Sermon Delivered October 11, 1997

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

How to Have Good Works

A new missionary was assigned to a mission station and he was given a car that he could use. The only problem was that it would not start without a push. The first day he got the school kids to shove his car off. After that he would always park on a slight hill to give it a start or just leave the car running if he was going to be in for just a few minutes. A couple years later ill health set in. He had caught some of the diseases in the mission field and forced Pastor Jackson to leave. So his replacement came.

When new missionary said, "I need a car." And Pastor Jackson said, "Well, this car is for you. It's for whatever missionary is here. Let me show you how to start it. You get it rolling and let out on the clutch and it'll start." The new missionary opened the hood and found a loose cable, and got a wrench, and tightened the cable up. Then he stepped into the car and pushed the switch and to the astonishment of Pastor Jackson, the engine roared to life.

For two years Pastor Jackson had had needless trouble. The power was there all the time! The starter just wasn't connected. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. And that's the problem with a bunch of us! The power is there! We're just not connected.

Ephesians 1:19 (Phillips): "How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God." Now, however it's translated in your version, the fact is the power that we can get from God is tremendous, isn't it? It's wonderful power, fantastic. The only problem is the connection. We need to get connected with that power, otherwise it isn't going to do us any good. Because that saving bond or link is weak or non-existent, it is so hard to live the Christian life.

We are like that man who was trying to cut down a tree with a chain saw. It was hard sweat and work until finally someone showed him how to start up the engine. It went a lot better after that. I want to have good works! But what produces good works and how do they fit in with salvation? Do they have anything to do with salvation?

Let us begin with Forgiveness and then Salvation and then Good Works.

Ephesians 2:4,5 (NIV): "But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved." You have been saved. That's past tense. You were saved in the past.

We were saved 2,000 years ago. Whether we actually reach heaven depends on what we do with that salvation that was provided 2,000 years ago. We need to accept Jesus' death on the cross as the payment for all our sins. You have a choice, you can pay for sin yourself or you can let Jesus pay for it. I prefer to let Jesus pay for my sins, because it will cost me everything I've got if I pay for them myself.

We get eternal life by getting forgiveness for our sins, first of all. God loves to forgive sins. It is His hobby. He enjoys forgiving sins. If you ask for your sins to be forgiven God is always faithful to do it. I John 1:9 (NIV): "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." That's a beautiful text.

On my computer if I wish to eliminate a file, I just highlight it and move my mouse pointer to DELETE and I click it. Up comes a question: "Are you sure you want to delete this file. If Y(es) All information will be deleted." If I push yes, I will never see it again. They tell me there are ways to get it back, but I'm not so sure. I don't know how to get it back. It's gone! If you ask Jesus to blot out your sins, all your sins are erased, deleted from the hard drive in that celestial computer. In fact Jesus re-formats your hard drive. It is all clean. But He does not quit there. Next, Jesus downloads fresh righteous software into the computer of your heart. We call that a new heart. New desires will come in. New power will come into your Christian life. And you will be able to do the things that you want to do.

This does not mean that I will never hit the wrong key on my keyboard. It does not mean I will never have to use spell check. I should also have to use grammar check as well. Even though I am a new person, I will make mistakes. But, over time, I will become more and more like Jesus. I will reflect the divine image more and more. The good Works will come.

Don't focus on your life of failure and mistakes. Focus on Jesus. When I look at Don Gettys I just don';t see how I can be saved. When I look at my life of works and my record of blotched up flops. BUT, when I look at Jesus my Saviour and His deep fantastic love, I don't see how I can be lost! He's such a wonderful Savior. When I look at Jesus I get great confidence that I will be in Heaven soon. I am going to walk on the streets of gold because of Jesus, my Savior. Not only will Jesus forgive you but He will empower you to live the Christian life. We are not saved by living a good life. We live a good life because we have been saved. Good works are the fruit of being in love with Jesus.

When you truly come to Jesus and fall in love with Him, that new relationship will dramatically transform your life. If you have bad habits and blatant immoral living, you will be changed. This new lifestyle will be clear evidence that something profound has taken place.

Your conversion will automatically produce good fruit. Just as your life of service to Satan produced sinful fruit, so your love for your new master will produce good fruit. Good works are the result of your total commitment to Jesus Christ. He becomes both your Saviour and your Lord. That means that He's in charge of our lives.

If you are not bearing good fruit it is clear that you do not really know Jesus. Bearing fruit is not an option. It is a natural result of coming to Jesus. An apple tree cannot help but bear apples when it is properly connected to Mother Earth. We cannot help but bear good works when properly connected to our Father in heaven. If you are properly connected to our Father in heaven, you will produce good works.

Don't complain or criticize someone else. It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become toward the defects of others.

So how do we have good works? What thing or act are we supposed to do? John 6:29 (NIV): "Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'" If you want to do the work of God then believe! Believe in Jesus!! The work of Christians is to Believe in Jesus. That is the work that will save us.

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing. -- George Sweeting And what is the main thing? Trust in Jesus. Believe in Jesus. To maintain that saving connection with Jesus.

