Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Good Works

In All Thy Doing, Give Them the Gospel

Handing out water bottles.  Painting an older woman’s house for her.  Cleaning the side of the roads.  Giving food and provisions to the poor. Helping the sick.  Taking care of poor people’s children so they can have a date night.  Washing cars for free.  Changing the oil of single woman’s cars (and not to meet them).  Buying groceries for a neighborhood and leaving them on their door steps with nothing asked in return.  Giving the guy at the corner of the intersection some money (he is holding a sign for it anyway).

All these are good works that people often do.  I could write more.  I even give out of my weekly pay to a charity (yes I am good).  Churches have long been the place for good works.  Most of the hospitals were started by Christians.  I was born in Baptist Hospital (Columbia, SC).  Many of the homeless shelters are run by Christians.  Many soup kitchens are maintained by Christians.  Many outreaches to run aways, to prostitutes, to homosexuals are run by Christians.  Clinics for drug addicts (such as Teen Challenge) are run by Christians.  Clinics for people with sexual addictions are run by Christians.

The fact is that the Spirit of God leads us to do good works (Ephesians 2:10).  None would deny that good works flow from our salvation (James 2:14-26).  Good works do not save us (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5) but they show our love for God.  Good works flow from a heart that has been washed by the precious blood of Jesus.  Even Paul the Apostle was clear that he cared for the poor (Galatians 2:10).

My fear in all this is that in all our doing, we miss the one thing that is vastly important above all others and that is the gospel.  Good works should never replace the gospel.  In fact, the gospel should be our first work.  The sinner must hear the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).  The sinner doesn’t first need our testimony or our good works.  They first need the gospel.  While we should help people (Galatians 6:10), we should never replace that with the gospel or for the gospel.

I know of some who claim to be sharing the gospel with the lost but they are only doing good works.  They are not preaching Christ to the lost.  They are not pointing sinners to the Savior.  They would say they are by their light (Matthew 5:13-16) but they are not verbally preaching the gospel to the lost.  This is where they fail.

Still others say that the we must “earn” the right to share the gospel with the lost.  The old quote is, “They don’t know how much you love till you show them how much you care.”  We are told that we must first do good works for people to earn their trust and respect.  Without this, the gospel comes across as meaningless (or so we are told).

Yet we don’t get angry with doctors who are forthright.  We don’t question doctors who appear as unfriendly or unkind.  We don’t question doctors who warn us of our lifestyles without first giving us a meal or building us a house.  We just listen to them and doctors leave it to us to follow their advice.

The Bible is clear that we must preach the gospel to the lost.  We must not hold back.  Isaiah 58:1 reads, “Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins” (NASB).  Jesus said that He had come to bring good news (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) and we are to be His witnesses in this world (John 20:21).  The Spirit of God empowers us to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8).  We witness by declaring His gospel to the lost.  Good works help us but they are not the gospel in of themselves.

When we read the book of Acts we find the disciples preaching the gospel.  The Lord sent them to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). The gospel is a verbal message of redemption (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).  The gospel focuses entirely on the Lord Jesus and His work in saving us (Romans 4:6).  Our gospel must be the verbal truth of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So here is my point.  Good works are good.  Good works flow from a truly redeemed life (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).  Good works do not save us (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5).  Good works can never earn God’s perfect righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) and even if we did good works all our lives and never sinned again, we have sinned enough to receive His wrath upon us (James 2:10).  This is not a case of our good works out doing our bad works.  Our sinfulness is not just in our works but in us (Romans 3:10-18, 23).  WE are sinful at heart and not merely in our actions (Genesis 6:5; Ephesians 2:1-3).  No good works can ever atone for our sins.  We have simply sinned too much and are sinful at heart.  This is why we look to Christ alone to save us.  Jesus was perfect and He never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).  Jesus bore our sins on the cross (Galatians 1:4) and His blood alone cleanses us from all sin (Ephesians 1:7).  The blood of Jesus alone is able to wash us from dead works (Hebrews 9:14) that we might serve the living God.  We must be born again (John 3:5; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3).  This happens by the grace of God alone.  We cannot earn salvation.  We cannot add to the work of Christ for saving us.  We must look by faith to Him alone to save us (John 6:29).

