“Do Good Works Save You?” July 10

 

Do Good Works Save You? - What makes someone a Christian? Do Good Works Save us?

Is our salvation based on taking certain sacraments or belonging to the right church? Is it based on living a godly life or doing good deeds? Does God have a divine scale where He’s weighing our good deeds versus our bad ones? Or is salvation based on something else?

 

Today’s Readings:
2 Chronicles 15 & 16
Psalm 81.1-10
Proverbs 20.24-25
Acts 16.1-21

 

Do Good Works Save You?

 

Acts 16.1-21:

What Part Do “Good Deeds” Play?

 

Chapters 15 & 16 record two situations concerning circumcision. The Scripture makes it clear that there was no requirement to be circumcised. But here in chapter 16 Paul had Timothy circumcised, not because it was necessary for Timothy, but so it did not become a stumbling block and shut the door on ministry to the Jews they were trying to evangelize.

In another situation, there was a disagreement over eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul said that though there was no harm in doing it (it was just meat!), he would rather never eat meat again if it made his brother stumble (1 Cor. 8.13).

But in chapter 15, the Judaizers were adding something to the gospel. They were “unsettling” the faith of the gentile believers by telling them they couldn’t be saved if they didn’t meet the requirements of the law.

 

Works of Righteousness

 

There are no “works of righteousness” which can in any way contribute to salvation. Paul said in Ephesians:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2.8-9).

We are not saved through rituals, whether baptism or communion or any other sacrament. Neither are we saved through good works, religious service, or church attendance. Rather, we should have a desire to do those things because we are saved (Eph. 2.10). Good deeds are the fruit of repentance and genuine salvation, not the cause.

If you’re not sure about your salvation, I have a number of posts on the subject, but I would also be happy to answer your questions. Just add them to the comments section below. If you would prefer that I answer by email and not publish your questions (they don’t show up until I approve them), just let me know. If you have made a profession of faith in Christ, but struggle with that assurance, you might read this post.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

2 Chronicles 15 & 16:

The Only Time We Seek Him

 

As we saw yesterday God had done wondrous things through Asa as he worshiped and trusted in Him. After a great military victory over the Ethiopians, God sent the prophet Azariah to encourage him. His prophecy ended with these words, “… be strong and do not let your hands be weak, for your work shall be rewarded!” (2 Chron. 15.7).  Continue reading

“Is this all there is?” June 27

 

Is this all there is? - We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of "toys," and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, "Is this all there is?"We live in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, instead of finding satisfaction, we often find ourselves asking, “Is this all there is?”

 

Today’s Readings:
1 Chronicles 17 & 18
Psalm 78.17-25
Proverbs 19.25-26
Acts 8.1-25

 

Is this all there is?

 

Finding Satisfaction & Contentment in Him

Psalm 78.17-25:

 

In this portion of the psalm, the psalmist talks of the people’s dissatisfaction with God’s provision. It’s easy to point our fingers and shake our heads when we read passages like this, but how like us they were!

Proverbs 27.20 says, “Hell and Destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

We are living in one of the most blessed and prosperous nations in the world. Even those of us living relatively modest lives are abundantly blessed compared to many other nations, and yet, it is so easy to look around and want more, to look around and say “why does God seem to be blessing her and not me.” Or “if only I had such and such” life would be so much better.

We have every kind of entertainment, all kinds of “toys,” and yet, we are easily bored. “Is this all there is?” has been the theme of numerous books, movies and songs.

Psalm 90.14 in the American Standard Version says:

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”

We need to pray regularly that our hearts will be satisfied in God, the only true source of satisfaction, and not look to the world for it!

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

His Hand Holds the Future

1 Chronicles 17 & 18:

 

The chronicler continues to recount the story of David’s reign. In today’s reading he emphasizes God’s promise to David that his son would sit on the throne after him. It had a near application in Solomon and a messianic application, as well.

Notice David’s response to all of this in chapter 17:  Continue reading

“Heroes, Culture & Your Treasure” August 26

 

Heroes, Culture & Your Treasure - Where is your treasure? Before you answer ... Who are your heroes? What do you enjoy reading more—your Bible or People magazine? On what game show would you do better—The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? What does all that say about where your heart or, as Jesus said, where your treasure is?Who captivates your attention? What do you spend your time reading? On what kind of game show would you want to compete? What do the answers to those questions have to do with where you have put  your treasure? Before you answer … you might want to read today’s post!

 

Today’s Readings:
Ecclesiastes 1 & 2
Psalm 102.1-11
Proverbs 24.1-2
1 Corinthians 7.20-40

 

Heroes, Culture & Your Treasure

 

Proverbs 24.1-2:

Where is your treasure?

 

Verse 1, “Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them.”

Perhaps your first thought was like mine, “I don’t hang out with evil people.” I go to church and hang out with my Christian friends. I don’t go out drinking. I try to avoid gossip. In fact, the list of ways I obey God might be long in my mind.

But just as we learn and grow from the good influence of mature believers, even those who have already gone to be with the Lord, by reading their books and watching or listening to them through all kinds of media … so we can be influenced by ungodly people.

People MagWho captivates your attention? Is it Hollywood celebrities or committed Christians? Do you spend more time reading your Bible, Christian biographies and other Christian books … or People magazine and the hottest new novel? Would you do better at The American Bible Challenge or a pop culture version? Do you know more about Kate Middleton, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Katy Perry … or the Apostle Paul, Susanna Wesley and Charles Spurgeon?

Jesus said, “… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6.21).

What do your answers say about where your treasure is?

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Ecclesiastes 1 & 2:

Finding Satisfaction in the Daily Activities of Life

 

Solomon most likely wrote this book during the later years of his life after he had squandered much of his energy on earthly pursuits. He wrote this book to others, especially young people, to warn them about the futility of trying to find happiness in the things of this world. As he points out the “vanity” of such pursuits, he shares many nuggets of wisdom.

In chapters 1 and 2 he warns that even wisdom for wisdom’s sake is vanity, as are seeking after pleasure, building projects, and accumulating possessions. He tried and failed to find satisfaction in power, great wealth, and fame. Work for work sake didn’t bring satisfaction either. In fact, he came to realize that all his accomplishments meant nothing in light of eternity. Everything he accumulated here on earth would someday be left to others.

In the midst of all this we read this nugget:

“Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God” (2.24).

Instead of seeking satisfaction in success, wealth, power, and other pursuits, we should learn to find satisfaction in the daily activities of life.

 

Psalm 102.1-11:

Living by Feelings

 

Here in the first part of this psalm the writer focuses almost entirely on his feelings. When he did, he felt as if God had abandoned him. The same can happen to us.  Continue reading