Works ... Are they Important?



Works ... Are they Important?

1. Introduction

The Oxford dictionary defines the word 'work' as the 'use of bodily or mental power in order to do or make something.' Work involves will-power, knowledge, planning, action, results, products, fruit. But, sad to say, the words 'work' and 'works' have become suspect in Christian circles these days. Many followers of Jesus believe that 'works' are unimportant. To them it's not work that matters but faith - and faith alone! When I speak of the importance of 'works' to them a cry goes up. 'You're preaching salvation by works. You're doing away with the finished work of Jesus Christ. You're preaching heresy. Didn't you know that believers are saved by faith - not works?'

Sure I knew - many years ago, when I decided to yield my life to the Saviour; when I personally accepted Yahweh's offer of salvation through His Son Jesus. Oh yes, I knew that faith was vital. But my question remains: Are works important? And is it heresy to preach the importance of doing good works? This Sabbath we are going to find out. In this study I will quote many verses to show you that a person's ‘works’ are important, more important than most Christians remotely imagine.

2. Works of the Flesh

To begin with let us be clear as to what I mean when I use the word ‘works.’ I am certainly not talking about a person's employment or job. Neither do I mean:

Oh no! when I use the word works, I most certainly do not mean these practices, which, sad to say, have been adopted from paganism by the fallen Church. Trying to earn or pay for salvation by these futile ‘works’ is totally against all Bible teaching.

In this article I use the word ‘works’ as it is used in the Scriptures. Here we find that Works fall into two categories:

No doubt each group may be sub-divided, but for the purpose of this study I'll confine myself to these two headings: the ‘works of the flesh’ and the ‘works of the spirit.’ The Bible defines the ‘works of the flesh’ as follows:
Galatians 5: 19: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
20: Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21: Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

3. Works (Fruit) of the Spirit

The ‘works of the spirit’ are defined in the very next verse. Notice that they are called here the ‘fruit of the Spirit.‘ Remember our opening definition about works being: labour, deeds, actions, outcomes, products, fruit.
Galatians 5: 22: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23: Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24: And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25: If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Colossians 1: 10: That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.

4. Justification

The Bible teaches that a believer is justified by FAITH in Jesus Christ: but it also says that one's faith must be alive - else it is useless. What is living faith? The scriptures teach that living faith is faith that is reflected in good works, obedience! If obedience is absent in a believer's life, (assuming that he/she has time to practice obedience) then all his/her professions of faith are meaningless. In other words a believer is justified by living faith which is reflected in good works, obedience to God! Let me give you a few texts to substantiate this seemingly paradoxical statement.

The Apostle Paul says

Galatians 2: 16: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

The Apostle James says

James 2: 14: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

The implied answer to this question is: No faith alone cannot save him.
James 2: 17: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18: Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19: Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20: But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
21: Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
22: Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
23: And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
24: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
25: Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
26: For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Are Paul and James contradicting each other? The answer is: obviously not. The Bible doesn't contradict itself. Paul is simply saying that justification is by faith in Jesus Christ. And James is saying that to be effective, faith must demonstrate itself in works. If good works are not present, then the so-called ‘faith’ is in reality - ‘dead faith.’ And dead faith will certainly not get anyone anywhere; least of all into the Kingdom of God. In other words, a believer is justified by ‘living faith’ in Jesus Christ.

5. Advice Concerning Works

There are literally scores of Bible verses exhorting believers to do ‘good works.’ In fact, Yahweh's objective when sending His Son to earth was that we should be saved from sin to live righteous lives. Therefore to suggest that good works are unimportant is a sign of colossal ignorance, of spiritual blindness. It is an argument only used by the workers of iniquity: those who do not want to obey Yahweh's commandments and whose lives are a contradiction of the faith they profess. Let me quote some more texts concerning good works. Take careful note.
Titus 2: 7: In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity.
Acts 9: 36: Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
1 Timothy 6: 18: That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.
2 Timothy 3: 14: But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
15: And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
16: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

Hebrews 10: 24: And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:”
Titus 2: 12: Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
13: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Titus 3: 8: This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works,”
Titus 3: 14: And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Bad Workers Beware!

2 Timothy 4: 14: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:”
Matthew 7: 21: Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

6. The Saviour Knows the Works of Every Soul

Are works important? Works are very important. Good or bad they are being recorded on the spiritual data files above: media infinitely more sophisticated than computer disks. Multiplied billions of facts are being written to those heavenly files every millisecond. Let us never forget that fact!

