Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Jesus And Works

So what does Jesus say in regards to works verses faith?

Well I think it would be much easier to list what Jesus says about faith than to list all of the instances that Jesus talks about good deeds. Jesus spoke way more about “works” for the Kingdom than he did faith. This isn’t to say that Jesus didn’t think of faith and belief as important, but I think when the writers of the scriptures wrote something about “believing” in Jesus they meant something a little different than what we mean today.

Take John 3:16 for example. Probably the most recognized verse in the Bible. I have heard this verse interpreted over and over again to mean that unless one “believes rightly” about God’s Son they will spend eternity in Hell. John never mentions hell in his gospel. We (all of us) often read our pre-understandings into scripture when we are interpreting the Bible. I suggest that when we read, “whosoever BELIEVES in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life” that we should have more of a “here and now” mindset and try and forget about the whole heaven and hell thing for a minute.

When Jesus said believe in me, he wasn’t suggesting that someone merely cognitively think the right things about him, but instead was inviting people to trust in His Way of life. The Way turned everything upside down; it was based in Love and was a Way that showed us how to live life and life to the fullest.

In Matthew 7, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who DOES the will of my Father.” In other words, not everyone who merely “believed” in me will enter into the Kingdom, but rather those who actually did God’s will.

So how do verses such as these (and there are many), which deal primarily with works, fit in with our domesticated understanding of the gospel (that by believing the right things we can go to heaven)?

I will continue the conversation tomorrow.

1 comment:

JustinGaynor said...

There is a lot there man...just a couple thoughts:

Works of the Spirit

Works of love and reconciliation, wise stewardship and good order are the natural outworking of faith, the wine or blessing that is the result of the fruits of the Spirit. Now when I say faith, please hear faithfulness/trust ...not disembodied ideological affirmation. There are many examples (Mary, Disciples, etc) who trust and thus act accordingly...with no clue whatsoever how things were to work out or what all this is going to actually look like, much less what it meant theologically. In the words of the great american poet ,Fred Durst; 'life is a lesson, you learn it when your through.' In many cases a lesson for those who come after you, if you are so blessed, because as Isaiah says of the wicked..."They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them."

Paul and 'Works'

The battle that Paul is having with people wanting to be justified by 'works' is NOT people who respond to the gospel by wanting to put forth an effort and DO something as a response to the grace given them. It was submitting to outward physical identifiers related to Judaism (circumcision, etc) in order to be recognized as 'in Christ' or 'God's people'. The question at hand was 'How can we eat at the same table as THOSE PEOPLE...they are not circumcised' so the people were like yeah that's what we need...to which Paul replies....Who has bewitched you?

Regarding John 3:16

“whosoever BELIEVES in Him should not PERISH but have everlasting life” that we should have more of a “here and now” mindset and try and forget about the whole heaven and hell thing for a minute.

Well, the scriptures affirm your point when they say those who do not believe the Way of Jesus is the best possible way to get on with it, those who don't 'come into the Light'...that is, enter into His teaching...take on His yolk (Which BTW you would never do if you didn't affirm who he was, his Name (nature and character)...seriously, crucified Messiah? Resurrection? Ascended King? Nope it takes an act of grace to accept that Gospel...without that grace though...they stand condemned in their own hard hearts and ignorance, enslaved in fear because of pride (They know their deeds are evil and they don't want it exposed for what it is). So they rot where they stand, never receiving the Life of the Ages, eternal life, a life lived in knowledge of YHWY and His Word (John 17) with the hope of glory, New Heavens and New Earth, where righteousness dwells.