In our class discussions yesterday (The Hole in Our Gospel) we discussed the line between works and faith (Faith without works is Dead), the section of Matthew 25 where Christ will separate the sheep from the goats…. many will say, ‘But Lord, we did all these things in your name.” only to have Christ reply, “I never knew you.”
Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 25:31-40 The Final Judgment
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,f you did it to me.’
James 2:14-26 Faith Without Works Is Dead
14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what goodb is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So how does all of this make sense?
If your confession of faith is genuine, you will surrender your entire life to Christ and allow Him to be the Lord of your life. This is your salvation – admit you’re a sinner in need of salvation, confess your sins to God and repent, declare your belief that Jesus, God’s only Son, has paid the penalty for your sins on your behalf, was crucified, buried and raised to new life, and accept His offer of forgiveness and restoration to God. The result of this surrender is that you will be drawn one step at a time to obey all of His commandments; to stay in His word (read it daily), to grow in the knowledge of God (attend church, fellowship with other believers), and He will not leave you in your current condition. He will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. He will break you down and remake you for His purposes. He will test your faith and strengthen it. You will ultimately change your behaviors to be more Christ-like. You will come to love the things that He loves and hate the things that He hates. You will be convicted time and time again about things in your life that He says are sinful and need to change – need to be pulled out by their deep seated roots. He will prune away the unnecessary to improve the growth of spiritual, eternal fruit in your life. He will open your eyes to spiritual things.
The end result of God’s work in our lives, of our complete surrender to Jesus as our Lord and our Savior will be our good works, spreading the gospel, helping the poor, the orphaned, the widows, visiting the sick and imprisoned will be the desires of your heart, building God’s kingdom. The things of this world that used to draw us in will be of no value and may even now be detestable. We will grow into people of holiness, righteousness, and integrity; weirdos to the world; light to those in the darkness; hope to those without hope. All that we do will be for God’s glory and not our own.