If you’ve been around for more than a decade or so, you’ve probably seen the tract called “This Was Your Life”. It was a very widespread tract, and many may still be around and distributed today. Personally, I think people would benefit from a wider distribution of this tract today; however, it is certainly at odds with both today’s secular godless culture, as well as even much of today’s Christian culture.
The premise of this tract, if you haven’t read it, is that a man died and is brought to the judgment seat of the throne of God. At he stands there before God, his whole life is displayed on a big screen showing his whole life from birth to death and everything he did. He lived a sinful life, and he is cast to hell. Then, the tract says, “This can be your life!” and shows a life of godliness ending with “Well done thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord!”
Happily, the whole tract can be read online here: This Was Your Life | Chick Publications
While this tract is entirely Biblical, it is in stark contrast to what today’s church is teaching Christians in the West, which is largely being influenced by modern Calvinism which denies works as having any role in salvation.
Many of today’s Christians claim that there is absolutely nothing you can do to earn God’s favor. It claims that your best works are like filthy rags in the eyes of God. It claims that no matter how you live, if you accepted Christ once then you are always saved. They use cherry-picked verses to try to demonstrate this, but they ignore the rest of the Bible. The truth is that what the church of today is teaching is utterly false.
For example, a Calvinist (or a Christian unwittingly preaching Calvinist theologies) will claim that there is nothing that we can do to please God because, due to Total Depravity (aka Utter Depravity, which is a Calvinistic false doctrine), we are sinful from birth and a depraved and disgraceful people, worthless in the eyes of God.
Calvinist Total Depravity doctrine cherry-picks this verse in Isaiah to support this false theology: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)
What these teachers have failed to recognize is that you cannot cherry-pick a verse like this to support your theology that is a manmade doctrine. This verse has a clear historical context. It is regarding a sinful and depraved Israel who has turned away from God. It is not making a blanket statement saying that all of humanity is totally sinful and that there is nothing we can do to please God. In reality, we can and must please God by doing good works.
Can good works save?
Is this to say that your good works save you? Absolutely not. Jesus Christ, the Son of God saves you, and Christ is the only way to salvation. “Jesus saith unto him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.'” You must believe in Christ as your savior with all your heart and be “born again” (John 3:1-21) to attain salvation.
However, the requirement for Christ to extend this to you is for you to live a holy and righteous life. Else, Jesus would not have said, “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). Clearly, there are prerequisites – works-based requirements, such as not denying Christ before others – for Christ to extend salvation to you. But, without Christ, there is no salvation.
Without Christ we are hopeless, lost, and doomed to hell. No amount of good works, absent from Christ, can save you. God will not simply weigh your good against your bad for your life, as some people believe. However, it is extremely important to draw a clear distinction between works-based salvation, which is a lie, and Christ-based salvation, which also requires good works.
Good works alone cannot save you, because you need Jesus to bridge the gap between you and God and to be the sacrifice for forgiveness for your sins of your past. However, the clear distinction is that faith in Christ does not exclude the requirement to repent, change your life, and begin living a holy and righteous life free from sin. Works cannot save without Christ. But even with Christ, God demands you to change your ways and live a holy life.
For more about salvation and works, see: Salvation: The Free Gift – Is It Really Free? Unconditional? No Strings Attached?
The Bible commands us to please God
How do we know this? Because the rest of the Bible gives us the context. Repeatedly, the Bible tells us that not only can we please God, but we must please God if we are to enter into eternity with Him.
“9 For the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. 10 Test and prove what pleases the Lord. 11 Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:9-11)
We are commanded to please the Lord by doing good, and also commanded to expose evil and the works of darkness. Also,
“No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith that God exists and rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)
We need faith to please God, but this therefore precludes the necessity that it is possible to please God. If it were not possible to please God, then according to this verse your faith would be pointless. In fact, God rewards those who diligently seek Him. Additionally,
“So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him. This is the true worship that you should offer.” (Romans 12:1)
We are commanded to offer our whole bodies as living sacrifices. We are commanded to behave in a manner that is holy and acceptable. Clearly, God not only wants us to please Him but commands it. God would not desire something that was not possible. Clearly, it is possible and in fact mandatory to behave in a pleasing way to God. Moreover,
So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 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 5:9-10)
Clearly, Paul believed with all his heart that we must seek to please God, and we please God by behaving in a holy and righteous way. It is wrong and in fact evil to claim that our good works to and holy behavior to the Lord is like filthy rags. To call good evil is truly the true evil, and this is exactly what today’s Calvinists are doing.
