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The Gospel Part 2: You Better Get It Right

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’" - Matthew 7:21-23

Brothers and sisters, it is seriously time to drop the works-righteousness.  Time is so short.  When you stand before the Lord don't for one second think you can offer your works as the admittance fee.  The deluded folks Jesus mentioned above did just that and were told that He never knew them.

Works-righteousness is something that I and almost every Christian I know falls into over and over again.  It goes something like this: Jesus died for me, but I have to hold me (truth: Philippians 1:6, John 6:39).  Jesus died for me, but I have to prove myself to Him.  Oh man of dust, how great do you think you are that somehow you can ever measure up to the standard of the holy and living God?  That arrogance is called self-righteousness, the very thing the Bible says will lead to death.

Understand that this issue is at the very heart of the Gospel and is the very heart of the Reformation.  It is a Catholic doctrine that you must somehow balance faith and works, as if Paul and James were not in agreement (they were in complete agreement: see here, here, here, here, and here).  Sadly many Evangelicals are taking the road paved by N.T. Wright right back to Rome.  I see many watchers doing the same thing.  You can't possibly balance faith and works.  It is either all grace or all works.  The only works you've ever done that have pleased God are the ones that came from your trust in the sufficiency of Christ's own work.

Good works will never come from your efforts to 1. prove yourself, 2. prove that you're saved, 3. atone for your sins, 4. save yourself.  These are rubbish works, which the Pharisees do.  Your job/your choice is simply to trust that Jesus died for your sins and rose again and then not let go of this hope (see also here).  Forgiveness is not a debit card.  If you really believe that Jesus died for ALL of your sins and that you've been set free from sin and death and that you have a Heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally, you will:

1. Be saved.

2. Be extremely grateful.

3. Be extremely joyful.

4. Dance with all your might.

5. Love unconditionally because you know you were loved unconditionally.

If you still think that you are saved by grace + works, or mostly grace with a few works, or if you are just confused about what the Gospel is, I recommend you read Part One in this series.  Otherwise, continue on to Part Three here.

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  1. Gary - had a chance to reread this tonight. Continues to be an excellent and well considered work. The word tonight for me is "abide" - John 15:6. A said faith is uncertain - James 2:19. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling - Philippians 2:12.

  2. Agreed. I think though that we abide because we are saved rather than to be saved or to prove that we are saved. If one truly trusts that Jesus died for them and rose again (not just professes) then they will bear much fruit.


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  4. I agree with you Greg, salvation is an on-going process. We are told to be 'doers' of that word as we have our minds renewed in Christ Jesus, not just hearers of that word. Otherwise why would Jesus say ' “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew ch. 7 vs. 21 - 23.
    This shows that even some of those who call Jesus Lord, and have received spiritual gifts are not necessarily abiding in Him, and therefore will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

  5. Brenda, how does the Bible say you abide in Christ? The only direct answer I am aware of is in 1 John 4:15. You can profess a faith, but not really believe. Not really trust. Greg is not not saying that you are saved by your continuous good works, as that is not the Gospel. The Gospel is the simple message that Jesus died for ALL your sins. By trusting in Him until the end you have forgiveness. The people in Matthew 7 offered their works for salvation. They should have offered humble hearts, trusting in Christ alone for salvation.



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