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Repentance From Dead Works (16)

In our last broadcast, we looked at good works, as opposed to dead works, noting the following about good works:
1. They are acts and activities which have been approved and authorised by God and engaged in by believers in Christ.
2. They are acts and activities which are done in accordance with, and in obedience to the word of God by believers in Christ.
3. They are acts and activities expected of believers in Christ, by God, the Father, and our Lord, Jesus Christ.
4. They are acts and activities which are performed in the power of the Holy Spirit, by believers in Christno human effort is involved.
5. They are acts and activities done to bring glory to God, by people who have been sanctified by the Holy Spiritself-glory is dead works.
6. They are acts and activities engaged in by believers in Christ, and assessed by God to be good works.

Unfortunately, good works can very easily become dead works, when they are done with the wrong motive; in an unrighteous manner; and, when they are engaged in by people who have not been qualified by God. To be qualified by God, a person must have accepted Jesus Christ as the only true God, Who can save and deliver him from the bondage of sin and the devil; and as his Lord, through submission to the Holy Spirit, for sanctification, and obedience to God! Good works, which really is the work of God, can only be done by God Himself. But God does not do good works among men directly; He uses men whom He has prepared through the operation of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those men and women, who have first been saved from the oppression of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirits operation in preparing men and women who have been saved and delivered from the oppression of sin, for the purpose of doing good works, is called sanctification, and it can only occur in yielded vesselsthat is, men and women who have surrendered themselves totally to God! Only these people are qualified according to Gods standard, to do good works; and they may not necessarily be pastors, bishops, general overseers, church leaders, and so on. They just may be non-titled individuals who may be engaged in the secular, but whom God is preparing for dedicated service unto Him.

Finally, good works are good works because God Himself assesses them as good works! Men may assess what we are doing, and say that it is a good work; but God may assess that same work, and say that it is dead works. Similarly, men may say that we are doing dead works, whereas, God would say that we are doing good works. Therefore, doing works to be seen or applauded by men, is to disqualify both yourself, and the activity you are engaging inthis is what the Lord Jesus meant in Matthew 6:1, when He said, Beware of doing your good deeds conspicuously to catch mens eyes or you will miss the reward of your Heavenly Father. (The Phillips New Testament Translation).

In our next broadcast, we shall take a look at Gods assessment of seven churches as recorded in the Book of Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3. Some bible scholars believe that these seven churches refer to seven dispensations of the Church Age in the world. These bible scholars premise their belief on seven dispensations of the Church Age, such that the first church mentioned in Revelation 2:1-5, is regarded as typifying the first dispensation of the Church Age, while the last church mentioned in Revelation 3:14-22, typifies the last dispensation of the Church Age or what we call the end-time Church. For as much as these postulations seem plausible, the reality is that these seven churches were churches existing in what was then Asia Minor; which today, is the southern part of Turkeyan Islamist State, though referred to as a moderate or secular Islamic State. We can therefore conclude that the Lord sent His message of assessment to seven literal churches. And when we consider the Lords message and assessment to these seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, we would find similarities with many churches presently existing in the world today. Hence, rather than seeing each of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, as belonging to a specific dispensation of the Church Age, we should look at them as types or typical of present day churches. So, as we study these churches over the next few weeks, we shall be able to identify many modern day local churches and global denominations.

Another thing we want you to note about the seven churches in Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 is that the churches were not the buildings in which the congregants met; but the congregants themselves! Hence, the activities of the individuals that make up the church were assessed by the Lord Jesus Christ, singly and collectively; and as such, His message was to all the individuals in the respective churches. In much the same way, when we talk about the church, either local or global, we are not referring to the building in which services are held, but to the group of individuals, congregation, or members, as some may wish to call them.

With this in mind, we want, at this time, to address those individuals who are today engaged in what many would call good works. These are people who are involved in charitable work and causes, under various organizations or bannerspeople who are involved in caring for the sick and the aged, helping the poor and the homeless, fighting human trafficking and prostitution, providing legal aid for those who cannot afford it, taking clothes and food to motherless babies homes, giving to church building projects, meeting the physical and financial needs of the ministers of the gospel and ministries, etc. Many of the people engaging in these laudable acts have been told by people who ought to know better, that they will be rewarded by God in eternity for these good deeds. But in the light of Gods word, we want to set the records straight and help these well-meaning individuals to first get qualified by God.

