Since we cannot make it to Heaven by our good works, why are good works mentioned here?
ESV - 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.
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It is clear that we are saved by grace and grace alone, and we find many scriptures to validate this (see my list below). That being said, there should be evidence in our lives that we have genuinely accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior; like a mirror, our life should reflect His life, His love, and His ways. The passage that you mentioned in Matthew is one scriptural example in which Jesus is telling us what the “fruit” of our repentance should look like. Similarly, Matthew 3:8 says, Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. (NLT) In Luke 3:10-14, John gave these instructions to those who were coming to him to be baptized: And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” It is my opinion that Jesus and others gave us these instructions about conduct so that we have a clear idea of how we should live our lives. While we will never be perfect, it should be our aim to obey His laws and to involve ourselves in laying our lives down for others as Christ did for us. Like many biblical concepts, this question is one example of where we see two truths working together in tension. Yes, we are saved by grace, and yes, our lives should consist of good works that reflect the fact that Jesus is our Lord. It is not either-or, but both-and. Here are several verses that confirm the fact that we are saved by grace alone: Romans 3:26: for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:28-30: For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. Romans 4:16: Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all. Romans 5:1: therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ Romans 10:9-10: that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 11:6: But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Works have nothing to do with salvation as Paul clearly states in Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. And in Romans 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. And there are many other scriptures that speak of works having nothing to do with salvation. What we need to do is back up to verse 32 and 33 in Matt 25, this is where the judgement takes place. The people are divided/separated/judged because of what they are, not what they do. Matt 25:32-33 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. The judgement has taken place, notice later that the sheep are surprised at what Jesus says to them. Matt 25:37-40 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Dogs bark, cows moo, Christians do good works. Just because something clucks doesn't mean it is a chicken just as good works do not make a Christian. These sheep were not saved because they fed, clothed or visited people in prison. What they are prompted them to do these things without being aware of it.
No, we cannot make it to Heaven by good works and we cannot make it to Heaven by faith only. James 2:14-26 tells us "faith without works is dead" and "works without faith is dead", we must have both! Notice James writes it both ways to prove his point. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 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? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 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. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe; and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." Matthew 25:31-46 shows works are a result of a genuine salvation. God's Word is very clear, we Must have both Faith and Works to make it to Heaven!
Yes it's a very good question, and what it proves is that "faith" can die. But having been connected to the True Vine by Faith in Christ, we see here in the book of James demonstrates whether or not your faith is still alive. Here is proof "faith can die" like the branch in Christ that chooses no longer to abide in Him dies. Peter also talks to the Elect in 2Pet 1, that if the elect did all those things he mentioned, they would never be barren nor unfruitful, and never fall from grace, and so will assure that in the future they would receive an abundant entry into Glory. After studying this in context it is obvious that the possibility of losing one's salvation is evident, when linking the teaching with Revelation 2, and 3. Where the Scriptures say to the Churches "I know your works" One of these Churches was about to die, "faith without works is dead". The Spirit of God was visiting these Churches to revive Good works in them and not as some might think, telling unbelievers that He knew their works so they should do good works to prove they are saved. Good works are the fruit of abiding in the True Vine Jesus Christ, and to choose cease to abide in Him, would render you fruitless so the Father would break you off and take you away as we are warned in John 15. That is why the Church in Sardis is warned that only over-comers would not be blotted out of the Book of Life.Rev 3:5 Because those who did not overcome had ceased abiding in Christ, their faith had died or was about to die. There is the Church of Laodocia Jesus is dwelling in them but they have allowed the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches to choke Christ out of their lives and so Jesus is about to vomit them out of his mouth unless they repent. Jesus is now outside of some in that Church knocking to come back in. If you look at 2Cor. chapter 6 when Paul warns Christians no to yoke with unbelievers, we find that if they do they have a condition to be reinstated as family. 2Co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 2Co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. First He tells Christians not to yoke with unbelievers and then He speaks to the one's who have to come out from among them and then they would be received and then God would be a Father to them again. So the book of James can be linked with many parts of the Scripture and be a clear proof that without good works your faith has died and unless you continue in the grace of God, you will be cut off from God. Rom 11:22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. If we have a look at the first Gentile convert we will find that before his Rebirth of Salvation, God spoke very highly of His works, and Peter was being taught something else regarding Salvation. Act 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. Act 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Wow! Before he was saved God says his good deeds have come up before God as a memorial. Though this were true, it only provoked God to bring him to the truth and lead him to be reborn a Christian. All his good deeds were not sufficient to bring him salvation but they did make him a candidate for the gospel to come. So let's look at Peter's summation of the matter. Act 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Act 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. These have been ordained to eternal life!
Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we (Gentiles) might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4: 4,5). When Jesus was on earth He was still under the Old Covenant and was speaking to Israel, fellow Jews. He was basically breaking down everything that the law could not do for anyone preparing the Jews for what was to come, namely the New Covenant. The Law or Old Covenant has never been a guideline for believers under the New Covenant. The birth of Jesus is not the beginning of the New Covenant making the Old Covenant obsolete. Jesus lived on earth under the Old Covenant and continued to teach the Jews the failure of that system to prepare them for what was to come, the New. It is the death of Christ that began the New Testament, not His birth. "For where a covenant is, there must under necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives." (Heb. 9:16:7) "For those who walk in the Spirit, there is no law" it is Jesus and only Jesus. Therefore, the Scripture from Matthew as to works was Jesus preparing the Jews by showing the futility of human effort to attain salvation under the Old Covenant and is not applicable to born again believers in Christ under the New Covenant. Blessings, R.David Close
Good works and faith go hand in hand, one cannot be without the other. (James 2:26) Faith without good works is dead. By doing works of charity (feeding the hungry, drink to the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and in prison) the righteous showed their faith, and that is what saved them. (James 2:18)
We must remember, the Kingdom of God is not Heaven..(Mat 3:1) In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, (Mat 3:2) And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Jesus started His ministry by saying (Mat 4:17) From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Luk 12:32) Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (Luk 17:20) And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: (Luk 17:21) Neither shall they say, Lo here! Or, lo there! For, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Rom 14:17) For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Gal 1:3) Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, (Gal 1:4) Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: We are only spared from hell and not from this evil world if the salvation of Christ only come to fullfillment after we die. The works we must have is to show the world that we believe IN Jesus. We trust Him in every way and believe and show the world that no problem is to big and we believe every promise God made in the bible. To give to the poor is comes from the love of God that is in us. (1Co 3:15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
The parable of sheep and goats has a spiritual meaning. The meaning had been discussed in a question asking what the meaning of the parable is. The answer proffered can be accessed at: What is the meaning of the Parable of Sheep and Goats? A careful, prayerful reading and meditation of the parable, paying particular attention to verses 40 and 45 will reveal that Jesus was not speaking of humanitarian kindness that people of the nations may render to each other or to anyone else. The help that he said was rendered or not rendered in his behalf was with respect to HIS BROTHERS, and not to the needy or our neighbors. The very important matter as to who Christ's brothers are was discussed in that answer.
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