Chapter 16: The Works Of The Saved

We have now firmly established the point that love is what commandment-keeping is all about. This is a love that finds its roots deep down in our hearts; it is a love that has a yearning, burning desire to bring glory to God's name, and to bring happiness, comfort, hope and peace to our fellow man.

'The Lord is glorified when the great end of His law is attained . . . [when] men love Him with heart, mind, soul and strength, and their neighbour as themselves.' (8T139)
This is the love that Jesus was crucified for. This is the love that Satan hates. This is the love that will result in the fires of persecution being rekindled throughout the world.
Love, therefore, is a working, active, self-sacrificing principle. As such, a study into the works of love would be most beneficial at this time.
The great truth in regard to the works of man is that while the works of the saved will not save them, the saved will work.
'Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." If by any effort of our own we could advance one step toward the ladder, the words of Christ would not be true. But when we accept Christ, good works will appear as fruitful evidence that we are in the way of life, that Christ is our way, and that we are treading the true path to heaven.' (1SM 368)
'Good works can never purchase salvation, but they are an evidence of the faith that works by love and purifies the soul.' (DA314)
This being the case, the saved will not work in an effort to redeem themselves from the curse of the law, but rather out of gratitude to the One who has redeemed them from the curse. This point needs to be oft-repeated, for its importance cannot be over-emphasized.
'We do not earn salvation by obedience; for salvation is the free gift of God, to be received by faith. But obedience is the fruit of faith.' (SC60/61)
'While true faith trusts wholly in Christ for salvation, it will lead to perfect conformity to the law of God [because] faith is manifested by works.' (6BC1073)
And this is why James was able to offer the challenge, . . .
'Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.' (James 2:18)
Thus it is that we will never find true faith without corresponding works of love, for . . .
'The works show whether the faith is genuine.' (COL312)
In short, therefore, God will determine the tenor of the faith that saves by the quality of the works that do not save.
'We are to be justified by faith, and judged by our works.' (PH029.20)
'He will reward each person according to what he has done.' (Matthew 16:27)
'In that day Christ does not present before men the great work He has done for them in giving His life for their redemption, He presents the faithful work they have done for Him.' (DA 637)
Our actions or works, therefore, will be the acid test that will reveal whether we have saving faith or not. Hence the solemn warning:
'We hear a great deal about faith, but we need to hear a great deal more about works. Many are deceiving their own souls by living an easygoing, accommodating, crossless religion.' (1SM382)
From this we deduce that without works, no one shall be saved by faith.
'All your good works cannot save you; but it is nevertheless impossible for you to be saved without good works.' (3SM147)
And this is why it is so important that we understand the nature of the works that will characterize the life of the faithful. Yes, they will be works of love, but just what are works of love?
The Nature Of Loving Obedience

