“What Are We Doing?”
Text: Hebrews 10:19-25
There are times when someone will ask us if we can participate in some activity or get together with some folks & my wife will ask me, “What are we doing on such-and-such a date?” I’ve even had doctors ask, “What are we doing about our blood pressure?” when there is only one of us in the examining room that has a hypertension problem. There is a phrase that appears in our reading from Heb. 10:19-25 this morning that has always intrigued me & that’s what I want us to talk about this morning. It’s the simple phrase “good works” that appears 15 times in the NKJV. The singular “good work” is found 13 times in NKJV. The Greek uses the same words in both of these phrases except that two synonyms are used for “good” – kalos and agathos. While many in the religious world refuse to acknowledge any role of works in our salvation, I must strongly protest. I realize we are saved by grace through faith – not of works, lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). But I also know our Lord’s brother by inspiration wrote faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (Jas. 2:17). This morning, I want us to spend our time looking at passages about “good works” – asking ourselves the rhetorical question using the editorial “we” – “What are we doing?” By doing this, we may discover we are failing to do the Father’s will & need to make some adjustments in our lives. I hope you will be like the Bereans in Acts 17:11 & search the scriptures daily to make sure I’m telling you the truth because only the truth can set us free from the bondage of sin.
First of all, citizens of the kingdom of heaven or Christians are expected to do “good works.” Jesus taught this initially in the Sermon on the Mount – Matt. 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works & glorify your Father in heaven. This is the 1st reference to good works in the NT. Interestingly, the last reference in the NT was probably written about 35 years later by the apostle Peter. Notice the similarity as we read 1 Pet. 2:11-12 – Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. We can see from these two passages that one of the purposes of our good works is for others to glorify God. But we can also see that Christians are to be known for their good works. Now I want us to look at some scriptures and attempt to define “good works”. As we turn to The Gospel of John, we see the focus is on the final days of Jesus & His teaching. But John does record our Lord’s first miracle of changing water into wine at Cana. He also records Jesus healing the nobleman’s son who was sick in Capernaum, healing the man at the pool of Bethesda and feeding the 5,000. Read with me from Jn. 10:31-33 – Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Earlier Jesus had said in v. 25 – The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. The signs and wonders Jesus did served to prove that He was the Christ – the promised Messiah. This particular conflict with the Jews had been prompted by His healing the man who had been born blind recorded in John 9:1-12. While we cannot miraculously heal the blind or cure any other diseases, we can ease the burdens of those who are suffering. We can do our part in feeding the hungry. Perhaps the best list of things we can do as “good works” is not listed as such but would certainly qualify. It is found in the story of the shepherd separating the sheep from the goats in Matt. 25:31-46. Jesus commended the righteous who had fed the hungry, given drink to the thirsty, provided lodging for the stranger, clothed the naked and visited the sick and those in prison. There is only one other mention of a “good work” in the gospels – one that is recorded by everyone but Luke. Let’s read the account in Matt. 26:6-13 – And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much & given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” From John 12:3 we learn that this woman who did a “good work” was Mary. While this deed was done in advance of our Lord’s death, we can infer that sacrificial worship of our Savior is a “good work”. The physician Luke tells the account of a woman raised from the dead in Acts 9:36-43. Notice v. 36: At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. We know from this account that Dorcas died and Peter was summoned to come from Lydda to Joppa where she lived. Now listen to v. 39: Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. Apparently these widows in the upper room were wearing clothes Dorcas had made for them and given to them because they were in need. These good works and charitable deeds were synonymous and characteristic of Dorcas. This Christian lady seems to fit the description Paul gave to Timothy for women in the church. Let’s read from 1 Tim. 2:9-10 – in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Christian women should not be remembered for their outward appearance but rather for their good works like Dorcas. Thankfully, Paul gives a partial definition of “good works” later in this same epistle when he gives some guidance on the church helping widows. If you have your Bibles, please turn with me to 1 Tim. 5:9-10 & let’s read these two verses together: Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work. Lest the men think they are exempt, the apostle Paul wrote that men are to be an example of “good works”. Listen to Titus 2:6-7 – Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works. Of course, Christian men need to always remember that the position of a bishop or elder is a “good work” (1 Tim. 3:1). Now that we’ve somewhat defined “good works”, let’s see what is expected of us. First of all, we were created in Christ Jesus for good works. Eph. 2:10 – For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. According to 2 Cor. 5:17, If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. When we are baptized into Christ, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Paul stated twice in his letter to Titus that we are to maintain or practice good works – Titus 3:8, 14. As Paul wrote to the saints & faithful brethren in Colosse, notice his prayer in Col. 1:9-10 – For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. Turn now to Titus 2:11-14. We’ll read these verses and then drop down to the 1st verse of chapter 3 to learn two other things we are to do: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Now skip a verse to the start of chapter 3: Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work. The next thing we are to do is found in 1 Tim. 6:17-19. While we may have often thought these verses were for someone else – maybe millionaires, we must remember that just about everyone in this auditorium is rich by the world’s standards. Let’s read these verses: Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Tim. 2:21 that an approved worker for God will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. We come now to our next to the last item in our list – one most of us have memorized down through the years. It’s a passage we use to encourage people to study their Bibles – 2 Tim. 3:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Finally, I want us to return to our text this morning in Heb 10:24-25 and look at what we are to do about one more good work – And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Assembling for worship is a good work and is not to be neglected. It is also through meeting together that we can spur on one another to love and good works.
We have a lot of activities here for young and old alike. These are good works folks do to set them up and then to execute them. But we also have a lot of good works within our Care Groups, the Encouragers, Bible classes during our assemblies as well as the Men’s Bible class & Wings’ nights for the ladies. I won’t take time to list all of the other good works we have but I hope you are involved in several of these works. As we’ve seen this morning, good works are not something in name only – they are works that take effort in order to be fruitful. As we close this lesson, I want to remind us of two letters to the churches in Revelation. 1st, to the church at Sardis in Rev. 3:1-2 – “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” 2nd, to the church at Laodicea in Rev. 3:15-16 – “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.” We have been asking, “What are we doing?” throughout the lesson but now I want us to get personal: What am I doing? Maybe we need to write down what we are doing on the back of the handout.