Are Works Essential?

Revelation 3:14-16 ESV

“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’”

Do our works matter now that we are believing in Jesus Christ to be Lord and Savior of our lives? Some people say “No.” Others say “Yes.” Certainly, we are not saved by our works done in the flesh. That is a given.

But what about works done in the Spirit which God prepared in advance for us to do (that we should walk in them)? (Eph 2:10) Do they count for us or against us? And/or do the works of the flesh count for or against us once we are believing in Jesus for our salvation from sin? Yes or No?

And, what about what it says here in this passage of Scripture? It sounds like our works matter a whole lot, and that they can indeed count against us.
So, what do the Scriptures teach regarding works and the part they play in our walks of faith in Jesus Christ?

We are to always be abounding in the work of the Lord, for our labor is not in vain. Our faith working through love counts for eternity. If we make sin (works of the flesh) our practice, it results in death, not life. And, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Gal 5:6, 19-24; Eph 2:10).

We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work. If we cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable, we will be ready for every good work. Jesus redeemed us from all lawlessness so that we would be his possession, zealous for good works. We are to devote ourselves to good works (Phil 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Tim 2:21; Tit 2:14).

So, if we don’t do the works God prepared in advance for us to do, but we become lazy, apathetic, and unconcerned with whether or not we are doing the works of the Lord, or we are convinced that we don’t have to do anything, can that impact our eternal salvation? Yes! (Gal. 5:16-21; Gal. 6:7-8; Rom. 2:6-8; 2 Co. 5:10; Rom. 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; 1 Jn 1:5-9).

“So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Jas 2:17

Revelation 3:17-18 ESV

“’For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.’”

We are not to lay up for ourselves treasures on this earth, which are not just physical things, but anything which brings comfort or pleasure to our flesh such as sinful pleasures and worldliness. We are not to hold them close to our hearts to where they become our gods or our prize in place of our relationship with Jesus or in place of love for others (Ref: Matt 6:19-21).

But we are to lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. So, what would those be? Would they not be the works which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them? Would they not be such things as holiness, righteousness, godliness, kindness, and obedience, etc.? For, where our treasure is, so is our heart – either for the flesh and the things of this world, or for Christ and his holiness and righteousness.

Revelation 3:19-22 ESV

“’Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

So, why do they need to repent? If we are saved from our sins and bound for heaven based on a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, and a belief that we are believing that God raised him from the dead (Rom 10:9-10), then why the call to repent? It is because their/our works do matter for eternity.

Again, we are not saved by our own works done in our flesh thinking that we can gain God’s approval or that we can earn our own salvation. We can’t. But faith in Jesus Christ is not absent of works, which are works of the Spirit, done in the power and working of the Spirit in our lives.

The works we do in the Spirit are evidence that we are indeed in the Spirit and that we are in genuine faith in Jesus Christ. This is taught all throughout the New Testament. You can’t miss it unless you intentionally skip over those passages, which are many. Love for God is to obey him. If we do not obey him, we don’t know him, and we don’t love him (1 Jn. 2:3-6).

So, this is the thing here. We aren’t saved from our sins and bound for heaven based on lip service only. And, true belief in Jesus is God-given and God-persuaded, and thus it submits to Christ as Lord. And, the believer leaves his life of sin behind him to follow Jesus in obedience to his ways (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Lu 9:23-26).

So, what we do matters for eternity. If we continue living in sin, we will die in our sin. If we walk (live) according to the Spirit of God, in obedience to his commands, then we have eternal life with God (Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 2 Co 5:10; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9).

So, if you think you are “good to go” because you have “believed” in Jesus to be your Lord and Savior, but you are still living to please the flesh, thinking your actions don’t matter for eternity, then think again. God will spit you out of his mouth! He will deny those who deny him by their lifestyles.

We must repent (turn from our sins) and turn to the Lord in walks of obedience to his commands if we want to be assured eternal life with God and salvation from our sins. And, not just once, but this must be our lifestyle, and we must continue in obedience to our Lord until he returns. And, if we do, then when he returns, we will go to be with him for eternity.

On Zion’s Glorious Summit

By John Kent

On Zion’s glorious summit stood
A numerous host redeemed by blood!
They hymned their king in strains divine;
I heard the song and strove to join,
I heard the song and strove to join.

Here all who suffered sword or flame
For truth, or Jesus’ lovely name,
Shout victory now and hail the Lamb,
And bow before the great I AM,
And bow before the great I AM.

While everlasting ages roll,
Eternal love shall feast their soul,
And scenes of bliss, forever new,
Rise in succession to their view,
Rise in succession to their view.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Who like me Thy praise should sing,
O Almighty King!
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of hosts, on high adored!
Holy, holy, holy.

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