We have an important question from Anonymous:
We know that at the judgement day God will search for the blood of the Lamb on every person:
“And the blood shall be to you for a token…and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land…” (ex 12:13).
If a man has the blood of Jesus on himself, he will escape hell:
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”(Rom 5:9-10)
But why we find such verses telling that God will seek not the blood , but our works (even when they resulted from justification by the blood alone). why it seems that God is looking to the works and not the blood.
Here are the verses:
(Matt 25:34-35) “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in…”
(Rom 2:6-8) Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath”.
(Rom 8:13)For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
(2 Cor 5:10) “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.”
(Gal 6:8) “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”
If these verses are about Lordship Salvation, how much good works is good enough ?
Thanks in advance.
Anonymous, this is somehow the same question that you asked in the following article: Are we already righteous or not?
It is a sad fact that many false teachers today teach that Salvation is only the justification that we have in Christ, as if Jesus only came to save the sinners from the wrath of God so that they may continue to live in sin peacefully and without a fear from the judgment of God… This is a heretical teaching and is against the teaching of God’s Word. True faith will always produce the good fruits of righteousness. We can’t separate sanctification from justification, although they are distinct. Sanctification is not an optional appendix that may or may not come after Salvation. It is an essential part of Salvation, and all those who are truly justified by faith will surely be sanctified, as they are predestined to be conformed to the image of God’s Son:
“Because whom he has foreknown, he has also predestinated [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be [the] firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)
So all those who are saved by Grace are predestined to be like Jesus!
In his Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle Paul first makes it clear that the Gospel is not something new in the Plan of God and that it is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate (cf. Romans 1:2-4). The Gospel is not some “good news” of refusing Christ and continuing in sin peacefully, but it is about denying ungodliness and worldly lusts (cf. Titus 2:12) when we come in repentance to Christ with the obedience of faith (cf. Romans 1:5). The true believers are those who are called by Christ and they are saints by calling (cf. Romans 1:6-7). For them sanctification is not optional, as they are called IN sanctification (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:7). The faith through which they are called is a living faith, as it received the Grace of God that regenerates the sinner and teaches him to walk in godliness (cf. Titus 2:11-14). The Gospel (or the Grace of God) is the power of God to SAVE the believer from sin to obey God (cf. Romans 1:16). And what makes this Gospel powerful to save us from sin is that in it is revealed the Righteousness of God from faith to faith (cf. Romans 1:17). We have seen this in details in the article How to be justified before God? Indeed, this faith will continue to receive the graces of God of the fullness of Christ who is God incarnate, and grace upon grace (cf. John 1:16). Thus the believer continues to believe (from faith to faith) as he receives of the fullness of Christ, grace upon grace. He doesn’t die by faith; he lives by faith (cf. Romans 1:17). His faith is not a dead faith that does not produce good works which are the fruits of righteousness. As he is righteous by faith, so he will produce fruits of righteousness, as only he who practices righteousness is righteous (cf. 1 John 3:7, 1 John 3:10). Every good tree produces good fruit; a good tree CANNOT produce bad fruit (cf. Matthew 7:17-18). It is a heretical teaching that a man may live an unrighteous life and be a righteous man at the same time. In fact, by definition Salvation is the truth of being saved from unrighteousness. Paul explains that the Gospel does not come to make worse people better… The Gospel SAVES the sinner from sin, and it does not change him to something better and yet still bad and imperfect… Paul clarifies that the problem of humanity is sin which brings the wrath of God on all humans (cf. Romans 1:18-3:20). Therefore God wanted to save us from our sins and from that wrath through repentance to which He leads us with the riches of His goodness and patience (cf. Romans 2:4), and whoever refuses to repent is storing up wrath for himself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (cf. Romans 2:5), as