Will Good Works get you into Heaven?
Can Good Works erase, outweigh or trump past and future sins?
Introduction 1. The "good works" of unsaved people are "dead", and are as "filthy rags" to God. 2. We are under Satan's control until we are spiritually reborn through faith in Jesus. 3. We are saved by faith and grace, not works. However, good works after our spiritual rebirth signifies true faith. 4. God is not impressed by the "good works" and prayers of non-Christians. 5. We are not to admire the sincerity and zeal of those in non-Christians religions. We are to avoid participating in their efforts. The Good News - God gave us a way out of this dilemma Related links
Good works are a necessary symptom or sign of someone who has truly been regenerated (saved) by the Holy spirit, but they are not a prerequisite to that regeneration.
Good works, as defined by the Bible, should be present in the life of whoever claims to be a spiritually reborn Christian. If they're not present, they're not real Christians. Good works are a necessary symptom or sign of someone who has truly been regenerated (saved) by the Holy spirit, but they are not a prerequisite to that regeneration. According to God's standards, it isn't possible to be holy, righteous, discerning, wise or to perform what He considers to be good works until you are first regenerated through faith in Jesus Christ.
The video titled The Good Test examines some common misguided beliefs that many people have about good works. Specifically, it addresses the beliefs that:
You can get to Heaven by being a basically good person and
Good works make up for, outweigh, or somehow trump the sins one has committed in his/her lifetime.
Let's see how these beliefs stack up to what God tells us are His standards for admission to Heaven.
1. The "good works" of unsaved people are "dead", and are as "filthy rags" to God.
But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [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 Commentary on this verse by Matthew Henry
How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
2. We are under Satan's control until we are spiritually reborn through faith in Jesus.
It is very important to understand this fact. As long as we are under Satan's control, it is virtually impossible for us to do anything that pleases God. Until we have become God's adopted child, we are not yet in His family of saints. We don't yet have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have not yet yielded ourselves to His perfect will. We are still doing things our own way, not His. We are still vile, wicked creatures in God's eyes because we are still covered from head to toe in our filthy sins. They have not yet been washed away. Because we are not yet on God's side, doing the works He wants us to do, we are still working for His enemy (Satan).
To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Acts 26:18 (this is a quote from Jesus)
He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
3. We are saved by faith and grace, not works. Good works after our spiritual rebirth signifies true faith.
When interpreting the Bible verses below, it is important to recognize that they're referring to "salvation", not heavenly "rewards". Salvation is concerned with how we get into Heaven. Rewards deal with the degree or extent of the rewards we get once we're there. Failing to make this distinction when interpreting verses like these can cause all kinds of confusion and wrong applications of the verses in question. After we've been spiritually regenerated (reborn), we can lose some of our eternal rewards by our sins, but not our salvation.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves [it is] the gift of God Not of works, lest any man should boast.
To declare, [I say], at this time his righteousness that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where [is] boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
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.
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
(Regarding James 2:26, this is not saying that good works are prerequisite for being regenerated by the Holy Spirit (saved). Instead, it is saying good works are a symptom or sign of someone who has truly been regenerated by the Holy Spirit. Remember that good works that are pleasing to God can come only after the act of faith that leads to regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Additionally, while faith is something you must make a conscious decision to exercise before you can be regenerated (saved), it too is a gift from God. Contrary to popular belief, faith is not something you conjure up all on your own using your own "free will". See Romans 12:1-3 for proof of this. Note that those verses in Romans are not talking about everyone being given the gift of faith because not everyone receives it. Those verses in Romans are referring to the specific group of Christians that Paul is addressing in the church in the city of Rome. However, it is clear from those verses that none of those Christians would have any faith if God had not first given it to them. It is therefore logical to conclude that all Christians must first receive their "measure" of faith from God before they can exercise, or use it. For more information about these verses in Romans, see John Wesley's commentary on them. The Biblical doctrine of "predestination", which is also known as "election" explains why some people are given a measure of faith and others are not. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are "good" persons, whether they asked for it, or whether they are somehow more deserving of it than others are. It is 100% God's choice who He gives faith to. Once they have it, like the arms and legs God gives them, they are able to use and exercise it. The more it is exercised, the stronger it gets. For more information about the doctrines of predestination and election, see Free will / predestination.)
4. God is not impressed by the "good works" and prayers of non-Christians.
The sacrifice of the wicked [is] an abomination to the LORD but the prayer of the upright [is] his delight.
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer [shall be] abomination. Proverbs 28:9
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
5. We are not to admire the sincerity and zeal of those in non-Christians religions. We are to avoid participating in their efforts.
