Gospel Grace

Motivation For Doing Good Works for Which We Will be Judged

Why do I focus on the Gospel so much when Scripture tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10)?

Where does this verse fall in this epistle? Paul writes this statement after he explains and expresses the Gospel. We could say 2 Corinthians is a follow-up of 1 Corinthians, and in both epistles, Paul continually points us to the Gospel. And only after pointing us to the Gospel does Paul give us commands, things we ought to do.

But as Dave Gill explains, “If someone says “God commanded it, so we must be able to do it,” RUN. God’s commands force reliance on Him, not tell what is possible.”

As I have stressed before, many times before, all of our good works are perfected by and through Christ’s finished work on the cross and the good works we do are the fruit of the Spirit’s Gospel-Applying work in our lives. In fact, our good works are fruit and the power to defend ourselves is fruit, as well. Scotty Smith hits the point with, “Don’t focus on the ‘how to’s’ of the Christian life as much as the ‘Who did'”.

So how do we reconcile this fruit of the Spirit’s Gospel-Applying work in our lives? Simply put, and I hope this is not oversimplifying the issue, we are free to do all that we can for God’s glory.

We don’t have to worry about what others think because the only Person who loves us and fully and completely accepts us is pleased with us because He sees us as “in Christ” and we have Christ’s righteousness.

We are not trying to gain God’s favor. Christ has already gained it for us and in our place. That work is finished.

The power of our idols and sin is broken. 1 Corinthians 15:50ff. We are free. We are free to love God and love others.

Because of this freedom in Christ, we can do all we can for God’s glory in Christ. And it is the good works in this freedom for which we will be judged. There is now no excuse to exhort each other to love and good works. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

“16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

And this is good news! This motivates us to share the Good News of the Gospel because we are motivated by the Gospel to do these things. And this is why I focus on the Gospel so much – it is the motivation for us to do the good works for which we will be judged. And we definitely need motivation. There is only one sustaining motivation for the Christian. It is the Gospel.


Pursuing the Gospel Or Its Fruit ?

The Gospel Changes Everything.

But if the Gospel changes everything, why do we reach for “doing” rather than “believing”?

People love, love, love their religion. Religion makes us feel good. When we participate in religion, we gain a sense of accomplishment. A sense that we are actually doing something good for God. We think we are accepted by God based on our doing.

Surrender to God? Check. Loving others? Check. Seeking peace? Check. Acceptable to God? Not so much (See Isaiah 64:6).

These things are fruit. Fruit of the Spirit–the Spirit of Christ that dwells within us.

There is a difference between focusing on the Gospel and focusing on the fruit of the Gospel.

Focusing on “surrender” inherently draws our attention and action inwardly. “Can I muster enough effort to surrender enough?” But focusing on the Gospel automatically motivates me to surrender.

Do you see the difference? This is subtle but so freeing. One is looking at the fruit, but the other looks to the Tree of Life (Jesus and His Gospel) and the fruit of looking at the Gospel is produced in our lives.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5 is not an exhaustive list. We could add surrender to Jesus, humility, wisdom, godliness, growing in faith for faith, eating and drinking to the glory of God, abhorring and running from sin, orphan care, and the list could go on and on.

The bottom line: Pursuing the fruit establishes religion. Looking to Jesus and His Good News (the Gospel) produces fruit.

Pursuing the fruit is religion. Pursuing the Gospel is Christianity.


The Gospel Produces Fruit

Once a month, we meet in small groups and have been discussing the Fruit of the Spirit (See Galatians 5). Last night’s discussion revolved around patience.

I have no patience. I don’t know that I can pull myself up by my bootstraps and make myself be patient. It’s not in me. At best, I can possibly be tolerant; not patient.

But isn’t that the point of Galatians 5? I mean, the Fruit of the Spirit is, well, fruit. Fruit cannot grow except it grow on a tree. If we are truly connected to the Tree of Life (Jesus) by the Spirit in the Gospel, the natural outflow is the Fruit the Spirit produces.

Although, we cannot tell in English so much, the word fruit in Galatians 5:22 is singular. What this means, at least in part, is we will either show all of the Fruits of the Spirit in a strong way or all in a weak way. This also means if I am demonstrating a couple of the “fruits” I am most likely picking myself up by my bootstraps and trying to demonstrate them in my own strength; hence, I’m not demonstrating all of them.

This is why the Gospel is so vital. We need to reflect on Jesus, His birth, life, death, and resurrection, by all of which He fulfilled everything God required of us but couldn’t or didn’t want to fulfill. Jesus was patient, kind, full of peace, love, joy, and the rest.

Jesus was patient even until the cross. He was patient towards everyone. He was patient for us and in our place.

What Jesus did frees us to be patient. We can’t do it, but Jesus did and His finished work becomes the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives as we continually trust Him and the Good News that He is and has done.

Don’t fret. Trust Jesus. He’s done it all. You reap the fruit.