"And I heard a voice from Heaven saying to me, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow with them." (Rev14:13)
A subscriber wrote recently, asking: "After reading several postings on your site related to works, I still don't have a clear understanding of what it means. Is our daily walk and choices considered part of our works? By choosing to do the things that please the Lord instead of just joining in with the world's pleasures? What about doing things to help people or giving to help destitute people?"
Indeed, we speak of works a lot...
First of all, we understand that works is NOT part of Salvation. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done..." (Tit3:5) We are saved... "not of works, that no one should boast" (Eph2:9)
We are saved "by grace through faith" and even that faith is "not of [ourselves], it is the gift of God" (vs8) of which, we "receive" Jesus Christ. (Jn1:12) We were "without strength (ability)" when Christ died for us. (Rom5:6)
But once we are saved, we are saved "-UNTO- GOOD WORKS" (Eph2:10) It is our works that "-SHOWS- [OUR] FAITH" (Ja2:18) And Jesus spoke of the "fruits". (Mt7:16,20)
If you want apples, you go to an apple tree. If you want grapes, you go to a grape vine. If you want corn, you go to corn stalks. If you go to a flower garden, no matter how -pretty- the garden, you will not find corn, tomatoes, carrots, plums, etc. Conversely, you will not find briars and stickers on an apple tree or row of radishes. You do not pull up a dandelion expecting a potato under it.
How do you know -which- tree is the 'apple' tree? It's the one with apples on it. You know an apple tree is an apple tree -because- it bears apples. Ditto with all the other examples.
But the question is a good one. WHAT, exactly, are the Christian's works? How does this idea of "fruits" explain Christian works?
The question is asked, and let's expand upon it: When Bill Gates manages billions of dollars in philanthropy for what the world considers to be a "good cause", are those Gates' "good works"? Does that make him a "Christian"? If somebody donates time at a local shelter to help cook food and serve meals to the homeless, is that good works? If a neighbor is in need and one helps out, is that good works? Who has a higher standing before God for their works: Bill Gates because of his "billions"?
Or, is it something else?
Somebody asked Jesus this question one day: "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" and what did Jesus answer? "This is the work of God, that you believe into Him whom He sent." (Jn6:28-29)
The world has a certain standard of what it considers to be "great works". That one paster, after I hadn't seen him for a year, next time proudly showed me his works, the church building he had built. Some look at Billy Graham, and all the "millions" who have heard him preach; surely his works are 'great'? ...and he will hear "well done"?
This idea of Christian works goes down a completely different path.
Around here we speak of the fact how "dogs bark, ducks quack and sinners sin". And along that train of logic: Righteous people do deeds of righteousness... "works befitting repentance" (Ac26:20)
It is not so much the idea of doing "deeds of mercy" (Mt6:1) It is more the concept of: Does it work? ...the thing in question... Is it working?
For example: A person might go to a yard sale, and see a fan sitting there, and ask: "Does it work? Does this fan work?" What does such a question mean? Does it mean that, if the answer is "yes", that the fan is feeding the poor, providing a cure for AIDS, and is providing earthquake relief somewhere in the world?
"Ridiculous!" you might say. Indeed... Not!
A fan is not intended or designed to "feed the poor". What is the fan designed to do? To 'spin' and 'blow air'. If the fan "works"; then, when it is plugged in and turned on, the blades will start spinning. Nothing more, nothing less. If it doesn't work, it is either fixed, or thrown out onto the junk pile.
Supposing a circuit breaker blows, and an appliance quits working, one person might go down to the basement and flip the breaker, and yell upstairs, "Is it working now??" No? So they try another circuit: "Is it working now??" What does "working" mean? The circuit is flowing with electricity, so the lights and/or appliance plugged into the circuit receive current. It works. It is -functioning- AS INTENDED.
What is the INTENDED fruits and works of the Christian? Recently somebody e-mailed, complaining at things presented at the website against the so-called "christian" rock...going into quite a tyrade, explaining how he, himself, was a Christian. And then further complained after I responded to their tyrade, suggesting to them that their loyalty was betraying them. How could they make any claims to being saved, when they were supporting and defending satan and his music to me? Even the world knows that rock is a music of rebellion, sex and drugs; things that are contrary to the Christian character. They ranted on and on that the Bible doesn't say anything about "rock music".
Well, does a person commit "christian adultery"? Would children be in "christian rebellion" against their parents and adult authority? Is there such a thing as "christian prostitution"? What about "christian murder", "christian theft" or "christian lying"?
Oh, but it is "worship music". OK then: If it's OK to use rock music in church, let's also have the preacher up on the platform, preaching, and acting out a "christian killing" of some poor hapless victim on the stage, spilling blood all over the place. Let's get some people on the stage and have a "christian orgy" for all to see. Well...from some things I've seen, sadly, they pretty much already -are- doing pretty close to this in some places! Which is why we speak out against so many things on a regular basis.
If a Christian is "working" (-functioning- as the Bible says, as God intended), they will be characterized by: Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, compassion, forgivness, etc" (Ga5:22-23, Col3:12-13, etc) Jesus spoke of "fruits". These things are the "fruits of the spirit".
