Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Biblical "Works"

Determining the Value of Works.

The value of works is dependent upon the INTENT with which they are performed, and WHO is doing them. Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for the INTENT of their works. They performed works to gain honor, the best seats in the house, respect, and the position to be called "Rabbis".

Mat_23:5-7 "Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; (6) they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; (7) they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called 'Rabbi' by others.

So, we can examine ourselves and determine the qualitative righteousness of our works in part by our INTENT in performing them. If we are looking for status, that is the wrong intent, if we are doing them out of love for others without regard to status, that is right intent.

It is out of the heart the mouth speaks (and the body does). It is out of the heart that the nature of the works is determined, and intent rests in the heart.

Works from the Flesh or the Heart?

In addition to the INTENT which which they are performed, WHO is doing them is perhaps even more important.

The Pharisees were rooted in the flesh or the letter of the law and completely missed "circumcision of the heart" or the spirit of the law. They totally missed the empowering nature of the Holy Spirit, and thus, missed works based on the Holy Spirit's work through them by faith.

2Co_3:2-6 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. (3) You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (4) Such confidence we have through Christ before God. (5) Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. (6) He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

You could read this as; “we are not competent in ourselves to claim good works from ourselves, but our good works are from Christ in us”. The Pharisees either did not understand this, or they rejected it. Their lack of circumcision of heart means that they had not removed their fleshly letter of the law so they could see the higher spirit of the law. Their works were done to benefit themselves.

Act_7:51 "You stiff-necked people! Your hearts and ears are still uncircumcised. You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit!

It is through our yielded submission to the commands (what God personally tells each of us to do minute by minute, day by day as we listen) of God that accomplishes works that we could not dream of doing ourselves. In this mode of operation, we can only look back and behold the wonder of the Lord and what HE accomplishes (Joh_14:12). We may move our feet, but He guides our steps and we are along for the ride so to speak (Pro_16:9).

These are the works which James speaks of:

Jas_2:17-18 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (18) But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.

It is the outworking of the seed of Christ planted in our heart that grows into a mighty tree which bears much fruit.

This is the fruit which determines our destiny in God's Kingdom

2Co_5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

The study of 1Co 3 and many other passages clearly shows that our initial salvation is a starting point, from which more and more blessing is added. We cannot loose our salvation through lack of works, only rewards.

1Co_3:12-15 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. (14) If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. (15) If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved--even though only as one escaping through the flames.

To the one who throws open their heart to the Holy Spirit, there is great reward.

We are equipped to do good works

Heb_13:20-21 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, (21) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

This equipping takes the form of gifts of the Spirit. Our exercise of those gifts is one of the primary ways that God uses us to serve the body and the world. Remember it is the Holy Spirit in us that brings those gifts to life so they bear much fruit.

1Co_12:4-7 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. (5) There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. (6) There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. (7) Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

The good works will be visible. They are not for us to hide away nor to broadcast, but it is God who will show it

Jas_4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

We should have a humble heart, it is our guide. If God chooses to make our works known, it will be to those with a humble heart.

Our reward from God is in the future.

Mat_6:1-4 "Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. (2) "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (3) But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Remember. Jesus is not saying that we should hide our good works, but to do them in His strength, with the right intent, from a humble heart of love for those we are serving, and not for personal gain. When works are done for personal gain, then the reward received for those works is already given here on earth from man. But the reward in heaven, from God is oh so much more valuable!

Dan_12:3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Rev_19:7-8 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. (8) Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God's holy people.)

Those who make themselves ready, by thirsting and hungering after God's indwelling Holy Spirit, and yielding to the power and work of the Holy Spirit in and through us, will receive Fine linen. We will wear this visible representation of Christ's works through us for all to see.

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