January 17, 2007

Works Because Of Faith

This is the hotly contested issue surrounding the DO (doctrinal organization/church of today) in the world today when measuring the doctrines they have, versus a Grace based "Servant" belief. They point out, and rightly so, that being a "Christian" there are things that you must do to enter the Kingdom Of God.(KOG) The proof of this is in Matthew 25 verses 31 through 46. This is where is describes Jesus judgement of all men. Please read it at this point from whatever version of bible that you choose to use. It describes Jesus separating the Goats from the Sheep. There is a lot of significance if that. Goats were put among the sheep to protect them because they were headstrong and would not follow easily, and would attack things that they did not like around them. This is why they were kept with the sheep. This is the perfect analogy for the Servant based belief system versus the DO works based belief system. The servant based belief system says that we follow God where ever he leads, just like sheep will. The goats will not follow as they should. They will believe that what they are doing is the correct thing and God will see that what they do, will show how they feel, and how deep their faith in Jesus runs. Either way, Jesus is judging the actions that we have taken in our lives, and determining whether they are "works guided by the Holy Spirit (HS) or guided by our own desires and beliefs. Now that the set up is over, let's get to it.

I have spoken of Core Beliefs in other posts, and these go to the heart of the matter in obedience to God. Not once, have I ever heard of any DO anywhere, explaining why, when the sheep look at God and say, "When did we feed, cloth, take you in, or give you drink?" To me, this is the most important part of the WHOLE parable. The why, is that they did not know they were doing it. You say "How is it possible not to know you are doing those things?" Because of Core Beliefs. What CBs do is cause you to act automatically, and without thought. When a situation arises that needs immediate reaction, CBs take over, and you act according to what you believe. For example, you find yourself in a situation with a person that looks likely to beat you up almost immediately. Based on CBs, you can choose to do certain things. If you do not believe in violence, you may try to reason, or find a way out of the situation. If you believe that what the person is upset about important enough not to back down, you may stand your ground and prepare to fight. Or you believe yourself to be stronger than the other person and attack. Same situation, and three very different responses. But, not uncommon responses, only unconscious reactions. This is why people do not know that they help the least of these. Because they do it without thinking about it, since it is no big deal, they do not remember it. That is what being a servant of God is all about. Following like a sheep, no questions, no doubts, no worries, no what about me's, no HESITATION. Just OBEDIENCE. Obedience so ingrained, that you do not even notice when you are doing it. This is going to sound crude, but it gets the point across. Do you remember the details of wiping your butt two weeks ago? It is something that to most of us is important. It is something that I truly believe is a good thing. Something I do everyday, well pretty much everyday. But it does not leave a lasting impression on me. It is a learned behavior, one that I had to be taught. One that I believed important enough to continue my whole life. It is a Core Belief of mine, and I always act upon it, even though it does not leave an impression. Were our beliefs in God as strong as our belief in wiping our own butts, the world would truly be a better place. Sorry, stray thought. But powerful none the less.

Now to the DOs versions of works. This is where the Goats say, "But Lord, I did visit the least of these in prison, gave them food, and took them in!" "ON December 17th, 2003 our church group went to the prison for a visit. On Thanksgiving the next year, we volunteered in a soup kitchen. For Easter Seals we formed up a clothing drive every year." Listing the good works they had done on and on. Why now would these things be remembered. Because they were out of the ordinary. They stood out. They were not the norm. It was something that the person had to tell themselves that, "Hey, this is what Jesus says we should do, so I am going to make myself do it to show Jesus that I am good enough for heaven." So they teach Sunday School, even though they really do not like doing it. They do daily devotions, so they can talk about what they have read in church later that week. They can spout of all of the things they do to make sure Jesus is happy with them. But it is not automatic, it is not a core belief, and it does not please the one that gave Jesus the authority to be the Judge. God. God gave the Holy Spirit to each and every one of us, to help us discern his will for us. When we listen to what the DOs tell us to do to get Jesus notice and approval, we have already lost the battle. Because we are not to listen to what the DO told us to do, we are supposed to listen to what God tells us to do through the Holy Spirit.

That is why the Goats are in with the Sheep in the story. I believe the story is about the "church". The Goats and the Sheep the different people in the church, and what God thinks about them. Most people remember Dana Carvey's character the Church Lady. Anyone who has been in a DO very long, knows people like the church lady. They are definitely the Goats. And there are many who are. But the only reassuring thing is Grace. Jesus will be able to see through the why of the act, and get to the intent of the act. Was it to show Jesus you are good enough for him? Or was it because the belief was so strong, you did it with out conscious thought, and just obeyed God. Jesus will judge, with God's authority behind him, how well you listened to the Holy Spirit.