in that Judgment Day God will not declare His judgments according to what a man says but according to what he really is; and that’s revealed by the fruits of that person, as a tree is known by its fruit. So Paul says that the judgment of God will be according to the deeds of each person (cf. Romans 2:6). Unlike what many of our contemporary Christians think, eternal life is NOT promised to those who say they believe and yet live in unrighteousness, but to those who persevere in doing good, seeking for glory and honor and immortality (cf. Romans 2:7), as living faith does not optionally produce good fruit, but it will surely produce the good fruit of righteousness (cf. Ephesians 5:9, Philippians 1:11), because a good tree will surely produce good fruit (cf. Matthew 7:17). And as a bad tree cannot produce good fruit (cf. Matthew 7:18; Romans 8:5-8), so those who don’t have that living faith in Christ will surely produce the bad fruit of heartily obedience to unrighteousness with selfish ambition and disobedience to the truth, and thus reach the wrath of God (cf. Romans 2:8), this wrath which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (cf. Romans 1:18). There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who DOES evil, and glory and honor and peace to everyone who DOES good, for there is no partiality with God (cf. Romans 2:9-11). “Does good” means the obedience of faith, and not the obedience of the flesh. You notice how with God there is no theoretical righteousness: “Children, let no man lead you astray; he that practises righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that practises sin is of the devil; for from [the] beginning the devil sins. To this end the Son of God has been manifested, that he might undo the works of the devil. Whoever has been begotten of God does not practise sin, because his seed abides in him, and he cannot sin, because he has been begotten of God. In this are manifest the children of God and the children of the devil. Whoever does not practise righteousness is not of God, and he who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:7-10) To this end the Son of God came, that He might UNDO the works of the devil; so if all what you have now is a life of unrighteousness and disobedience to the truth, then the Son of God has not worked in your life yet. You should ask for His Salvation that destroys the works of the devil in your life and sanctifies you.
As you can see, the Word of God is clear concerning the definition of a righteous man. A righteous man is not the one who says he believed in Christ and yet produces the fruit of unrighteousness, but he is the person who admits he is NOT righteous in himself, that he is a lost sinner and cannot deserve Salvation whether before coming to Christ or after coming to Him (cf. 1 John 1:7-10). This righteous person has repented from his sins and walks in the way of repentance, producing the fruit of repentance, i.e. the fruit of righteousness (cf. Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8). That fruit of righteousness does not come from himself, but God has already prepared those works in which those who are created in Christ by Grace through faith will surely walk (cf. Ephesians 2:10). God does not lower His standard of holiness when He justifies the sinner, but on the contrary He is Just and at the same time He justifies the sinner by faith in Christ, as Christ paid the debt of our sins to save us and make us a sanctified people for Himself (cf. Romans 3:26 and Titus 2:11-14). In other terms, when God justifies the sinner, He is not putting His Law aside and accepting the sinfulness of the sinner; He still demands the full accomplishment of all His Commandments, but He has given the sinner the possibility to rely on Christ’s perfect Righteousness in order to be able to stand before Him justified and pure, as no sinner could save himself otherwise. So it is not by our good works or by claiming to be righteous and good people that we will be acceptable before God, as we all are sinners (cf. Romans 3:23), but on the contrary we will be acceptable before God if we admit that we deserve God’s wrath because of our sins and we receive HIS Righteousness by faith, because God does not justify the godly (or more precisely the one who claims to be godly, as all are sinners and not really godly), but He justifies the ungodly by faith (cf. Romans 4:5). This faith receives the Grace of God that makes the believer a new creature (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:17), and thus this faith is not a dead faith that has no works with it (cf. James 2:17), but it is a living faith that will surely work through love (cf. Galatians 5:6). James 2:17 and Galatians 5:6 make it clear that living faith works through love, i.e. it HAS works with it, as it received the Grace of God that works in the believer and gives the fruit of