Many who are involved in non-Christian religions are very moral. Some even make great personal sacrifices for others. In the previous sections, we saw that God say's He is essentially disgusted by the prayers, sacrifices and "good works" of those who do not first place their faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation. For those who refuse to have faith in Jesus, God tells us that He will laugh at and even mock them. He also will not hear their prayers. As you will see in the verses below, He also expects Christians to avoid giving any praise to them. He also tells us to avoid participating in any way with their efforts to spread their false doctrines. However, He still expects to do our part to help them see the truth when we feel guided by the Holy Spirit to do so.
Think about the verses below the next time you hear someone in the media or public school system talking about their anti-Biblical definition of "tolerance". Today's world-wide tolerance movement is a tremendously powerful tool for Satan. It is unfortunate that most people who subscribe to these anti-Biblical beliefs may in reality be dooming themselves to an eternity in Hell. They have accepted Satan's lie that the absolute God-inspired truths of the Bible should be replaced by modern day relativism.
If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
2 John 1:10-11 (John Gill's commentary on these verses)
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in [them]; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [thing]; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.
The modern "tolerance" movement promotes the idea that everyone's beliefs are equal, and that we should be accepting of all other beliefs. Many false religions also promote this idea. However, it is clear from the verses below that God intends for us to take a stand against anything that contradicts His Holy and perfect Word in the Bible. Consider the following verses the next time someone tells you you're wrongly "judging" others by taking a stand against their false religion, homosexual behavior, their promotion of the false religion of evolutionism, etc:
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
1 Timothy 5:20
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:2
He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
Open rebuke [is] better than secret love.
All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
2 Timothy 3:16
The Good News - God gave us a way out of this dilemma
The really good news is that we do not have to remain slaves to our sin and to Satan. God provided us a way out of the dilemma of not being able to save ourselves. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he paid in full, the price it would have taken us all of eternity to pay for in Hell ourselves. Jesus is the only person who has ever lived who was sinless. No other religious leader in all of history can claim that distinction. Because of that, only He was able to pay the full price for our sins.
We all have mountains of sins we have committed against God in our lifetimes. Our attempts to atone for them ourselves will always fall short, no matter how many "good works" we may do, or how moral we may be. God is perfect. God is sinless. His standards are just too high for us to ever meet them in this lifetime or a thousand lifetimes. All other attempts to find peace, happiness and contentment in this life through means other than faith in Jesus Christ will be extremely shallow, and will pale by comparison. They also will not get us into Heaven. Neither will they prevent us from experiencing an eternity of suffering beyond imagination in Hell. Do not make the mistake of underestimating or ignoring God's wrath and judgment against those who turn to these alternative methods of trying to save themselves. Do not underestimate his capacity for love and mercy, and His willingness to shower those who do turn to Jesus Christ for salvation with blessings in both this life and the next in Heaven.
If God is calling you to accept his free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ as your savior, take the time now to answer His calling by repenting of your sins. It is important that you come to terms with just how sinful you really are, and how offensive your sins are to God. Failure to truly come to grips with this may result in an insincere act of repentance.
Once you have a realistic appreciation of how desperately you need Jesus as your savior, then ask Him to wash away your past, present and future sins by the sacrifice He made for you on the cross. If you are sincere, he will seal you by sending His Holy Spirit to literally dwell inside you. From that point on, you will be a temple for His glory and honor. Your eternal fate will be irreversibly sealed. You will spend all of eternity basking in His love for you. You will benefit from His blessings in this life. Your faith will grow stronger as you see Him working in your life through the challenges, difficulties and blessings that you experience in the remaining time you have on this Earth. If you have questions about how to be saved, or what it means to be saved, we encourage you to visit this link.
It contains the answers to some of the most common questions you may have. By reviewing them before you ask for God's free gift of salvation, you can be certain that you made your decision with your eyes wide-open and that you truly understood what you were doing. You can also be more confident that your repentance was sincere, which will give you much greater assurance that you are indeed a true child of God.
Do you want to ask Jesus Christ to be your savior right now? Are you struggling with what words to say? There are no magic words or scripts to recite but these links contain some excellent suggested prayers for you to consider:
Psalms 51. There are some references to burnt offerings in this Psalm that are for a different dispensation, but the rest of it is provides a very good example of how to pray for repentance.
Are you Good Enough to go to Heaven? (good article)
The Good Test video (17-minutes - watch it in its entirety on-line to see if you're good enough to go to Heaven)
Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
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