The discarding of the doctrine of Christ and picking out those phrases from the Apostles writings, taking it out of context, modifying it and creating a new doctrine of faith without works, has to be one of the more serious forms of apostasy in the Christian church. James said that faith without works is dead. The points which follow are some of the objections that Christians on this site have expressed for NOT following after righteousness and good works as a requirement for eternal life:
1. Righteousness/Good Works is Filthy Rags - Taken out of context from Isaiah 64. What Isaiah said is that our righteousness is filthy rags when compared to the great rewards which God has in store for the faithful. In no way was he suggesting that it is pointless to pursue righteousness and good works.
2. You cannot earn your salvation. No you cannot. You can live as righteously as you possibly can so that Christ the righteous judge will reward you accordingly. Again good works and obedience to Christ, is the criteria by which all will be judged [too many references to support that]
3. I dont know how much works is enough There is no need to know how much. A life in Christ means that you have changed from your previous sinful, worldly and selfish ways and have now become charitable, loving and giving to those less fortunate. There is no precedent in the Bible listing how much of anything we need to do except to say that it should last a lifetime. Its like Peter asking Christ how many times ..
...shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22 KJV)
The lesson is as long as you are alive you serve Christ with good works .. charity, love, forgiving those who offend you etc.
4. I want to be like the thief on the cross. - the good thief on the cross served Christ for the couple hours he lived. He repented, he accepted Christ and then he died. Whether you live for 2 hrs or 100 yrs you must follow after Christ.
5. I want to live by Faith and not do any works. The Bible says the 'just' shall live by faith. The just are those who pursue a life of righteousness and obedience to God, and this includes good works, love and charity. So to live by faith you have to be just as well.
6. I cannot help ALL the people so I might as well not help any. The genuis who came up with this excuse for not helping the poor and needy deserves a medal, but probably does not deserve eternal life. Note that in all of the examples of Christ, the righteous helped those around them, those in their pathway, those on their doorstep. There is no need to go searching for these people.
7. We are saved by Grace not works. This fact cannot nullify the significance of good works as the main criteria by which all men would be judged. The grace of God which is the free gift of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ does applies to ALL. ALL men have benefited from this free gift as it paid the ransom for the sin of Adam, and it now gives sinful and fallen man a chance to get eternal life. But all would not benefit as all would be judged by their works and rewarded accordingly.
What Christ actually preached is a very simple doctrine about love and obedience to God ie righteousness and holiness as requirements for entry into His Kingdom. He always identified two groups. Those who obeyed and those who do not.
- Sheep and Goats [Matt 25]
- The Wise and Foolish [Matt 25]
- House on Rock v House on Sand [Matt 7]
- The Obedient and the Disobedient [Matt 21]
- The Saved and the Damned [Mar 16]
There is no in-between group according to Christ. In all cases and there are no exceptions, one group gets eternal life and the other gets destruction. And in all cases there are specific requirements that place you in one group or the other.
There are very plain questions asked "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?' and the answers from Christ are equally plain and clear .. love God and love your neighbour as yourself ..
- The Good Samaritan which contained a good man from an outcast group, two arrogant men from the elite Jews. The man from the group considered inferior was the one who will get eternal life and others clearly could not qualify.
- The Rich Man and Lazarus story in which a rich man refused to help a poor man on his doorstep. The rich went into torment after his death and the poor went to a place of rest and peace.
Don't be fooled by pastors, preachers and writers eloquence. No fancy analytical skills, no re-interpretation by the educated Bible scholars, no amount of eloquent speeches, no detailed analysis of the Bible teachings .. none of those are required for a proper understanding of what can I do to get into Gods kingdom.
The important question to ask ourselves is "Am I the kind of person Christ would welcome into His kingdom?" The answer from Christ is pretty simple.