righteousness. So it is a very wrong idea that the believer needs to add his own works (which are dead works) to that faith in order to make it a living faith, because that living faith already HAS works with it, as we have read in Ephesians 2:10 and in James 2:17. The believer’s old self should not be still living, as it was crucified with Christ (cf. Romans 6:2-4); it is not the believer’s old self who lives anymore, but Christ lives in him (cf. Galatians 2:20). So the believer who died cannot practice the works of his old nature as a pattern anymore, and those dead works of his old nature cannot make his faith a living faith, as they are dead! The dead cannot make anything alive. The believer repented from all those dead works (cf. Hebrews 6:1), and now Christ lives in him and works His works through him by His Spirit (cf. John 15:1-17). Indeed, the believer has the blood of the Lamb on him, i.e. he received the Righteousness that Christ provided for him by His death on the cross, and now he has the life of Christ who rose from the dead. On the Day of Judgment, God will not look to a false claim of having the blood of the Lamb, but He will look to what that blood certainly (and not optionally) produces in the true believer: the life of the risen Christ. This life is a moral life that includes all righteousness. All this is explained by Paul in Romans 5, especially in Romans 5:8-10 where he said:
“but God commends his love to us, in that, we being still sinners, Christ has died for us. Much rather therefore, having been now justified in [the power of] his blood, we shall be saved by him from wrath. For if, being enemies, we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much rather, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in [the power of] his life.” (Romans 5:8-10)
This is a very deep passage indeed! The sweet promises of our Gracious God! Savor it with me! God so loved us, that we being still sinners CHRIST DIED FOR US! We didn’t deserve that… Who am I, a wretched sinner, that Christ would give His life for me?! I was His enemy, as I was disobedient to Him, and I was naturally a child of wrath (cf. Ephesians 2:3). The power of His death, the power of His blood, justified us before God by faith. And now that we are reconciled to God through the death of His Son (i.e. through Christ’s blood), we will surely be saved (i.e. we will be sanctified practically and we will reach His Glory) in the power of the life of the risen Christ! That’s a sure promise, as all true believers who have been justified by faith are predestined by God to be conformed to the image of His Son (cf. Romans 8:29). Our Sanctification is a sure fact, as it is promised by God. So why should God, on the Day of Judgment, only look to the blood of the Lamb when that blood will surely produce the fruit of righteousness, i.e. sanctification? If there is no sanctification, then there is no blood on the concerned person. If there are no fruits of righteousness, then there is no righteousness. This is the truth revealed in the whole Bible, but that false teachers want to change in these days… If a child of Israel had the blood on his door but was not in the house where that blood was applied, he would be destroyed just like all the Egyptians (cf. Exodus 12:13 and Exodus 12:22-23).
In Romans 6, Paul explains these truths in more details against the false teachers who supposed that the Apostles were preaching a “gospel” of unrighteousness. He clarifies that the Grace under which we are does not mean unrighteousness at all, but on the contrary it means that we died to sin in order to live for righteousness (cf. Romans 6:1-7). Sin is not an option for us anymore, as we are dead to it; the old man is crucified and now the risen Christ lives in us. Can Christ still die after He rose from the dead? Of course not! Then we also cannot die, as Christ lives in us and sin cannot be master over us anymore (cf. Romans 6:8-14). Please, note that “life” and “death” in this passage are not words that describe biological life and death, but they describe spiritual life and death, so they contain the truth of moral life: life means being free from sin to serve Righteousness, and death means being free from Righteousness to serve sin (cf. Romans 6:15-22). So there are only two ways, and each of us has taken one of them: the one is the way of God’s Righteousness that leads to eternal life, and the other is the way of unrighteousness and self-righteousness that leads to death; life is by free Grace, death is the wages of sin (cf. Romans 6:23). It is impossible to have it in any other way: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Galatians 6:7-10) If I am not in the way of Righteousness which is by God’s Grace alone, then I am going straight to eternal death, as I don’t have the life of Christ in me; there is no other possibility, for God cannot be mocked; I can’t deceive God.
