|For last week’s most popular post,
Side note: I got a couple of great private comments on last week’s post on Gay Marriage. I hope if you haven’t read it, you get a look and it serves as a compass for you even after Resurrection Sunday.
Words vs. Deeds…
In the parables of the two sons and the parable of the tenants (Mt. 21), Jesus lays out two examples of men who resist or reject God and His authority either in word or deed, but ultimately, in heart.
- In the first, Son “A” rejects God’s command, but “repents” of his rash words and later obeys his Father’s command with good works. It’s an example of “saving faith”: someone who doesn’t just make an empty confession at an altar call, but with deeds that demonstrate a true faith. Son “B” pays his Father lip service and then doesn’t follow through. Jesus demonstrates that the God of the New Testament is indeed the same God of the Old Testament, who in Isaiah talks of a people who honor Him with their lips but whose hearts are far from Him (see Is. 29.13).
- In the second parable, the tenants factor out God in their “coup de vignoble” (coup of the vineyard), rejecting the Landowner’s messengers and eventually rejecting and murdering His Son.
Here, Jesus tells the religious people of the day that two kinds of people are in danger of missing out on inheritance in the Kingdom of God:
- People whose hearts spring up empty words. (Mouths that write checks their actions can’t cash.)
- Those who do good things motivated by hearts not surrendered to God. Implied here is that a broken clock is right twice a day – still a wicked heart… I mean, clock.
Throughout scripture, God makes His three desires for us clear
- A surrendered heart that bears good fruit. Obedience is greater in His eyes than sacrifice. Sacrifice can often be a half measure – while it costs something, it doesn’t cost any of ourselves and can be done without full surrender to God. See 1 Sam. 15:22.
- A surrendered heart that bears good fruit. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! (James 1:22 MSG)”
- A surrendered heart that bears good fruit. “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. (Mt. 21:43)
Think on These Things?
- Where are the places you know God is calling you to obedience but your words are not matching your deeds?
- Is there a word, a commitment, a promise you’ve made that you just don’t “feel” like doing right now?
- How can these be reconciled to the words of the Lord written above?
Ask the Lord: “Please, reveal to me anywhere I’m just ‘doing good works’ out of my own strength rather than in obedience to Your call.”
- Lastly, is there obedience You are calling me to that goes beyond mere sacrifice of my stuff to sacrifice of myself? Where am I taking the easy way out?
This weekend, we celebrated the Resurrection. It is an event like no other: the linchpin of history where the Old Testament promises are fulfilled and the most important legal transaction in history was signed in the blood of the Lamb. This sacrifice required the full surrender of Christ to the will of the Father. To be “in” on the “us” side of this transaction, we must surrender fully, not just our stuff, but ourselves.
The Gospel is not about a bunch of important rules that we are to live by. It’s never been about good deeds and it never will be. It’s about surrender of the heart that’s so complete that good deeds naturally result. The great news is, whether you’re “saved” or not, the Gospel is for you. Sometimes in making a correct distinction between “salvation” and “sanctification” we err on the side of thinking “I’m in with God… Now, I can get back to work.” Paul made it clear to the church in Galatia that this is not the case. We are saved by grace… but we are also kept by grace.