The Daily Word of Righteousness

Two Kinds of Works, continued

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, (Colossians 1:10—NIV)

One corollary of the current doctrine that we are in a "state of grace" and our behavior doesn't matter (pure Gnosticism) concerns the word "worthy."

How often do we hear, "I am not worthy but He is worthy!" With this the suppliant rolls his or her eyes, bowing in humility before Christ, perhaps shedding a few tears of self-mortification.

Suppose you as a mother or father have a child. You say to your child, "It is time to go up to bed. We are going to have a busy time tomorrow and I want you to get a good rest."

With this the child bows in humility and says, "O Mother (or Father), you are worthy but I am not worthy. I am so unworthy that I probably will not do what you say but will stay up until midnight watching television. This shows you how unworthy I am, but you are worthy. You are the greatest mother in the world. Behold your unworthy son (or daughter).

"Mother, you were wondering what happened to the cookies you baked? I ate them all. See how unworthy I am? I just wanted everyone to know you were so worthy to bake three dozen cookies, and by not asking you for one and eating all of them your worthiness and my unworthiness can be seen by everyone.

"Dad, you are the most worthy father any boy could have. I am so unworthy I took your rifle and shot the horse next door for target practice. I am so unworthy but you are so worthy. I truly love you, my most worthy Father. In fact, I have told all the kids in school how worthy you are and how unworthy I am."

I can feel my blood pressure rising, particularly the systolic rate. So I better change the subject.

The title of this briefest of essays is "Two Kinds of Works."

Our critic has accused me of trying to add to Christ's righteousness some of my own, to giving only "lip-service" (sic) to justification by faith. This tells me he has not read my material with any degree of comprehension. I know this is true because he has me trying to "bifurcate between" (sic) believers in Heaven, of all places.

In the first place I would never denigrate or bifurcate. Golly Ned! My mother would not even let me use such words in the house. She would wash my mouth out with soap. Secondly, my doctrine is not oriented toward eternal residence in Heaven but toward the resurrection from the dead and doing God's will in His Kingdom on the earth.

So what about works of righteousness? They obviously must fit somewhere because one of the main topics of the entire New Testament is righteous behavior.

There are two kinds of works involved in our discussion. The first kind is composed of efforts we make as an unsaved person to earn salvation. Paul spoke about this a great deal. But Paul was referring to the works of the Law of Moses, such as circumcision, not to our attempts to be fair or truthful.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:2—NIV)

To be continued.