"I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet, I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did first." (Revelations 2:2-4)
Here is a man who outwardly is a Christian through and through. He had a lot of points credited to him because of this good deeds, hard work and perseverance in the midst of persecutions. He knew his doctrines such that he was able to uncover false teachers. He suffers in the name of the Lord and continues to bear the brunt of sufferings without complaint. But if outwardly he looks like a Christian, why did the Lord say that these were not enough.
How many of us do good deeds thinking that by doing so, we gain points towards our salvation? How many work hard and persevere in the midst of persecution thinking that these lead us to salvation? How many of us are well versed in scriptures such that we can quote verses from scriptures and win debates with regards to faith?
If you think that doing good deeds will save you, then I flatly tell you that you are wrong. Only Jesus can save you.
Before I am accused of being a heretic, let me explain myself. St. Paul clearly says in his letter to the Romans 10:9 that "If you confess in your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." This is scripture and therefore this is irrefutable. Some people tend to oversimplify this verse.
They say that if you just confess that Jesus is Lord then you are saved. But what does confessing mean here? To confess that Jesus is Lord is to fully throw your entire person and trust to him. What is the motive for doing this? To be saved? If that is the main reason for believing in Jesus then Jesus is being used as a thing to meet our needs. This means that if there is someone else who can save then we will go to that person too.
Read beyond that verse in Romans "For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Confessing comes from belief and belief comes from our hearts. And what is found in our hearts - love of God. Therefore to say that Jesus is Lord should come from our deep love for the Lord. Jesus said, "Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will be saved". Similarly, not everyone who says, "Jesus is Lord" will be saved. This confession should come from a sincere heart full of love of God.
This brings us to our main point. The good deeds and hard work we do and sufferings we endure then are not means of drawing us closer to the Lord. These are in fact fruits of our relationship with the Lord. Our love of the Lord should fill our hearts such that this love overflows to others in the form of good deeds. You can join all the organizations in the world - and do good deeds 24 hours a day but without love of Jesus, these are not complete. The man to whom the letter above was addressed to was outwardly a Christian but still Jesus found fault in him.
"If you love me, you will obey my commandments." was what Jesus said. If we love Jesus, doing good automatically comes. And in doing good, we will experience a lot of intrigues. These intrigues strengthen our faith and love for the Lord. And with the love for Jesus, we can endure all things because it is now not our human strength pushing us but the love of God and love for God. And where there is love, there is God.
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