In Romans 7, Paul elaborates these truths more by giving more details about the relation of the believer with the Law. The Law cannot save the sinner, as it keeps him under the authority of his flesh to which the sinner is bound just as a wife is bound to her husband. This wife cannot belong to another man as long as her husband lives (cf. Romans 7:1-2). So the sinner cannot really belong to Christ and thus bring fruits of righteousness unless the husband (the flesh) dies. So the sinner cannot really do the Will of God unless he is dead to sin and he is not in the flesh anymore, but in the Spirit. This is explained in details in the next verses of Romans 7 and in the whole chapter 8. A person who is not in Christ is still in the flesh and walks according to the flesh (i.e. according to the old nature), and his unrighteous way of life will surely lead to eternal death; and he who is in Christ lives in the Spirit, and his way of life will surely lead to eternal life (cf. Romans 8:13). Those who are in the Spirit will surely put the works of the flesh to death by the Spirit, as only those who are led by the Spirit are children of God (cf. Romans 8:14).
So when we are justified by faith, this faith is not a mind-belief or a head-knowledge. This faith receives the Grace of God that makes us new:
“For the grace of God which carries with it salvation for all men has appeared, teaching us that, having denied impiety and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, and justly, and piously in the present course of things, awaiting the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all lawlessness, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11-14)
True believers are those who have been saved by Grace alone through faith alone, and not by a dead faith alone. They are saved by a living faith that works through love (cf. Galatians 5:6). Jesus didn’t save them only from the wrath to come, but He also redeemed them from lawlessness and has purified them as a peculiar people to Himself, ZEALOUS for good works. He didn’t only justify them, but He also sanctified them to Himself, and now He sanctifies them practically day after day. They don’t do good works just to earn Heaven, as a self-righteous legalistic person does. They don’t do good works to show people how righteous they are, as that is hypocrisy. They don’t do good works as a legalistic fleshly duty. They are ZEALOUS for good works, because the Lord has redeemed them from all lawlessness, and He has purified them to Himself, so they are saints by calling. They are separated from the world for God to glorify Him with all what they do (cf. Matthew 5:16). They are ZEALOUS to live soberly and justly and piously in the present course of things, and they wait with great hope the appearing of the Glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, as they HAVE DENIED impiety and worldly lusts.
In other words, it is a very wrong teaching to say that Salvation means only justification and nothing else. A biblical synonym for “Salvation” would not be justification, but HOLINESS. Jesus didn’t save us from sin to sin, but from sin to God and to His Righteousness. He saved us from sin to holiness. We were saved from lawlessness; we received God’s Righteousness (i.e. holiness). And on the Day of Judgment, all the secrets of all men (including believers) will be revealed, because God will not judge people according to the appearances or to what those people said they believed… “in [the] day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my glad tidings, by Jesus Christ.” (Romans 2:16) The secrets of men will be revealed on that Day, and nothing can be hidden. God will not just make the righteous enter the life and the unrighteous go into eternal punishment without a public judgment, but all humans will stand before the Judge, and books will be opened:
“And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled, and place was not found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [that] of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which [were] in it, and death and hades gave up the dead which [were] in them; and they were judged each according to their works: and death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, [even] the lake of fire. And if any one was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11-15)
Do not imagine that this will be just a reading of names in the Book of life… In the Bible, “name” means the nature of the one named. For instance, read this:
“He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him that overcomes, to him will I give of the hidden manna; and I will give to him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he that receives [it].” (Revelation 2:17)
This is promised to the overcomers, i.e. to those who are really righteous in Christ and will persevere to the end by His Grace. In the same way, it is only to these overcomers that God promises that their names will be found in the Book of life:
“He that overcomes, he shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, and will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
So on the Day of Judgment, we should expect Jesus to confess our names before His Father. That’s what it means to find our names written in the Book of life. We should expect Jesus to declare us as His own. It is not enough to say that we believe in Jesus; He should find on and in us HIS Righteousness that overcomes sin and gives the fruit of righteousness, as we have seen. Jesus made this clear when He said:
“A good tree cannot produce bad fruits, nor a worthless tree produce good fruits. Every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. By their fruits then surely ye shall know them. Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but he that does the will of my Father who is in the heavens. Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied through thy name, and through thy name cast out demons, and through thy name done many works of power? and then will I avow unto them, I never knew you. Depart from me, workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:18-23)
So away with the false idea that many give when they say that on the Judgment Day God will ask us why should He make us enter the life and that we should answer that it is because we believed in Christ!!… NEVER does the Bible say that God will look to whether we confess the Name of Christ before Him or we don’t! The Bible makes it clear that it is CHRIST who should confess our names before God, or else we are lost forever! The authority of judgment is in God’s hand and not in our hands. Christ should find His Righteousness in us, or else we are condemned forever! And we have seen that His Righteousness is manifested by the fruit of righteousness. On the Day of Judgment, all creatures, including the devil, will stand before God’s Throne. God will not just say “Well, I know these men are righteous, so I will make them enter the life”!! God will declare to all creatures who can’t see the hearts the fruit of righteousness that the righteous have brought by His Grace:
“But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit down upon his throne of glory, and all the nations shall be gathered before him; and he shall separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on [his] left. Then shall the King say to those on his right hand, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from [the] world’s foundation: for I hungered, and ye gave me to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was ill, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came to me. Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, and nourished thee; or thirsting, and gave thee to drink? and when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? and when saw we thee ill, or in prison, and came to thee? And the King answering shall say to them, Verily, I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me. Then shall he say also to those on the left, Go from me, cursed, into eternal fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I hungered, and ye gave me not to eat; I thirsted, and ye gave me not to drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye did not clothe me; ill, and in prison, and ye did not visit me. Then shall they also answer saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungering, or thirsting, or a stranger, or naked, or ill, or in prison, and have not ministered to thee? Then shall he answer them saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have not done it to one of these least, neither have ye done it to me. And these shall go away into eternal punishment, and the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:31-46)
The righteous is revealed by his fruits, just as a good tree is revealed by its fruits. If someone has the Righteousness of Christ, then he will enter the eternal life. If someone does not have the Righteousness of Christ, then he goes away into eternal punishment in Hell. You notice how the Judge already separated the sheep from the goats BEFORE declaring the reason for the choice He made as to whether someone is a sheep or a goat. He then gives the reason: All creatures can see the Righteousness of Christ on the sheep, as they brought fruits of righteousness even without boasting that they did (note how they didn’t know they did…) The unrighteous do not have the Righteousness of Christ, so they didn’t have the fruits of righteousness. It is to be noted that those sheep didn’t always and perfectly do good works, but the Judge only saw His Righteousness on and in them, and therefore only their good works are mentioned. In the same way, those unrighteous could have done some good works by helping a poor or visiting a prisoner, etc… But the Judge does not look to any of those good works that they had done, because they couldn’t really be called “good” as they were done in self-righteousness and not by the Righteousness of Christ. For more details about this truth, I quote the following passage from our article How to be justified before God?
We receive the Righteousness of Christ by faith and not by works, and all good works are the natural result of this Righteousness that we receive by faith. They are the fruit of Righteousness, and not the fruits of our old sinful nature: “being complete as regards the fruit of righteousness, which [is] by Jesus Christ, to God’s glory and praise.” (Philippians 1:11) The fruit of what are these good works? The fruit of Righteousness. How did we receive this Righteousness? By faith. It is by this Righteousness that we stand justified before God, and not by our works. But if our faith does not have good works with it, then we are not justified to begin with, as such a faith cannot save anyone, as we have seen above. Good works are not an optional result of true Salvation. They will surely come as the result of Salvation:
“For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God’s gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has before prepared that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
In this passage we see that Salvation is by Grace alone through faith alone, and not by anything in ourselves. But although we are not saved BY our good works, and yet we are saved FOR good works prepared by God, the works of faith. So if anyone has not the Righteousness of Christ by faith, then he will not have the fruit of this Righteousness (i.e. the good works prepared by God), and thus he will find out on the Day of Judgment that he had put his trust on his belief and not on the finished work of Redemption done by Jesus Christ alone.
