Jesus speaking to the multitude (The Sermon on the Mount), KJV
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:1-8).
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).
I am NOT a major in theology. I am simply, in faith, a student servant, and so I am more than happy and humbled to learn from others. Therefore, I looked deeply at that passage from Matthew brought to my attention in a commentary written by Pastor Mike Taylor, Central Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia.
Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
A jot and a tittle are the smallest scripts in the Hebrew language, which is the dotting of an “I” and the crossing of a “T.” If they will not pass away, even being the smallest part of the written language, God is saying that nothing, nothing of His Word will pass away. Every one of us will be judged according to what scripture says, and you can do what you will with God’s Law, but they stand unmoved. God said, “I am the same today, yesterday, and forever. I change not.” No wonder Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:31, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Make no mistake about trying to follow God’s commandments. Law-keeping will not save you. But many people, from the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, until our so-called “Modern Churches” of religiosity (whether you be Catholic or Protestant), believe otherwise. Salvation is not found in keeping some sort of obedience to your church. It’s not about religion; it is about relationship.
Do you love Jesus? Then you press on trying to do as He asks of you. Will you do it perfectly? Again, NO….even if you fail in one point of the law, then you have broken them all. That is why we need a Savior found in Jesus Christ…but even as Paul said, we press on to a higher calling in Christ Jesus…
“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing” (Philippians 3:14:16).
Even the Apostle Paul admitted that he could not attain the level of righteousness that Jesus had on earth, but he was determined in his spirit to keep pressing on being obedient to the One who saved him and promised him new life in eternity….It is a lifelong process that we will NEVER attain in this life, until Jesus changes us into what He is….spiritual of flesh and bones unable to sin forevermore. (End Quote)
Oh, how I wrestle with my soul as I consciously, amidst heart-wrenching, gut tearing and tears, fight the good fight and fighting, so often fail and fall.
God, Help me in my poverty of spirit as I break myself yet again.
I speak of those bitter times, in the cold watches of night and early hours, when, unbidden (suddenly), a long-buried hurt I did another confronts me.
At eighty, I know that the life-force that sustains my flesh ebbs and flows on borrowed time. And in me now lies a determination that nothing unrepented will lie unanswered between me and my Redeemer God and Savior.
I have made the general confession of repentance and have sought the cross of Salvation through Jesus. But, still, I seem to have this desire to want to ensure that I have truly repented of that which displayed (at the time) an unloving, self-gratifying and self-seeking heart.
And is this another major assault by Satan as he tries to get me to recant or convince me that I can never truly be forgiven?
I am like unto a walled city. The walls are weak and in constant need of repair. In this metaphor, Satan is the ravening army of the Assyrian. He threatens, he cajoles, he insults, he harasses, and when that fails, he presents blandishments of joys still untasted, or more often, old sins of proclivities that previously brought me undone.
Only the full armor of God is capable of protecting me at these times.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
FORGIVEN BY WHOM?
Among those I sorely smote are those who (having passed) now await their own judgment, and it is beyond the power of the living to recompense the dead.
To whom shall I turn?
I seek only the forgiveness of God through Jesus, my redeemer God.
And I continue to pray for the living souls of those whom I (having hurt them so) love, only to hate me. Knowing that they also are in need of a Savior, I forgive them their angst, praying always that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts to Jesus.
Though, like all, I am moved to anger and despair by that which now surrounds us, I have no hate for anyone in particular. However, I have to confess my many flashes of rage, misdirected upon those so hellbent on tearing apart the fabric of decency and familial bonds of our communities.
My ire is misdirected, for I forget that the blind (whom Satan has won) cannot, in fact, ‘see,’ for truly they are lost. It is ‘he’ before whom I must carry this battle until our King comes to subdue him forever.
Only the blood of saving Grace delivers me from the dross of these dark moments as I am reminded that this is a spiritual battle that confronts all believers, 24/7.
Today was such a day: Perhaps I was feeling sorry for myself?
I was feeling sorry for myself.
And so, I found myself watching a number of YouTube clips wherein ordinary folk (doing amazingly loving acts of charity) helped another human being.
Though these efforts might, perchance, be simply ‘good works,’ counted as not one jot or tittle towards our redemption (without having sought/attained the Grace of Jesus), nevertheless, I am reminded of;
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (NIV)
The Holy Spirit is in all of us. He constantly beseeches our souls to not only seek God through Jesus but as humankind, created specifically at the will and for the pleasure of God Himself, to deal then with others ‘as we would have others deal with us.’
And that specifically commences with forgiveness.
For too often, charitable works are commenced from the lofty pinnacle of sanctimonious condescension. Bluntly speaking, we can begin such works thinking that we are actually far above those who would benefit most from our help.
Lazarus, the sore-ridden, homeless invalid, sat at the gate of the rich man. He hoped for anything to ease his lot. He looked, therefore, with anticipation each day as he waited for the owner of the mansion to emerge.