God saves us by His grace.  We the Lord saves us from sin, He transforms us completely (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This is why Jesus described this as the new birth.  We are born from above.  The Spirit of God comes into us and He makes us alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).  The Lord washes away our sins and forgives us completely (Hebrews 8:12).  The Holy Spirit now empowers toward holiness.  We are holy in Christ but are also being made holy by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-17; Hebrews 10:10, 14).  We are complete in Christ (Colossians 3:1-4).  But this doesn’t mean that we are not being sanctified.  We are.  The Holy Spirit is helping us to be more like Christ.  He is taking us from being sinful enemies of God to being children of the King.  Good works flow from this relationship with Christ.  In Colossians, for example, Paul the Apostle lays our how Christ transform us.  He shows how we flee from sinning and toward godliness and holiness in all that we do (Colossians 3:5-17).  Paul shows us that our relationships are transformed because of the gospel (Colossians 3:18-4:1).  The gospel makes me new in Christ and I am able to obey the Lord because of the gospel.  The gospel is my motivation for good works.

This should flow forth in my evangelism as well.  The gospel is my foundation and authority.  I preach the gospel because of the Word of God and its truth.  I can proclaim that Jesus will save sinners because His Word clearly says that He will (Romans 10:13).  I can proclaim repentance because the Bible calls people to repentance (Acts 17:30-31; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10).  I can proclaim the wrath of God against sin because the Bible clearly teaches His wrath against sin (Romans 1:18-32).  I can preach against lawlessness because the Bible calls sin lawlessness (1 John 3:4).  I can call sinners to repent of their sins because they have sinned against the law of God (Romans 3:19-20; 1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Now good works toward sinners flows from the gospel.  The gospel is the first good work they need to hear and see.  I come to the lost sinner with love for them and compassion on them because the Bible calls me to do this (Titus 3:1-7).  Sinners are bound in their sins because they are blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).  Sinners must hear the gospel and the Spirit of God must open their hearts to the gospel (Acts 16:14-15).  I can build them a house.  I can buy them groceries.  I can give them a book full of testimonies from other disciples.  But ultimately, I have failed that sinner if I don’t preach the gospel to them.  How can I say I love God yet ignore my fellow human being created in God’s image and deny them the gospel (1 John 3:16-18)? The gospel saves and I must preach to the lost the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).

The bottom line is this: good works flow from salvation.  Good works cannot earn salvation nor secure our salvation.  Jesus died to save us from our sins which brings on us God’s just wrath but the Son of God bore our sins on the cross and we are saved from the wrath of God in Him (1 Thessalonians 1:10).  Good works then flow from our salvation (Ephesians 2:10; James 2:14-26).  Part of good works is the preaching of the gospel and this is the greatest way we can love sinners and that is to preach to them.  Sinners are going to hell without Christ and we must preach the gospel to warn them of the wrath to come.  We must preach the truth that Christ came to save sinners (Luke 19:10) and He will save sinners by His grace (John 6:37).  The Holy Spirit will empower us to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8) and He will help us to reach the lost.  The Holy Spirit opens sinners hearts for the gospel (John 6:44: 16:8-11).  I pray that I would be found faithful in preaching the gospel to sinners of whom I am chief (1 Timothy 1:15).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/26/2015 at 1:26 PM

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

– Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

One of the characteristics of cults is that they do not focus on Jesus Christ.  They may mention Him and use His name but often the focus is not on Jesus but upon either a man or a group such as a church.  Salvation is generally tied to Jesus (sometimes) but always somethings is added such as Jesus plus a church or Jesus plus a prophet or Jesus plus baptism into that church.  The focus is not on Jesus alone.

The message of cults is not on Jesus either.  It is usually on good works or keeping the commandments of the group (or church).  That list can be short or long depending on the group.  Most cults spend most of their time looking at themselves and what they do with just a casual glance at Jesus and what He has done.

Salvation, however, in the New Testament is focused on Jesus Christ and what He has done.  Hebrews 12:2 is clear that the disciple is not to be focused on the group, the church, their works, their repentance, their lack of sinning, their discipler but upon the Lord Jesus.  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Jesus is the One who sits at the right hand of God praying for the saints of God (Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is the One who died for our sins and brought us peace with God (Ephesians 2:14-15).  Jesus is the only One who bore our sins on the cross (Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24).  Jesus has sat down at God’s right hand until His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13).

Adam Clarke writes about Hebrews 12:2 and Jesus as our example:

Looking off and on, or from and to; looking off or from the world and all secular concerns to Jesus and all the spiritual and heavenly things connected with him. This is still an allusion to the Grecian games: those who ran were to keep their eyes fixed on the mark of the prize; they must keep the goal in view. The exhortation implies, 1. That they should place all their hope and confidence in Christ, as their sole helper in this race of faith. 2. That they should consider him their leader in this contest and imitate his example.

