Hello, my friend, and welcome to another episode of The Truth Pulpit.
We're so glad that you joined us. And I know that many of you have recently signed up for the podcast looking for the series that I told you about called Building a Christian Mind, and that series is going to start on February the 5th. February the 5th for Building a Christian Mind. Until then, here's the next episode of our teaching as we look to God's Word and as we continue our commitment to teaching God's people God's Word on The Truth Pulpit. If my works are always tainted by sin anyway, if they add nothing to God, and if they don't deserve the eternal reward that God gives to his people, why then does God do that?
That's the million-dollar question. Thanks for joining us on The Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Hello again, I'm Bill Wright. Today Don concludes a message titled Good But Not That Good as we delve further into our series Breaking the Bonds of Legalism. Last time Don presented more reasons that we cannot brag about any good works we might do. All our works are stained by sin and they don't add anything to God. On today's broadcast, Don will look at God's rewards and the major reason those exist at all.
After all, we don't merit them. Have your Bible handy as we join Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. Beloved, there is nothing that that you or I could teach that would add to the wisdom of God. There is nothing that you and I could do or produce that would add to his possessions. There is nothing that you or I could do that would add to his inherent intrinsic glory because it's already perfect. If somehow you and I could add to that, we would be making God better, and if he was better, it would mean that he was not perfect beforehand. See, theology really matters. The way that we think about God really affects the way that we think and live, and here's where we go with this, beloved. You cannot fathom the depths of the wisdom of God. You cannot begin to appreciate the greatness of his judgments. You cannot contribute anything that adds to his intrinsic being.
Beloved, beloved, this is so essential, this is fundamental. There is an infinite distance between God and you, in essence. He is a holy uncreated creator. You are a sinful created creature. He transcends us all by infinite orders of geometric magnitude. When Isaiah saw a glimpse of his glory, he was undone.
Woe is me, for I'm a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips. Peter saw the Lord Jesus display a portion of his power in the calming of the seas and said, depart from me, for I'm a sinful man. I can't be in the presence of this great holiness on my own. There is an infinite distance between God and us in his essence, in his wisdom, in his righteousness, and in his understanding. Do you understand, therefore, what that means for our good works? It is folly to think that we could merit reward from him, from our low and humbled and still plagued by sin condition.
It's folly to think that from an ant on earth, the God of glory of the universe was somehow obligated to us, that somehow what we do contributes to his being, who he is. No, beloved, nothing that we could do would put God in a position where he must repay us for doing something. He does not have to repay us for anything because nothing that we did improved him. Nothing we did, nothing we do, nothing we ever will do will make him better than he already was and is. If a contractor comes to my house and does work and adds value, I'm in his debt.
I have to pay him. I owe it to him because he's given me a skill and a product that I didn't have before. We don't relate to God on that basis. God is not our contractor, and so we recognize that the utter difference in God's essence compared to our own makes it so that our good works, they may be good, but they're not that good. They're not of infinite transcendent goodness like God is.
They're not of infinite purity and holiness like God is, and therefore we view ourselves, we view what we do from a perspective of who God is, and we become very small by comparison, don't we? Fourthly, finally, God's reward is far greater than your works. The reward that he has stored up for his children in heaven in eternity that is waiting for us to enter into is far greater than anything that we do. It's in complete disproportion to everything.
There is no proportionate value here at all. I want you to think through this with me for just a bit. Beloved, we're talking about really, really transcendent principles here, but it is the transcendent principles when grasped that inform the way that you think about life and the way that you live and shape everything else, because what we do is formed by what we think, what we believe, and how we respond to these great transcendent principles of God in Christ. And it is in here that we break the bonds of legalism from the foolish thinking that I merit pride or that God owes me something by what I do. You realize that it could never be about your obedience to rules that would be the crux, would be the basis, would be the foundation upon which God would deal with you. If it was based on what you would do, God would have nothing to do with you because he's too great, he's too holy, the blood of Christ is too precious.