Paul knew that one day we will each – and he is speaking to Christians, not the lost (Paul wrote his letter to the church at Corinth) – each of us including Christians will all be called to account at the judgment seat of Christ, and we will be judged based on how we lived our lives.
“And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Revelation 20:12).
If as self-proclaimed Christians we led unrighteous lives, then we are not worthy to enter into paradise with Christ. Just because you once said to Jesus that you accepted him, if you live an unholy life then you deny him by your actions. “Once saved always saved” is a lie of the devil, and it is not found in the Bible. In fact, the Bible says clearly,
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26).
The conclusion then, is that based on the Bible, and not a single cherry-picked verse from Isaiah that is taken out of context, that we can and must please God by our actions and our behavior. In fact, if we fail to please God by being holy and righteous on this earth, then we will be denied eternal life at the great white throne judgment which is described in detail both by Christ Himself in Matthew 7:21-23 and in the prophesy in Revelation 20:11-15.
The fallacy and hypocrisy of today’s Christianity
Today’s broken Christianity masquerading as holy but in works neglecting all the scriptures, has created a generation of godless Christians who are on the fast track to hell. These Christians believe they can live however they want, and that none of this will count against them on the day of judgment. This is a false doctrine, a false theology, and flies in the face against everything that Jesus taught, and everything that the entire Bible teaches.
Today’s Christianity teaches a dichotomy that creates a cognitive dissonance, which makes many people confused and even to turn away from today’s church and its hypocrisy. Today’s Christianity on the one hand teaches that we must endeavor to be good as the Bible teaches; but on the other hand it teaches that there is nothing we can do, that we have no power for goodness or holiness, and that Christ’s blood covers all our future sins no matter what. This is a false gospel and is utterly contrary to the truth of the Word of God as taught in our Holy Bible.
As a result of this confusing and contradictory dichotomy, Christians are, effectively in practice, being taught to be superficial, godless, unholy people. Pastors are weekly speaking evil into the lives of Christians by telling people that they are evil. God did not create evil people. People choose to be evil of their own volition.
If someone is taught their entire lives that they are hopelessly evil and incapable of doing good or pleasing God, what do you think is going to happen? Of course, people will behave in just that manner which they have been taught. They will not even bother trying to fight the evil, neither on a conscious or unconscious level, because they do not believe they have the capacity for godliness and holiness and righteousness. This is a doctrine of the devil! It is a lie and is leading many, even many millions of Christians straight into Hell and everlasting suffering.
We must pursue godliness
The truth is that Christians need to be taught the truth. The power to choose righteousness is within each human! We cannot get to heaven without Christ, but we can choose to walk the path of righteousness. We are not helpless. Each one of us is given a power by God to choose to be good or choose to be evil. If not, then why would God even bother to send us a scripture and tell us good and evil? If we had no power, then giving us instructions would only lead us to spiritual death.
The evidence for this is in Romans 4:15, which says, “the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.” If God gave us no law then we would not sin by doing evil, not knowing it. But since God did give us a law, and because God wrote His law on our hearts (Romans 2:15), then by doing evil, we sin. Therefore, by God giving us the law, if we did not have any power to choose not to sin, then God would have sentenced us all to death. Fortunately, we do have the power and capacity for goodness and righteousness.
Some Christians may argue that we are all sentenced to death, and only through the saving grace of Jesus are we saved. It is true, that only through Jesus can we be saved; however, we always have a choice to choose to follow God and walk in righteousness, or to choose to sin. Christ is definitely the prerequisite to salvation, but belief alone is not enough for salvation. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” For more info on how faith is much more than just belief, see The Terrible Dangers of the Doctrine of Grace.
