Tag Archives: works

Doing God’s Will Is Crucial

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven—only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Matthew 7:21

It is common to ignore clear Bible teaching on the subject of works. Indeed, works do not save us, and no person can cause God’s indebtedness to mankind. But, works are important in the Christian life.

There is no verse more clear than Matthew 7:21. Jesus speaks these words himself. They are a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. There is no textual issue regarding the verse.

The passage arises in the context of false teachers who creep in among true disciples. Our Lord says that words are not enough. We all know people who talk big but do nothing. Jesus’ words target these people. Calling Jesus “Lord” is good, but it is not enough. Jesus says the only one entering the kingdom of heaven is a doer of God’s will. “Do” is an action word, a verb, which points to labor. The Christian is a worker; else, he is lost. Jesus says in verse 23, And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Those who talk big while doing nothing are “workers of lawlessness” and will be eternally lost.

The Sermon on the Mount was not the only time Jesus talked about workers. In Matthew 12:46 – 50, Jesus’ mother and brothers were trying to talk to him. Jesus replied, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). So again, the one who does God’s will is accepted.

Doing God’s Will is Taught by Jesus’ Followers

Doing God’s will is also a theme in James. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). The one who listens, but does not do, is deceived. He has convinced himself that all is good when he is lost. In the same paragraph, James tells his readers what a genuine Christian is. He is a doer. “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).

You cannot discount the Lord’s words about working as a Christian. It is the purpose of our existence. Paul writes, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus said those good works reflect the worldly man’s vision heavenward, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Doing God’s Will is a Habit of Jesus’ Followers

We should add that doing good works will never place God in debt to you or anyone else. We are saved by grace, and without it, we would be lost. Thousands of prayers, untold hours of good works, and service are meaningless without the grace of God. It is impossible to overstate the necessity of God’s grace. But let no one be mistaken: Our sovereign Lord requires works of those who belong to him. Apathy and a lackadaisical attitude toward serving God is spiritually deadly!

May we be known for our good works of service!

Are the Disobedient Saved?

We recently wrote of the alleged clash between grace and works. Our conclusion was that a man cannot be saved apart from God’s grace. We also affirmed that there is a response, an obligation on the part of man which is also essential. Today, I want to pursue that idea a bit further.

It is common among some to assert that man has no role in his own salvation. They claim that there is absolutely nothing required of a man in order to be saved. That is a popular view and a view that holds some comfort in that we can live any way we desire without consequence. Our eternal salvation is fatalistic occurrence far beyond self. What does the Bible say?

[bctt tweet=”Is our salvation fatalistic? Is it already determined? Surely not!” username=”Preachers_Study”]

Obedience is commanded

God’s word commands obedience. As the Israelites gathered at Sinai, God commanded them, saying, “if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples…” (Exodus 19:5). Again, “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,  he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil” (Deuteronomy 11:13, 14).

Peter declares that the salvation gift of the Holy Spirit is given to those that “obey him” (Acts 5:32). The writer of Hebrews speaks of the glorious Christ, who, “being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9). John says obedience is confirmation of our love for the Lord and our place in his family. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.  For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:2,3).

Disobedience is condemned

Even more prevalent in Scripture is the condemnation of the disobedient. Instead of asking if obedience is required for salvation we should ask if a man can be saved in his disobedience. Again, it is the Bible that gives the answer.

[bctt tweet=”Instead of asking if obedience is required for salvation we should ask if a man can be saved in his disobedience. ” username=”Preachers_Study”]

Israel was warned of its own demise if they did not obey. Moses warned, Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 8:20). He repeats, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse;  the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way that I am commanding you today, to go after other gods that you have not known” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28). There is no question that God’s people were required to obey God and were warned of punishment if they did not.

Perhaps the clearest warning against disobedience is from Paul. He writes that Jesus will return and will inflict “vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Peters wonders of the end result of those who “do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17). The Bible student must see that obedience is required and disobedience is condemned.

It is only because of God’s stunning love for a lost creation that we have a plan of escape from coming doom. It is only because of his extreme love that we have a savior. It is no blow to his glory that we comply with his commands. Instead, our obedience reflects his goodness and his glory throughout creation!


Grace Vs. Works

There is no clash between grace and works. Both are undeniable biblical concepts. Christians are “saved by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). They are also created to do good works and must be obedient to the Lord’s commands (Ephesians 2:10; Acts 6:7; Romans 1:5; Romans 6:17). Any clash between grace and works is man-made and just plain wrong.

[bctt tweet=”Any clash between grace and works is man-made and just plain wrong.” username=”Preachers_Study”]


It Begins With My Personal Sin

We all sin. It’s not absorbed from someone else; it is not hereditary. “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). All have sinned (Romans 3:23) and none is righteous (Psalm 14:1-3; Psalm 53:1-3). Sin is the horrible dark bond that every person shares.

The upshot is that we are neither deserving nor worthy of salvation. We are corrupt and saturated with sin and cannot be in the presence of the Holy God for even one second, not to mention an eternity.

[bctt tweet=”The upshot is that we are neither deserving nor worthy of salvation.” username=”Preachers_Study”]


My Sin Cannot Be Overcome

It’s natural, especially in our culture, to think that with enough work we can overcome and fix almost any problem. Advances in science have given us the idea that we can conquer any obstacle. It’s a nice thought, even comforting, but it is just wrong. We cannot fix everything. Just like there are some illness that cannot be overcome even with the finest healthcare, there is a spiritual problem that cannot be overcome. That illness is sin.


Speaking of our salvation as a work of grace, Paul says “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Our works do not justify us as worthy for salvation (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5). When all is written we are still unworthy. Jesus said, “Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded?  So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty’” (Luke 17:9-10). The servant’s work and obedience were expected; that was their duty.


My Obedience is Expected and Necessary

As the servant in Jesus’ parable above, we do our duty. When God determined to bring a massive flood to destroy the terrible wickedness on the earth, he made Noah the object of his grace (Genesis 6:8). Then, God gave Noah a plan of escape. He warned him and told him how to escape. However, it was up to Noah to obey. God did not tell him where to find an ark, nor did he remove him from the earth. Noah survived because God showed him grace by giving him a plan and then because he obeyed the plan (Genesis 6:22; 7:5, 9). Consider Abraham who was the object of God’s love and affection. Abram was told to leave his home and travel to a place that God would command. What did he do? He obeyed (Genesis 12:1-4).


It is by his grace that God teaches us to avoid the coming destruction (Titus 2:11-14). Like Noah, we humbly and gratefully accept this grace and are trained to obey. Could Noah have thanked God for his grace and then refused to build the ark? Would he have been spared? Could Noah have graciously accepted God’s direction to move but remained in Ur? Would he be called the father of the faithful? Can anyone be called faithful who lives in rank disobedience to God? Of course not.


How horrible to divide God’s plan by removing grace or by knifing obedience from what God has said! John was clear: “whoever does not obey the son shall not see life…” (John 3:36). The Holy Spirit is given to the obedient (Acts 5:32). Put negatively, those who do not obey will face wrath (Romans 2:8). Those who do not obey the gospel will face the judgment of the returning Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

[bctt tweet=”Those who do not obey the gospel will face the judgment of the returning Christ (2 Thessalonians 1:8).” username=”Preachers_Study”]


Let us handle God’s word with respect and seek to understand it all.