UNTO GOOD WORKS
All Christians appreciate that there is more to salvation than the blessed fact of Divine redemption from Divine judgment. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” “The wages of sin is death, but the (free) gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
What happiness and peace should fill the soul of the sinner who has the positive assurance that he has been completely delivered from the wages, or the penalty, of sin, by the infinite grace of God and the once-for-all perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ! The sinner has only to take God at His Word and receive Christ as his own personal Redeemer, by faith appropriating Him and His perfect work of redemption, to be forever saved from the awful penalty of sin, the after-death judgment, which is eternal separation from God, from holiness, from peace, from life, from light and from blessing; in hopeless despair.
This great salvation is altogether by grace. It is the free gift of God, undeserved and unearned by the believing sinner, who is declared righteous without a cause by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ. Romans 3:24 to 28: “Not of works lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8 and 9: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” Titus 3:5: “To him that worketh not.” Romans 4:3 and 4: “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” Romans 10:9 and 10.
But as the believing sinner is saved from something he is likewise saved unto something. He is saved unto life eternal, unto heaven and glory with the glorified Christ. He is also saved unto good works. He is saved to be a temple of the Holy Spirit. The saved sinner is not his own: he belongs to Christ. He is not to henceforth live unto himself, but unto Him who died for him and is alive forevermore. He is not to serve sin. He is to yield himself unto God as one who is alive from the dead. He is to put on the new man. He is to reckon himself dead unto sin. He is to walk in newness of life. He is to manifest the fruit of the Spirit. He is to walk in the light; to walk circumspectly; to walk in love and to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith he is called. He is to be a shining light holding forth the Word of God. He is to show forth the praises of Him who hath called him out of darkness unto His marvelous light. He is to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake. He is to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. He is to be ready always to give a reason for the hope that is in him. He is to add to his faith, virtue, godliness, temperance, kindness, love. He is to grow in grace and the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is to be spiritual and not carnal. He is to contend earnestly for the faith once-for-all delivered unto the saints.
Yes, the believer is to have the mind of Christ and to seek those things where Christ is seated in the heavenlies; setting his affections on things above, keeping himself unspotted from the world. He is to bear the burdens of the weak brethren and not be a stumbling-block to them. He is to please God rather than men.
He is to walk in the Spirit and fulfill the righteousness of the law. We quote Romans 8:2 and 4. “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death”; “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
This Divine law, “in Christ”, is altogether adequate for the believer’s complete deliverance from the penalty of sin. It is likewise sufficient for his deliverance from the power of sin. The mighty power of God that raised Christ from the dead is available for the redeemed sinner, that he may know Christ in the power of His resurrection, and that he may be more than conqueror though Him who loved us.
Though the world may hate, criticize, condemn, ridicule and persecute the Lord’s people, they cannot answer the transformed life that manifests the Spirit of Christ. Beholding their good works some will glorify God in the day of visitation. Thus we see that good works have a very important place in God’s salvation. Good works cannot aid in the believer’s deliverance from the wages of sin, either before or after he experiences regeneration. Good works can never be a factor in the sinner’s salvation; but the fruit. The Lord wants fruit to abound in the life of the believer. God wants the believer to maintain good works; to always abound in the work of the Lord. To this end he provides his abounding grace. II Corinthians 9:8.
Surely one believer expects another believer to show evidences of salvation. Every believer who studies the Bible knows that God expects him to give forth a consistent testimony in his daily life. The world looks for something more than profession. It expects the Christian to be different from the sinner; to be honest, sincere, “unworldly”, gracious, godly, philanthropic, benevolent, Christlike.
But let us not confuse a spiritual life with religious works. God’s grace saves the sinner from religion as well as from sin. There was a God-given religion, which had a place in a former dispensation. But this is not the “dispensation of religion”; this is the “dispensation of grace”. This is not the “dispensation of covenants”; this is the “dispensation of the mystery.” Ephesians 3:1 and 2 and 3 and 9. We should be careful as to which of God’s programs we adopt. It is obvious we cannot walk with those who were under the law, because we are not under the law. Romans 6:14. We are not living in Israel’s Old Covenant “shadow” days. Hebrews 10:1 to 10. We are not living in Canaan under judges or kings. We are seated with Christ in the heavenlies. We are not guaranteed physical blessings and temporal prosperity. We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ. Ephesians 1:3.
We are not disciples on earth with Jesus of Nazareth, instructed to follow Him in kingdom discipleship. Our citizenship is in heaven from whence we look for our Saviour, Philippians 3:19 to 21. Our affections are set upon thing above. Our hope is laid up in heaven. We are in a kingdom of the Son of God’s love that differs from the “kingdom of heaven”, proclaimed by the Twelve. Matthew 10:5 to 8. Colossians 1:13 to 18.
Therefore, let us not try to appropriate, or misappropriate, the Matthew kingdom blessings of Israel. Let us leave Israel’s hope, Israel’s blessings, Israel’s calling, for Israel, and let us be wholly satisfied with our hope, calling and blessings, as members of the Body of Christ, and “walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called.” Ephesians 4:1.
As sinners saved by grace, we makeup with Christ, our glorified Head, the One New Man of Ephesians 2:15. We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works that God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10. Our eternal salvation was foreordained by God. Ephesians 1:3. Our walk of good works was ordained also. Surely we desire to please the Lord in good works.
Our clear path is marked out for us in the Lord’s revelation for us through our Apostle Paul. Let us not fail to appropriate and apply every instruction given, concerning the believer’s walk, in the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation; but let us test the instructions in the light of the Lord’s high and holy truth for members of His Body, found in the message of grace and glory revealed to Paul, the prisoner of the Lord for Gentiles.
Many zealous earnest Christians are striving to please God by trying to carry on a mixed program, failing to test the things that differ, if not by mixing law and grace then by mixing Israel’s kingdom program with the dispensation of the grace of God, confusing the hope and calling of Israel with the hope and calling of the Body of Christ.