Or, simply read the whole second chapter of James. James 2:26 says, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead”. Faith on belief alone, without works, in not faith at all. You cannot say you believe but then have no works, because by your works you prove what you truly believe. If you say you have faith but live a life a sin, you are a liar, because you cannot live a life of sin and truly have faith in God. Faith without works is dead.
Every Christians needs to, and is commanded to, pursue godliness and perfection. Do you not know that Christ commanded us all to be perfect? Christ told us in Matthew 5:48, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are commanded to live our lives with holiness and righteousness.
Surely, it can be challenging to be holy, in the face of several circumstances: living within an ungodly culture; overcoming addiction; overcoming ungodly habits; lack of self-discipline; and being taught that we are evil at heart, destroying our worldview of being capable of being like Christ.
Each one of these things can be overcome. It is a lie to believe that we do not have any power or strength to overcome sin. The Bible tell us that “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). God didn’t make us pathetic evil weaklings. God gave us strength and power; and where our strength fails God also provides to us his Holy Spirit to sustain us and strengthen us.
But, we know for sure that God does not force us to choose good through His Holy Spirit. God always gives us a choice. If God forced us to do good only of the strength of God and not within any of our own strength, then no Christian would ever sin (although all our strength was ultimately given by God since God created us, so God still gets the credit). Obviously, since Christians do sin, the reason is because God gives us a choice every time to choose good or to choose evil.
Every time you sin, it is because of one of several reasons: 1) because you are addicted or have a bad habit which you need to break with the power of the Holy Spirit, and you have not truly repented yet; 2) because you are alone and have no authorities because you are living in rebellion against God even though you believe you are a Christian, or 3) because you were faced with a choice whether or not to sin, and you chose your own personal pleasure and desires over God, and chose to sin.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says,
“There hath no temptation taken hold of you but such as is common to man. But God is faithful; He will not suffer you to be tempted beyond that which ye are able to bear, but with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
Do not be fooled! Every time you sin, you have made a choice or a series of choices that have led to that sin. And falsely believing that you are weak is a powerful tool of Satan to trick you into thinking that you do not have the power to overcome.
God did not say, “with the temptation God will force you to choose the right path if you are a Christian”. No, what God told us through His Word is that “with the temptation will also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” God will provide you a way to escape. He won’t force you to take the righteous path though.
However, if you still sin despite God providing a way out, then it means that you have refused the way to escape. This may be due to greed, fear, pride, or perhaps a long habit of choosing your own desires instead of denying yourself and your own desires daily as Christ commanded us in Luke 9:23.
If it really was true that the only way we can overcome sin is through 100% the power of the Holy Spirit to make us not sin, and that we are worthless and utterly incapable of doing anything good, then no Christian would ever sin, because the Holy Spirit surely has the power to ensure that no Christian would sin, if that was really the way God worked. As we know, that is not the case – in fact, many Christians might sin far more than non-Christians, and the rest deceive themselves.
In truth, the Holy Spirit will give us some additional strength only when we lack it, but the Holy Spirit will never make us do anything. If we choose to sin, we can. We can choose to turn from the Holy Spirit and deny God by choosing evil at any time. God is much like a father standing with open arms wanting us to run to Him. But he isn’t going to walk over to us, grab us by the arm and drag us over to Him in order to hug us.
He is there with open arms, but we need to choose to run to Him. And this means we need to choose to be holy and to deny ourselves and to do good works, here in this life. We must seek every day to deny ourselves and to seek God.
Through the process which we call “sanctification”, we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, over time put away each and every one of our sins. If you lack self-discipline, this means you need to develop self-discipline. If you are addicted, then maybe you need to get help to overcome that addiction. If you have bad habits, then you need to break those bad habits by replacing them with good habits as the Bible instructs. If you do not know what the Bible teaches, then you need to study the Bible regularly so you can learn what the Bible teaches.
What does your life look like?
If you died today, and your whole life was played on a big screen in front of God and the heavenly angels, what would God think of the way you lived your life?
