for deliverance.
But when we believe & trust Jesus for salvation …
… When we are born again, we are REGENERATED …
We receive Christ’s righteousness imputed unto us.
Speaking of Abraham who believed, Romans 4:22-25 says:
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.
So we receive Christ’s imputed righteousness for salvation.
There is nothing that we can do to ADD TO or SUBTRACT from Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed unto us …
… We are already perfect by His grace in the Spirit.
So that now that we are in the SPIRIT and have been regenerated …
… we are able to do GOOD WORKS that are PLEASING TO GOD …
… and God expects us to WALK in the SPIRIT …
& as we WALK IN THE SPIRIT to MANIFEST GOOD WORKS …
And we see that these GOOD WORKS take on very PRACTICAL, LITERAL, & NECESSARY DEEDS …
… which we can do FIRST for GOD, & SECONDLY, for OUR NEIGHBORS.
Ephesians 2:8-10 shows us that our lives are not to be defined by isolated, solitary acts of good works …
… but that the course of our lives should be a continual series of good works done for the Lord.
One old, long dead theologian said this regarding Ephesians 2:8-10:
“God has appointed good works to be done by his people and in his word he has declared what they are he would have done; and it is his will not only that they should do them, but continue to do them; not only that they should do a single act or more, but walk in them; their conversation and course of life should be one continued series of good works; but the intention is not that they should be saved by them, but that they should walk in them.”
THE BIBLE tells us what GOOD WORKS we are supposed to be doing.
& Our entire lives as Christians should be characterized by GOOD WORKS for others.
Not that these good works save us, but define us in Christ.
But what’s happened that in the age in which we live …
… we have had to combat numerous, ongoing false teaching & heresies …
… chief among them being WORKS-SALVATION.
In our times, the WORKS-SALVATION GOSPELS have become more subtle & hidden works abound for salvation …
What was once false ROMAN CATHOLIC doctrine has infiltrated evangelical, protestant, & even Baptist teaching.
But whereas the Roman Catholics are honest about their heresies …
(they don’t hide it … they openly preach WORKS as a MEANS & a REQUIREMENT for SALVATION) …
… but among certain segments of modern evangelical, protestant, & Baptist circles …
… a hidden heresy is being promulgated …
… WORKS-SALVATION is masked in evangelical terminoloy …
… many profess GRACE through FAITH alone … but when probed further …
… they profess that you must have works otherwise your faith is not genuine …
… or they profess that you must repent of your sins (as in to turn from your sins) … in order to get saved.
Others profess, like the “CHURCH OF CHRIST”, that you have to be BAPTIZED in water in order to be saved.
And that BAPTISM happens PRIOR to SALVATION, not AFTER as a testimony of our faith.
& with many such false doctrines expounded with Christian terminology …
… they deceive their listeners with heretical teaching & ensure their swift assent into Hell.
& so we, Christians of the faith, who actually do genuinely profess the Gospel of FREE GRACE for SALVATION …
… have had to react & to expend vast amounts of energy …
… in order to combat the heresy of works of salvation.
And so while we hammer in again & again how you DON’T HAVE TO WORK ….
… FOR SALVATION …
SALVATION is by GRACE THROUGH FAITH …Not of works …
We hammer this in so much …
… that Christians begin to the get the impression that we are encouraging people to abstain from doing good works & to live a life of sin.
But that’s not AT ALL what we’re saying …
We have been CREATED in CHRIST JESUS unto GOOD WORKS which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
People sometimes accuse us of being ANTI-NOMIAN, or HYPER-GRACERS …
… which means that we think that we get saved & can now do anything that we want!
Paul says in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”
I would say that I’m a HYPER-GRACER when it comes to SALVATION.
GRACE IS HYPER.
You don’t have to do ANYTHING but trust in Jesus for your salvation …
… & receive Him by faith alone.
But when it comes to CHRISTIAN LIVING, I’m FAR FROM being a HYPER-GRACER …
… (in the sense that they’re using the word).
We have WORK to do as Christians …
… because we’ve been commissioned to LOVE GOD & to LOVE our neighbors.
& the natural side effect of this WAR on WORKS-SALVATION …
… is that complacency regarding WORKS has become COMMONPLACE among believers.
• Before I started this ministry …
… I specifically asked God what He wanted me to do …
I prayed earnestly that God would help me to walk in the WORKS that He had before ORDAINED for me …
I wanted to know what God specifically had planned for my life …
I ENCOURAGE YOU TO PRAY THAT PRAYER.
But also understand that God’s Word tells us what these GOOD WORKS are …
… The Bible lays it out universally for all believers.
First, we are to LOVE GOD …
… & second we are to LOVE our NEIGHBOR as OURSELF.
Paul applies in practical terms in Romans 15:1-3:
1 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
2 Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.