This changes everything. But fourthly, and this in some ways is the sweetest of them all, God's reward is far greater than your works. Look with me in the writings of Peter, if you will, go back to Peter just after Hebrews, and in 1 Peter, oh beloved, this is just great. Peter is praising God here in 1 Peter chapter 1 verse 3, and he says, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Beloved, do you know, do you remember, or do you sometimes forget, like we're all prone to do, the greatness of salvation in Christ, that it is so great for what lies ahead that the present blessing that we enjoy of being a Christian is almost incidental by comparison. God saved you by his great mercy at the cost of the great precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, though you were dead in sin and hostile in mind against him, he saved you not only to deliver you from the power of sin in this life, to deliver you from the penalty of sin in this life. There is an untold treasure house of glory and blessing that awaits us all when we get to glory. Scripture describes it here as an inheritance which belongs to us, that something that is imperishable, undefiled, and will not fade away. The glory of what is to be revealed to us is stunning, it is beyond earthly description, it is far beyond any earthly value. That's what God saved you for. Fifty million years after our first arrival in heaven, the glory and the splendor of it will not be diminished in any way in our eyes.
You know, you can go to theme parks, you can go to Disneyland, Disney World, and after a while it gets kind of old. Heaven's not going to be like that. Peter says the glory of it will not fade away. A great gift still to be received by us from the merciful hands of God, that is our hope, that is our certain expectation, and in the meantime God is protecting us by His power to make sure we arrive there, that we arrive safe in His heavenly kingdom. And whatever the vicissitudes and the ups and downs of life might be in the meantime, for Christians there is an eternal principle of power that is keeping us, bought for us by the precious blood of Christ at the hands of the mercy and the love and the grace and patience of God, all bestowed upon us unworthy sinners, and He's going to introduce us from this miserable life by comparison into an eternity of great glory.
That is our ultimate destination. Look at Revelation 22. Revelation 22, we have this eternal unending reward waiting for us in glory. The final outcome after Christ reigns on earth, after that this comes. Verse 22, then He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb.
In the middle of its street on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree were for the healings of the nations. There will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bondservants will serve Him, and they will see His face and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night, and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them and they will reign forever and ever. And He said to me, these words are faithful and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bondservants the things which must soon can take place.
Beloved, this is it. If you can grasp this point, it will break the bonds of legalism forever in your mind. It will open up fountains of hope and peace. It will put to bed the thoughts of despair. It will put to bed the sense of pressure that says I have to do this today or I'm going to be in trouble with God.
A rules-based approach to relating to Him. Beloved, think about that glory. Think about its duration.
It is endless. Consider how spectacular it will be. Consider the privilege that will be ours to look upon the face of Christ, to see Him glorified, face having become sight, to somehow be sharing in that glory because to see Him in His glorified state, Scripture says, will be made like Him. Somehow we're going to share in resurrected glory in the realm of heaven for endless duration a great gift that we did not deserve.
Now think about it from this perspective. That's eternal! That never ends while the good works that we do in this life are done in time. Not only are they done in time, they will be quickly forgotten by those who come after us. Our flesh will perish, our name will perish on earth, and just as you don't remember who your ancestors were from 200 years ago, one day that will be the case of all of us will be forgotten.
Our vapor will disperse in the wind. Beloved, because our lives are like that, understand this. This is the great comfort of your soul. Nothing that you could do in the realm of time in that kind of life could possibly merit or deserve that kind of infinite blessing throughout all of the eons of eternity. There is no comparison. What we do in a little sliver of time, for that to yield for us into eternal blessing and glory, your works may be good, but beloved, they're not that good.
They're not that good. Nothing we do, even as Christians, could possibly be an equivalent exchange. There is no equivalent exchange between what you do as a Christian and the reward that God is going to give you in heaven, is there.
Your works may be good, but they're not that good. Nothing we do in the realm of time, which is the only realm we know right now, could deserve that kind of blessing in eternity. You see, beloved, what we're dealing with here, what we're seeing afresh from another perspective, is something that we've said all along, that Scripture has said for millennia. Salvation is of the Lord, Jonah 2.9. Salvation is by grace. Salvation is an act of undeserved favor from God to you. Your initial justification was a gift of grace. Your ultimate reward in heaven is going to be a gift from the same kind of grace that saved you in the first place. You didn't deserve it, you won't deserve it.
Nothing, nothing we could do. If my works are always tainted by sin anyway, if they add nothing to God, and if they don't deserve the eternal reward that God gives to His people, why then does God do that? That's the million-dollar question. Why does He do that then? Beloved, God does that for the sake of His Son. He does that for the sake of the Lord Jesus Christ. He blesses us like that because we are in union with Christ, because Christ purchased us with His blood.
Christ brought us into His family. Christ shares His nature with us so that God blesses us according to the merit and the deserving of Christ, not the merit and deserving of our own. God accepts, beloved, listen to me, please listen to me. For the name of God and for the glory of Christ, hear me on this point, God accepts your imperfect works and blesses them, not because they are independently worthy of anything in His sight, He blesses them because of your union with the Lord Jesus Christ, because they are done in Christ.