Jesus is our focus for the redeemed.  Our focus is not on us.  Our focus is not on our church.  Our focus is not on our prayer life.  Our focus is not on our evangelism.  Our focus is not on what we have done but upon the Lord Jesus and what He has done.  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.  He has finished this work (John 19:30).  We cannot add to His work nor take away from His work.  Salvation is accomplished through Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  Good works do not save (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A church or group does not save.  Jesus alone saves by His grace and for His glory.

If your salvation is dependent upon what you do or what a group does for you, repent!  Repent of your dead works (Hebrews 9:14).  Repent of seeking to save yourself when you cannot (Isaiah 64:6).  The only hope we have is Jesus.  He alone is the One who is able to deliver us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and He alone is the One who is able to give us peace with a holy God (Romans 5:1).  Our faith must be in Him alone and not in us or our group.

If you are your group spends their time focusing on anything or anyone but Jesus Christ and His cross, I urge you repent or leave.  Flee idolatry (1 John 5:21).  Flee works salvation.  Flee from focusing on anything or anyone but the only One who can save us from us and the wrath of an Almighty God (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/13/2014 at 10:10 AM

Confrontational Evangelism Doesn’t Work

The title of this post is by far the most complaints I have heard regarding confrontational evangelism.  Those who believe that we must “earn” the right to be heard by giving someone a cup of water, offering aid, food, etc. before we can communicate the gospel believe that confrontational evangelism turns people away from Christ rather than to Him.  While many would acknowledge that open air preaching, gospel tracts, and one-on-one evangelism have been used by God in the past, we now live in a new era where people must know how much you love before they will listen to you.  Therefore, entire ministries are dedicated to helping people first before ever telling them the gospel.  Entire churches are designed with the “seeker” in mind so that the “seeker” feels comfortable, they know that you care about them, and they are not scared out of their minds by your language or your gospel.

The reality is that sinners need the gospel.  I believe we can agree on this.  Other than the hyper-Calvinist who holds that “duty-faith” is not biblical, most disciples of Jesus do believe that sinners need the gospel.  My concern is not about whether you reject confrontational evangelism but my concern is the content of the gospel.  Are sinners hearing the gospel from you?  Are you showing them biblically the true God who is holy?  Are you exalting Christ and focusing upon Him or is the “seeker” your focus?  The gospel is first and foremost about God.  It is not about us.  Humans bring one thing to the gospel message: our sin.  The gospel is focused on Christ and how He turns away the just wrath of an offended God.  If your gospel does not deal with the sins that have caused this enmity between God and mankind, your gospel is not a saving gospel.

Now I am all for helping people.  Scripture says that we should do good to all (Galatians 6:10).  Scripture is clear in Romans 12:19-21 that we are to do good even to our enemies and allow God to judge them in His time.  Galatians 2:10 says that we are to help the poor as did the Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:2-4.  I am for helping others.  My concern is that we draw the line there and don’t bother dealing with what eternally matters and that is the condition of people’s souls before God.  Each person we meet today will face Almighty God.  Each person we see driving in their cars, working their jobs, running in the park, watching a ball game, etc. will die and face eternity (Hebrews 9:27).  My concern is that they hear the gospel.  Do they know the truth?  Have they heard of God’s wrath against their sins and that their only hope is the cross?  Have the people I met today heard the truth of Jesus Christ and His saving work?

This is the heart of my post.  I want sinners to hear the gospel and be saved.  Do good to them and for them but speak the truth to them (Romans 10:14-17).  Tell them of the judgment to come (John 16:8-11).  Warn them of hell (Matthew 25:46). Speak to them of God’s grace given to us in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:8-9).  Use the Law of God to show them their sins before God (1 Timothy 1:8-11).  But by all means, speak to the sinners about the Lord Jesus who had mercy upon us and saved us (Titus 3:1-7).

The Work of God

There is a tendency among us human beings to think that we can help God in the process of salvation.  We like to think in terms of God doing His part and we doing our part.  It’s like the old altar calls where the evangelist would say, “If you’ll take one step toward God, He’ll take two steps toward you.”  Salvation then becomes mostly God but some of us as well.