Did the rich man always drop a few coins upon his ragged body as he emerged?
Did he ever stop to inquire as to the plight of Lazarus?
Did he ever stoop to take the hand of this dreg of humanity and offer him comfort? Or, simply, intermittently, throw a few coins in his direction every so often?
The rich man was no ‘good’ Samaritan.
It is clear from the parable that Jesus told, that the rich man well knew the plight of poor Lazarus. We could draw the conclusion that he secretly hoped that someone would drag him away from his own gate through which honored guests might also pass.
Certainly, the rich man displayed little love for his’ neighbor.’
My tears, then, were for my failures — he times when I have been uncharitable in my haste to deal with my own petty woes whilst being lax in my love toward my neighbor (in whatever circumstances I found him).
We see so much of the decadence of this fast-imploding and dying world, with its manifest pot of stirred injustice and hatreds (as it paves the way for the short rule of its satanic master), that we neglect to see the love, kindness and humility amidst those who do take the time to stop and serve.
And I would that they served Jesus knowingly, specifically, when their hearts move them to show love to others.
Yes, God sees these works, but as wonderful (in human terms) as they are, they do not in themselves grant anyone salvation of our sinful souls. Only Jesus is empowered to do this.
Please allow me to repeat this.
‘Only Jesus is empowered to do this!’
Alas (for those who deny), the Word of Scripture, as written us through the gospel of Jesus, is explicit. Though God sees these ‘works,’ without the Grace granted by Jesus, none of us can be saved. Though the world may laud such works, in spiritual terms, they lie valueless.
The Living God, Creator of all mankind, who ‘sees’ all our works, seeks only our redemption through the Grace granted by His Son. Immediately this occurs as we give ourselves in repentance to God through Jesus. Our desire to please Him then becomes paramount within us.
What child does not wish to please his father?
Through the Grace of Jesus, our lives become directed to our ‘need’ to love our neighbor as we love God Himself.
LOVE: LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING. (No, not the song).
In human terms, ‘love’ is best manifested as we see it performed in visible terms.
You can ‘feel’ love toward another, but how will the recipient of your ‘feelings’ know?
On the occasions when the rich man paused slightly to extract a few coins from his purse to ‘bestow’ upon this habitual eyesore at his gate, did Lazarus, in turn, feel that he was the recipient of love or had been granted the slightest acknowledgment of affectionate regard?
WHAT THEN IS CHARITY?
One singular act of loving charity to help fulfill the need of another is an action speaking louder than words. It is ‘love unspeakable that is to be.’
The fulfillment of our promise to God, through Jesus, ‘to love our neighbor as ourselves’ should be (if given in Jesus’ name) a blessing bestowed upon another.
Once given of ourselves to God, through the saving Grace of Jesus, I sincerely believe that in blessing someone else in a meaningful way (to meet his immediate need), we are thereby offering a blessing to the glory of our LORD and God.
The ‘tree of our salvation’ is visibly bearing fruit.
For what profit is our Salvation if, having received it, it bears no fruit?
Clearly then, the Scriptures teach us that works do not buy Salvation. Instead, as the fruit of our Salvation, works are the validation of our faith through which, in essence, we bless His holy name.
Without first the tree of faith is grown (replacing denial), God shows us, through His Word, that there is no visible fruit. Our faith is the lifeblood of this tree from which buds the fruit.
Remember well the reaction of Jesus toward the fig tree that bore no fruit. He cursed it, and it died.
I cannot stress this enough.
Acts of loving charity cannot (as verified by the gospel of Jesus Himself) buy our Salvation.
Only faith in Jesus granted us, as we are washed clean in His precious blood, can accomplish this.
Thereby, Salvation is the ultimate act of charity bestowed upon humankind through our loving and compassionate Father. Works grow out of Salvation; they do not lead to it! They cannot.
In this sense, charity and love are identical terms.
Does God, therefore, not ‘see’ charitable acts that are performed by those who willfully deny Him?
In His awesome omnipotence, God ‘sees’ both good and evil. Whatever value He chooses to place upon our actions is His right, according to His will. I cannot argue in this theater. The earth is the footstool of God, and we the clay of His creation. Who would dare challenge the ‘potter’ Himself in His own workshop!
If by recognition, however, you refer to the granting of Grace, the answer is explicit. We are justified in the eyes of God only through our faith in Jesus, before whom, in brokenness of spirit, we repented and confessed His name.
Our justification, granted as we came to God in Jesus, is itself a sublime ‘good work’ that the Holy Spirit renders upon us. Before that, we were spiritual beggars in the rags of Lazarus; for denial (as an act of our will), is a shredded robe, and it cannot cover our fallen souls nor shield our spirit from judgment.