God sees you in Christ, God deals with you according to the merit of Christ, not according to your own, and therefore the blessing flows eternally. Go back to Romans chapter 7, we need to read the next verse. Paul, feeling the sense of encroaching despair over his remaining sin that perhaps some of you sometimes feel did not end there. We have too many people in the realm of the broad Christian church throughout the world who are content to stop at verse 24, wretched man that I am.
All right, okay, but you're not the end of the story, this is not ultimately about you. Paul goes on to say in verse 25, thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, you see it there? Through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other with my flesh the law of sin, therefore, chapter 8, therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. God gives this blessing through Christ, He does it because we are in Christ, He does it because it pleases Him to do so, not according to your works. 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 4, why are our lives as Christians, why are our good works acceptable to God when they're not that good by comparison to Him?
Verse 4, 1 Peter 2, coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. What we offer to God in the name of His Son He accepts, despite its imperfections and part of the blessing of Christ upon our lives, part of the gracious way our Master deals with His slaves, is that Christ sanctifies our good works in a way that makes them acceptable to the Father. Why does God accept our works?
That was the question I asked. One writer answers it this way, God graciously and kindly responds to our efforts to please Him, notwithstanding all their defects, because He looks upon us in Christ. Our initial salvation rests entirely on Christ, for God to accept our good works we rest entirely on Christ not on our own merits, and you know what that does beloved?
Those of you that come out of this background, that deals a death blow to legalism, because you understand I could never possibly be relating to God on a basis of my life performance, on a basis of what I do, or on the basis of rules. That is not the basis on which He accepts us! He accepts us in Christ and we receive Christ by faith.
We rest in Christ by faith. It's for the sake of Christ that He receives your works. And so, beloved, as we obey God in the ways that we've talked about in this earlier in the series, we don't offer to God our good works from a sense of pride in self. On the other end, we don't offer them from a fear of punishment or a loss of His love if we don't, because in Christ God has placed eternal love on us and He accepts us in the beloved, Ephesians 1 verse 7. And so we offer our good works, not because God relates to us looking on us in our behavior, He looks on us in Christ. And so we offer our lies by faith in Christ. We offer them in a sense that we are secure forever based on what our Lord has done for us.
That motivation is utterly foreign and completely different and deals the death blow to legalism. Understand, beloved, that some of you have things in your past that you cannot fix. You have sinned and it cannot be repaired. Rather than lament your inability on those matters, rejoice instead that Christ is a gracious Savior. Rejoice instead that He graciously has paid the price of all of your sin at Calvary. Rejoice instead that Christ saved and sanctifies you in such a manner that God is pleased for the sake of His Son to receive and reward you.
Yeah, you don't deserve it. You know what? That's the whole point. That's the whole point.
That's the whole point. We are humbled and yet we are joyful in the presence of this God of love, grace, patience, mercy, and goodness in such a way that our eyes are lifted up from the never-ending cycle of our own sin and weakness to the amazing Christ who saved us in the first place. And we see in light of these things, we see in light of this precious word, the greater excellence of resting in Christ by faith rather than trying to earn favor with behavior. And we're led away from tears of frustration and failure into tears of joy and peace for the sake of our gracious Lord. Christ-centered faith, beloved, not man-centered rules. There we find our rest and hope and praise. There we break the bonds of legalism. And so we've had it made crystal clear for us. God accepts our imperfect good works because of our union with Christ, and we gain the reward of heaven and eternal life for the same reason.
Indeed, we have no cause to boast in ourselves. Pastor Don Green will bring us more of our series, Breaking the Bonds of Legalism, next time here on The Truth Pulpit, and we hope you'll join us. Right now, though, Don's back here in studio with a resource offer. Well, my friend, I am committed to the dynamic of verbal preaching. I love to preach and speak. I think there's a dynamic when a preacher opens the Word of God to hearers that the audio component of that is a means that God uses greatly in the lives of those who hear.
But I also understand that sometimes you want to go back and study what was said more closely. We have transcripts of all of my full-length sermons available on our website, and I would encourage you to go there to find them and to be able to study the messages more closely through the written word, as you've also enjoyed it through the spoken word. Thanks, Don. And friend, to find those and all our resources, just visit thetruthpulpit.com. I'm Bill Wright, inviting you back next time when Don Green presents more from The Truth Pulpit.
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