And Jesus of course told us about this fact in the parable about the Judgment Day and about the sheep and the goats (read Matthew 25:31-46). In that parable, the Lord said that He will be the One who will judge the living and the dead. All nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the sheep from the goats. In this article, we are studying the reason for which those on His right are called sheep and those on His left are called goats. Those on the right had received the Righteousness of Christ by faith, and therefore they were considered sheep in Christ, although in themselves they had not a perfect righteousness. And those on the left were called goats as they relied on their own righteousness which is not perfect. In the rest of the parable, you see that these goats didn’t do good works. Of course, these are people who may have sometimes helped others and done some good works, and many of them even did those helpful works in the Name of Jesus (see Matthew 7:22-23), but all those works are not considered as good by Christ as they are not the fruit of real Righteousness, because those goats didn’t put their trust on the work of Redemption done by Christ and thus didn’t have His Righteousness. While the sheep are considered to have done all the good works. Of course, these sheep had sometimes fallen in sins and have not done all the good works that they could have done. None of us is perfect in himself. But as they are not justified by their works but by faith, so their sins are not counted to them, and thus Jesus does not even mention their sins, but He only mentions their good works that are the witness of His Righteousness before others.
Again and again, it is the same truth that we meet: those who receive the Righteousness of God by faith will surely produce the fruit of righteousness, as the Apostle John makes it clear:
“Children, let no man lead you astray; he that practises righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.” (1 John 3:7)
“He that says he abides in him ought, even as he walked, himself also [so] to walk.” (1 John 2:6)
Indeed, when the Lord Jesus described the righteous man, He didn’t give some theoretical ideas about him, but He described him with very practical and living acts. In His great Sermon on the Mount, He declares beatitudes only for those who have His Righteousness revealed by their heart-attitudes and their acts. In Matthew 5:3-12, we see that the righteous man is not the person who thinks he is righteous, but the person who is poor in spirit, who knows that he is in spiritual bankruptcy and has nothing to offer to God in order to receive His approval. He is a man who comes to God with a humble heart, admitting that his only hope is the Grace of God, as he doesn’t have any spiritual goodness in himself. He is a person who mourns for his sins and for the sins of people around him. He doesn’t laugh for the sins of other people or for his own sins. He doesn’t think sin is something to be tolerated for the fact that he is justified by Grace and not by works, but on the contrary, he hates sin and mourns for sins. In other terms, the righteous man as described by our Lord is a repentant person who hates sin and loves righteousness. He doesn’t try to make himself gentle, as if the flesh could produce something good, but he is gentle as he admits his spiritual bankruptcy and mourns over his sins and experiences the forgiveness of God. As Jesus explained in many other places, the person to whom much was forgiven loves much. So the righteous man is he to whom God has forgiven; he has experienced the forgiveness of God, so he loves everyone. Therefore he is gentle by the Grace of God, and not because he tries to change his old nature to make it gentle. We all know that the old nature (the flesh) cannot change; it is bad. When the Apostle Paul wanted to describe the flesh, even when he was in faith, he found the following words to say about it: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.” (Romans 7:18) The flesh is so bad, that God didn’t choose to change it to something better, but He chose to crucify it: “But they that [are] of the Christ have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts.” (Galatians 5:24) It is impossible that the flesh may please God, so there is a need for the new birth as the Lord explained to Nicodemus: “Jesus answered and said to him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except any one be born anew he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) He explained the reason: “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6) Notice that He didn’t say that that which is born of the flesh is flesh and spirit, but he is flesh, fleshly; he doesn’t have spiritual life; he is fleshly and he produces the works of the flesh: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strifes, jealousies, angers, contentions, disputes, schools