Good Works

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Hi J____,
You ask:
“Are you annoyed with Martin? It kinda comes across like that…”I’m sorry if it came across that way, but the answer is, not in the least. He is exactly where God wants him.
That list of letters will answer your questions. Be sure to read the article I pointed out if you really want to know what God’s word says about good works. You are so right, ‘good works’ mean many things to many people, but what people think are ‘good works’ means nothing at all to God. That is why we are to “try the spirits to see whether they are of God,” and “let God be true and every man a liar.”

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

False prophets bring false doctrines. Those doctrines are the “spirits” we are to try. If my trying ‘Martin’s’ doctrines and calling them false doctrines comes across as being annoyed at ‘Martin’, then there is nothing I can do about that. I must obey God and let the chips fall where they may.

Well, if the scriptures do not define good works then Paul’s admonitions are less than worthless. How can grace “chasten us to forsake ungodliness and live godly lives and be careful to maintain good works” if there is no way of even know what are good works?
But the answer to your question is, if you don’t maintain good works, your works are burned up in something referred to in scripture as a “lake of fire.” That lake is made up of God’s elect who are few in number, hence a ‘lake’ instead of a ‘sea.’ They dwell in that fire comfortably simply because God’s words are in their mouths and burn up their adversaries who withstand His words in their mouths.
Fire is never used in a literal sense in prophecy. It is with one’s own imagination that it is ever otherwise:

1Co 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day [ fiery day of judgment] shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1Co 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [ Judge this world and angels]
1Co 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss [ of judging this world and angels]: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. [ the lake of fire].

Who dwells in that lake? No need to guess:

Isa 33:14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?
Isa 33:15 He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he that despiseth the gain of oppressions, that shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil;

What happens when one “speaks uprightly” and remains faithful to God’s words in the face of “being hated of all men?”

Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.
Mat 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

“Christ’s name’s sake” is His doctrines. And this is what those doctrines do to those who withstand the words and doctrines of Christ:

Jer 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

And what does the New Testament tells us of those who witness to the truth of Christ’s words:

Rev 11:3 And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred [ and] threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
Rev 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
Rev 11:5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.

This fire is no more literal than is the fire of the lake of fire. You do not make God’s word figurative in one part of prophecy and literal in another. Christ told us plainly that His words were to be understood as spirit:

Joh 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

So those who think that grace gives you license to sin, will be judged at the great white throne and be cast into the ‘lake of fire’ to face the judgment that God’s elect are even now enduring as we saw in 1Co 3:16 and as we are told in these verses:

1Pe 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1Pe 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

God’s elect are being tried at this time so that they will not be condemned to the great white throne judgment:

1Pe 4:17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
1Pe 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

We have already been told that the fire “these words in thy mouth” Jer. 5:14, will try every man’s works. So the answer to Peter’s question is “the lake of fire,” where according to Isa 33:14-15, the righteous will judge the hypocrites in Zion, and “every man.”
That is what happens to those who cannot define and do not believe that Paul meant what he said when he told us to “be careful to maintain good works.”
As for your last question “What are good works?” That is not left to our fruitful imaginations either. God’s Word is super clear about what are good works, but it is not what the natural man wants to hear. Here are the words that will judge us all. Here is how we can really know whether we really love either God or our fellow man. Any definition other than this definition of what is the love of our brothers or the love of God is simply not true love:

1Jn 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
1Jn 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

Don’t think you love your brother if you are not willing to die for the words of God, and don’t think you love God if His words are not more precious to you than life. Both the love of brothers and the love of God are one and the same thing, paying close attention to, being careful to maintain good works which are defined as keeping His commandments.
Christ tells us not to bother calling Him Lord, if we will not keep His commandments:

Luk 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

What, on the other hand, becomes of those who “do the things which Christ says?”

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

I hope this answers your questions about what God will do with those who see no need to concern themselves with “being careful to maintain good works,” and I hope that these fiery words help you to see what are good works.
I honestly do not mean to come across as annoyed with anyone. I don’t for one minute believe that Christ was annoyed with anyone when He gave us all these words. But they are His words and they are fire in the mouth of anyone who is given the strength of Christ to remain faithful to these words of Christ, and they will devour any who oppose them, yet ‘they themselves will be saved even so as by ‘fire.’
Your brother in Christ,
Mike

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