Gutson Borglum was the sculptor who carved the massive figures of four American presidents (Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt) on Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota. When asked how he produced the amazing work, he replied, "Those figures were there for forty million years. (4000 years actually). All I had to do was dynamite 400,000 tons of granite to bring them into view. They were there the whole time!" I don't know if I quite believe that, but as Christ shapes our lives, chipping away those things that must go and replacing them with a character that honors Him, if we allow Jesus Christ, the Master Sculptor to work on us long enough, a beautiful character will begin to emerge. The flaws will begin to fade away. Jesus will chip away the evil things and in their place more and more of the divine image will be seen.

In Hampton Court near London, there is a grapevine under glass; it is about 1,000 years old and has one massive root which is at least two feet thick. Because of skillful cutting and pruning, the vine produces 2-3 tons of grapes each year. Even though some of the smaller branches are 200 feet from the main stem, they bear much fruit because they are joined to the vine and allow the life of the vine to flow through them. This one grapevine produces almost three tons of grapes per year. Now why do those little branches out on the ends of the vine produce so much fruit? Because they're connected with that vine. If they were disconnected from it, would they produce fruit? NO!

John 15:1-8 says that Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. And when we stay connected to Jesus we will bear fruit. We're going to bear big loads of fruit. Jesus is that vine. And when we need pruning, the goal is always more fruit. Stay connected to that massive powerful vine- Jesus. The fruit will come in great abundance. Keep in that life giving relationship and get ready for grapes! They're going to come, because you're connected to Jesus.

Our good works don't save us anyway. Some folks try hard to keep the law perfectly. Satan tells us that the only way to please God is to keep His law absolutely perfectly. I'm not sure Don Gettys does that. Have you ever had days when you didn't keep the law perfectly? Have you ever had days when you yelled at the kids or you did something that should not have happened? So often we think: well, the way to please God and to get right with God is by keeping the law. I'm sure He is happy when we keep the law. I want to keep the law, but how do we get right with God? Romans 3:20 (NIV): "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin." Then in verse 22: "This righteousness from God come through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." We get God's approval by believing. Verse 23: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (That includes me.) and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." How are we justified? By grace.

If you check out the life of Jesus you will discover what made him perfect. He did not attain a state of perfection by carrying around in his pocket a list of rules and regulations, or by seeking to conform to the cultural mores of his time. He was perfect because he never made a move without his Father, because Jesus loved His Father. Because Jesus was always surrendered to God's will. He never made a move without His Father. He always consulted with His Father. He prayed, sometimes, all night. He stayed connected to God! We must stay connected to God in order to have that same life. Jesus was always surrendered to God.

Saving belief will produce good works. I love my wife. Because of that I run the vacuum cleaner, help with the dishes, and put my dirty socks in the hamper and do all kinds of things because I love my wife. I will stand beside her in thick or thin because I love her. In fact you can get more work out of me not by hammering away at me but by loving me. The way you can do more works is to be more in love with God and to see more of His character and to get more excited about Him.

It is Loving trust in Jesus that produces a bumper crop of good works. Let's concentrate on that relationship with Jesus. If you trust, you will obey. If you love Jesus you will obey Him.

In my preaching, I like to concentrate on the new heart because of this: My dad lives in North Carolina. Around his house are oak trees. They're beautiful. But there's something unique about oak trees. Not the acorns especially, because other trees produce fruit or nuts. Something about oak trees: the leaves come down in the fall in great quantities, but not all the leaves come down. A good share of those leaves stay up in the trees. Bushels, and bushels my dad will tell you, are still up in those trees. The ice can be on those leaves in the winter time and they don't fall off. The winter winds will blow on those leaves and they hang on. Do you know how to get them off? Somebody said to kill the tree. Chop it down. Do you know how those old leave come off? In the springtime, when a warm sun shines on that tree, the new life comes into that tree. And those leave just fall off. And then my dad goes out and rakes them up. He wishes they were some other kind of tree. But the way to get rid of those things that don't belong there is not to try working on those leaves, but to focus on the Son, on the warm beautiful relationship with Christ. And I think we need to ask Jesus to get rid of that old sap that's in us and give us a new heart. The new heart will produce good works. The old habits will fall away like those old oak leaves. And new life will come in. That's how to get new works, and good works.

You know, once you're truly in love with Jesus you're going to want to find out what Jesus is like. You read about Him in the Bible. Take your Bible, read about Jesus and pretty soon you will find Jesus went to church on the Sabbath. You're going to say, 'Well then, I'm going to go to church on the Sabbath. I'm going to keep the Sabbath because I love Jesus and that's what He want me to do. That's what make Him happy." And so you will begin worshiping on the Sabbath. You'll find out other things about Jesus. You begin reading in this Bible and you will discover that Jesus ministered to other people. And so you will go and visit the sick. You'll cook food and you'll take it over here to some lady that needs help. You'll go visit people in jail. You're going to help people because that's what Jesus did and you love Jesus. And you will soon find out that Jesus want to live in your heart, and that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Once you find that out, you're going to say, "Well I want to take care of where Jesus lives. He lives here. My body is His temple, His house, so I'm going to take care of my body." So you're going to stop smoking. You're going to stop drinking. Why? Because someone has been pounding you over the head that smoking is wrong? I tell you, those old leaves fall off when you fall in love with the Son. That's how it works. We no longer eat unclean foods because we're going to take care of our body Temple. We may even find that eating any and all meat aught to be done away with. So we can take as good care. We're going to exercise. We're going to drop off caffeine. We're going to drop off drugs. We're going to do anything we can to take care of Jesus' house because He lives in our hearts. All these things are the fruits of the relationship with Jesus Christ.