of opinion, envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revels, and things like these; as to which I tell you beforehand, even as I also have said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit God’s kingdom.” (Galatians 5:19-21) These bad works of the flesh spring naturally from the flesh. While he who is born of the Spirit is spirit, spiritual; he has a spiritual life that will surely produce the fruit of the Spirit: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, self-control: against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) So the person who has received the true Grace of God will surely LOVE to do what is right and what agrees with the Will of God as revealed in His Law. Actually, the Law of God is written in his heart (cf. Jeremiah 31:33)! Thus, going back to Matthew 5:3-12, we see that the Lord described the righteous man who already has the Righteousness of God as a person who hungers and thirsts for righteousness. He doesn’t think in the following way that is the way of the world: “How much closer can I get to sin and still be a righteous man?”… He doesn’t just want to avoid sin; this is an error that many make when thinking about a righteous man… He doesn’t just want to be better than the worldly people or to be like another saint… He doesn’t seek righteousness just to look righteous (cf. Matthew 6:1). He doesn’t just hate sin, but he also LOVES righteousness! He hungers and thirsts for righteousness. He thinks about righteousness just as you think about bread when you have been without anything to eat for one month, and he thinks about righteousness just as you think about water when you have been without water for many days! This is how a righteous man is! The Lord says that this man who hungers and thirsts for righteousness is also merciful, as he experienced the mercy of God. He prayed “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!'” (Luke 18:13) and he experienced the mercy of God; so how can he be anything but merciful?! The Grace of God means the mercy that God gave to him when he asked for mercy, so if he really experienced this Grace, then it will make him merciful. He came in repentance to God and walks in repentance as he mourns over sin and seeks righteousness, so this grace of repentance purifies his heart by the promises of God’s Word. Therefore the Lord described the righteous man as someone who is pure in heart. And as he experienced the peace with God and the peace of God, so he is a peacemaker by nature. He loves and seeks righteousness not as a duty, but by nature! He loves righteousness! Therefore the world which is in the evil (cf. 1 John 5:19) surely hates him and persecutes him (cf. John 15:18-19; John 17:14; 1 John 3:13). Indeed, the righteous man should not be surprised if the world hates him (cf. 1 John 3:13). On the contrary, we should be surprised if a man claims to be righteous and yet we find that the world loves him! That’s abnormal! Jesus said: “If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on account of this the world hates you.” (John 15:19) If the world finds you in agreement with its principles and is at ease with your walk, if your life does not make it feel conviction for its sins, then you should be surprised! Then you should worry! Then you should test yourself to see if you are in the faith (cf. 2 Corinthians 13:5)! Then you should search your heart to find out if there is any adultery with the world in it: “Adulteresses, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore is minded to be [the] friend of the world is constituted enemy of God.” (James 4:4)… He who is truly righteous is hated of the world and he hates the world. The world hates him and persecutes him. The righteous man is persecuted for the sake of righteousness; he is insulted and persecuted for the sake of Jesus, as the Lord said in Matthew 5:10-11. He doesn’t seek persecution like those who have some psychological problem… He seeks righteousness and persecution comes naturally, as the world hates those who belong to Christ: “And all indeed who desire to live piously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Therefore he should rejoice when persecuted for the sake of righteousness and for the Name of Christ, because that is a proof that he is like the prophets who were persecuted for the sake of righteousness (cf. Matthew 5:12). He has chosen the narrow gate and he walks in the narrow way with joy (cf. Matthew 7:13-14). This is the righteous man who is the salt of this tasteless earth and the light of this dark world, who glorifies by his good works the Father who gave him life that produces the fruit of life in him (cf. Matthew 5:13-16). The treasure of this righteous man is in Heaven and not on earth, therefore his heart also is in Heaven and not in the world (cf. Matthew 6:19-34).
