The Book of Acts of Apostle Chapter 10:1-48(NKJV) is about a man called Cornelius. It’s a beautiful story that captures the fact that we are not saved by good works, but our good works borne out of a relationship with Jesus serve as a good witness.
Acts10:1-2(NKJV), “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people and prayed to God always”. The Bible records that Cornelius was a good man who gave alms and was of a good reputation. He was a man full of good works! Despite his good works, God seeing his sincere desire to know Him, intervened, in the life of Cornelius by sending Peter the Apostle to preach Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior, to him and his entire household for them to be saved and be baptized.
Furthermore, one’s good reputation can be said to be the total of the opinions held about them by others. It can be influenced by many factors including their actions, behavior, personality, and achievements. A good reputation can lead to many benefits such as trust, respect, and opportunities. The story of Cornelius is a typical example, that we are not saved by good works. Even though he had a good reputation, God helped Cornelius to understand that his good works had to stem from his relationship with Jesus and not from himself.
A second story to depict my validation of the statement above is recorded in the book of Matthew 19:16-30.it tells of Jesus’s encounter with the rich young ruler. Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? “The rich young ruler wanted to know what “good thing” (good works), he could do, to have eternal life. During their conversation, the young man boasted that he practiced all that Jesus had mentioned. Jesus seeing that the man relied on his deeds, asked to forsake all and follow Him. but the rich man was sad and went away sorrowful. Verse 29 says,” And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother [or wife or children or [lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. The rich ruler couldn’t see what Jesus was offering him.
Good works that stem out of a relationship with Christ Jesus are witnesses for Jesus. Let’s look at the book of Romans 3:10-12 and 23-24 (NKJV), which” says, as it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understands, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
23-24, says,” For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8-9(NKJV),” For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. It is by grace that we are saved not by anything that we do. Man sold his birthright to the devil when he disobeyed God’s instruction in the Garden of Eden. God had to redeem man by sending His only begotten son Jesus Christ to take the punishment of our sin upon Himself, thereby restoring our broken relationship with God our Father. Man on his own cannot save himself by doing good works.
Apostle Paul writes, In Galatians 2:20NKJV,
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
2 Corinthians 5:17(NKJV), “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Corinthians 6;17 says that he who is joined to the lord is one spirit. Man’s spirit is re-generated and becomes brand new.
To explain further, 1 Thess 5:23 helps us to understand that man is a tripartite being. Man is a spirit, has a soul, and lives in a body.it is the spirit of man that is regenerated. God’s character and nature are Imparted to the born-again believer at the new birth. Galatians 5:22-23,” But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law. We find out that at the new birth, there is no outward transformation of our bodies and that our thought patterns and mannerisms don’t change instantly.
HOW CAN A BELIEVER THEN WITNESS TO OTHERS THROUGH HIS WORKS? Having received God’s character and nature, it is expected that the believer should grow. The book of 1 Peter 2:1-5 admonishes the believer to desire the sincere milk of the word which is able to help us grow and produce good works. Also, 2 Peter 1:3-4 says “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust”. As we yield to God’s word, we will partake and exhibit the character of God because we share in His divine nature.
2 Peter 1:5-7(NKJV),” But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge, self-control, to self-control, perseverance, to perseverance, godliness, to godliness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. We are to be intentional in our growth process. We are to be deliberate and study the word of God to know the mind of Christ and to grow and bear fruits in line with the will of God for us. Philippians 2:15 Paul writes, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. It is still God who works in us to do of His good pleasure. Philippians 2:16 Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
We can only be the salt of the earth and the light of the world if we remain in Christ Jesus who gives us life. just as He said in John 15:5. “I am the vine; you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me, you can do nothing. He is the vine; we are the branches. We can only produce good works that stem out of a relationship with Jesus when we remain in the vine (Jesus).
In conclusion, our character is proof that we are Christians. it’s a way we profess our faith. That is what it means to shine as a light in the world. When we let our light shine before men, they will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Our character which should mirror Christ’s must come from the root, the benchmark, which is the character of God. If we haven’t received the vine, then what life can possibly flow out of us, that will be lasting and impactful? When we get saved, we don’t go to heaven immediately because there is a time for us to be trained in godliness, trained in righteousness. Our mind gets renewed with the Word of God, and then we produce these good works that come as light in the midst of a dark and perverse world. we are called to be a light in the world and that’s where our good works and our good character are needed. Our reference point is Jesus’s character. Our good works shine brightly as a radiant light in the midst of deep darkness in the world that is why Jesus refers to us as the salt of the earth and the light of the world.