This message was presented on October 12, 2014 as part of a special on salvation and works.
Last Sunday, we saw that Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. There is nothing before or after faith in Christ that can or needs to be added. You cannot earn or deserve salvation. You cannot maintain your salvation. It was completed on the cross. You willingly accept it, that is trust in Jesus Christ as your Substitute for the payment of the penalty for your sins. But what happens when people take a gift for granted? They become complacent, lethargic, and lazy. They think they have salvation, their fire insurance, so they’re waiting for the rapture! And confusion has permeated the church and in the last 60 years. People reacted saying, “People should be working for the Lord Jesus!” And I agree with that, but not with the change of doctrine.
Lordship salvation is a growing trend that says, unless you keep on working and serving the Lord Jesus, you were never saved in the beginning. That ignores the volumes of passages that describe spiritual growth as a babe and spiritual child. A babe and child must be nurtured and discipled to Jesus Christ. Eventually, those children become zealous to grow and become disciple-makers of disciple-makers. How did this confusion begin? The confusion over interpretation came through confusion over word definitions.
When I say the word “trunk” what do you think of? Some of you are thinking of a tree trunk. Some will think of the trunk of an elephant. Some may be thinking of a luggage trunk, or car trunk, or maybe someone is thinking of trunks you might wear. There is probably someone who is thinking of the “trunk monkey.” You’ll have to google that. So when I use the word trunk, you don’t know what definition is correct, unless you know the context. If I say, “The trunk was eight feet tall and had my name carved into it.” That obviously refers to a tree trunk.
Why is this important? Because teachers and pastors will take a word and impose a definition on a word into the passage, rather than determine the meaning of the word from the context. A word without a context is a pretext for what you want it to mean. That way people can manipulate and spiritually abuse their authority to get and keep people in line.
That’s why in Scripture, you have to be careful about what a word means until you determine the context. For example, what does James 2:14-24 mean?
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. (Jam. 2:14-18 NKJ)
A major parachurch organization in its study of James 2 wrote,
…Paul stressed that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. True believers in Jesus hold to this firmly today. Yet in the latter half of James 2, the writer seems to say that we are saved by works, or at least by faith plus works. He seems to be saying that if works are not present, we are lost.”
It goes on to say,
…if people believe certain Bible doctrines intellectually, that is all that counts for their salvation. They believe they are saved by intellectual belief and do not have to live differently…If works are not present, neither is true faith. If there are no actions that come from our faith, we are not Christians….Can that faith save him?” They have take one definition of both “dead” and “save” and foisted it upon this text. So you have lots of Christian who are producing dead works, but they are excited about what they are doing.
So when you see the word death, to what does it refer? What about justify? You will know by its context. I ended the message last week asking the question, “Are works important?” How important are works? Can a Christian produce dead works?
1) The Lord created you for good works Eph. 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph. 2:8-9 NKJ)
There is no room for works in salvation. God is not going to allow any kind of bragging rights in heaven. Then Paul added,
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10 NKJ)
After salvation, we were designed for good works. Have you ever had your parents give you an assignment, or a chore, and you figured a way to get around to not doing it? Your parents asked you about the job and you said, “I forgot,” or “Oh yeah, I got distracted.” You had a choice of whether you were going to do it or not and you didn’t follow through.
You make the choice based on your nature or by faith in Christ. You are not an animal living on instincts. When you become a Christian, you still have a sin nature that wants to please self, not the Lord Jesus. Let’s pretend that everyone in here is either a cat or a dog. That means you all have a cat nature or a dog nature. No, I’m not going to go where some people go and say, “Women are cats and men are dogs.” Cats have a cat nature that says, “We used to be worshipped in the ancient world and we still deserve to be worshipped.” Dogs are different than cats. You can call a dog and what happens? He comes wagging his tail ready to lick your hand. How does the cat respond? The cat says, “I got the message and I’ll get back to you, IF I want.” Actually, the cat doesn’t even say, “I’ll get back with you.” It just hears and goes about its business. Dogs are devoted to you, while cats are… well you get the picture, they both have a different nature. While you were created for good works, you have an old sin nature as Paul said,
O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (Rom. 7:24 NKJ)
The Lord created you for good works.