Therefore, I had to step back and remind myself that the YouTube clips I had watched, wherein was manifest these ‘good works’ of love and charity, may not have been performed by folk who had attained Grace nor ever, in fact, had sought it.
If that was the case, the Word of God reminds us that it is more than certain that they have already received, by the acclamation of the world, (the kudos awarded them in the’ likes’ received by the YouTube clip/or Facebook/Twitter et al.), their reward.
And I validate that claim by reminding myself that in none of the clips showing the ‘doer’ of the ‘good works,’ did he or she appear to give thanks to God or acclaim that they were simply doing the work of our Master and Lord.
That being so, nevertheless, I pray for them as I would for myself. In my heart, I thank them and pray that their hearts might become open to Jesus (the king of ‘good works’ through Salvation) and thus have their ‘good works’ given the status they truly deserve.
I pray also that their names will be written in (what Malachi 3:16 refers to as the ‘Book of Remembrance’ for those who fear God and Jesus) ‘The Book of Life.’
The Psalms also speak of a book of the living: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
Even the tears of men are recorded in this Book of God. “Every one that shall be found written in the book… shall awake… to everlasting life.” This book is probably identical with the “Book of Remembrance” in which are recorded the deeds of those that fear the Lord.
Then, does it follow that, if God judges mankind according to ‘their works’ (speaking specifically of works of denial), that He will also weigh those works of charity and love which, although not done specifically in His name (through Jesus), nevertheless were not performed with a manifest spirit of denial in the doer?
I say this well-knowing that there are many worldly respected and esteemed ‘do-gooders’ out there who would frankly be aghast if you remotely suggested they were attempting to please God. So, obviously, I’m not speaking about them.
No, I’m still speaking about those who are lovingly charitable to others and are so orientated out of love but in unknowing ignorance of the Grace offered by Christ Jesus. And yet, this does beg another question. Can anyone say or claim that, in this age of online literacy, they do not know of the saving Grace offered by Jesus?
Is this what is meant when the Word says that those not found righteous through faith in Jesus (having been justified through faith) will be judged according to the Law?
This question tends to confront me in the Parable of the Good Samaritan.
Dare we draw the conclusion that the Samaritan was found righteous in the eye of God though he knew not Jesus?
The Samaritan displays charitable love toward his smitten neighbor. Does the story, as told by Jesus, indicate that, thus, he is found righteous and is ‘saved’?
I don’t think we can readily draw that conclusion because Jesus has not intimated that outcome.
Nor is it suggested that the Samaritan was drawing on the saving Grace of Jesus, who would have been unknown to him.
Or even that he was a man who ‘walked’ with God (through faith) in the manner of Abraham.
Remember, there was ‘no righteousness’ through the Grace of Jesus Christ prior to at least his official period of ministry. However, the Old Testament is replete with the testimonies of those God did find righteous through faith. That surely goes back to Enoch, Noah, and certainly His faithful servant Abraham.
Jesus, though yet unborn to mankind, was with His Father and part of His Triune nature (Father/Son & Holy Spirit). Grace, thereby, is innate in God as part of His nature, character and, of course, His will.
As we witness through Christ Jesus, our eyes open to the fact that, in His omnipotence, the LORD is awesome, almighty, glory personified, AND can express His will in any way in which He chooses.
Although Jesus told this story as a parable, we have no idea if the incident was fact, drawn from an actual happening known to God. Remember, that the Samaritans of the time of Jesus were those non-Jews who were deliberately planted in Samaria by the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal AFTER God had the 10 Tribes cast out for their evil and refusal to repent.
Unequivocally, we teach our understanding that NO ONE comes to God except through the Grace granted by Jesus; thus, as teachers, we must take the position (perforce the power of that utterance of proclamation by Jesus Himself) that all who come otherwise are deniers and that God will not know them.
In this reference are found about 50 Scriptural references that deal with ‘good works’ and Grace.
I conclude then, that it is by His will that our God (through Jesus) makes the selection of the ‘wheat from the tares.’ For if the Law came through Jesus from the Beginning, then Jesus is the Law.
“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.’ Jesus replied, ‘Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?‘ Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you, I do not speak on My own. Instead, it is the Father dwelling in Me, performing His works.…”
Who then am I that I should be moved to judge whether the ‘good works’ of others should be recognized by God? It is not up to any of us to presume to make such judgment.
God WILL, through Jesus, search out all hearts.
Having shown their love for their neighbor, Jesus, our Savior God (and Him alone), will make the choice as to whom will face the Judgment for denial at the Great White Throne or the Bema Judgment of rewards (for works done in His name) of those found righteous through Jesus.
Upon my own journey, I was justified through faith in Jesus. There are multitudes of people who may never so ‘meet’ with Jesus in their lives, but their lives, like all believers and mine, will be judged.
Those so slavishly ‘taking the knee’ in obeisance to this imploding, dying world might dwell a little on this.