Were you continually engaged in sin?
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9)
“9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who submit to or perform homosexual acts, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Did you ignore the poor?
“41Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, I was naked and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.'” (Matthew 25:41-43). The way that you treat the poor is how God will value how you would have treated Christ.
Did you pursue your own ambitions but leave God out of it?
Were you lazy and complacent like the man with one talent in Matthew 25:14–30, who hid his talent away because he was cowardly, complacent, and lazy?
What would God think of your life if you died today and stood before God this very day? If you are honest with yourself, and you heed the Holy Spirit, and realize that your life and works on earth were not favorable to God, then it is not too late. You can turn and repent now and today. Ask God for wisdom and discernment, because God promises, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).
What is Repentance?
Repentance is not just saying to God in a prayer, “I’m so sorry please forgive me”. This is not repentance, and without a true heart change it will not result in forgiveness. It is an empty prayer, and worthless. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”. If in your heart there is evil, then God will not listen. Just feeling bad about sin is not repentance. Only a truly repentant heart can obtain mercy from God.
What then, is repentance? Proverbs 28:13 describes true repentance: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” The repentance that leads to forgiveness therefore is that in which you confess your sins to God, and also forsake your sins; that is, give them up, turn from them, truly resolve in your heart to no longer commit that sin – then God will hear you and have mercy on you. If your sin involves someone else, then this may also indicate admitting your sin and resolving it with them as well in order to obtain mercy.
What would God say to you if right now you were standing before God? Did you not know that God sees everything not just in the end of days, but even right now? Do you not know that God watches us all and knows everything we have done? Psalm 139:2-4 says,
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.
How was your life?
What has your life been like? Have you pleased God or sought your own ways? Given our culture, it is probable that you have not pleased God with your life but instead lived in pursuit of your own pleasure. It is not too late though; if you turn now, you still have a chance. But do not be fooled, God is not mocked. Do not believe that “one day” after you already lived a life of pleasure, you’ll then decide to turn around and serve God.
Do not expect that you can live your life however you please in willful sin thinking that one day later on, you’ll then turn around and then follow God. Be warned, lest you be like the man who stored up treasures for himself on Earth, building storehouses for all his worldly possessions and making plans for more and more of it to please himself. “But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'” (Luke 12:20).
Do not be drawn away by the corrupted doctrines of today’s churches. It may not mean you need to leave your church (although in some cases you might need to), but the truth is that probably most if not all churches of today are infected by false doctrines rooted in Calvinism. However, fortunately, we all have access to the same Bible in which God can teach us His truths even where human men fail, even those who have good but fallacious intentions.
I believe that probably most teachers in Christianity do truly have good intentions. However, many of them are deceived. The devil has crept false doctrines into the seminaries, and pastors and teachers attend these seminaries and are indoctrinated into it. And through the educational system, both Christian and secular, and the culture we live in, many people are turned away from the truth; and many teachers are, perhaps even unwittingly, propagating these false doctrines which are destroying our society.
Study the Bible and study His word. Pray to God from the deepest depths of your heart, and develop a relationship with Him. When you follow after God with all your heart, praying for wisdom and discernment, God will show you the truths even despite false teachings propagated by Western churches and godless Christianity.
Grow your relationship with God; and if you haven’t ever truly given your life to God, even beyond a prayer, then it is surely time for you to turn to God and give up your ungodly ways. Surely the Holy Spirit will empower you and strengthen you when you rely on Him. And surely when you follow God with all your heart, then on that great day it will be a joyous time for you, as you enter into eternity with Christ, instead of the path you may be on now, which is headed straight to hell.
Let me leave you with one final thought: Why would God say, “Well done”, if He didn’t expect you to do anything? Clearly God requires you to live a holy life.
This could be you!
Tomorrow, or even tonight, may be too late; but right now is not too late to turn to God with all your heart. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Luke 10:27). Do this, and this could be you:
How can I be saved?
Many Christians today completely overlook #2 (repent). Repent and turn from your sins and accept Jesus and be saved!