Good works are rewarded in heaven by God, but they do not qualify a person for heaven. It is sad to know that many people, who are engaged in what we would ordinarily call good works, may in effect be engaged in dead works, because they are yet to be qualified by God. So, our question to you is, Have you been qualified for heaven by God? because it is those who have been qualified by God, whose works will be adjudged, as to whether or not they are good works. In 1 Corinthians 3:11-14, the bible says, For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. These verses of scripture tell us that we are all to build upon the foundation of righteousness which has already been laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christs finished work on the cross at Calvarythe basis for the salvation of all of mankind. Only after this foundation has been laid in a man, can his works be assessed by God. If He is adjudged by God to have done good works, he will get a reward; but if not, he gets no reward, but he will no doubt be in heaveneven though it may be as though he went through fire! Therefore, access into heaven is based, not on the good works you have done, but on your faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, when He died on the cross at Calvary to save and deliver mankind from the oppression of sinthis is what we call being born again. In John 3:3, the Lord Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. And in John 3:5-7, He said, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water [the natural birth] and of the Spirit [the spiritual birth], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. To be born again, is to be born anew; to be born from above; or, to be born of the Spirit of God. It is this new birth or spiritual rebirth which is the visa into heaventhe kingdom of God! And it is only after you are in, that your works can now be brought before God for His assessment and reward. But if you are not born again, God will never assess your works, because they have been done by an unqualified person! If, for instance, you are not a qualified doctor, no matter what you do, you will always be a quack! If you dont qualify for admission through the authentic admissions board examinations, no one will grant you entry into undergraduate studies; even if you are the most brilliant person in your school. In Acts 10, the bible tells the story of a man, named Cornelius. He was a devout man, who feared God, gave alms to people, and prayed to God. But for all the good deeds he was doing, he was not qualified to enter into heaven. So, God, out of compassion and mercy, asked Cornelius to send for Simon Peter, who would tell him what he needs to know in order to be qualified for heaven. And as Peter began to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus death and resurrection, Cornelius, his household and invited guests, who were listening with rapt attention, received the Holy Spirit, signifying that they had now been qualified by God.

In James 1:27, the bible says, Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. Pure religion is not just doing the good deeds of visiting the orphans and taking care of widows in their affliction; but it also involves keeping oneself unspotted from the world. This means that you must be born again and sanctified; and then, your visitation to orphans and care for widows will be meaningful; otherwise, everything you do will be meaningless and considered dead works! In 1 Timothy 6:17-19, the bible says, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. These verses speak to those whom God has graciously granted financial abundance, not to be proud, nor boast about, or trust in their wealth; rather, they should trust in, and focus on God, and be rich or abound in good works; and in so doing, store up for themselves treasures in heaven. It means that a rich man must first be qualified for heaven, before his benevolence can count. The basis for entering into heaven is not good works, but faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.

Friend, if you are yet to be qualified by God for heaven, you need to go to God now in repentance and in faith in Jesus finished work at Calvary. The bible says in John 1:12, as many as received Him [Jesus Christ], to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on His name. As many asthis is open to anyone who believes on or have put their trust in the salvation of man through Jesus death and resurrection; who also has received or accepted Jesus Christ as their Saviour and Lord, are given a new statussons of God! It is these people who have been qualified, and whose works can be assessed by God for the purpose of eternal reward. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as the only One who saves from a life of sin? Have you accepted His offer of salvation? Are you receptive to the Holy Spirits sanctifying work? If your answer is not in the affirmative on any of these questions, now is the time to accept and receive Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord. Just like Peter was sent to Cornelius, this message is being sent to you. Grab this opportunity with both hands; come to God for that spiritual rebirth which qualifies those so reborn to be called the sons of God; and then, submit to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit; and you will be well on your way to engaging in works that will have eternal reward in heaven!

Let us pray!