Ecclesiastes 12.13. Here is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person. God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
Where has this been? In all my years in the tribe of YHWH, I have never heard a message on this. I have only heard, 'Believe in Jesus and everything will be okay. You'll go to heaven when you die.' Granted, that is very paraphrased, but this is essentially everything I have ever heard from the church -- no matter what version, whether Baptist, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Church of Christ, as well as the supposed 'Full' Gospel. It seems to me that the American Protestant Church is so afraid to be labeled as a 'works based religion' that it doesn't teach the 'full gospel' any longer. Now don't get me wrong. I'm NOT saying that we don't have to believe in Jesus. Far from it. I'm saying you have to believe in Jesus and 'do good works'. Oh, I know. I can hear some people now saying, 'Well, OD, that's the Old Testament. In the New Testament, because of the cross of Jesus, we don't have to follow that any longer.' Really? Are we so certain? I think the New Testament has plenty to say regarding this. For example:
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said:
'But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on the right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."
'Then these righteous ones will reply, "Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?" And the King will tell them, "I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!" ' -- Matt 25.31-40
In Romans, St Paul's first address on the subject of 'good works' was very positive. He wrote:
'For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world, will judge all people according to what they have done. He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and practice evil deeds. There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on sinning -- for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honor and peace from God for all who do good -- for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.' -- Rom 2.5-11
And, as I have shown in other posts, St James is very clear on the subject. He wrote:
'Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well" -- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
'So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all -- it is dead and useless.
'Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." I say, "I can't see your faith if you don't have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds."
'Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?
'Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did -- by his actions. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." He was even called "the friend of God." So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.' -- James 2.14-24
That last paragraph should be preached on more and more. James wrote that our faith in Jesus is made complete by what we do -- by our actions. In other words, faith in Jesus is only the beginning. How do we miss this? He is not referring to the 'leadership' of the church. He is referring to all of us. All people who claim to be followers of Jesus -- family members in good standing within the community. When will we see that it is not faith versus works but faith and works? When will we stop looking toward secular society to 'fix' the social problems in the world? When will we realize that this is our vocation? We are the ones called to be the light of the world, the salt of the earth. We are supposed to be the ones leading the way. Instead, too often, we spend our time debating about things that don't matter to anyone else. We spend our time and resources on things that don't matter. What happened to giving completely of oneself for others and putting their needs before ours?
I dunno. Maybe I'm just sick of all the inhumanity I see around me. Maybe I'm just in a funk. Maybe this is directed more towards me than anyone else . . . Nah. That's not it. Although I need to hear this as much as anyone, I still believe that it is for everyone, at least most of my brothers and sisters. We have missed it along the way. I hope that this is a wake up call for us. I know it is for me, again. It's like I keep hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock. I hear it screaming at me to do something, but I just acknowledge it and then go back to sleep. But, and this is the good part, I eventually get up! I hope that all of the family will finally stop hitting the snooze and get up and get to work -- good work.
May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.