Isaiah Chapter 58 is God's prescription for a proud, lethargic, and unfruitful Israel; it is a prescription that opens with the words . . .
'Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.' (Isaiah 58:1)
At that time, Israel were committing certain sins that were particularly irksome to God. In Isaiah chapter 58, God spells out exactly what these sins were. Interestingly, they were not the common sins of the day, such as theft, adultery, gluttony and covetousness, but rather, they were sins of neglect.
In words that seem to ring of eternal frustration, God draws a word picture of a people who have a most serious problem. These are a people who have not discerned the nature of the works that characterize true faith - they had not discerned the deep spiritual nature of the law that they professed to keep.
A close study of Isaiah Chapter 58 will reveal that to all outward appearances, these people are very religious. To some they would appear to be very active, hard working Christians. These are a people who earnestly seek God - not just occasionally, but daily. They seem eager to know the ways of God and they sincerely believe that their service of Him is good and acceptable. According to the Lord, they conduct themselves in a manner that would give the impression that they are 'a nation that does what is right.' One gets the idea that they are somewhat proud of the fact that they are "commandment-keepers."
Clearly, the uninitiated would not question their sincerity, for they seem to be a people who are 'eager for God to come near them' (v. 2). These people fast often and they consider themselves to be most humble. Yet they are deeply concerned that in their opinion God does not give them credit for what they consider to be their exalted spiritual condition. "Why have we fasted," they say, "and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?" (v.3)
One cannot help but to get the idea that if we spent some time with Christians such as these, we would be somewhat impressed. They worship on time, they "keep" the commandments, they seem to adhere to certain health principles, and this despite the fact that, according to them, God appears to take their snobbish piety somewhat for granted.
Yet the Lord instructed Isaiah to reveal to these people that while they were observing all the duties, the rites and the ceremonies, and while they were faithfully adhering to all the formalities and tenets of their religion, they had still to come up to the starting blocks.
'Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed in order to reveal [thus revealing our superior piety] and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? [wallowing in our self-imposed humility]. Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?' (v. 5)
Now God asks Isaiah to reveal to these people the seat of their problem, to reveal to them that 'the object of the Christian life is fruit bearing - the reproduction of Christ's character in the believer,' and that 'in the estimation of heaven, greatness of character consists in living for the welfare of our fellow men, in doing works of love and mercy.' (COL67; DA613/4)
The Lord now spells out exactly what the sins are that He wants Isaiah to 'shout aloud' and to declare unto Israel - notice that they are not sins of commission, but sins of omission.
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:"
To help those who are suffering under the yokes of guilt, evil, oppression and ignorance
To share your food with the hungry
To provide the poor wanderer with shelter
To clothe the naked (v.6, 7)
To stop ignoring the needs of those closest to you
To stop pointing fingers at others
To stop speaking evil of others. (v.9)
According to the Lord, these are the works that will characterize the lives of the faithful, these are the works that will characterize the lives of those who are the truly obedient - but Israel could not see this.
'They were very punctilious in the observances of the church, very rigorous in following their forms, but they were destitute of vitality and religious devotion.' (1SM386)
'The blessings that they had received brought no blessing to the world. All their advantages were appropriated for their own glorification.' (8T26)
Yet the Lord desperately wanted His children to understand that love is an active principle - one that yearns to spend both time and effort in the interests of others. God wanted them to realise that true obedience, which is love, is not inward- but outward-looking.
'Not in idle mourning, in mere bodily humiliation and multitudinous sacrifices, is the true spirit of devotion manifested, but it is shown in the surrender of self in willing service to God and man.' (DA278)
Hence God's frustration with a people who just could not understand and accept that . . .
'Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.' (DA280)
These people had not realized that true obedience is shown by deeds of kindness and mercy, and by the love that leads men and women to regard others as better than themselves. (See LS80)
Israel were deceived, and the reason they were deceived was because they had failed to perceive of the deep spiritual nature of God's law. They lived according to the letter of the law, but not in accordance with the spirit of the law. Obedience to them was more a matter of what they could do in the eyes of God, rather than a matter of what they could do for others - to the glory of God. It never occurred to them that obedience to the law of love is more a matter of being kind and gentle and compassionate and patient and peaceful and self-controlled than it is a matter of stiff fidelity to what they perceived to be as no more than a list of rules. (See Galatians 5:22)
Of all the failings of Israel, perhaps the most tragic of these was their utter failure to realise that . . .
'No-one can live the law of God without ministering to others.' (DA584)
'Had they [Israel] kept the law of God, they would have done the same unselfish work that Christ did.' (DA583)
Ultimately 'they brought ruin upon themselves by refusing to minister to others.' (DA583)
Clearly, even though they devoted much energy to their religion, their works were not the works of genuine faith. They were working to improve their own spiritual standing before God, and before their fellow man, but they did not understand that the works of man are filthy rags and that our own righteousness is worth 'less than nothingness.' (FW 24). Thus they tried to establish a righteousness of their own. They worked, but because of their pride, their motives were self-centered rather than God-centered. They understood that faith and works are inseparable, but they failed to understand the nature of the works of faith.
'Where faith is, good works appear. [Now notice the nature of these works . . .] The sick are visited, the poor are cared for, the fatherless and the widows are not neglected, the naked are clothed, the destitute are fed.' (1SM398)
If God were to address us today on this same matter, we might hear Him remind us that . . .
'Christians are to represent Christ [and that] unless there is practical self-sacrifice for the good of others, in the family circle, in the neighborhood, in the church, and wherever we may be, then whatever our profession, we are not Christians.' (DA504)
Thus we realise that . . .
'The love of God is something more than a mere negation; it is a positive and active principle, a living spring, ever flowing to bless others.' (MB58)
As such, all who are walking in the footsteps of the Master will know that . . .
'The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within.' (COL384)
In the light of the above, it is interesting to note that at the end of time there will be but two classes of people. Said Jesus . . .
'When the Son of Man comes, shall he find faith on earth?' (Luke 18:8)
Ultimately, therefore, the faith that Jesus will be looking for when He comes again will be a living, active faith - it will be a faith that will thrive on helping others. This is the faith that will identify us as sheep. Then . . .
'When the Son of Man comes in his glory . . . he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.' (Matthew 25:31, 32)
At that time the Lord will look down upon but two kinds of people - sheep and goats. The goats will be those who cared for themselves, while, according to Jesus, the sheep will be those who cared for Him in the person of His suffering and needy children.
I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me. (Matthew 25:35, 36)
'When the nations are gathered before Him, there will be but two classes, and their eternal destiny will be determined by what they have done or have neglected to do for Him in the person of the poor and the suffering.' (DA637)
These then are the works of love that God is seeking to bring into our hearts - works that consist in active, unselfish efforts on behalf of others. These are the fruits of the faith that saves. These are the works that bring glory to God and that will bring the mission of His church to finality. This, therefore, is what true commandment- keeping is all about.
'The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest His glory [character]. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the grace of God has done for them.' (COL415-416)
'Through His servants, God designs that the sick, the unfortunate, those possessed of evil spirits, shall hear His voice. Through His human agencies He desires to be a Comforter such as the world knows not.' (DA351)
'In the night of spiritual darkness God's glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn.' (COL417)

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