2) Good works are only produced by the filling and fruit of the Holy Spirit Rom. 7:18-19; 8:9-11; Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22-23
We live in a world where every child gets a sticker and an affirmative, “Good job!” What has that done? They think, “The world owes me!” Some people say that if you are a Christian, you will be abiding in Christ and producing good works. If you are a Christian, then is everything you do good? What did Paul say?
18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. (Rom. 7:18-19 NKJ)
Is that good works? No! It’s the principle of the Spirit of life in battle with the flesh,
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. 17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. (Gal. 5:16-17 NKJ)
When I was in a parachurch organization in college, I asked my discipler, why do I have such a struggle inside of me? He said, “There are two dogs on your shoulders. There is a good dog on your right shoulder and a bad dog on your left shoulder. They both want to eat your lunch.” So I asked, “Who determines which dog gets my lunch?” He responded, “The one to whom you say, ‘sick’em.’” Friends, look at Rom. 8:9
9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Rom. 8:9 NKJ)
If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit dwells inside of you. Right? If that is true, then why does Ephesians 5:18 command you to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, (Eph. 5:18 NKJ)
Why are you commanded to be filled if you are already indwelt? You are indwelt, because God owns you as His child. But you are not filled, or controlled, unless two things are true. First, you must be dependent on the Holy Spirit,
10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8:10-11 NKJ)
You must live by a conscious decision of dependency on the Holy Spirit, but that cannot happen unless secondly, you are cleansed from all sin,
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NKJ)
If you confess your sins, that is you agree with God regarding your sin, then He will forgive you and restore the divine power and cleanse you from all sins you don’t even know you have committed. The attitude and actions are further described in 2 Cor. 7:9-11. This empowers you to bear the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
In reality, you will either produce fruit that lasts, or fruit that perishes. Note what Paul wrote,
11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:11-15 NKJ)
What is the difference? Gold, silver and precious stones have intrinsic value in no matter what form you find it. The wood, hay and straw is worthless once it is consumed by the fire. The difference is what the fire evaluation proves. If you labored for the Lord Jesus in the power of the Spirit, you have gold, silver and precious stones. If you did the works in the power of your own flesh, it produces wood, hay and straw that burn up. It’s the same Christian, but who did the work and who gets the glory. Christians will make it to heaven, but many will smell rather smokey, which is fine when you’re camping, but not in heaven.
You were created for good works and those can only be produced when you are controlled or filled with the Holy Spirit. Let’s ratchet it up a notch.
3) Your zealous life of good works reflects the giving character of the Lord Titus 2:11-14
11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. (Tit. 2:11-14 NKJ)
Everyone of us has to learn as a spiritual babe and child to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, live soberly (seeking the Lord), by looking to the Lord. That will be accomplished only by pursuing divine good works. There are two words for good in the original language. One is agathos, which means “good with intended blessing.” The second is kalos, which means “good of intrinsic value.” Gold has intrinsic value no matter what form it is in. That is the word used here. It is not good works that you can do, but good of intrinsic value, that is, what the Holy Spirit does through you.
What are good works? What has to be true? How can God allow man to produce something so that it gives God all the glory? There is only one way. First, you have to be free from sin (have your sins confessed; and secondly, be dependent on the Spirit’s power (see the example of how Jesus was dependent on the Holy Spirit as our example and pattern: Luke 4:1,14,18; 5:17; 6:19; 8:46; Act 10:38; Heb. 9:14) Tit. 2:7; 3:8, 14). Your life of dependence on the Holy Spirit producing good works reflects God’s giving nature, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJ)
4) A life without divine good works is a waste Luke 14:26-27
Do not waste your life! A life where you know all the football stats, but have never led someone to Christ or discipled him is a waste. A life where you become a CEO of a company, but have never led a home group that multiplies is a waste. Consider three things. First, labor from gratefulness – The Lord saved your life!
