Monday, December 20, 2010

What the Bible says about Good Works

Titus chapter 3

In three short chapters the book of Titus covers a lot of ground. The first chapter teaches us the importance of order in the church. Chapter two speaks of the importance of correct biblical doctrine. In this final chapter Paul reminds Titus that it is important for any church, or church member to exercise good works. Let’s be clear that God sent His Son to this earth to redeem sinners, not to reform them. Once a person is saved however, God does have something to say to them about displaying good works.

In the early days of the church Christians were looked upon as “odd balls.” They lived different lifestyles. Therefore in the first few verses Paul is encouraging them not to do anything that will draw unnecessary attention to themselves. The way they can do this is by being law abiding citizens. You will say, “Oh, but Bro. Josh we are to follow the laws of God, therefore we don’t have to worry about the laws of the land.” If this is your thought then I have a question for you, “What Bible are you reading from?” The bible is very clear that we are to obey those that have rule over us, including the law of this land.

In fact if you think about it, the laws of the land and the laws of God many times go hand in hand. God says “don’t steal, don’t kill, tell the truth under oath.” I would say that if we obey the laws of God then we will have little trouble with the laws of the land. It is a shame when you hear about a “Christian” getting caught stealing money, taking drugs, cheating the government. What a shame that is, not just for the one that got caught, but for the church as a whole.

Verse two warns us one last time not to gossip. The more I study the bible the more I am convinced that one of the biggest problems in the church is the sin of gossip. Someone said that “you can’t believe everything you hear, but you can repeat it!” Another person said that “people will believe anything as long as you whisper it to them.” This is the way that the unsaved world acts. This should not be the way the children of God act. These things are good works, and they should be exercised by the church.

I feel like I need to point out before I move on, that the bible is very clear that a child of God is to maintain good works. At the same time the bible is very clear that these good works do not affect your salvation. You can work all you want to, but no amount of works will ever be enough to earn salvation. Let me further say that after you are saved good works have nothing to do with maintaining salvation. If sin was to void salvation, then none of us would be saved. In the eyes of God there are no big or little sins, and just one sin is unacceptable when compared to the perfect holiness of God. If you are counting on your good works then I’m afraid that you soon will find yourself disappointed. Any person that claims they have no sin in their life has committed the sin of lying.

Verses 4-5 tell us how a person is saved. We are saved because God showed mercy on us. We did not turn over a new leaf, we are saved because of the mercy God had on us. Paul is clear in these verses that works have nothing to do with salvation. “According to his mercy He saved us.” Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins because He is merciful to you and me. God is rich in mercy, which means He has plenty of it. God is able to save you today, but He will only save you based on faith in what His Son has done. Your works will not get it done.

In this verse we are told that we are saved by “the washing of regeneration.” The word “washing” means to “bathe all over”, or a “laver.” It is a picture of the brazen laver which stood in the court of the Tabernacle. The brazen laver is a picture of the word of God. The brazen laver was made from the highly polished metal the women used as mirrors. This is a good picture of the word of God. We look into God’s word and it reveals to us our condition. It shows us all the dirty places in our life.

I have said over and over that a person is not saved based on their good works. I stand by that, and so does the word of God. The fact is that once we are saved we are to be careful to maintain good works in our lives. Some people think that salvation gives them a free pass on good works. Just the opposite is true.

Titus was to keep reminding these people over and over that they are to have good works.

Before we are saved God does not want to talk to us about our good works. They are like filthy rags in God’s sight.

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”    Isaiah 64:6

After you are saved God wants to say something to you about good works. We are to consider, ponder and be anxious about these things.

Let me further say that to have good works does not just mean to work in the church or to have religious works. While it is wonderful to work in the church, good works also means to lend a hand to that neighbor in need. We should be helpful in the community and help those in need. One of the best ways to help win someone to God is to show them acts of kindness, or good works. This is biblical good works.

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