Hearken to the Saviour’s warnings to the seven churches and all mankind in the following verses.
Ephesus
Revelation 2: 2: “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.
Revelation 2: 5: Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Smyrna
Revelation 2: 9: “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
Pergamos
Revelation 2: 13: “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Thyatira
Revelation 2: 19: “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Jezebel

Revelation 2: 23: And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”
Sardis
Revelation 3: 1: And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
2: Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.”

Philadelphia
Revelation 3: 8: “I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Laodicea
Revelation 3: 15: “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
All Believers
Revelation 14: 13: And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
Babylon the Great
Revelation 18: 6: Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

Are works important? Of course they are important. If works weren't important, why did the Master mention them so often in his letters to the seven churches? I can tell you, that your works (the fruit, outcome, actions, your deeds) are the best - perhaps the only - indicators that you are a true believer. If you don't have accompanying good works (obedience) you don't have faith. We could even say that:

All these things, important as they are, count for nothing if obedience, good works and fruit are missing. Remember the Master's sobering words:
Matthew 7: 22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

The prophet Samuel said the same thing to king Saul, who had violated Yahweh’s commandments:
1 Samuel 15: 22: And Samuel said Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”

7. The Great Day of Judgment

Now back to the question: Are works important? Sure they are. No Christian is going to say that the ‘fruit of the Spirit’ is unimportant. But few realize that the word ‘works’ is synonymous with ‘fruit.’ Both words mean - the outcome, the end product. I have provided many texts to prove that the Almighty closely considers people's works, their behaviour, their actions, their fruit. He takes note of what we do. Every motive, every thought, every word, every action is recorded in the divine registers above. The Bible teaches that on the Day of Judgment, everyone will be judged according to their works - their fruit.
Matthew 12: 36: But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.”
Jeremiah 25: 14: ... and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.”
Matthew 16: 27: For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
Revelation 2: 23: And I (Yehshua The Messiah Speaking) will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.”.
Revelation 20: 12: And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
13: And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”

Summary

Let me summarize what you have just read: for we are here dealing with one of the most important subjects in the entire Bible.
  1. Are works important? Millions of Christians answer: ‘No, works are not important.’ Perhaps they are confusing ‘works’ with penance, rosary beads, prayers for the dead etc. The Bible doesn't mean these things when it tells of works. It means faith which is reflected in obedience to the Almighty's commandments. Strange as it may sound, in the opinion of these believers, anyone who teaches obedience and the necessity of doing good deeds, ‘good works’ is preaching ‘salvation by works’ - preaching heresy! This is a popular viewpoint. But is it right?

  2. The answer is, NO it isn’t right. It’s dangerously wrong. For we find, when we study the scriptures, that works are very important. Over and over again the Bible tells us to shun disobedience, referred to by the apostle Paul as the ‘works of the flesh;’ adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings and such like.

  3. Instead we are to do good works which also express themselves in the fruit of the Holy Spirit: (Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.) The Master said in his sermon on the mount: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5: 16)

  4. Believers are justified by faith: but to be of value their faith must be alive. But to be of value their faith must be alive. It must exhibit itself in obedience and good works. If these are not present, then their worship is vain and futile. If they continue in sin (disobedience) all their professions of faith (‘Lord, Lord!’) and all their miracles and wonders will count for nothing. They will be kept out of the Kingdom of God on the Master's orders. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7: 23)

  5. Scores of Bible texts advise us believers to do good works. Indeed that is why Yahshua the Messiah (Jesus) died for us: Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2: 14)

  6. The Saviour knows our works, better than we remotely imagine. He is extremely interested in the performance of every member of his church. He knows our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, pressures and persecutions.He knows everything about us all: and he will judge us on the basis of that knowledge. These are sobering thoughts; which we do well to keep in mind.

  7. The great Day of Judgment approaches: when every person on earth will be judged according to his/her works.
    Matthew 16: 27:For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”
    Revelation 20: 12: And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”
Works ... are they important?     You can be sure they are.   Very Important!


AMEN!

In the Son’s Name - For the Father’s glory.
Elder:
Max W. Mader

www.avoiceinthewilderness.org
www.avitw.ca