RIGHTEOUSNESS AND GOOD WORKS
What the Bible teaches is always in balance. Without the righteousness of Jesus which covers and replaces our unrighteousness, we have no standing before God. As our substitute, Jesus died for us as though He were unrighteous, and gave us His righteousness as a gift of mercy. This is the only way to find acceptance with God.
God made Him, who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5: 21)
But there is another side to it. James put it this way:
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2: 14-17)
We may revel in the righteousness which God has given to us as a free gift of His grace and which makes us acceptable to Him but, without responding in gratitude by doing the right thing for others, it means nothing.
The heart of the kingdom then, as far as daily living is concerned, is showing mercy to someone in need whenever and wherever we can because God has shown mercy to us. This is the way God rules in His world.
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be is summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Love does no harm to his neighbour. Therefore, love is the fulfilment of the law. (Rom. 13: 8-10)
God’s kingdom comes whenever and wherever we show mercy to others. It is possible for us to be merciful now because our selfish, greedy selves have been put to death by the death of Jesus. We have been raised with Him to a new life of gratitude and obedience to Him for His mercy and unselfish love for others, shown by our compassion towards them. If not, our faith is empty, useless and invalid – bottom line.
Jesus had something to say to people who claimed to know Him by their so-called “spiritual gifts” but, like the Pharisees, used them for the wrong reasons,
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ (Matt. 7: 21-23)
The kingdom of God is much more than a doctrine to be understood. It is a life to be lived and a reality to be experienced. Of what value is it if we can navigate our way through the intricacies of the kingdom with clarity and accuracy in our understanding but still live as though we are citizens of this world?
Like our rabbi who blazed the trail, the kingdom of God only comes to life among us when we practise its values in the midst of this world’s darkness. Jesus showed us what God’s kingdom will look like when it is finally ushered in in its fullness. There will be no sickness or sorrow, no demons or dying. All sin will be put away forever and God’s family will live in union with Him and with one another in perfect harmony.
Until then, we experience the kingdom only in part. Ours is the task of being heralds of the kingdom and bearers of the good news, demonstrating what the kingdom is like by reflecting the disposition of our Master and by replicating His love and compassion towards all people, and showing that the kingdom is real and is coming in its fullness when Jesus returns.
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
Do you like this post? Then buy your own copy of my book, Learning to be a Disciple, which is also available from www.amazon.com or www.takealot.com in South Africa. You can also order a copy directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com
Watch this space!
My latest book, The Heartbeat of Holiness, will also soon be available.