We have all heard the expression, “You can’t take it with you.” It is true. We cannot take our house, our valuables, fame or money, or our friends, or family. There is only one thing that we are allowed to take with us when we die: our righteous acts. Perhaps this would be better understood by saying right acts or good works. Jesus taught us this parable.
“And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, what shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21)
In another place Jesus also said: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) If our heart (or mind) is obsessed with gaining money and possessions we will, after receiving them, waste additional time worrying about someone stealing them. A wise proverb puts things into the proper perspective for us.
“Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Proverbs 30:7-9)
Jesus, once again speaking of treasures said: “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37) This substantiates the information, which we covered in the posting “The Books, concerning the fact that everything is being recorded in the books. Even every reckless word we speak, which has not been repented for, is in the books.
Speaking of treasures and death, again in the book of Proverbs we read:“Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” (Proverbs 10:2)
Our works are important, of course, but they are not worthy to bring about our salvation. That gift comes only through Jesus. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our works will be considered in the determination of our rewards. Jesus explained clearly that we might have riches, fame, power and prestige in this life, but have nothing in the end. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” He continues to explain how our works will determine our rewards: “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” (Matthew 16:26-27) Here is when the works and rewards enter into the picture.
Not only are we promised eternal life, but we are also to receive rewards. Written in the book of Isaiah, we find: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)
This promise is repeated and covered in more depth by the Apostle Paul. He reveals that the Holy Spirit gives believers a glimpse of these rewards. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (I Corinthians 2:9-12)
The words which Jesus spoke concerning works are spoken to all of us, not just the disciples, or priests or preachers. The works are not necessarily some spectacular miracle. The works we are asked to do are simple. Jesus summed it up for us: “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 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 6:27-29)”Belief” is considered a work.
We could say then, because of our belief, that the everyday life of each of us represents the work of God. Actions, such as a kind word, a smile, a positive statement, a thoughtful gesture, quieting gossip or deferring a person from making a drastic mistake are works. One of the more valuable works might involve praying a silent prayer.
According to James, we cannot separate works and faith. He teaches that they have to exist together. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18) He also states these two facts: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”(James 2:26)
We discover from the scriptures that some who are doing God’s work are not sincere. As we read earlier, in the end, there are going to be some surprises. Jesus says in the book of Matthew: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23) A sobering word which leaps out in that verse is “many.” Many people who prophesied and cast out devils.
We read once more in the book of Proverbs that God perceives what is in our heart, and that we are going to answer when we refuse to aid in the work. Considering what we have previously read, those spoken of in this verse, as drawn into death, could mean a spiritual death. “If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” (Proverbs 24:11-12)
On that day, as we read in another posting, when the books are opened we will answer for our works, being rewarded or condemned by them. “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelations 20:12) It is significant to mention that our works will determine what we, the wife of Christ, will be wearing in the future.
“And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.” (Revelation 19:5-9) We will be wearing white linen.
Many believe we are in the ground, after we die, until the resurrection and others, as do I, believe that we are in another place waiting seperated by a gulf as discribed in the writting “Where Are the Dead”. Whichever you believe, we have one outcome.
“Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:19-30)
We understand from these scriptures that there is only one thing, our good works that we are allowed to take with us when we die, and that we cannot separate works and faith. We were also taught the sobering fact that there are some who appear to be workers for God, who will be rejected.