3 For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
The most simple & straightforward admonition on GOOD WORKS is to take real & practical steps to LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS …
In Romans 13:10, Paul says: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
So genuine GOOD WORKS begin with APPLIED LOVE for our NEIGHBORS.
LOVE reveals itself THROUGH WORKS.
Matthew 5:15-16 says:
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
As new creation in Christ, we are that metaphoric Candle …
… & the light of Christ shines through us is our GOOD WORKS.
• This metaphor, talks about A BUSHEL …
• A bushel was a unit of dry measurement used for things like bundles of wheat …
… it also referred to the container or basket that held the grain or wheat …
… so Jesus is saying not to hide your light underneath that bakset …
… but to let it shine, so that as Christians, people will then SEE our GOODWORKS & glorify God.
Now, there’s a balance to this, there’s a certain perspective, because in the very next chapter …
… Jesus tells us not to do GOOD WORKS in order to be seen of men.
It’s about the MOTIVE of the heart.
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
The difference is the INTENT OF THE HEART.
In Matthew 5, Jesus was saying that when we DO GOOD WORKS …
… men will see our good works & GLORIFY GOD.
It’s not WHY we do GOOD WORKS, to be seen of men …
… but the natural result is that as we do GOOD WORKS unto God …
… men will see it … and God will be glorified.
But in Matthew 6, the Pharisees were doing GOOD WORKS to GLORIFY THEMSELVES.
They had it exactly backwards.
• DOING GOOD WORKS amplifies our TESTIMONY & …
• … increases our CREDIBILITY as Christians.
GOOD WORKS become a TESTAMENT of our faith …
It’s like when James said in James 2:18: “Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
Our works don’t save us, but they PROVE our FAITH to men …
… so that they will know that we are saved believers.
It’s like when James said in v. 20: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
A believer without works is useless as a Christian.
His faith his worthless & dead to everyone but himself.
That’s the proper application of JAMES 2 & FAITH WITHOUT WORKS is DEAD.
In James 1:27, the apostle James says: “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
So we see practical instruction from James the apostle on the types of GOOD WORKS that we ought to do …
To visit the FATHERLESS & WIDOWS in their affliction …
In other words, to care for the downtrodden and weak.
So there are real & practical steps we can take to do GOOD WORKS.
Philippians 2:3-4 says:
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Romans 12:10 also says: “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;”
It’s the same message concerning SERVICE & WORKS towards one another through Scripture.
…. We should be looking for ways to serve one another …
Galatians 5:13-14 says:
13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
The Bible teaches that through knowledge which we gain by studying God’s Word, we are equipped to do good works:
2 Timothy 3:16-17:
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
James 4:17 even says that if we know that we’re supposed to do good & we don’t do it, it is considered sin: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
Being passive & withholding good when it is within our power to do so IS SIN.
Proverbs 3:27-28 says:
27 Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do [it].
28 Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and to morrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee.
God considers even giving a cup of cold water to one of his disciples a good work which will be rewarded.
There are ETERNAL REWARDS for the BELIEVER who does GOOD WORKS.
40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.
41 He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.
42 And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.
Jesus often referred to believers as children & little ones …
This correlates later w/ THE JUDGMENT passage, in Matthew 25:34-40:
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Jesus uses similar language here, when you compare LITTLE ONES from Matthew 10 to THE LEAST OF THESE in Matthew 25.
We also see a series of PRACTICAL WORKS laid out for us in Matthew 25, that believers should be actively seeking to do.
Feeding the church …
… taking them in & letting them into our homes …
… clothing believers …
… visiting them when they are sick or in prison.
Again, these are all LITERAL things we can do to care for the BODY OF CHRIST.
Often, Christians have a way of over-spiritualize very simple, literal, & practical truths.
& then denying the simple instructions that God gives us.
It’s like when the apostle James says in James 2:15-16:
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Don’t be so spiritual, that you can’t lift a finger to help your brother.
In Romans 15:26-27, Paul takes up monetary offerings for poor Saints in Jerusalem:
26 For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.
27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
The gentiles were saved through the believers in Jerusalem …
… & so Paul says that it’s their duty to take care of them financially.
It’s the PRACTICAL CARE of believers that is the focus of such passages.
So we see that even FINANCIAL GENEROSITY & GIVING is a GOOD WORK.
• Support of the needy was first established in the Law of Moses, and so this is backed up even by the Law.
In Deuteronomy 15:7-10, God says:
7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
8 But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.
9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
The Bible also says that we ourselves will have an increase when we give.
