Very often, a teaching from our little church will light a candle and God uses it to bring an idea to mind to post here.
Last night, He lit a bonfire.
One of the elders of our church, a wonderful Godly man whom I respect tremendously, taught another lesson in his series of studies on the subject of Heaven. I’ve blogged about at least one of these such studies here . Last night was on the subject of rewards in Heaven as they relate to works done after salvation is accepted, and not as a precursor or requirement of.
Well, he hit on several key points, but I’ll tell you what stuck out in my mind.
If I am understanding it all correctly, we will receive rewards and praise in Heaven based on our works here on earth. Now, understand me: YOU CANNOT EARN SALVATION THROUGH ANY NUMBER OR TYPE OF WORKS. PERIOD. John 14:6 says: I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE: no man comes to the Father, but by Me. (emphasis my own) John 8:32 says: And you shall know the truth, and the TRUTH shall set you free. (emphasis mine)
So, in no way was our teacher, nor am I, suggesting that works will get you into Heaven.
What he meant, and what I understand is this: God is keeping a scorecard of all our actions, thoughts, deeds, words – in short…He is recording our lives in microscopic detail. If we have received His perfect gift of salvation, then our sins are blotted out completely – forever – by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. Almighty Lord keeps a record of our good works and deeds, kind words, and those determine our reward in Heaven!
For some of us, this is a very comforting thought!
For others, we realize that we may make it through the Pearly Gates, and that would be enough…but don’t we want to hear our Lord and Savior heap praise on us by saying, “Well done, Good and Faithful Servant!”
I know I do. But, right now, I fall into the second group of the ones cowering in the corner, saying, “Uh oh.”
James 2:14-17 tells us about faith without works. It’s dead. If one TRULY has faith, works follow. When we have received the gift of faith and salvation, we LONG to do good works to reveal the love of Christ to others! So, why do so many in the church today fail to do it? We’ll get to that in a minute….first things first.
Seeing someone shivering in the cold and telling them, “I’m praying for your warmth, friend,” is great – pray for them. But, if you don’t give them a coat, what does it profit? Would it not be better to say, “Let me give you this to warm you, and I’d like to pray with you also,” ? I think so.
I think God gives us resources to use for His Glory – NOT for our earthly comfort. Comfort is great….but, perhaps its overrated. If you were to give that shivering man or woman your thick wool coat, I guarantee you would walk off not even bothered by the cold. And even if you did, you just stored up treasure in Heaven.
I think our teacher was incredibly accurate when he said last night that God will hold us accountable for ALL the blessings He bestows – how are we using: our money, our time, our relationships, our talents, our witness, our health? God has given us each of these things to #1) provide for the growth of His Kingdom, and #2) to provide for us, His children.
So, how do we use our resources?
Now, back to the question of why so many in the church are not fulfilling their duties as the church of Christ. I truly believe it’s because we have allowed ourselves to become dependent on the government to perform the duties relegated to the body of Christ by Jesus Himself. WE are to care for widows and orphans. WE are to care for the sick and elderly. WE are to teach our children. WE are to be the salt of the earth. But, we are losing our flavor. And if the salt loses its flavor, what good is it?
We have to get that flavor back and its only through revival that it will happen.
If we can get back to the church Jesus Christ began 2000 years ago, we CAN turn the heart of this nation around. And by doing so, we’ll be performing those works that James spoke about in chapter 2.
Then, when our work on earth is done, we can look into the eyes of the One who died for us and our hearts will swell with joy when we hear Him shout, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”