Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good works explained (PART II)

Unto God
In PART I of this series, I have said that we must consider works from the perspective of God. Some time back I wrote an article on Keeping Christmas; you may access this article, here: Keeping Christmas. In the writing of that article, I believed the inspiration for the story there, of the 3 men (friends) came from the Spirit of God. That story, as well as whether or not, Christmas is of any significance depends on whether Romans 14:6 is being subscribed to.

He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God (Romans 14:6).

Things we do which we regard them NOT unto the Lord, chances are that they are NOT good works. This is, of course, a “big picture” guidance.

Going fishing!
Is going for a weekend fishing at the seaside, a good works? Now, looking at the activity per se, perhaps, it is NOT a good works; what does fishing at the seaside got to do with the Lord? Of course, directly, the activity per se, does NOT have anything to do with the Lord.

Let us twist it a little bit; if the Lord says to you in a dream or a vision to go to such and such a seaside, at such and such a time, to fish there, and He will show you what to do when you are there, it will be a completely different thing; your going to fish at that seaside that weekend is a good works, in accordance to the will of God.

What if there is no such vision or dream, can it still be a good works? Well, it depends, and many different scenarios can come into the picture, but I will just mention 2 more to illustrate at the end of day, above all else, wisdom and judgment must be applied, with big pictures and certainties (what we know without ambiguity) kept in mind:

Let us say, now, you skip your weekend church services so that you can go fishing every weekend; that will NOT be a good works, will it? No, bad works more likely. Next, assuming you are NOT skipping church services, and you are going fishing, because you, too, need to take breaks and have some recreation, and fishing is something you would like to do, to unwind. In this case, maybe, that is a good works, if you believe with those unwinds, you are better able to cope with stresses of life and even more able to serve God because of your rested-ness, and God does NOT suggest to you otherwise. Is it unto God? You think about it! At the worst, it is perhaps, “no works”, but NOT bad works.

Not to be paranoia, but good works matters
I am NOT suggesting people be paranoia, always insisting everything we do must amount to good works. We should avoid bad works though. Doing much good works is good, but I cannot prescribe how much is enough or how much is NOT enough. I believe no one really knows, but the message of Romans 14:6 is NOT complete without me giving the next few verses following:

6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Romans 14:6)

7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:7-9)

We can see from the above verses, a believer is NO longer supposed to live to himself alone; he cannot just do his own things only; he has to live to the Lord, meaning we belong to the Lord. 1 Cor 6:19-20 reads as follow:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Cor 6:19-20).

While I cannot tell you, how much good works are required of each of us, for even the words of Jesus on “Who are the sheep and goats” which spoke about the need of doing good works by believers, did NOT elaborate on the quantum required thereof, verse 9 above of Romans 14, clearly stated that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all believers. It is really heretic, in my view to teach, as it is being done by some Free Grace teachers, that Salvation and Lordship of Jesus are separate, that one can have salvation without submitting to His Lordship.

In my separate article, “Who are the sheep and who are the goats”, I suggested that readers should seriously consider that the sheep referred to by Jesus are believers with good works. You should read it.

In “Luke 6:46 - PART I – Salvation and Lordship are together”, I argued that salvation and Lordship are necessarily together, for I believe, at the end of day, God is only admitting to Heaven those whom He knows will come under his Lordship. True, He is the Lord of all (regardless our acceptance of Him), but He is after a kingdom in Heaven of men who would embrace His Lordship wholeheartedly (we know that angels who did not, were “kicked out”). If you are NOT, why should you be there? To oppose God, or to incur wrath in Him? Yes, I mentioned in that article, works per se, is NOT what God is after, but obedience to His Lordship is; however, it is also clear that good works is a product of a life of submission unto His Lordship.

Will I make the mark?
If what I said is of truth, how do we know if we would make the mark {on submission to His Lordship, and therefore, good works}, and God will admit us (to Heaven)? I cut paste this from my “Salvation and Lordship are together” article mentioned above:

“We live in faith, through faith, and by faith. And faith is spelled as “R I S K”. I used to want that it should be a clear-cut issue, yes or no (it is common human tendency), but you know what, that is being legalistic! There is one thing, we cannot miss when we study the ministry of Jesus when He walked the earth, and that is He was against legalism. If it were 100%, or God MUST do it, it is NOT faith, it is legalism.”

There is no clear-cut answer; that is what a life of faith is about, we try to know more of God’s ways and will, for us, put into practice, and obey as much as possible, and rest in our trust in God, in His justice and righteousness, in His love and faithfulness (Ps 89:14), and in His wisdom and judgment. A scripture that is close to what I am trying to portray is this:

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence (1 John 3:18-19).

Warning, nothing is hidden, though
Two set of verses pointed very clearly nothing, including sins, bad works, and good works, are hidden. 1 Timothy 5:24-25 read as follow:

24Some men's sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. 25Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid. (1 Tim 5:24-25).

