You can’t earn your salvation

“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Gal 2:16)

God’s Word could not be more explicit — works of the law do not provide us with salvation. Right now, if you are working for your salvation, you will never gain it. You will never do enough to make yourself righteous in the sight of God. You can’t because you are infected with sin. You are totally corrupted by sin. Sins mark is on you and you cannot remove it in and of yourself. Sin is like a 500 lb gorilla on your back that you don’t know is there but you are carrying it around. Even if you knew it was there, you could not remove it yourselves.

However, all is not lost. We can experience salvation and release from the bondage of sin. Not through our actions, but through Jesus — the perfect God man — to substitute His Work and perfection for our works and imperfection. By faith in Jesus’ work on our behalf we are saved. We are justified through Jesus’ work. Justified is a legal term that means we are declared righteous before God. It is not that we are actually righteous in and of ourselves, but a declaration of righteousness is pronounced on us through our faith in Jesus’ right action on our part.

If you are struggling to save yourselves, stop struggling because it will never happen. If you are living in anxiety constantly wondering if you have done enough to please God, listen to your anxiety and wonder. It is telling you something. It is telling you that the system you are using for self-salvation is not working. You can’t earn salvation. It is only through faith in Jesus’ work that we are justified.

Are you laboring in vain?

“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Ps 127:1-2)

Are you anxious? Do you lay awake at night worrying? The psalmist reminds us this morning that we should not be anxious. If the Lord wants our project, our church, our (insert what you are fretting over) to work out, it will be successful.

James, one of the apostles, picks up on this idea 1000’s of years later in his letter when he says,

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”- yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)

It is not our will that we seek to do but the Lord’s. It is His will that we should ask He do in our prayer closet (Mt 6:10). We know our God is a good God. He doesn’t desire our harm (Mt 6:25-34). We can and should trust the Lord rather than worrying. What the Lord desires to be built will be built.

In saying we must trust the Lord and that He will build what He desires, we must not believe we are absolved from activity. We must work, putting forth effort, using the talents and gifts the Lord has provided. As we walk step by step each day, we can trust that the Lord will provide for us, as well as He will build, if it be His will.

When, then, if at all possible through prayer and counsel, we need to find what the Lord is doing and join Him in it.

How Should Christians Work? – Part 5

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(5) As Christians, employers must recognize they are ultimately accountable to God

In the second half of verse 1 of chapter 4, Paul says this,

“…knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Col 4:1b)

Just as employees are accountable to God and should work for Him, so should employers. They too have a master in heaven that they are answerable to. Knowing they are accountable to God should drive how they treat and interact with their employees.

Conclusion

So as we have seen, work is a big part of our day and life. We are going to spend at least 62 thousand hours working. As Christians, we can’t separate our church life from our work life. They two have to be one. We have to allow the Bible to influence the way we work.

While we don’t have time in this post to cover all the ways the Bible should influence our work, applying these five ideas are a good start.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you working from a Christian perspective?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

Image

 

How Should Christians Work? – Part 4

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(4) As Christians, we must treat our employees as we would want to be treated 

In the first part of verse 1 of chapter 4, Paul says this:

“Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly…” (Col 4:1a)

Part of treating others as we would want to be treated is for us to treat others fairly, giving them their due. Employers aren’t to rip their employees off. They work for an agreed upon wage and benefits, which should be given in a timely manner.

As well this means you should provide your employees with adequate working conditions. I recently read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. It is about what was happening in the meatpacking industry at the turn of the 20th century. One of the major things Sinclair highlights in the book is the horrible working conditions. Many were required to work in extreme heat and cold without adequate ventilation, light, or drainage. All that was so their employer could make more profits.

While profits are important, they can’t be our only focus. We also have to focus on our employees. We have to give them what they need to do their job and provide for their families.

Treating others as we would want to be treated also means that we don’t motivate with guilt or coercion. We wouldn’t want anyone to do that to us, so we shouldn’t do it to others.

Really when we use guilt or coercion to motivate others, what we show them is that we don’t really care about them, we just care about what we can get out of them, which is no way to treat our employees.