Do you see how the righteous man is described by the Lord Jesus? All what you read above will be sought on the Day of Judgment! God will not look if people thought you were righteous or not; God will not look to your denomination; God will not look whether you were a Roman Catholic by denomination or an Orthodox or a Protestant; God will not look to your confession of faith; God will not look if you had the right or orthodox doctrine, if you knew the Creed by heart or if you served much in church… You will surely have the right doctrine if you have the Righteousness of God. God will look for His Righteousness in you; He will look for the new nature in you, and he will declare it according to the fruit of the Spirit that we have seen above. These are the good works according to which the sheep are declared righteous on the Day of Judgment, and not the works of the flesh or the so-called “good works” that the world imagines. God looks for His Grace in you, and not for your “good works”, because all “good works” are in fact bad without His Grace. Every good tree will surely bear the good fruit of the Spirit (cf. Matthew 7:17-18). And the judgment will be as Christ described it in the following verse: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 7:19) That’s very clear: every good tree will SURELY produce the good fruit that we have seen together above in the description of the righteous man, and every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire of Hell. So it’s not enough to say that you believe in Jesus; you need to receive His Righteousness and thus be righteous (cf. Matthew 7:21-23). The interesting fact in all this is that we can’t be good trees, so we should die to ourselves and be united to Christ who is the good Tree that gives good fruit and without whom we can do nothing: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. [As to] every branch in me not bearing fruit, he takes it away; and [as to] every one bearing fruit, he purges it that it may bring forth more fruit. Ye are already clean by reason of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abide in the vine, thus neither [can] ye unless ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches. He that abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. Unless any one abide in me he is cast out as the branch, and is dried up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:1-6)
Thus all the passages that you mentioned in your question are explained in details in our study above.
Now, you add at the end:
If these verses are about Lordship Salvation, how much good works is good enough ?
Something very important should be clarified about the so-called “Lordship Salvation”. What people call “Lordship Salvation” is nothing else but the biblical way of Salvation. Lordship Salvation does not mean that we are saved by our works, but it means that true Salvation will surely produce the fruit of righteousness, as we have seen above. Lordship Salvation means that we are saved by putting ourselves under the Lordship of Christ (i.e. by receiving Christ as our Lord), so this will surely produce the fruit of obedience to Christ. By definition, you obey the one who is your Lord. So it’s not by how much good works you do that you are saved, but by the Righteousness of God that will surely produce good fruit in and through you if you really received His Righteousness. Jesus made it clear that it is not by how much you work that you are saved (cf. Matthew 20:1-16 — notice how some worked less than the others, and yet all received one denarius; all received the Grace of Salvation. But notice also how all DID work), but by the fact that you truly received the Grace of God and thus you have surely produced the fruit of righteousness (cf. Luke 19:11-27 — notice how all the enemies of the King are lost, including he who didn’t bring the fruit of righteousness, because he didn’t really receive the Grace of God. As for those who are saved, their Salvation didn’t depend of the quantity of their works, but of the fact that they DID produce good works, as true righteousness will always produce good fruit). Therefore Jesus said:
“Take heed therefore how ye hear; for whosoever has, to him shall be given, and whosoever has not, even what he seems to have shall be taken from him.” (Luke 8:18)
Those who have really received the Grace of God to them more shall be given, and grace upon grace (cf. John 1:16), while those who didn’t receive the Grace of God, even if they think they have something, then that will be taken from them and thus they are lost.
So according to what we have seen above, the righteous man will not ask “how much good works is good enough?”… He will hunger and thirst for righteousness. He doesn’t work in order to be saved by his good works; he works because he is saved by God’s Grace, and as we have seen above this Grace teaches him that having denied unrighteousness he should live righteously. The Grace of God makes him ZEALOUS for good works, as he hungers and thirsts for righteousness.
Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ
The following articles are related to this article’s topic: