12 - XII. Good Works
14 September, 2008 AM
Tree of Life Wesleyan Church
XII. Good Works
Matt. 5:16; 7:16-20;
Two boys entered the dentist’s office. One boy said, “I want a tooth taken out, and I don’t want any gas, and I don’t want it deadened; we’re in a hurry!” The dentist said, “You’re a brave young man. Which tooth is it?” The boy turned to his smaller friend and said, “Show him your tooth, Albert.” The world is full of volunteers like this. We’re anxious to have something happen to someone else! We don’t mind if God changes the world as long as he doesn’t bring any pain into our lives.
In the church we often talk about doing things for God and His kingdom, these are often called works or Good Works and there are some religions that make works a requirement of salvation – that these good works are required to save you from sin. We don’t believe that and that is what article 12 of our articles of religion are all about. Article 12 is Good Works and it states:
We believe that although good works cannot save us from our sins or from God’s judgment, they are the fruit of faith and follow after regeneration. Therefore they are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and by them a living faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit. (Discipline)
As I said, there are some religions that will tell you that you MUST do good works, and without doing them there is no way that you can make it to heaven. I knew of a pastor in Boise who was up on his church roof doing some repair work when the “bishop” of another church came by and asked if he could send a couple of his people down because they had not done there “good works” yet for that quarter. Now this pastor saw this as a great opportunity to witness to the men and get some free help – so of course he let them come and do their time. But see, when it becomes a job, or requirement then it is no longer something you are giving God, it becomes forced labor, a job and work.
There is no place in the Bible where it says that we must do works in order to be saved – that is something that the Pharisees made up. You had to do certain things in order to be found worthy, more importantly, you had to do certain things so that others could see you doing them – unfortunately we still have these people among us – they do work and let others know that they are doing it and about how much of their time they are giving – in hopes of making themselves look good in others people’s eyes. They have missed what good works are all about.
Jesus said in Matt. 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds (good works) and praise your Father in heaven.” Did you notice what Jesus said? He said, “that they may see your good deeds” not “that you may brag on your good deeds.” If you have to brag on what you are doing, then it was not done for God’s glory – it was done for yours.
We believe that although good works cannot save us from our sins or from God’s judgment, they are the fruit of faith and follow after regeneration. We talked about regeneration last week, that’s where we become something new, where we are rejuvenated, reborn, and revived, and that it is a work of the Holy Spirit. When we become new, there is something else that happens, or should happen – we should want to do things that help the Kingdom of God and that bring glory to Him.
Good works are the fruit of our faith. We believe in God and His wonderful Son, Jesus Christ, and because we believe we want to be included in the work that the family is doing. I did the same thing with all our boys by letting them help me cut the grass when they were young. Did I need their help? Of course not and actually, it took longer to do because of going slow and acting as though he was doing all the work. But the effect it had on them! They helped dad. They felt as if they were grown up because they were able to cut the grass – when asked who cut the grass, they would reply, “I helped daddy.” Not “I did it” – but that they helped in the big picture.
Don’t you think that God can do it all on His own? He wants to give us the opportunity to help Him. He wants us to gain an understanding of what needs to be done – He allows us to help Him – we never do it on our own – so why do so many people take credit for what God is doing? Our works should be done to glorify Him. Our works should show what we believe. Again, in the book of Matt. Jesus said, “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (7:16-20). By their fruit you will recognize them. What kind of fruit are you producing?
Article 12 goes on to say, “Therefore they are pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ, and by them a living faith may be as evidently known as a tree is discerned by its fruit.” Simply put, by doing good works which glorify God our faith becomes as evident as a tree is known by its fruit. I can not walk up to many trees and know what kind of fruit its going to produce. Take apple trees – there are many different varieties – but I can not walk up and tell you which ones will produce golden yellow apples or which ones will produce bright red ones – but once the fruit is on the limb I can tell which is yellow and which is red – and not only that, by looking at the apples I can tell which tree is good and which is bad. My grandfather use to have an apple orchard – I spent many years picking apples and once it was determined that a tree was not producing a good crop, it was cut down and burned to make room for a new tree.
Jesus is told us the same thing. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. If a person is not producing, or is producing a bad crop, they will be cut down and burned – but when it comes to people, they will burn in the eternal lake of fire.
I want to leave you with an illustration to day to really brings home the idea of works:
In January 1985, a large suitcase, unmarked and unclaimed, was discovered at the customs office at Los Angeles International Airport. When U.S. Customs agents opened the suitcase, they found the curled-up body of an unidentified young woman.
She had been dead for a few days, according to the county coroner. As the investigation continued, it was learned that the woman was the wife of a young Iranian living in the U.S. Unable to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. and join her husband, she took matters into her own hands and attempted to smuggle herself into America via an airplane’s cargo bay. While her plan seemed to her simple though risky, officials were hard pressed to understand how such an attempt could ever succeed. Even if she survived the journey in the cargo bay, she would remain an illegal alien, having entered through improper channels.
Some people believe they’ll enter the kingdom of God on their own since they’ve been reasonably good citizens or church attenders. But entry plans of our own design prove not only foolish but fatal.
Live your life for God, and may your works be fruit of plenty.
4 Aug, 2002 AM
Miles City Wesleyan Church
Miles City Mt.