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 Works? What’s That?
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Works? What’s That?

By Tom Stephens

The Problem Of Works

When Apostle Paul taught we cannot do anything toward the completion of our salvation, but only by grace through faith—and definitely not of ourselves—for it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:9), was he saying that we cannot live a Christian life by our works? No, for James, in his 2nd chapter, he teaches strongly for the case of works. So Paul is teaching “no works” while, at the same time, James is vehemently preaching, “…faith without works is dead”. Therefore, our works must be based on faith. (James 2)

Funny about that. . .seems controversial, doesn’t it?

Have you ever thought of it like this? When you first knew the Holy Spirit was drawing you to Christ, you knew you had to obey and submit to His perfect power of healing and salvation, didn’t you. In that time of penetration by His Spirit, you knew profoundly that you were not going to wait another second. You would go and sell everything you had—and more if possible—just to find the Pearl of Great Price! Because of your decision to come when He called, you knew no one, not even your worst enemy could stop you. Nothing on this earth—above or below—could ever have come between you and your eternal salvation. Nothing! You also knew that the work completed in you in one moment was supernatural…from Heaven. You had been wholly changed from the inside out. The joy you felt was just as supernatural; and in spite of your prior habits and condition, you never felt cleaner, lighter and so filled with His love.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul states, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

So now you are a member of the family of Christ Jesus. No other route can get you in Heaven; and you did nothing physically to receive from your God! There was nothing you could have accomplished. You can’t get saved just by attending His house. No works whatsoever because that would not be possible. Why? It’s because every stinking one of your previous works would have been under the Law—in the flesh. It’s not possible to complete works of faith before you are saved. That would be impossible. Jesus said, “No man can come to the Father except by Me”. There is no other way we can be saved.

One kind of works include Christian growth by prayer, fasting, and reading the Words of Jesus. Growing means to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. It is “… love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23).

There are many types of Christian works by faith. And though it be impossible to work toward your salvation, It is not impossible to do the works of faith after salvation! Now hear this!

The Controversy Regarding “To Do Or Not To Do”

In Galatians 6:14-16, Paul says, “14But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. 16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God” (my Italics)

In Romans 4:14-16, Paul said “14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise of no effect, 15 because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.”

Two Kinds Of Works: Of The Law, Or By Hearing Of Faith?

Again, Paul says this, 1“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh? 4Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the Law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Rom. 3:26, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:2, 5—My italics)

So, the difference in our works as Christians and the works prior to salvation is just as Paul taught—“is these works of the law? Or, are they of faith?” I can almost hear him as he ministers this topic: "You must not do the works by the law; works must be by faith in Christ Jesus."

We have much work to do prior to the coming of Christ Jesus. Remember what Jesus said after His Resurrection concerning the Great Commission? He said “Go to the farthest parts of the earth preaching the gospel to each creature, and beginning at Jerusalem, the Holy Ghost will fall upon you and you will do all the same things you were taught while with Me. You will complete the works that I began—the works unto the "destruction of the works of the devil"!

We are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18).

We are commanded to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. (1 Cor. 12:7; 1 Cor. 13; 1 Cor. 14).

We are commanded to grow in the fruits of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22, 23).

We are commanded to live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18).

We are commanded to love all our enemies. (Matt. 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).

We are commanded to love our mates; husbands and wives. (Ephesians 5: 22-32).

We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our hearts... (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).

Then, are we not commanded to win souls? (Acts 1:8—many other places).

Apostle Paul often spoke to the Church words similar to this concerning works, “…was it fulfilled by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith."

Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. How could that be? Well, there was no law. Yet, to all who had rejected and refused to serve Him, there would be harsh judgment. But because there was no law, God only judged His own people by their faith; and there’s that word again…..faith.

Paul defines the law as the curse, the flesh, and wrath; and in Romans 4:13-15, he states this, speaking of Abraham in the era prior to circumcision: “13For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. 14For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect, 15because the law brings about wrath; for where there is no law there is no transgression.” 16Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.” (My italics).

To explain, we must go to the days of Abraham. Paul told us that prior to the law, God did not account those who loved Him and completed God’s will in their lives, to be transgressors. Why? Everyone sins—and Abraham’s day was filled with evil—such that Abraham had to ask his wife Sarah, while on His trek to a place where he knew not, to tell men that she was not his wife, but his sister, hoping evil men would not harm him because of Her. Yet, God did not charge Abraham for lying!

Follow this conversation with me between God and Abimelech: 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. 4But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 5Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. 6And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. 7Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine. (Gen. 20:3-7).—Genesis 20:8-18 follows right now...

Now, follow this conversation between Abraham and Abimelech:—8Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. 9Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. 10And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? 11And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake. 12And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother. 14And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and men-servants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.15 And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. 16And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved. 17So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. 18 For the Lord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife. (Gen. 20: 8-18).

Blessings From Christ’s Bondservants

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