by Jerry Shugart
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Mt.6:14-15).
Those who teach works in past dispensations say that these verses are teaching that participation of the promises of God was "conditional", and in order to have one's sins forgiven it is necessary to forgive others.
However, the words of the Lord Jesus at Matthew 6:14-15 are in regard to the same thing of which Paul speaks of in the following verses:
"For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor.11:31-32).
If the Jewsish believers did not forgive other men for their sins then they were not obeying the Lord Jesus when He told them to forgive others. Unless they "judged themselves" they would not have their sins forgiven because they would not confess that sin and they would lose fellowship with the Lord:
"...our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ...If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth...If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn.1:3,6,9).
If the Jewish believers would not forgive others then they would be walking in darkness, their fellowship with the Lord would be interrupted and that sin would remain unforgiven. But as soon as they "judged themselves" by confessing that sin then that sin would be forgiven them.
On the webpage of the Berean Bible Society we read Pastor Ken Lawson stating that self-judgment includes "confession of sin": "Many of Paul's commands cannot be obeyed without self-judgment which would of necessity include a confession of sin (II Cor. 7:1; II Tim. 2:21; I Cor. 5:2; 11:32)" (Lawson, The Forgiveness of Sins).
"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Mt.7:15-20).
Some say that these words are teaching that it is necessary to do works in order to demonstrate one's faith.
However, the words of the Lord Jesus here are not speaking of one's "works" in regard to keeping the Law because outwardly the false prophets appear as "sheep" and not "wolves". Instead the subject is the "teaching" of false prophets that lead others astray. The Lord knows the heart of man so he does not need to see outward demonstrations of a person's faith in order to know whether or not that person has faith.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Mt.7:21).
Some say that the words of the Lord Jesus here is in regard to doing "works" of one kind or another in order to be saved.
However, we must ask, What is the "will" of the Father? While on earth the Lord Jesus was speaking the words which the Father gave Him to speak (Jn.17:8) and the following explains exactly what is the Father's will. The Jews asked the Lord Jesus, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?"
The Lord answered, saying that "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" (Jn.6:28-29).
Those who "believe" in Jesus Christ are doing the "will" of the Father and they will enter the kingdom of heaven.
"And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Mt.19:17-17).
Those who teach works salvation under the law says that these verses prove that works were necessary for salvation under the law. These people say that those under the law had to keep the law in order to show their faith.
If the Jew kept the whole Law without exception then they could "earn" eternal life. But if they sinned they "offended in one point they were guilty of all" (Jms.2:10). The Lord Jesus said, "Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?" (Jn.7:19).
It is necessary to look at the verses which follow after the rich young man departed. Then the Lord Jesus told His disciples that "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." To this the disciples asked, "Who then can be saved? The Lord answered them, saying "With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible" (Mt.19:24-26).
The Lord was not telling the man that they were to keep the law "to show their faith". In his epistle to the Romans Paul gives the same principle whereby the Jew could "theoretically" be saved: "For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Ro.2:13). But then he tells us that "by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight" (Ro.3:20).