Salvation is a gift. It can’t be earned, is never deserved and is available to every person who wants it. When Jesus spoke his last words, “It is finished,” his mission was truly accomplished. The temple veil was rent in two and heaven’s gates were opened.
If salvation is free, then do our works still matter? Revelation 14:13 gives us a clue.
“Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
Our works may not get us into heaven, but it is clear from the Bible that God rewards us in direct relation to how we lived our lives on earth.
Good works are important? You mean, like showing up in church and faithfully giving a donation to a needy cause? Those may be important, but the true works of God go a little further than that.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:27-28)
And when we truly believe in something, our actions will show it. Then our actions will not be focused on how to keep the rigid law, but our lives will be a living testimony of the joy and the love of Christ. There will be works of love, selflessness and true humility.
There is a humorous (fictional) story that illustrates the importance of the true works of faith.
There once lived a rich woman on a beautiful estate somewhere out in the country. She spent her time at lavish dinner parties or was seen in all the clubs for the high society. But she had a problem with selfishness and looked down upon her simple maid. She underpaid her, made her work too hard and had little esteem for her needs. After all, her maid was of the common class and needed to know her place.
The rich woman was not necessarily a wicked woman; she had just fallen into the trap of what the Bible calls, ‘the deceitfulness of riches.’ She even managed to say a prayer or two and never missed church on Sunday, but somehow she had never been able to come to grips with her selfishness and her relationship with Christ was sorely lacking.
The maid on the other hand was very different. She was in constant communication with her Savior and was happy and cheerful and was, therefore, a constant source of encouragement to those around her. Her faith in God sustained her in spite of whatever problems she experienced in life.
One night the rich lady had a dream that she had died and her maid as well and that they went to heaven.
When the rich woman entered, an angel was assigned to teach her the heavenly ropes and was leading her through the streets of gold to her heavenly mansion. She could not believe her eyes and was overwhelmed by such beauty.
After some time, they passed by a mansion that was particularly beautiful. The whole place radiated with a heavenly glow and as they passed by the rich woman was overtaken by a holy hush.
“What a beautiful place that is,” she said to the angel. “Who lives there? That surely must have been a very important person on earth.”
“That mansion?” The angel looked up, “That is where your former maid lives.”
“Really?” The rich lady shouted it out and started to dance. If her maid was living in such a wonderful place, then how much better her mansion was going to be. She could hardly contain her joy as the angel led her further down the heavenly city.
After some time the rich woman noticed the houses became less beautiful. But they still had not arrived. Eventually, the angel led her to the basement of the heavenly city and finally they stopped in front of a little hovel.
“Here’s your house,” said the angel with drooping eyes.
The rich woman stared wide-eyed to the place before her. “W-What? I-Is this a joke or something? My maid has such a beautiful mansion and you tell me that of all people I have to live here?”
The angel shook his head. “I am really sorry, but this is all we could do for you. You see, here in heaven we build the mansions with the material people send to us from earth. Your maid, the one you treated so badly, was always seeking for ways to help and love others. She prayed and was a light in the darkness for many a lonely soul. She sent us so much material, that we barely knew how to use it all. You, on the other hand, have given us hardly anything to build with. Selfishness doesn’t count for much here. So this is all we can manage to build for you.”
What are we doing with our lives? This life is the portal to eternity. The things we learn and do here on earth have eternal consequences. Are we investing in heaven? Or are we living for the comforts of the here and now, only to find out later that we made a poor investment? Go into your chamber, lock the door and talk to the Father in private. Ask Him to show you His will for your life and then listen in respect and quietness.
Missionary and martyr Jim Eliott said it well when he said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”