Works Matter

Revelation 14:13   (KJV)   13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Revelation 14.13 - Works MatterSalvation, death, resurrection, rest, works—these are indispensable truths and experiences in the lives of believers.

Being “in the Lord” is the most important experience anyone can ever have here on earth. It’s the only experience that changes and secures our eternal destiny—from an eternal destiny apart from Christ to an eternal destiny in His presence. All of us, except those alive when our precious Lord returns, will experience death. For us believers, it is a most welcome transition to the most glorious state we’ll ever enjoy in our entire existence—a life of rest, love, joy, peace multiplied a gazillion times greater.

In as much as often undermined in teaching the wonders of grace, works matter. They matter now, they will matter in eternity. It’s worth repeating: we’re not saved by works, but we’re saved unto good works.  For believers, it’s not “either-or” between grace and works; it’s both. Grace is God’s part and He does wonders with it; works is our part and we strive to do well in it.

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Fear the Father?

1 Peter 1:17   (KJV)   17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

We boldly call God our Father. It’s to Him we pray. He’s the One Who answers our prayers and blesses us graciously; He’s also the One who judges and will judge all of us 1 Peter 1.17 - Fear the Fatheraccording to our works. The appropriate response to these as pilgrims on a sacred journey is to live in fear of God.

We often connect fear to the LORD being our God who judges and condemns, and we connect love to Him being our Father who provides, guides, and saves. But this passage doesn’t show that distinction; the Father is the judge we need to fear.

We have a heavenly Father we can always call on and count on–anytime, anywhere. He’s a perfectly fair Dad. And since He will judge or reward us according to our works, it’s only appropriate that we do what’s good, right, and godly. We’ll always be aware of His incomprehensible greatness and awesomeness so there’ll never be a point in time when we’ll act like little spoiled kids treating our Dad with contempt. No; He’s too mighty, majestic, magnificent, and marvelous for that.

Living Faith

James 2:18   (KJV)   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.

I opted to blog a little differently today.

22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth James 2.18 - Living Faithwhat manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:22-25).

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14).

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 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. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:17-20).

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:22,24,26).

I rest my case.

He Won’t Forget

Hebrews 6:10   (KJV)   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.

Works matter, not as the means of salvation but as its proof and fruit. God sees, values, and remembers our work and love. It would be unrighteous or unjust for Him not to. How can He not be pleased with His children who delights in pleasing Him, whose paths Hebrews 6.10 - He Won't Forgetare straight, whose hearts are upright, whose walks are faithful, and who diligently work—lovingly serving Him and His children for His glory and honor?

Yes, we take pleasure in pleasing Him. We don’t serve Him for rewards, but we don’t disbelieve the truth that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Sowing and reaping was true in the Old Covenant, true in the natural world, true in the New Covenant, true in the spiritual sphere, true regarding our character, and yes, I personally believe is true in financial facet. We sow—we—give because we love, but we don’t deny the truth about the harvest.

We will continue working and loving; we earnestly intend to do so: diligently, “faith-filledly,” patiently—to the end. He will be there all the way, with smile on His face, and what a joy that is for us. “11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: 12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:11-12).

Set in Stone

2 Timothy 2:19   (KJV)   19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

There are argumentable teachings in the Bible—teachings that aren’t so clear; Christians interpret them differently and take positions that are often diametrically in contradiction to each other. Don’t be alarmed; none of these teachings have to do with 2 Timothy 2.19 - Set in Stonesalvation or God in His nature or being. But there are teachings set in stone. Here are two of them: God knows those who belong to Him; those who belong to Him must depart from iniquity.

We believe in the omniscience of God; He doesn’t make mistakes when it comes to who are His and who aren’t, who are saved and who are lost. His part is covered perfectly well. He’s not negligent; He’s not forgetful; He won’t have any “oops” moment. Our part is our part. Although we’ve heard it often stated: “Christianity is not about rules; it’s not about dos and don’ts; we’re not under the Law,” this doesn’t mean we’re unruly and lawless.

We have a loving relationship with our Father; we also have a very respectful relationship with our God. Our Father is our God; our God is our Father; we love Him; we fear Him. We want to do the things He wants us to do because we love Him. But I’ll be honest. In our imperfection; we don’t always do things He wants us to do; that’s when we ought to do them even when we don’t feel like doing them. It’s settled; one of the things we want to do, we ought to do, and we must do, is to depart from—turn away from iniquity, unholiness, unrighteousness, evil, or ungodliness. Yes, whether we want to or not, we must.

 

Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

Praising God

Psalm 150:2   (KJV)   2 Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

There are more reasons to praise God than we can enumerate and describe. He is praised in the heavens; He is praised here on earth. God is incomparably great, no other being—real or imagined is greater than Him. The greatest of man’s wisdom borders only on His psalm-150-2-praising-god-2“foolishness.” He’s the creator of this vast universe, the extents of which we don’t even have the capability of illustrating. Who and what can compare with the Incomparable?

Here’s a touching song I remember: “How big is God, how big and wide His vast domain. To try to tell—these lips can only start. He’s big enough to rule this mighty universe, yet small enough to live within my heart.” That’s one of the wonders of our God and heavenly Father. He’s so great, yet He’s so near, transcendent yet immanent. We feel for those who don’t see His grandness, beauty, and love; they’re missing out on the greatest and best.

Others argue about His existence; others doubt His power; others question His love. We believe—reasonably, deeply, and steadfastly. His greatness is obviously displayed and seen all around us. The enormity, the order, the design, the complexity, the intelligence, the beauty—it’s wisdom to recognize: none of these came together accidentally. The universe isn’t; we aren’t. Everything, including us, is carefully and wonderfully designed, with wonderful purposes. It’s necessary to note: joyful and exuberant expressions of praises aren’t confined in a denominational box. Our God is praised in the mighty heavens, He’s praised here on earth; we take part in the joy and pleasure of offering our utmost praises to His Highest. For all He is and all He’s done, we find it only fitting and a delight to praise Him—with all we are, all we’ve got, anywhere we are, all ways we can, and all means we have.