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?
2 Chronicles 15 & 16
Do Good Works Save You?
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).
Then God was with him as he called the people to repentance and removed his own mother from power because of her idolatry. And God blessed his reign for 35 years. But later he began to decline in his relationship with God. Most likely he quit praying and seeking God. He quit listening to godly counsel and even threw Hanani the seer in prison for giving him God’s message. Instead of trusting in God, he relied on a pagan king to deliver him from trouble.
It seems so foolish from our historical perspective, but we often do the same thing. When we’re in a desperate situation, whether financially or medically or in some other way, we pray and seek the Lord. But when God blesses us with a better financial situation, good health, medical insurance, or greater wisdom and maturity, we start handling things on our own.
It’s not that we shouldn’t take care of our financial responsibilities or utilize our insurance, etc., but our ultimate trust must be in God and not in our ability to “handle things.” It’s no wonder God puts us in desperate situations over and over. For many of us it’s the only time we seek Him.
Open Your Mouth Wide
Verse 10, “… Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” This brings to mind a picture of baby birds. If you have ever watched a nest full of little birds that can’t yet fly, you often see them with their mouths wide open waiting for their mother to feed them. They are completely dependent on her.
God had said in verse 8, “… if you will listen to me!” The next verse commands the people to have no other gods but Him, and yet, we know they turned to false gods again and again. They refused to find their complete fulfillment and satisfaction in Him and Him alone, even though He had promised to “fill them”—to feed and satisfy them completely.
We need to pray like the psalmist in Psalm 90.14, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we might sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Notice finding satisfaction in Him is what leads to true joy and gladness. Yet we constantly drink from broken cisterns and futilely seek satisfaction in everything but God!
Let Your “Yes” be “Yes” and Your “No” Be “No”
Verse 25, “It is a snare for a man to devote rashly something as holy, and afterward to reconsider his vows.”
God takes our promises and vows very seriously, whether made to others or to Him. Let’s be women and men of our word! So often I hear parents make promises to their kids: “We’ll go to the park later” or “I’ll do such and such with you when I’m through.” Then it’s no big deal to just change their minds because they don’t “feel like it.”
Obviously, there are times when we are providentially hindered from doing something we said we would do, but as Jesus told us, “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ ‘no,’ anything else is from the evil one” (Matt. 5.37).
Blessings in the Lord,
Don’t forget to sign up to receive the blogs everyday by clicking the links below:
Sign up to receive the daily “Bible in a Year” posts in your inbox.
This post may contain affiliate links, but I only recommend books and resources that I believe are theologically sound and beneficial to the reader. Thank you for supporting this blog and ministry by supporting my links!