Proverbs 11:23-28 says:
23 The desire of the righteous is only good: but the expectation of the wicked is wrath.
24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
25 The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.
26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
27 He that diligently seeketh good procureth favour: but he that seeketh mischief, it shall come unto him.
28 He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch.
GENEROSITY towards others …
… the GIVING of both our TIME & our MONEY to those in need … is a GOOD WORK …
… because it falls under the umbrella of LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS as ourselves.
Proverbs 21:6 says: “He [speaking of the wicked] coveteth greedily all the day long: but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”
So we our to be generous and giving.
But the GREATEST WORK OF ALL …
… The greatest work that we can do in this life …
… is the PREACHING of the GOSPEL & the WORK of SAVING SOULS.
In Mark 16:15, Jesus commissioned the church to preach the Gospel.
This is our primary work & mission: “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
THE GOSPEL is the ULTIMATE GOOD WORK that has been entrusted to the believer.
But our PRACTICAL GOOD WORKS coupled with the PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL …
… opens people up to hearing the Gospel & receiving it …
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:33: “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”
Without the church, the Gospel would not go forward …
… & souls would be consigned to the Lake of Fire for all eternity.
The WORK of the PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL …
… has been entrusted unto us.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
That work has been entrusted to us.
JESUS did all the WORK to SAVE US …
… but the WORK of PREACHING the GOSPEL has been committed unto us …
So if you are upset that people are going to Hell, & feel that it’s unfair …
… then do something about it …
Do the work of preaching the Gospel.
Preaching the Gospel is LABOR INTENSIVE & is a GOOD WORK:
Paul says in Philippians 4:3: “And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.”
When Paul sends Timothy to the Corinthians, he says in 1 Corinthians 16:10: “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.”
In 1 Corinthians 16:15-16, he says to them:
15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
Paul instructs us to yoke with those who are constantly doing God’s work …
… those who are ADDICTED to the ministry.
These are the types of people that you should have closest to you.
The LABOR & FOCUS of PAUL’S ENTIRE LIFE was the preaching of the Gospel.
& when he wasn’t pre-occupied with the preaching of the Gospel …
… he was pre-occupied with meeting the needs of the Saints.
He set that example for us … to follow in his footsteps.
In 1 Corinthians 11:1: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
And Paul promises that God will not forget our labor of love.
In Hebrews 6:10-11 he says:
10 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
Paul also likens the PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL to a physical laborer who gets paid for his work.
1 Corinthians 9:13-14:
13 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?
14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
He also says earlier in verses 7-9:
7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
8 Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
9 For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
So there’s nothing wrong with preachers getting paid …
… it’s labor … and it’s hard … & it takes skilled workman …
… But Paul forgoes the payment he should have received …
… opting instead to receive a greater, heavenly & eternal reward for his work.
He says in verse 15: “But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.”
… Paul did not want monetary compensation obstruct his complete effectiveness in preaching the Gospel.
In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Paul compares his work in the Gospel to a race with a reward awaiting him at the finish line:
24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
There is AN ETERNAL REWARD for ALL the WORKS that we do.
Christians think that we all get saved and that heaven is this COMMUNIST UTOPIA.
But that’s not the case … heavenly will be grand for the lowest of all Christians …
… but there will be differing levels of rewards and positions of authority …
… based on the works that we accomplish in His name as Christians.
& you can read about that in 1 Corinthians 3.
• So First, we do good works because we love God.
• Second, we do good works because we love our neighbors.
• And third, we do good works …
… because we are working towards an eternal possession that will not wax old or fade away.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
When I meet Jesus, I want Him to say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21).
IN CLOSING, the Bible is replete with instances of practical, literal, & necessary good works …
Proverbs 22:9: “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
Proverbs 28:27: “He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.”
Jesus said in Luke 3:11 that we should give of our substance to those in need: “He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”
He also said in Luke 6:38 that when we give, we ourselves will be blessed: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
You see, Jesus preached WORKS.
NOT FOR SALVATION. But for CHRISTIAN LIVING.
& Jesus Himself performed the GREATEST WORK of all.
He gave Himself entirely for us, not withholding any part of Himself …
… to the point of dying a horrible death on the cross …
Titus 2:14 says: “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
We ought to be zealous for good works.
How many Christians can really say that they are ZEALOUS for GOOD WORKS?
I know people get ZEALOUS about their particular DOCTRINES.
And we should be zealous for RIGHT DOCTRINE …
… but we should also be ZEALOUS for GOOD WORKS.
And I know that people get ZEALOUS about their false religion & their MAN-MADE TRADITIONS …
… & become Pharisees.
But how many of us can say that we are ZEALOUS for GOOD WORKS?
Jesus did all the WORK necessary to save us on the Cross …
But now it’s up to us TO WORK to preach His Gospel and to do good to our neighbors.
ARE YOU SAVED?
GOOD! NOW IT’S TIME GET TO WORK!
Titus 3:8: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.”