How many times have we heard that all we need to do to be saved is to accept Jesus and that our works are filthy rags? It’s countless, isn’t it? But let’s take a look at some verses that don’t mesh with that doctrine.
For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. 1 Peter 4:17-19
I really like Peter. He’s a blue-collar kind of guy who has made his share of mistakes. He even had the privilege of being rebuked by Yeshua in person. Peter doesn’t mince words, either, as his sermon on the Pentecost when the Spirit came is very short and very direct. No beating around the bush with this guy, nope. And he says some stuff here that is pretty difficult for a lot of Christian denominations to reconcile.
The first is that the household of God is being judged. Most folks are taught that believers are not judged at all! The second is that it is outright hard for the righteous to be saved. Que the “needle scratching the LP” noise; I thought there were none righteous? How can this be? Peter is telling us that not only are we judged but that even righteous people, those who live properly and fear Yahweh, still have to strive to be saved. Those are some sobering words right there.
Next up is James the brother of Yeshua.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. James 2:10-17
James clearly states here that faith without works is death. Permanent death, not the temporary first death we all experience. He starts off by saying whoever keeps the whole law and stumbles is guilty, which sounds like keeping the law is somehow obsolete, but he goes on to explain that pure faith without works is nothing. If we keep reading, we see that even the demons have faith. They know they were created and by whom. They know who Yeshua is, too. But their works condemn them, just like it will a great many on the great and terrible day of the Lord.
Now what about Paul? What does he have to say about works? He is, after all, the one who supposedly told us that Torah is obsolete and those bothersome Old Testament rules are obsolete, right?
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Phi 3: 8-14
Even Paul writes that he had to strive for salvation, working towards a goal and forgetting what was behind him. Yes, this is shocking information!
Yes, brothers and sisters, we have to strive every day to achieve a better resurrection. We have been called out of the world and have to work to keep ourselves out. We have to constantly fight temptation and grow in knowledge. That growth tends to condemn us, as the more we learn, the more we are liable for. So let’s all strive together, encouraging one another, as we focus on the goal of Yeshua the Messiah!