The works that bear fruit come because of listening to the Holy Spirit. The works come because they are born of Faith that created the Core Beliefs that guide everyday actions. The works come because, you can not stop them. But no person on the planet, PERIOD, can tell you what the mind of GOD is expecting of you. NO ONE. Not you Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, or Reverend can tell you what God wants you to do. Why, because only God knows his plan for you, and only the Holy Spirit can tell it to you. No one else can, PERIOD, END OF STORY.


Wendy ftfs said...

Cool :-)

jON said...

but what a difficult state of affairs. how are we to recognize one another? how are we to know who is holy and who is not if it is not done through a show of agreed upon external actions in front of other people for them to witness? and if not witnessed, to brag about later?

of course i jest with thick sarcasm that is completely lost in print, but this is an important theme you have hit upon. and it can be at once completely disarming and confusing and fightening when you are indeed tapped by the living god. because he tends to ask things of you that don't stand up well when stacked against "the code". (my term for the list of man made beliefs and actions that show your dedication to christianity. "the moral code", or simply, "the code.")

it took me a lot of pain and a long while before i learned that no one else, not even my closest and most trusted mentors in faith can have a real idea of what god wants me to do. they can only counsel. but that is where it should stop. i now feel that no one else should presume to judge, or outright tell a person that they know FOR A FACT that they are heading down the wrong road. and thereby causing a person who trusts them into disobeying god and potentially blaspheming the holy spirit.

hey... this kind of ties in real good with the 3rd chapter in james. funny how it all works out like that...

Nate said...

Maybe I should start reading James. Or, just continue writing what God lays on my heart. It appears to follow the Study that you have set up. I am just glad that people are understanding what I write. That is my main concern.

Erin said...

Hey Nate - followed your link you posted on Heather's blog today - so I'm late to this one.

But I was thinking: the difference really is simple - are we doing works so God will see us doing works and "know" we are serving Him and be pleased with us, or are we doing these things because the love of Jesus is so deep in us that we can't stand to see another person suffer if we can help it?

Anyhow, you made me think. Thanks.

Happy said...

Ditto - thanks, Nate.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for leaving me the link, Nate.

As far as what I think - I agree wholeheartedly. It's exactly what I believe, you just put it so clearly. Thanks. :-)

Mike said...

Nate ~ I followed the link here from Heather's birthday blog and I gotta tell you, I never actually thought of it this way but I think that you are absolutely right.

Delirious said...

I think my view of "works" is much different. I don't look at works as being good deeds. I look at works as being whether or not we live the commandments, and are repenting if we err.

The kinds of works you were talking about, doing good deeds, is a little different in my mind. I agree, that those types of works should be a natural expression of who we are becoming as Christians. Jesus taught, "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.". Matt. 6:3,4 Those kinds of works should definitely be unconscious acts, an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior. They should be done without any expectation of reward, or acknowledgement. He taught a higher way of living. Like you said, we live righteously because we believe it, not to be seen by others.

But to use your wiping the butt analogy...lol.... We must be taught in the first place. That behavior was taught to us by our mothers while potty training. Jesus has taught us what to do. He gave us the commandments. I recently put a poll on my blog asking whether or not people feel they are too hard to keep. Most people said no, but a few said yes. I don't think it's too hard not to kill, or not to steal, or not to commit adultery, or to not disobey any of the other commandments. I do think it is harder for those who aren't, as you pointed out, in the flock. If they aren't listening to the Good Shepherd, and being nourished by Him, they might find it harder to live the way they know they should. I think the commandments were given for the weakest of us. If we all were totally spiritually in tune with God, we would all know by instinct not to do those things. We would instinctively honor our parents, and observe the Sabbath. We would, as you pointed out, love God with all our heart, and our neighbor like ourselves, and all of the other commandments would simply be an extension of those feelings. But unfortunately, there are many who need it spelled out. The Israelites certainly did. In fact, Moses first came with a different set of commandments, but when he saw the state the people were in when he came down from the mountain, he broke those tablets and went back and got the ten commandments as we know them. I wonder what was on that first set of tablets. It could very well be that it was something far more simple such as "Love one another as I have loved you". That would be enough if we truly lived it. But the children of Israel were stiff necked, and needed more instruction. I think many of us today need the spelled out version as well.