For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
- Ephesians 2:8-10
This “ill conceived notion” has two sides. As mentioned in the post yesterday, in part 1, there were church leaders trying to “do” their way into Heaven, but something came up in a recent conversation that really caused me to feel led to write about this.
In the conversation, the other person said that they disagreed with the author of a Bible study book. The author had defined “Grieving the Holy Spirit.” As in most Bible studies, when possible, you mention some helpful ideas. The author did so in this case. One of the things to do was to “recognize the Spirit’s presence.” This other person got irate, saying that the author did not know what he was talking about because “this is not something that you do.” I will let that stew while I talk about the first issue.
First, to those out there ‘doing’ in order to get into Heaven, keep on ‘doing,’ but you might want to read Isaiah 64:6 at some point. “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
Your ‘doing’ does not get you into Heaven. The Scripture above from Ephesians 2 says that. I don’t need to go further.
But what if you have the second problem? You look at the Scripture above, and you decide not to ‘do’ anything when it becomes ‘spiritual.’ Of course, the memorized verses of the Ephesians text above are the first two. But Ephesians 2:10 says we must ‘do’ because God prepared a to-do list just for each of us. People forget that verse or they ignore it. But others ignore the other two verses and live by Ephesians 2:10.
Of the author’s list of things to do, half of them were passive. Prayer and Bible study were among the most active. Repentance might be passive or active depending on the sin. But all of this is post-salvation. God does not want us sitting on our thumbs, waiting until He returns.
He gave us the Great Commission, but even within the Great Commission, there are levels: spreading the Gospel, teaching, preparing, etc. I would think that the person in the kitchen, preparing lunches for the evangelists before they went out to spread the Gospel, is doing their part in the Great Commission. They should want to swap off and go out themselves or they might get too comfortable in a support role, but some people might be old and infirmed. Making that sandwich would be a great job for them.
But in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats, Jesus said that when you have done for the least of these, you have done it for Him. That brings a wide range of mission work into view.
All that mission work should revolve around one thing, of course, Jesus. But, when we have the love of Jesus in our hearts, that love should ooze from every pore of our body, manifesting itself in spreading the Gospel, giving to the food bank, delivering meals to the elderly, or helping at the free clinic. Whatever God places in your heart to do, do it. The problem many people have is not listening to God to find out what they should do. They are unfulfilled. They are simply doing good things, but not the great stuff God had prepared specifically for them.
Before I started writing for this blog site, I argued with God. I did not know what a blog was. I drug my feet, but then I stayed with my son who already had a blog and he guided me through the initial steps. I had no idea what blogging would develop, within my life, into a second church home, with friends that I love hearing from and those I make an effort to ‘visit.’ But while I was arguing, God kept putting four statements in my head. “Give what I had written away. Go where they are. They are on the Internet. Write a blog.” I still have no idea who “they” are. I guess I will meet “they” in Heaven.
And that’s the point. God placed us here for a purpose. That purpose has nothing to do with who “they” are. The shorter catechism says that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I didn’t use quotes, but I think that’s right. I memorized it about 55 years ago, so maybe I’m rusty. But in enjoying God forever and glorifying God, does that not include sharing the God that we know with others who may not know Him? How can you not do so?
But the argument made by my friend muddied the waters with regard to grieving the Holy Spirit. How do you grieve the Holy Spirit? The author listed three things: 1) Not doing something that God had in mind for you to do. 2) Not recognizing God’s presence or ignoring God when He is sending you a message. And 3) Continuing in repeated sin.
For those three ways of grieving the Holy Spirit, each can only be ‘fixed’ if we ‘do’ something. We can do what God wanted us to do, as I am with this blog. We can listen to God when He nudges us in one direction or another. And we can repent.
But as for the “Ill Conceived Notion?” We need to understand that two separate things are being confused here. There is no ‘work’ that can be done to be saved. But, once saved, there is so much work to do in order that we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.