Works-Righteousness or Righteous Works?


There is an interesting conversation at Internet Monk today. Chaplain Mike took offense to an article/sermon about a teaching from the head of the International House of Prayer, Mike Bickle. The story and the reader’s comments generally seem to attack Bickle’s message as a false message, but after listening to it, I think they are really off base.

Chaplain Mike took Bickle’s message as preaching a works-based righteousness. Basically Bickle relates a vision he saw when while standing in the presence of Jesus, Jesus told him that while he was saved, his life was wasted. Bickle then goes on to relate how we can be saved but have wasted our life by avoiding the works of Christ instead of pursing the interests of this world. I don’t see that as a works-based mentality.

For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s farmland and God’s building. As an expert builder using the grace that God gave me, I laid the foundation, and someone else is building on it. But each person must be careful how he builds on it. After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that is Jesus Christ. Whether a person builds on this foundation with gold, silver, expensive stones, wood, hay, or straw, the workmanship of each person will become evident, for the day will show what it is, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what a person has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If his work is burned up, he will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, but it will be like going through fire. (1Co 3:9-15)

Therefore, we are always confident, and we know that as long as we are at home in this body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, then, and would prefer to be away from this body and to live with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away from home, our goal is to be pleasing to him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what he deserves for what he has done in his body, whether good or worthless. (2Co 5:6-10)

We all know that salvation comes from faith in Jesus alone. No amount of good deeds will ever make us worthy of salvation. That being said though, once we are saved, we are expected to live for the kingdom of God. We have opportunities every day where Jesus wants to use us for the kingdom, but it is up to our obedience to do the work or not. We will all have to answer for missed opportunities. That is a given. What Bickle is trying to convey though is that we should try to avoid missing the opportunities, if for no other reason than the fact that we will be held accountable to Jesus for our actions. Our works do not make us more righteous than anyone else for we are only compared to the righteousness of God. I can understand being leery of a works-based faith, but I honestly do not get that from this sermon.

I can see why Bickle is sharing this message. Too long the church in the west has been content to spend a few hours a week at church and just repent for the lack of action during the week. This is not the life we were called to lead and we are fools to think that it is ok. It cheapens the grace that we freely take and we will have to answer for our lack of works. Works will never save us, but if we are truly saved, our works should reflect it. Our lives should be lived for the kingdom. Not for some greater standing or position, but when we gave our life to Jesus, the life became His.

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