The Biblical Foundation for Why We Do Good Works: Because We Will Be Resurrected to The New Creation Here On Earth

Posted on Dec 9, 2016 in Theology blog | 1 comment

by Roland Wrinkle  

I love this “church” (body of the Messiah). I love its members (my family). Perhaps most of all, I love the good works they consistently, tirelessly, ubiquitously, untiringly, obsessively, unselfishly, pridelessly and lovingly do. [It was right here that I started to list the people, offices, committees and such that contribute to the church, the community and the world before I quit in frustration, overwhelmed by the task of merely writing them down. As John said, “But there are also many other things that Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” (John 20:25)

My present concern here is: Why? Is it because they are all terrific people? Yes, of course, but Jesus never said, “Follow me and I will make you terrific people and you will do good works.” Or because we will be rewarded for our good works by our soul going to heaven when our body dies? No, for two reasons: 1) The 66 books of the bible do not tell us that we go to heaven when we die; and 2) We cannot earn our salvation ourselves. Or is it the traditional reason given by the reformed church is the answer, i.e. that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and, in gratitude for that, we vow to do good works? No. That is no more the message of the biblical narrative than going to heaven when we die.

I believe the true biblical answer lies in the promise that, because Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead, we will also be bodily resurrected to the new creation here on earth (what John describes as “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1); what God says to Isaiah will be, “a new heaven and a new earth” (Is. 65:17) and what Peter tells us, “But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth….” (2 Pet. 3:13)

My answer is this: Because the single, dominate thread that holds all of the books of the bible together and constitutes the grand narrative of scripture is that God will bring salvation and blessing “to all the families of the earth” (Gen. 12:3) by bodily resurrecting His people from the dead to populate God’s restored Good and New Creation here on earth. From the beginning, God chose us to serve as His royal agents to restore (through Christ and with the Spirit) that which we had corrupted. Given free will to decide as we please, we always have the choice to participate or not in the Kingdom launched by Christ on the cross. And that intentional participation never consists of a profession of faith or repeating the Sinner’s Prayer while sitting on the couch letting others do good works (“just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family [fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, visited the sick or the prisoner], you did it to me.” Matt. 25:38). There are no spectators in the Kingdom of God. No one will be cheering from the sidelines. 100% of the population will be active participants. That is what it means to be in the Kingdom of God. It is definitional—and non-negotiable. No fish will ever live in the sea if it refuses to breath under water. No person will be declared a member of “My family” and walk the earth when “The home of God is among mortals [and] He will dwell with them and they will be His peoples” (Rev. 21:3) if they are not engaged in the business of the Kingdom—if they are not doing Kingdom work.

Paul makes this point so explicitly as to be uncontroversial (although we seemed to have missed it for centuries). The most detailed, extended and emphatic declaration and explication of the bodily resurrection of Jesus forming the basis of our own resurrection to the New Creation is found in 1 Cor. 15. For 57 verses lawyer Paul carefully lays out his argument that we will be resurrected in a “resurrection body” (Paul had to make up a new word combination to express this new reality, soma pneumatikon) because Jesus was bodily resurrected from the dead and then declares that, if all of this is not true, then “then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (v. 14). But then watch what happens in the 58th verse immediately after he concludes this elaborate argument, i.e. he says, “Therefore, let’s all go out and collect money to feed the poor!” “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. Concerning the collection for the saints…on the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that …I…will take your gift to Jerusalem.”

Because we will be resurrected from the dead, because we will be given resurrection bodies, because we will be inhabiting the Kingdom of God as the New Creation and the New Heaven and New Earth, now therefore we do good works. We do Kingdom work because we are Kingdom people. Just look at the person sitting in the pew next to you.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Roland, funny how our traditional understanding of heaven and the after this life isn’t biblical. But things are changing – here is some encouraging text from httpss://gotquestions.org “A Christian, Protestant, conservative, evangelical, fundamental, and non-denominational. We view ourselves as a para-church ministry, coming alongside the church to help people find answers to their spiritually related questions.”

    “Many people have a misconception of what heaven is truly like. Revelation chapters 21-22 gives us a detailed picture of the new heavens and the new earth. After the events of the end times, the current heavens and earth will be done away with and replaced by the new heavens and new earth. The eternal dwelling place of believers will be the new earth.
    The new earth is the “heaven” on which we will spend eternity. It is the new earth where the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city, will be located. It is on the new earth that the pearly gates and streets of gold will be.

    Heaven—the new earth—is a physical place where we will dwell with glorified physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). The concept that heaven is “in the clouds” is unbiblical. The concept that we will be “spirits floating around in heaven” is also unbiblical. The heaven that believers will experience will be a new and perfect planet on which we will dwell. The new earth will be free from sin, evil, sickness, suffering, and death. It will likely be similar to our current earth, or perhaps even a re-creation of our current earth, but without the curse of sin.”

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