Also, if their "filters" are -working- properly, they will be filtering against: Sexual perversion, uncleanness, passion, evil lusts, covetousness, idolatry, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lying, adultery, sorcery, heresies, murder, drunkenness, etc (Col3:5-9,Ga5:19-21, Eph4, etc)
So ladies: Do you get up yourselves to look, talk and act like prostitutes? Do you have pagan piercings all over your body, and tattoos in secret places? Or do people see the "pure" person, the "hidden person of the heart" who is possessed of the "meek and quiet spirit" (1Pet3:2-4)
Men: Do you look, act and talk like the world's wolves, wearing your hair like women and your favorite rock star and gangsta rap 'artist', having facial hair like satan worshippers, with the tribal pagan arm band tattoos on your arms and legs? [link] Or are you characterized by holiness and manly self-control?
When people see the Christian, what do they see? Another carbon copy of the world? Or do they see "Christ in you"? (Col1:27)
Jesus said that Godly works are a "belief" into Jesus Christ. It is the Biblical Christian Faith which was "once for all delivered" (Ju1:3) Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (Jn18:36) If the Christian is of the Heavenly "citizenship" (Ph3:20), why is it that there are so many people grovelling around like the world, whilst -claiming- to be 'saved'? They talk -about- "Jesus"; they make "claims" for/about Jesus; but behave like the world, and argue/defend satan and satanic behavior, attitudes, lusts and activities.
"They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and reprobate with regard to every good work" (Tit1:16)
Again: Jesus said that a person is known by their "fruits". Today there are many wolves in sheep's clothing. (Mt7:15) And if a sheep calls them like they see it, "You're a wolf", the wolf gets all angry and mad: You don't know me; how can you claim to self-righteously call me a wolf?
When you see it eating flesh, and the left-over dead carcasses are lying around, you know it's not a sheep; it's a wolf, or relative. Sheep do not eat flesh, but feed by the "waters of rest" from "green pastures" and follow "paths of righteousness" (Ps23:2-3)
the Fruits. the Works.
If they are, truly, a born-from-above Christian (Jn3:3); but they appear to be of the world; they ARE NOT WORKING. They are "broken". They need to be "fixed" or thrown into the junk pile. Paul spoke of the "carnal" believers in Corinth. (1Co3:3-4) And in one case spoke of turning them over to satan for the "destruction of the flesh" (5:5), and in another how the Lord was taking some of them in death (11:30) Jesus spoke of the "outer darkness" for what had been at one time a "servant", where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mt8:12,22:13,25:30)
But Jesus' warning is about the "wolves". They are not sheep in wolf clothing. They are wolves in sheep disguise. And how does a Believer tell what's under the disguise?
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God," (Rom8:16)
You see: -they- do not understand 'how' a True Believer can spot them as frauds. It is precisely -because- the Believer is possessed of God's Holy Spirit, and they are not. They don't understand how we can tell, and they are not -capable- of understanding...
"The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he is not able to know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual discerns all things....But we have the mind of Christ" (1Co2:14-16)
A person -defends- satan and his evil works; it's a pretty sure sign that person is NOT SAVED. His 'works' betray him; his works of putting his trust in satan, and loving satan's ways.
But a person who is "abiding" in the vine, Jesus Christ (Jn15), will not have prickles, but will be "bearing much fruit" (vs5)
Great works has nothing to do with "how many" or "how much" a person does; but is he doing with what the Master gave him to do? The Master gives one person 10 talents, another 5, another 1 (Mt25), "to each according to his own ability" (vs15) A CPU cooling fan is not intended to give a draft in the room, nor is a ceiling fan appropriate in the computer. Each fan does what it is designed to do. That is its work.
The Christian's work is to "shine as lights" with the command, "let your light so shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven." (Mt5:14,16)
The Christian's works are not a reflection upon the self, but upon our Father in Heaven. And in shining as lights, we -contrast- the world's darkness. (Eph5:11-13) If we "love the world, the love of the Father is not in [us]" (1Jn2:15)
So, like this person who e-mailed recently, defending satan's darkness: He was in love with satan; by Scriptural definition he was not possessed by the Father's love. If a person defends satan, by that act, since a person is not able to "serve two masters" (Mt6:24), he is "denying" Jesus Christ; and Jesus promised, "I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven" (Mt10:33)
Again: Professing to know God, but in works denying Him. (Tit1:16)
But a person who loves the Lord will shine brightly with holiness and righteousness, and it will be evident in word and deed. The person will be good. Those are his works..."in all goodness, righteousness and truth" (Eph5:9) He -is- "working". He is 'functioning' as he ought. He is not 'malfunctioning'. Something that is malfunctioning is not 'working', and is thrown out.
How does a person, upon "examining" oneself, know if they are "in the faith"? (2Co13:5) How does one know of what sort their works are? It is the "work of the Law written in their hearts, their CONSCIENCE also bearing witness, and their thoughts meanwhile accusing or else excusing themselves" (Rom2:15) Paul could claim: "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Ac23:1)
Dear Reader: I would submit to you that, were Jesus to suddenly physically appear where you are, you would suddenly find yourself not questioning -what- is 'good' and -what- is 'bad'. You would -KNOW- "good works", and recognize, and be ashamed before Him with whatever "bad works" you were engaged in.
A candle does not pour forth with excrement. If you see excrement pouring out, you know it's not a candle. A candle gives forth light. That is its work. A Christian is to be a lamp with oil (Holy Spirit) in it, lighted and trimmed. That is our work.
"And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He is revealed, we may have confidence and not be distanced from Him in shame at His coming." (1Jn2:28)
Related topic: Q/A -Carnal Christians?