October 2017           "A Journal of Biblical Understanding"           Volume 14           

(Daniel 4:25)
" ... and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."


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Basic Christianity...
Repentance From Dead Works

There are many churches in this world, this society, each with their own set of doctrines and beliefs, and each of those church's doctrines are different from those of another. Who is right? Are any of them right? How can we know?

We will begin a series of articles that will, hopefully, show the Doctrine of Jesus Christ. The one most churches claim to worship. This doctrine is made up of many principles but this series will only address the most basic of those.

We will begin with the FIRST BASIC PRINCIPLE

Hebrews 6:1
"Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works!"

Here the Apostle Paul was telling the disciples that they should already know the principles he was going to enumerate. We will take this first one.

REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS

Notice this verse mentions the word "foundation". This is one of the foundational principles of the Doctrine of Christ. And of course, it follows that if these are "dead works", then there must be "live works" or what we would call "good works".

Most churches preach a doctrine of "no works". They say all one has to do is "just believe". They say Jesus kept the commandments for us and we don't have to do anything but believe.

Have you heard that? Of course you have. Just believe, Jesus did everything else. Another version of this is "once saved always saved".

Of course, we know this is NOT one of the Doctrines of Christ, don't we? Or do we?

Let's see then. What are "dead works"? According to Hebrews 6 they are something we must repent of! Could these "dead works" be the "works of sin"? YES. They are the very opposite of sinlessness or "good works". Does that make sense?

I hope so. Now I would like to do something that Herbert W. Armstrong did so much when he was alive and preaching. I would like to take you back to the two trees in the Garden of Eden.

Gen. 2:8-9
8 "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed."
9"Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the eyes and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil." 

Verses 16-17
"And the Lord God commanded the man saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil, you may not eat of it; for in the day you eat thereof you shall surely die."

Why? What makes the fruit of that tree so bad? It has GOOD in it! Right?

Well, that tree was and is a tree of decision! Choosing the fruit of that tree causes man to place himself in God's place, making his own decisions about what is right and what is wrong. God has not relinquished that perogative!

Eve did that! She decided the fruit of that tree was "good for food," that it was "pleasant to the eyes," and that it was "desired to make one wise."

The problem with all that was that this "wisdom,"  this knowledge of good and evil, was an extremely superficial knowledge. There was NO understanding there. The fruit of this tree produced no understanding of how and why God made man, and of how God constructed man's mind. Without that understanding a person cannot know what is TRULY GOOD and what is TRULY EVIL.

Only by eating of the Tree of Life can one begin to UNDERSTAND the difference between true good and true evil! This superficial knowledge without understanding leads to "dead works," which is ANYTHING we do that God's Word tells us not to do.

Let me state that again. Anything we do opposite God's Word are "dead works." The breaking of God's Ten Commandments are "dead works". It takes the Holy Spirit of God living in us to help us do "live works."

So what are some of these dead works? I will try to show by alternating between truly good works and dead works.

James 1:25 and 27
"But whoso looketh into the PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed in his DEED." "Pure religion and undefiled before God and The Father is this, To visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

THOSE ARE LIVE WORKS!

Now chapter 2 verse 1-4
"My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory with respect of persons."
"For if there comes unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there comes in also a poor man in vile raiment;"
"And you have respect to him that weareth the gay (didn't mean then what it means now..editor) clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:"
"Are ye not partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?"
Verse 9
"but if you have respect of persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors."

BEING A RESPECTER OF PERSONS IS A "DEAD WORK."

So what do we do then?

Chapter 4:7-10
"Submit yourselves therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you."
"Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
"Be afflicted (fasting) and mourn, and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness."
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and He shall lift you up."

THE ABOVE ARE GOOD WORKS. THEY ARE LIVE WORKS. That is what we begin to do when we REPENT OF "DEAD WORKS."

James 5:9
"Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned; behold the judge standeth before the door."

This word "Grudge" means to cause harm to one another or to put them in "straits" or "hardship." GRUDGING AGAINST ONE ANOTHER IS A "DEAD WORK"  OF WHICH WE MUST REPENT.

II Tim. 3:1-5
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come."
"For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy."
"Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good."
"Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;"
"Having a form of godliness; but denying the power thereof..."

These are ALL "dead works" of which we MUST repent !!!

Those "dead works" are the result of the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, that superficial knowledge without understanding!

1 John 2:15-16
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world."

These "works" are the same ones that Eve decided to do. She decided what was good for mankind and what was evil, symbolically taking God's place as ruler.

As John says in 1 John 3:18, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but IN DEED AND IN TRUTH!"

We MUST turn from giving "lip service" to the good works and begin to love as God loves...in DEED and in TRUTH. We MUST REPENT of "dead works."

We all must get our act together! We must repent and change, going the other way and doing truly good works as defined by the scriptures.

As I bring you the other six basic principles of the Doctrine of Christ, perhaps you will see a pattern developing in the churches that show which tree they have been eating from.

But as for now, my friends, let's REPENT of "dead works" and really turn to God!!

(to be continued...)
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