Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yes I Am Promoting a Gospel of Works!!

The following is some heart to heart exchanges made a few years back.


Yes, I Am Promoting a Gospel of Works!

I've met some Christians who would enjoy doing a study of good works, but not many. Most would rather visit their dentist for a root canal. There's a reason for that. Most Christians have never studied good works. All they've studied is their inability to perform them.

The fact that we've been struggling for so many years with competing answers only makes it clear that we haven't even begun to ask the right questions. It seems Christians should be experts when it comes to understanding good works and how they fit into the Christian life. Unfortunately, opinions vary so widely to suggest exactly the opposite. No, we don't understand good works very well at all.
Are good works required to please God so we can obtain his approval, blessings and protection? If so, which works, how many and how often?

Having received grace, are we now obligated to respond with good works, or should we expect good works to be a natural result of knowing we have received grace? If we think that the end purpose of grace was to perfect our performance, doesn't that kind of miss the whole point of grace?

We promise salvation by grace to new believers but then we demand good works as the fruit by which we discern genuine conversion. Justification by performance doesn't confirm that one has received grace--it is a denial of grace.

Christians have been trying to solve the problem of works for a long time but as Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."

Maybe we just aren't approaching the problem from the right perspective. The problem of works is hard to solve because we're thinking the same way we did when we created the problem. We are focused on our own self-centred performance. What we need to do is turn our man-centred view of works upside-down and begin to see things from God's perspective.

The really interesting thing about us and good works is neither us, nor the works themselves, but the fact that they are "good" works. The New Testament speaks of two different types of good works. God uses earthly rulers to bring about works that are a good "benefit". However, Christian works are presented very differently, using a form of the word that implies "beautiful" works. Christian works should be viewed not so much as labour or obligation, but more like creative works of art.

The reality of life in Christ is not about what you do, but who you are. You are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works (Eph 2:10). Your faith is not a measurement of good works vs. your bad works; it is a display of the work of Jesus Christ for his own name's sake. You aren't doing his works for him. You are his works of art displayed by him before all of heaven and earth as a testimony to his love (Eph 3:10, 11). You are the divine art gallery.

Now, focusing on the beauty of Christ in you, consider some of the New Testament passages regarding works: It is proper for those who profess Godliness to display good works (1Tim 2:10). Good works are obvious to all who see them and cannot be hidden (1Tim 5:25). God has made you rich in good works (1Tim 6:18). You are a pattern for the world to see and understand what good works truly are (Titus 2:7). Being redeemed and purified by God makes you zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). Those who have believed should be careful not to lose sight of this knowledge, using it to meet the needs of others (Titus 3:8, 14). We are to stir one another to love and good works (Heb 10:24). And good works can even cause those who deride you for your faith to glorify God (1Pet 2:12).

So, yes, I am promoting a gospel of works but not the one you're used to. The next time you're tempted to think of good works in terms of the pass/fail scenario, turn your heart to remember the work of God's grace in you. Christ alone is qualified to live the Christian life and he alone is the source of all good Christian works. Good works are not burdensome efforts or a measure of performance; they are beautiful, creative works of art. God has done glorious things--and Baby, you're it!

* * * * *

For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship),
recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].

I’m convinced that as a believer comes to experience the “true” knowledge of God’s love inwardly there is corresponding expression of it demonstrated outwardly.

Love being the full filment of the Law is a done deal carried out by only one man, the Man Christ Jesus on behalf of all men.
The reality of this finished perfect work was designed to be an imparting and impacting “knowing” within us that we have measured up because of what he has done.
We no longer have to prove ourselves, try to better ourselves. We can as we are recipients of this “true” knowledge of His love just “be”.
His Life is a life that not only worked the miracle of apprehending us but is the same Life working deep within to bring us to the place of “knowing” this all consuming stubborn love he has for us.
It is the same Life that will work out through us in a myriad of ways. The outer things that we do, work,s are but an expression of something far more significant.
Our conscience being purged from dead works, the love of God being poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit etc. Wherever we go His life is dispersed from our being His children.

If in fact no matter how wonderful things were when Paul experienced the Life of God at work amongst the believers and it touching the lost, why was he being directed to pray even more so for these believers to come to an even greater knowledge of Him?

Ephesians 3
and to know
the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

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