Yet Scripture affirms that salvation is not the work of humans.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) is clear when it says,

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

That bothers people.  To think that salvation is by the grace of God and not by works bothers us.  To some of us, that sounds too much like “easy believe-ism.”  Salvation surely has to be the work of God mostly but some of our works as well such as our faith, our repentance, our baptism, our keeping ourselves saved, etc.

In John 6:29 Jesus answers the Jews question from verse 28 where they asked Him what they must do to we may work the works of God.  John 6:29 (NKJV) says,

Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

John Wesley said that this is “the work most pleasing to God, and the foundation of all others.”  All our good works flow naturally from our faith in Jesus.  No doubt we are to do good works as Ephesians 2:10 or Titus 2:14 or James 2:14-26 teaches.  Good works flow from our salvation which is finished in Jesus Christ (John 19:30).  Our sins are forgiven in Jesus and His blood (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7) and we are saved apart from works (Acts 13:38-39; Romans 4:5).

The work of God is thus to believe in His Son.  This is eternal life (John 6:40).

So the question before us is this: How are you saved?  Are you saved by grace through faith plus good works?  Is it grace through faith plus Arminianism or Calvinism or any other ism?  Are you saved by grace through faith plus you being holy or you doing this or that?  I believe we are saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him alone.  My salvation is dependent totally and completely upon Jesus alone.  My works, my goodness, my prayer life, my Bible study, etc. are not the grounds for my salvation but they flow from my salvation just as Wesley stated above.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/01/2012 at 10:00 AM

Being Good is Not Good Enough

One of the troublesome aspects of funerals is that the deceased person is often said to be in heaven because they were such a good person.  We will often talk about the moral goodness of a person or we will discuss how the person attended a church or perhaps, like my mama, they kept nursery for the church for many years.  All of the good that a person does is suppose to show that they loved God, that their works showed their faith in Jesus (James 2:14-26) and certainly good works do follow salvation (Ephesians 2:10; Titus 2:14).

However, we must preach hard that good works never justify a person before God.  You see the problem with good works is that we cannot decide when enough good works are enough.  How many good works must a person do to obtain forgiveness of our sins?  What if our bad works are equal with our good works?  What if the standard for good works is actually do something else besides what we are doing?  And further, who decides what are good works?  Scripture doesn’t give us details to what qualify as good works per se.  Does giving money to a charity qualify the same as giving money to a homeless person?  And what if we give money to a homeless person but then we lie or cheat or steal?  Does the good then outdo the bad?  It is a never-ending cycle.

This is why justification is by grace through faith which boggles the mind.  No wonder Paul would write in 1 Corinthians 1:18 that “the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”  The cross destroys our human logic.  The cross destroys two things.  First, the cross shows the utter sinfulness of our sins.  We often fail to see our sins until we see the gospel in the cross of Christ, that the sinless Lamb of God took our place (Isaiah 53:4-6).  The cross shouts to us, “Guilty before God of sin” (see Galatians 3:10).  We are guilty before a holy God of crimes against His Law (Romans 7:7; James 2:10).  The Law shows us that we deserve His just wrath against sin (Galatians 3:23-24).  The cross shows us that sinfulness before God.  No matter how good we might think we are, we are still guilty before a perfect and holy God (Isaiah 64:6).  

Secondly, the cross shows us the grace of God for our salvation.  Jesus bore our sins on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21).  He took the wrath of God, the bitter cup for us (Mark 14:36; Romans 5:8-9).  He died for our sins (Matthew 1:21; 26:28; 1 Peter 2:21-24). He shed His blood that we might be forgiven before God (Hebrews 9:27-28).  We don’t fully grasp that but we see it a bit more clearly when we see our sinfulness and then the cross in light of our sins.  God has every right to destroy us and cast us into outer darkness for our sins (Matthew 25:30, 46) but He gives us grace in His Son (John 1:17).  Such marvelous grace that would go to Calvary and die for our sins.  Oh the power of His love!  Oh the wonder of His grace!  Oh the beauty of the blood of Christ!

The cross tells us that good is not good enough.  All our goodness cannot compare to the cross.  All our goodness cannot repay the Lord for the cross.  We simply receive His grace, His love, His mercy and His kindness by grace through faith.  We cannot obtain salvation through our goodness.  It is not faith plus our goodness.  It is simply faith in Jesus that saves (John 6:29).  All of salvation is a work of grace (Acts 15:11).  We can never obtain salvation by any other means but by the marvelous cross of Jesus Christ as He died for our sins.

Praise God for the cross!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/10/2012 at 10:49 PM

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