Look at John 6 again. I want you to realize what the work of the Christian is. In John 6:29 (NIV) Jesus said, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." What is our WORK??? To believe or trust in Jesus. Not just mere belief. The devil believes that Jesus i real, but that kind of belief doesn't save anybody. It is a saving, loving, trust. That's the type of belief that is saving. That is the work will produce abundant fruit.

Romans 10:9 "....if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Our work is to believe and trust and love Jesus. That's our work.

John 6: 40 (NIV): For My Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up a the last day."

If what I am telling you is not true and you accept it you really lose nothing. But if what I am telling you is true and you do not accept it, you lose everything.

Come to Jesus. Confess your sins to Jesus. Ask Jesus to forgive your sins. Ask Him to give you a new heart. Ask Him to download into you computer fresh loads of righteous software. Ask Him to change your heart. Fall in Love with Jesus. Trust Jesus. Accept Jesus and the works will come. They will come. It's automatic. Works are not an option.

Our part is to fight the faith battle and Jesus' part is to fight the works battle, the performance battle. Jesus will enable you to live the Christian life. The Bible says: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". That doesn't mean the I can be Superman. That does not mean I can be God. So the "all" is qualified. But I can surely have a harvest of good works. God will enable me, He will give me that strength. That doesn't mean that I will ever be exactly like Jesus. "We can never equal his (Jesus) pattern; but we may imitate and resemble it according to our ability." - Review and Herald, Feb 5, 1895 Ellen G. White. You can't equal it, but we want to imitate it. We want to be as close to it as we can.

"No human being is righteous any longer than he has faith in God, and maintains a vital connection with Him."-- Testimonies to Ministers p. 367 - E.G. White. That's what make you righteous. Having faith in God and maintaining a vital connection with Him.

Jesus will accept you and He will give you His perfect robe of Righteousness. Every day, give your heart to Jesus and ask our soft-hearted God to save you. He will. God will give you a new heart. How often did Paul say he died? He said he had to die every day. Sometimes I think Don Gettys has to die every few hours! Obviously, once the old heart is gone it isn't gone forever. Some people believe that. It resurrects itself quite often. But He will give you the power to live the Christian life. And you will be more and more in harmony with His divine image.

That is how to have good works. When you realize how wonderful God really treats you, how wonderful His love really is, you're going to respond to His love. You're going to be a different person. Then you will be drawn to Him and respond by fruit production.

Unlike Missionary Jackson, you're going to b connected to the power. You don't have to do it yourself. You focus on connecting the starter cable to Jesus and your spiritual engine will take off. Focus on Jesus and His character. By beholding we become changed.

Let me illustrate what our God is like. One cold winter evening an old man suffered a heart attack and after being admitted to the hospital, asked the nurse to call his daughter. He explained, "You see, I live alone and she is the only family I have." The nurse phoned the daughter. The daughter was very upset and shouted, "How is my father doing You must not let him die! You see, Dad and I had a terrible argument almost a year ago. I haven't seen him since. All these months I've wanted to go to him for forgiveness. The last thing I said to him was 'I hate you.' Don't let him die!" The daughter cried and then said, "I'm coming now. I'll be there in thirty minutes."

The patient went into cardiac arrest, and code 99 was alerted. The nurse prayed, "O God, his daughter is coming. Don't let this man die. Don't let it end this way. His daughter is coming. He must meet with his daughter." The efforts of the medical team to revive the patient were fruitless. Finally the nurse a few minutes later observed a lady running into the hospital. She talked outside with one of the physicians. Very distraught. Very upset.

The nurse took the daughter aside and said, "I'm the one that you talked with on the phone. I am so sorry." The daughter responded, "I never hated him, you know. I loved him. And I never told him... And now I want to go see him." The nurse took her to the room where he was covered with a sheet. He was dead. The daughter went to the bed and buried her face in the sheets as she said good-bye to her deceased father. The nurse didn't want to look at this scene, so she walked over toward the corner of the room, and noticed a scrap of paper on the bed table. It was written by this man before he died. She handed it to the daughter. The daughter read these words: "My dearest Janie, I forgive you. I pray you will also forgive me. I know that you love me. I love you, too. Daddy."

The realization of the depth of her fathers love changed her whole life. She turned around. She started going to church. She started living the Christian life because she realized the depth of the love of her daddy.

That's how you can have good works. You focus on Jesus and you will never be the same.

Opening Hymn: 103.  
Scripture: In back of hymnbook  Number 810 responsively
Closing Hymn: 236 I Love Thee.

971004 GETTYS #424

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