Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Where’s the Good Works!

James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Year’s ago, there was an ad by a fast food restaurant where the question was asked, “Where’s the beef?”  The ad implied that other chains did not sell much beef in their hamburgers while this one did.  I have been wondering if the day may come when I stand before the Lord and He asks me, “Where’s the good works?”

The Proof of True Faith
Paul tells us in Galatians 6:10, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  James says that we are to show our faith by our works (James 2:18).  John says, “But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him (1 John 3:17)?”  The Lord Himself says, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. “Matthew 25:40).”

The principle is clear.  If we are Christians we should have a heart of compassion for those who are in need.  If we can help, we should help.  Our priorities are to help family first (see 1 Timothy 5:8), then those who are believers, then we help all.  Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:14 and 15 that the works of Christians will be judged.  Those Christians whose works pass the test will be rewarded and those whose works do not pass the test will suffer loss of reward even though they will be saved personally. 

What are Good Works?
I have always emphasized the truths found in Ephesians 2:8-10.  This passage says we are saved by faith and not by works.  But we are saved unto good works that God has before ordained that we should walk in them.  But what are the good works that God is wanting?  Salvation is a new birth.  A new birth leads to a new life because of the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit.  A new life is seen in these good works.  We often seem to think that good works are good morals and of course that is included.  So we are always glad when those who are in jail, when those who are addicts, when those who have other difficult compulsive issues in their lives, see their lives change through the power of faith in Christ.  We have to recognize however, that things do not always improve dramatically and immediately for those who have habitual sin in their lives.  But the change that we will see is a new conscience about these things and a willingness to confess these things as sin.  But is this the definition of good works in the passages we are considering?

The answer is, “No!”  Good works quite clearly mean that we have compassion for and help one another    When we see a need that we can help meet, we open up our hearts and meet that need.  When we do that we are helping the Lord Himself.

Being Practical About This
Over the years, I have tried to be the best Bible teacher and Gospel Preacher that I know how to be.  I know that not only will my works be judged but my teaching will be judged.  I want to be faithful and balanced.  The unsaved need to be warned and the Christians need to be instructed.  Somehow I have always assumed that I was “doing good.”  And I trust that the Lord has seen it that way.  But if I had it to do over, I would have spent less time preaching to the unsaved and more time trying to help them.  I have not had a lot of resources so I never could do very much.  But I know that when we serve a meal, we could always put one more at the table.  I know that while I can’t feed the world, I can offer a meal to one.  I know that we have a lot of clothes that have gone to Goodwill that maybe could have been given directly to someone who needed them.  My wife and I can’t do much, but I am convinced that we can do something.  While we have tried to do something, perhaps we can do a little more this next year.

If the Lord opens the door to help others this year, I do not want to do it for the reward.  I want to do it for the person.  The reward will take care of itself.  I do not even want to do it for the Lord (please do not quote this out of context).  I want to do it for the person and the Lord says I will be doing it for Him.  I do not intend to do it so that I can preach to those I help.  There are many organizations who do that and I applaud them.  But I want to do what I do because it is the right thing to do.  I believe that if people think we are helping them because they are valuable to us and to the Lord, they will give us opportunity to present the Gospel to them.  Hopefully then, I will never have to hear the Lord ask me, “Where’s the good works?”

Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of December 15, 2013

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