Will Your Works Condemn You?--by Timothy A. Southall

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In Christendom, the issue of salvation and works is a heated debate. Some say doing anything other than "just believing" is a work of man and has no bearing on our salvation. Others make rules and regulations which are not in the Bible. Where is the fine line of salvation and works of man?

First, we must see that we are saved by grace: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV) Yet, many don't pay attention to the very next verse of scripture: For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) If we are saved and are of God, then we are created to do good works. We don't get to choose whether or not to do good works. God has already made that choice. Each of us is either a good and faithful servant or is disobedient. Not being obedient and not doing the will of God condemns us: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23 NIV)

Only those who do the will of the Father in heaven are in Christ. In Matthew 12:46-50, Jesus teaches us who his mother and brothers are: "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:50 NIV) Doing what Jesus commanded us to do is doing the will of God. Jesus said if we love Him, we will obey His commands (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 5:1-3). He also said that those who don't love Him won't obey His teachings (John 14:24). If we obey Him, we will remain in His love (John 15:10). Whoever obeys Jesus lives in Him (1 John 3:24).

John also teaches that those who know Jesus obey what He commands (1 John 2:3). If we obey Jesus' commandments, it pleases Him and we receive from Him what we ask (1 John 3:22).

The scriptures clearly teach us that our obedience to God is evidence of our love for Jesus. Thus, we are doing the will of God. One should remember that Jesus always did the will of the Father so that we could be saved.

Many say they are saved, yet they have no deeds or works. The Bible clearly shows our deeds/works (or lack of them) play a key role in whether we are sent to eternal punishment or to eternal life (Matthew 25:31-46).

The last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven was what is commonly referred to as the "Great Commission:" Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV) He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16 NIV) This is a command of Jesus. This is the will of God. Have you been obedient to the will of God in order to receive forgiveness of your sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38 NIV) Jesus promises the Counselor (Holy Spirit) only to those who are obedient: "If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- (John 14:15-16 NIV) Peter and the other apostles also teach us that God gives the Holy Spirit only to those who obey Him: We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him. (Acts 5:32 NIV) Thus, we must conclude that only those who are obedient to God and do His will have the Holy Spirit.

The will of God is available for everyone to learn and follow. It is found in God's Word, the Bible. Yet, how many will do the will of God? Only a few! Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV)

Are you among the few? Are you saved? Do you love Jesus? Do you have the Holy Spirit? Are you doing the will of God? Are you doing the works God created for you to do? Are you on the narrow road? Will your works (or lack thereof) condemn you?

Copyright © 2005 Timothy A. Southall. All rights reserved.