As a side, verse 24 actually suggests that some people’s sins (including believers) are known and judged summarily (without delay), for some others, their sins would be known and judged later (but NOT ignored, or escape judgment). This, in my view, contradicts some overly grace teachers’ teaching that believers will NEVER be judged anymore when they had already been judged on entry into salvation; in line with their erroneous (in my view) notion that even the FUTURE sins of a believer had been forgiven him at his MOMENT of entry into salvation. Verse 25 clearly said that good works are treated by God likewise; some are noted summarily, and perhaps, even “rewarded”, but others that are NOT yet openly made known, they will be surfaced later, NOT hidden, NOT lost, NOT, not taken into account subsequently.

The other verse which confirms God knows everything concerning the believers is this:

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his [a],” (2 Tim 2:19a).

The footnote [a] to the NIV version of this verse actually references the verse back to Numbers 16:5 where a group of Levites was trying to usurp the powers and the sacred duties assigned to the High Priest. The incident and how it was finally settled, showed among others, 2 things: one, God knows who are His and who is supposed to do what, and what was done by who, nothing is hidden from God, and two, as was previously pointed by me in my separate article, “Don’t play, play, words from the mouths of favored men of God can be powerful”, God can just be listening to the words of His favored servants, and do as the servants pronounced!

Simply put, we cannot fool God, for God neither slumber nor sleep (Ps 121:4); whether or not our works are unto Him, He knows; whether or not, we are doing in submission to His Lordship, He knows. Those who read my Salvation and Lordship article mentioned above, would remember that I said this, “Submission is not blind or Lordship cannot be accidental. By submission is not blind, I mean one does not submit to nothingness, in other words, when one submits, one is submitting to someone or something, otherwise, it is not submission. Lordship is not accidental, is to mean you cannot say, “But, I also did that what, can’t you, God, just count it that I done it, in submission to you?” Good works is about works unto the Lord, and it is about submission unto the Lord, even as it is works from and of faith, the understanding we arrived at, from PART I of this article series.

Must submission necessarily implied works?
Not must, but it almost inevitably does. Very simply, being submissive to one, means we do as being told; yah, we do something. To me, even loving God is works! Love does NOT do nothing! We are told to love God. Does that tell us to do nothing? Or do our own things? No, loving God is NOT doing nothing. Still have doubts, read again 1 John 3:18-19 (given above). We do, do our own things, but that is NOT exactly connected to submission.

I have a son, and he does, do his own things (play computer games, etc, etc), but his doing such, per se, do NOT indicate his submission to me, his father. If I tell him NOT to do his own thing (say, play computer games) for an hour, and he obliges, that is submission. Sure, if I had not told him that he could NOT do his own things like playing computer games, he, by playing computer games does NOT indicate that he is NOT submissive to me, but it also does NOT indicate that he is submissive.

To be submissive to God, you are to do (or NOT to do) something; in other words, you effort or labor (well, to refrain is also effort-lah) in accordance to the desires of God. Of course, if God says, “Go, play some computer games, and have some fun”; then that too, is works. Love God and love people are works, worship God is works, even as such are acting in submission to God.

Jesus’ bringing us salvation through His works on the Cross, the redemptive works of our Lord, when we embrace that salvation, we have said, we also need necessarily embrace submission to His Lordship, for His redemptive works include redeeming our works or purpose aspect of our lives. If you read my separate article, “Works of redemption of our Lord”, you will realize that the Lord NOT only wanted to grant us eternal life (spiritual redemption), and give us, in our next life, an incorruptible body (final part of physical redemption), but also to give us back works or purpose of life (works/purpose redemption). All 3-fold redemptive works start immediately upon entry into salvation, but they are NOT FINISHED in the blink of an eye, despite Jesus’ saying, “It is finished” on the Cross.

Overly grace teachers who tell you that you are FINISHED, NOT work in progress in anyway, are creating their own theology. Just because Jesus said, “It is finished”, did NOT mean you are finished, perfected. Jesus was simply expressing He (NOT you) has finished the works His Father had wanted Him to do. Jesus knew what He must do and He did what He must do to complete the assignment God had given Him. Honestly, if I do what I WANT, going forward, I cannot be sure of my eternal life; and I have NOT my incorruptible body yet, physical redemption surely NOT finished for me yet; and directly in connection with what we discussed here (works), I have a long way to go, in learning submission, and do works pleasing unto God; I am a Christian of many years now, but still I am NOT fully aligned to God’s ways to function fully in the works/purposes He has for me, rather I am still spending a lot of time doing “my things” (Please, I am NOT suggesting you condemn yourself; that would NOT be what God would have intentioned, even if you are a lazy bum or a selfish fellow. You are exhorted to move in the right direction, and NOT to condemn yourself in the existing spot.) Seriously, to walk in the redemptive works of our Lord, we are to produce fruit from good works in our lives; it is NEVER JUST basking in grace, even though, you can bask in grace, and sometimes, and for some believers, some basking, indeed, would do them good, but that is another matter, altogether. Christians are to do good works (Eph 2:10).

Anthony Chia, high.expressions - The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt 3:10).

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