was driving to an appointment when an old song by Janet Jackson popped in my head, part of the lyrics are “What have you done for me lately?” The unspoken message is- if you really loved me, you would show it. This got me to thinking about what I have done lately for God? This thinking came from one of my Bible studies on Numbers, an Old Testament chapter of the Bible. Particularly Numbers Chapter 20, God gave through Moses a reminder of all the sacrifices the Hebrew people were to give. Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Two words stand out from this chapter, blood and sacrifice.
The concept of works is one of most heavily debated issue in the Bible. Why this is such a confused issue is beyond me. What is crystal clear throughout the Bible is that serving God requires constant blood and sacrifice. But from the beginning the sacrifices were not to be compulsory, but were to come from a willing and sacrificial heart. In the Old Testament, the Hebrews had to give daily sacrifices. The command of daily sacrifices did not change in the New Covenant forged through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross as evidenced by one of Jesus's commandments in Matthew 16:24, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, AND take up his cross, and follow me." Also in Matthew chapter 6 verse 1,"Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as hypocrites do in the synagogues, in the streets (on the social media sites), that they may have glory from men, assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do no let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly." Notice the underlined words, 'when you do'. Jesus does not say 'if' you do charitable deeds, it's when; which indicates an assumption that His followers will doing charitable deeds.
The issue most debated is how one gets saved or gets to go to heaven/paradise in the first place. Some believe you have to work your way to salvation. That their 'good' works will get them into heaven. The Bible makes is clear that there is absolutely no way a regular man's work can ever reach the standards of a Holy and Omnipotent God. This is what the Bible has to say about man's 'good works', "We are ALL infected and impure with sin. And all our 'righteous' deeds are nothing but filthy rags." Isaiah 64:6. It is faith in Jesus Christ and faith alone that saves. But the issue of salvation and walking out the Christian faith are two different things as pointed out in James 2:17, "Faith WITHOUT works is dead." The issue is NO ONE can 'work' their way to heaven. It is not the works that save, works PROVE that you are saved. "Then the King will say those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father inherit the kingdom of prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and YOU GAVE ME FOOD; I was thirsty and YOU GAVE ME DRINK; I was a stranger and YOU TOOK ME IN; I was naked and YOU CLOTHED ME; I was sick, and YOU VISITED ME; I was in prison and YOU CAME TO ME.' Then the righteous will answer Him saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give your drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You? And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, in inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:34-40. Jesus immediately follows this verse to tell the people who did not do things to go into everlasting punishment, but the righteous get to go into eternal life. Jesus says the 'righteous' are those who serve others. Not the selfish or prideful or sinful. The righteous alone inherit the kingdom of God.
The key to issue of 'works', is what is your 'motivation' for doing what you are doing. If you are working for selfish gains, to please others, your 'good works' will be burnt up in the Judgement. "Each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of 'what sort it is'. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures the fire, he will receive a reward". 1 Corinthians 3:13-14.
Living the true Christian life is not easy, actually it's impossible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Over and over again throughout the Bible, it is clear that man, no matter how hard they try, cannot love and obey God as they should. The flesh is very powerful and it takes a power greater than it to overcome our spiritual dilemma because: the heart of man is desperately wicked; the thoughts of man are futile; the works of man are like filthy rags; those who live according the flesh are slaves to sin; the natural man does not accept the things of God; Jesus Christ gave a promise that after He went back to His Father, that His Father, God, would send back a 'helper' who would abide with His followers forever. The Holy Spirit guides, teaches, admonishes, and empowers those who believe on Christ. It is God who equips us to live the Christian life. " I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME."
There is going to be a Day of Judgment, and God will judge everyone who has ever lived, His wrath is going to poured out on all the wicked and ungodly. The Good News is Believing in Jesus saves us from the righteous wrath of God. But that is not all, He gives us a new heart and mind NOW, and we receive some of His blessing from heaven NOW and are equipped to be able to live a life that is holy and acceptable to Him NOW.
1. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is real, He lived and died and rose from the grave.
2. Believe that you are a sinner, repent-turn from your sins and realize and accept you need Jesus.
3. Confess that Jesus is your Lord and God
4. Find a local Bible preaching church that does obey the commandment for water baptism for the remission of your sins and to identify yourself with Christ.
This is just the first step to a lifelong journey of growing in truth and love with the God who created this earth and everything in it, including every human being that has ever lived.
Bible verses related to this post: Matthew 16:24, Number 20, Matthew 6:1, Isaiah 64:6, James Chapter 2, Matthew 25:34-46. 1 Corinthians 3:13-14; Jeremiah 17:9; Psalm 94:11; Romans 8:5-7; 1 Corinthians 2:14; John 14:16; Philippians 4:13 and 2:12-13; Matthew 20:28
Erica Harris is a God Gifted Christian Coach, Counselor, providing insights and truths from the Word of God, The Bible.