10/4/12 Mark, 21
Does doctrine matter? It may seem like I'm just splitting hairs about semantics, but I believe one of the most important questions we need to ask is this: "Do you do good works in order to be saved, or do you do good works because you are saved?" Yesterday, I spoke with a young man sitting at a table outside a coffee shop named Mark, who turned out to be a Jehovah's Witness. I knew it would be easy to get caught up in all the periphery issues between JW's and Christians so I went right to the heart of our differences. "How is a person who is saved different from someone who is not?" I asked. He answered "Jesus gave the whole world the opportunity to be saved, but we need to take advantage of that opportunity by doing good works" "In other words, you believe that what Jesus did on the cross wasn't enough to forgive us of our sins, and that we must add to what He has done with our own good deeds?" Mark agreed, and also admitted that he could never know when enough good works are sufficient for salvation. I told him about my own experience of salvation in light of Ephesians 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." I don't have to go through life worrying about whether or not I have done enough good works to be saved; instead I get to live life finding ways to thank God that I am already saved by the good work of the cross. I am blessed to be able to live out our purpose according to the rest of that passage in Ephesians: "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Doctrine does matter. It may be true that in the end "good works" are done by both Jehovah Witnesses and Christians. But whether those good works are done because of guilt and obligation or love and gratitude to God makes all the difference in the world.