27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. 29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily. (Col. 1:27-29 NKJ)
Because of gratefulness for the hope of glory, Paul labored to the point of exhaustion. C.T. Studd once said, “Only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”
Secondly, labor to bless,
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit. 11 Let him turn away from evil and do good; Let him seek peace and pursue it. 12 For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their prayers (1 Pet. 3:8-12 NKJ)
Thirdly, labor to be the Lord’s disciple,
26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:26-27 NKJ)
3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Rom. 5:3-5 NKJ)
25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance. (Rom. 8:25 NKJ)
24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24-27 NKJ)
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10 NKJ)
9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. (2 Cor. 5:9 NKJ)
9 For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. (1 Thes. 2:9 NKJ)
7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, 9 not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. 10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. (2 Thes. 3:7-10 NKJ)
10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble. (2 Pet. 1:10 NKJ)
Salvation opens your eyes to the desire to labor to the point of exhaustion in the Spirit’s power to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus!
Message Based Discussion Questions
1) When you were growing up, how willing were you to do work (chores) at home?
2) Is there a spiritual battle between the flesh and the Spirit? _____________ What does that look like (Gal. 5:16-17)? What are the results (Gal. 5:19-21,22-23)?
3) Is it possible to do Christian work and have no reward for it? ______________ Look at 1 Cor. 3:11-15. What is the difference between the two types of production? How is it possible to produce such different kinds of results?
4) Is there a difference between a life of mediocrity and a life full of zealous good works? _______ How do you know the difference? What does it look like for a 15-year-old, 35-year-old and a 55-year-old?
Making application of the message to life:
5) How would you disciple a young man (woman) to learn how to walk in the Spirit rather than the flesh?
6) How can you motivate the youth of our culture to be motivated to live for Christ rather than for the desires of the world (through things, fame, or experiences)?
7) Are you part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed? Are you willing to come to prayer meetings on Sunday morning at 8:30 am to prayer for souls to be saved during worship and during the week? Are you willing to get involved in a home group that multiplies?
Definition- Death means separation of two things.
- Physical death- separation of the soul (and human spirit) from the body 2 Cor. 5:1-8; Phil. 1:20, 21; cf. Rom. 8:38, 39.
- Spiritual death – spiritual separation from God Rom. 5:12; 6:23; 1 Cor. 15:22; Eph. 2:1-5; Gen. 2:17; (22:17; 18:10,18; 28:22; 1 Sam. 9:8).
- Positional death – the believer is identified with Christ’s death and burial Rom. 6:3,4; Col. 2:12,20; 3:3.
- Temporal death, Carnality, the believer is separated from fellowship with God in time because of personal sins Jas. 1:15; Rom. 8:6,13; 1 Tim. 5:6 Rev. 3:1; 1 Jn. 3:14. This is short term from sinful acts. It is remedied by 1 John 1:9 in repentance 2 Cor. 7:9-11.
- Operational death – the believer in the downward spiral is separated from divine power and he is no longer producing divine good works, but is under the influence of evil Jas. 2:26; Heb. 6:1 This is long term living away from God’s power in disobedience, like King Saul or Alexander the Coppersmith. It is remedied by 1 John 1:9 and repentance 2 Cor. 7:9-11.
- Sexual death separation of the ability to copulate from the organs of reproduction Rom. 4:17-21; Heb. 11:11,12.
- Sin Unto Death is separation from the plan of God in time by means of physical death, because of lack of usefulness. He is characterized by constant rebellion and suffering in the soul 1 Jn. 5:16; Jam. 5:19-20; 1 Cor. 5:1-5.
- Second Death is separation of the soul of the unbeliever from any chance of restoration or fellowship with God. This is eternal separation from God Rev. 2:11; Heb. 9:27; Rev. 20:12-15.
- Death in marriage Rom. 7:1-3. In the death of a spouse or in divorce the marriage is dead Deut. 24:1-4; 1 Cor. 7:27, 28.
I am a part of the fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions, mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don’t have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity. I won’t give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I’ve preached up, prayed up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My colors will be clear for “I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..” (Romans 1:16)
By Dr. Bob Moorehead