If Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world—and He is—then we must understand that we are not saved by our own good works.No matter how good we are, we simply can never be good enough to save ourselves.It comes down to our understanding of an important theological term.My former seminary professor, Dr. R.C.Sproul, explained it this way:
The root of sin is pride and enmity against God, the spirit seen in Adam’s first transgression, and sinful acts always have behind them thoughts and desires that one way or another express the willful opposition of the fallen heart to God’s claims on our lives . . .
“Original sin,” meaning sin derived from our origin, is not a biblical phrase (it comes from Augustine), but it does bring into focus the reality of sin in our spiritual system. Original sin does not mean that sin belongs to human nature as such; “God made man upright” (Ecclesiastes 7:29). Nor does it mean that the processes of reproduction and birth are sinful…Rather, “original sin” means that sinfulness marks everyone from birth, in the form of a heart inclined toward sin, prior to any actual sins; this inner sinfulness is the root and source of all actual sins; it is transmitted to us from Adam, our first representative before God. The doctrine of original sin makes the point that we are not sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners, born with a nature enslaved to sin.
If we have not placed our trust in Christ’s atoning work on our behalf, it is impossible to please God and earn His favor. Our sin-filled condition, which we inherited from Adam, makes it impossible for us to stand before a holy God.As Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome, “All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12). In short, we are born under a sentence of eternal death; we desperately need a Savior, and His name is Jesus Christ.
Once we settle the issue that we have not been saved by our good works, we must understand that we have been saved to good works.To be sure, God does not need our good works, but our neighbor does.Our good works put our good God on display to the watching world. They give those who are not believers an accurate picture of thegracious God who loved the world so much He sent His Son to save all those would believe in Him (John 3:16).
You know what has happened throughout Judea . . . how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good. (Acts 10:37a, 38)
Jesus “went around doing good,” and most often it was to those who were, in the eyes of sophisticated society, bad—really bad.Jesus did good to prostitutes, Samaritans, and even tax collectors, who were perhaps the most despised of all Jews, being seen as mercenary traitors to their people.Jesus did good to the sick, the broken, and the marginalized.And, as His image bearers, we too should be going around and doing good.
So . . . how would you rate yourself in the area of doing good?How would those closest to you answer that question?In God’s infinite wisdom, we have been saved—not by our good worksbut to do good works.
Let me close today’s encouragement with a marvelous exhortation from John Wesley:
Do all the good you can.By all the means you can. In all the ways you can.In all the places you can.At all the times you can.To all the people you can.As long as ever you can.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!