Instead, We are to think of our employees as people, not just worker bees. The people who work for us are just that — people. They aren’t machines assigned to do a task. They are people whom we have hired to work alongside us. They have families, interests, ideas, and feelings. If we are going to be a good employer, we must recognize that and try to cultivate a relationship as time and money allows.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you treat others as you would want to be treated?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

Image

 

How Should Christians Work? – Part 3

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(3) As Christians, our work must be done wholeheartedly

Look at what Paul says in verses 23-25,

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Col 3:23–25)

What Paul tells us here is that we must give the work we do our all. That idea reminds me of a book that Camden had around Christmas time. It was entitled Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. There is a consistent refrain in the book that goes like this: Give it your all; Give it your all; At Christmas we give, so give it your all.

While it is good to teach our kids that they are to give it their all, that is something we have to remember as well. We are to give it our all. We aren’t to slack off. We aren’t to cut corners. We aren’t to do sloppy work as a way to get back at our company. We are to give it our all 100% of the time because we aren’t working for men; we are working for the Lord. So no matter how things are going at work. How the company is treating us. We are to give our all at all times.

We can give it our all no matter the situation because our ultimate reward and inheritance come from the Lord. We can count on God paying us our inheritance, instead of withholding it from us like an employer might do. As well as we can count on God paying the wrongdoer back for the way they have treated us. We, then, don’t have to seek vengeance. Vengeance is the Lord’s.

So no matter the situation, we are to give it our all, working wholeheartedly for the Lord.

Question for Reflection

  1. When you work, do you give it your all?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

Image

 

How Should Christians Work? – Part 2

Work, it’s something we do a lot of. I am not sure if you have ever figured it up, but on a 40 hour work week, you will spend over 2,000 hours a year working. Over 30 years that amounts to roughly 62,000 hours or 2,600 straight days at work. I think it is safe to say that work is a big part of our lives.

Work is also a necessary part of our lives because without work we wouldn’t survive. We have to pay for the place live, the food we eat, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, and the things we do. So work is not only a big part of our lives, it’s a necessity.

Since we work so much, and retirement is far away for most of us, it’s important we have a biblical understanding of work.

How Should Christians Work?

(2) As Christians, our work must be done with a dependence on God 

When we truly depend on God, trusting Him to supply our needs, we don’t have to be people pleasers. We can not only be genuine, but we can also keep our hands clean. We don’t need sketchy side deals to make things happen or take care of our family because we know that the Lord will provide.

Nor do we have to work ourselves to death. When we depend on the Lord, we can enjoy a work-life balance. Which means we can actually take a Sabbath, spend time with our family, and enjoy a vacation.

As well as depending on the Lord means we can pick a career that suits our God-given gifts. A lot of times people don’t do this. Instead, they pick a career based on the money they can potentially make.

That is why I chose sales as a career right out of college. But there was only one problem with the career I had chosen, I wasn’t all that great at it. While I like talking to and meeting new people, I don’t like to impose upon people’s day. As well as I am not all that great at small talk. I do it from time to time because it allows me to get to know people, but I don’t really like it. In sales, you have to do both of those things a lot — you have to impose upon people and you have to be a good small talker.

So while sales promised me the potential to make a lot of money, it didn’t work for me because it didn’t play to my strengths. It didn’t play to my God-given gifts. As you can imagine, I wasn’t really good at it, and I was miserable doing it.

But here is the thing, when we depend on God to meet our needs, we are free to take positions that allow us to use our gifts, even if they aren’t lucrative careers.

As you all know, pastors don’t make a lot of money, but I have to tell you, our family doesn’t want for anything. All our basic needs and more are taken care of. I attribute that 100% to the Lord. He has worked things out in ways that only He could so that we are taken care of and are able to serve Him in the way that He desires.

God taking care of you doesn’t just hold true for pastors, but everyone. I believe if we depend on the Lord, answering His call for our lives, the Lord will provide for us so that we can use the gifts He has given us. Now that doesn’t mean that you are going to be rich, just because you answer the Lord’s call. The gifts the Lord has given you may not amount to a lucrative career. So you might need to rethink your standard of living. But even if a lucrative career isn’t in store for you, I believe you will be happier, and I believe you can count on the Lord to provide for your basic needs.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you depend on God, even when it comes to work?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon How Should We Work from a Christian Perspective?

Image