Today, we’re going to talk about good works and what part they play in the equation of salvation.
Now, there are extreme views on this topic. Some, the Greasy Grace guys—the hyper-grace folks—tend to promote an idea that good works are not a part of the salvation equation at all. And if you just pray a little prayer and ‘accept’ Jesus as your personal savior, you’re in, and you got it, and you can’t lose it.
And it’s like a tattoo. Even if you don’t want it later, you’re stuck with it. You can be a murderer, you can be an adulterer, you can be a thief, you can be the most incorrigible character on the planet. As long as you pray that prayer, you’re good to go. Well, I think most Christians can see that that’s nonsense. There are plenty of scriptures that would counteract such a ridiculous idea as that.
Then, of course, the other extreme is that you have to be as holy as the Apostle Paul, or you’re not qualified for heaven. Often times, those folks have come up with all kinds of new standards that you better keep or you haven’t got a prayer of hope of getting into heaven.
Well, the truth is in the middle. But let’s talk about the first extreme first of all.
People Who Believe in Jesus Act like It
I believe every Christian actually intuitively knows that good works have got to be a part of the salvation equation. If you press them, they’ll admit this.
First of all, if you believe, you will obey, at least to some degree, right? Right. Because faith without works is dead. If I believed that there was a scorpion crawling on the log that I’m sitting on right now, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. You’d know I believe there’s a scorpion crawling on this log where I’m sitting. I’d be standing up and getting away from the scorpion! So, people who believe in Jesus, act like it. So, that’s a given.
Also, every Christian believes that if you’re born again, you’ve got the Holy Spirit in you, right? Obviously, that’s going to make a difference in your life. You’re going to be changed.
The Most Extreme Example
If we took the most extreme example, let’s say that we imagined a guy who prayed the Sinner’s Prayer and ‘accepted’ Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. And then every day from then on for the next 10 years, he went out and murdered somebody.
Let’s make it even worse. Let’s say that it was a child that he killed every day. And, first of all, molested that child in terrible ways before ultimately murdering them. Every day. Every single day. Would you say that when that person dies, they would go to heaven? Would any Christian say that? Well, I can’t believe any Christian would say that.
Why do I not believe that? Because every Christian would say, “Well, wait a second. If you believe in Jesus, you’re not going to be molesting and murdering children every day!” Right? Right. They’d also probably add, “And if you believe in Jesus, you have the Holy Spirit in you. You could never do that.”
Minimal Standards of Those Who Believe in Jesus
You see, every Christian believes there are some standards that are minimal standards to show that you really believe in Jesus and to indicate that you really have the Holy Spirit in you.
What standards should we be setting for that criteria? Well, we ought to be setting biblical standards.
Let’s listen to Jesus. Let’s listen to the Apostle Paul. Let’s listen to John, and James and Jude. What did they say? Did they give us any standards in the Word of God?
Well, you can read the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said there are things that unless you do them or don’t do them, you’re in danger of hell. Those are biblical minimum standards that show whether or not you have faith in Jesus, and you truly do believe, and that you have the Holy Spirit living in you, and that your heart is inclined towards God.
Jesus warned about things like adultery and things like murder, and, of course, lesser forms of that, hatred. He warned about unforgiveness. If you don’t forgive, neither will your Father forgive you.
What do you think? Do unforgiven people get into heaven? Is God going to say, “Well, I didn’t forgive you and I don’t forgive you, but come on in!” Are you kidding me? Come on!
Jesus warned about lust, and He warned about hypocrisy, and so forth.
Maintaining Biblical Standards
Just take a look at what Jesus said and you come up with a balanced understanding of what it means minimally to be a believer in Jesus Christ. You’ll also notice that a lot of things that people say that you have to do in order to be proving that you’re a Christian aren’t in the Bible.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10,
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
We were talking on just our previous Little Lesson about the Spirit and the flesh warring against one another. You can read about this in Galatians 5. Paul said,
I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things [the works of the flesh] will not inherit the kingdom of God. – v. 21
Cults and Their Extra-biblical Standards
These are biblical things.
But you’re not going to find any dress codes in the New Testament. You will find some things about modesty.
You’re not going to find anything about going to such and such a church because only they are the ones going to heaven. That’s called a cult. When a little, tiny group says, “We’re the only ones,” run! For goodness’ sake, there are 7 billion people in the world and there are hundreds of millions of people that believe in Jesus Christ!
When one little church in one little town says, “We’re the only ones,” run! You’re in a cult. Those cults have all kinds of standards that you don’t find in the Bible. They’ll tell you that you have to be allegiant to the leader and so forth. That’s not in the Bible, but they’ll find some scriptures. Like, “don’t touch my anointed”. Oh, my goodness. I’d like to touch some of those anointed people!
All right, this is a ‘little’ lesson. We’re out of time! But those are some of the salient points on the question of how good works fit into the salvation equation. Lovely being with you. Can’t wait to see you next time! God bless.