Do Good Works Work?
Sermon Wednesday March 26, 2023
Matthew 4:17 17From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
We hear what we want to hear even when we are reading. Most of the time we pay half attention to what we hear and skim over what we are reading. And we sometimes take the time to pay close attention to what is being said and what we hear as we are reading. But that is just sometimes.
We hear the law and pay little attention to it as we are waiting for the gospel. Not that we might want to hear of the forgiveness that God has given us. We seem to take that for granted. But we listen for the gospel because we know that the sermon is over and service is closer to its end.
Our thoughts are more on the rest of the day. We have other things to do, and we liked to get right to them as fast as we can. We act like this is not the Lord’s day, but the Lord’s hour or less if the pastor keeps it short.
You have to hand it to some denominations they worship or spend time with God for more hours than others. We speak of spending quality time with our family. What about quality time with our God? Do we truly understand keeping God’s Day or hour holy? I know you understand what I am saying. But, pastor, could you hurry it along, your hour is just about up and my favorite TV show is on. Do we worship to give glory to God. Or do we come to church because it’s the right thing to do. You who listen in, do you do so because you are paying your homage to me, or do you do it so you don’t have to tithe. Maybe you do it because you are trying to give glory to God.
Revelation 2:1 1“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.
God looks at the churches, then in the past, after Jesus ascended, and even now when Jesus is planning His return. Judgement is coming for each of us, and even for each of the churches. That is, all churches will be judged too.
Revelation 2:2 2“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
Yes, we all have are good points, we know the false apostles, and those who speak kind words to fool us into following them as they claim falsely to speak for God. We know there are many who claim to be Christians and do not follow God but their own agenda. We are good at seeing the bad in people, but are we following Christ when we tattle on each other, gossip, or just complain. Did you take the log out of your own eye yet?
Revelation 2:3–4 3I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Where is the love of God but to show each of us grace and mercy each and every day? We are quick to receive and slow to share the grace of God. Not that we are the guiltiest, but that we are no different than any other church in this world. St. John writes for God a letter to each of the churches and each church has its good and each church is stuck in its bad. I think we churches need God’s grace and mercy too.
This is not about going back to our roots. Our roots are in sin as each church is full of sinners whether they want to admit it or not. The roots we should seek out are the roots of mimicking Jesus and His ministry. Jesus did not minister to the righteous but to the unrighteous. Jesus did not look to find the worthy, but to help make us all worthy as we all fall short. Jesus did not come to condemn but to save. So why do the churches, that is the body of Christ, want to condemn and judge who should be saved and who should not?
Revelation 2:5 5Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Let us not depend on other people’s works but look at our own works. You complain about other people’s works? What are your works? Not for salvation do we do good works, but as a means of giving glory to God. Your good works or that you go to a church does not make you anything. That you give glory to God also does not make you anything except appreciative. That you believe that Jesus Christ is your savior does not make you anything. It is not what we do, but what Jesus Christ has already done, what the Holy Spirit does to and through you and the word of God. it seems to me then, what we do shows our faith thanks and praise to our God who works to save us daily.
Remember it is Jesus Christ and His work on the cross, in the grave, in His dissention, and His resurrection and ascension that makes us worthy of God’s grace and His mercy. So, do not tell yourself that you have not done what you have accused others of doing, or that you are better than those you complain about by complaining about what others do or don’t do. We all fall short of the glory of God. And God, through His love, does not throw us away but continues to save us daily. God is not sending us to hell, but we might send ourselves to hell through continued unbelief.
Revelation 2:6–7 6Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’
This is not a call to be self-righteous, nor a call to work for our salvation. It is a call for each of us to look at ourselves, examine ourselves, and be compelled to give glory to God through our good works. More importantly that we truly believe that the only way we will make it to heaven is Jesus Christ.
Jesus died for us, Jesus died on the cross for us, Jesus suffered for us. Jesus rose from the dead for us, Jesus ascended to heaven for us, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit for us, and Jesus is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house. Not because we deserve it, but because we have a God of love through grace and mercy. Amen.