Foundations: Repentance from Dead Works

Hebrews 6:1-2 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

We’re going to look at the “elementary doctrine of Christ” and make sure we have the foundation. The first thing listed is repentance from dead works. We’ve talked about works versus grace. Our good works don’t earn us salvation in any way. If you catch yourself trying to earn anything from God, repent.

What might that look like? Read these verses. How is King Hezekiah trying to earn salvation?

2 Kings 20:1-3 In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.’” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying, “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

Hezekiah reminds the Lord of all the good he’s done. He wants to be healed. He doesn’t want to die. When you read more of the story, you realize he has no heir at this point, a big deal to a king.

God does heal him and prolong his life, and will give him a son. Why does God choose to do it?

Read the next two verses.

2 Kings 20:4-5a And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah the leader of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.”

God doesn’t mention Hezekiah’s good works. God hears his prayers and sees his tears. God acts the way God acts because He is God and is who He is and has compassion on his dearly beloved child.

Here’s a verse to confirm that same point.

Daniel 9:18b (NASB) We are not presenting our pleas before You based on any merits of our own, but based on Your great compassion.

Another way to say this is that Daniel wasn’t praying and expecting God to answer because he deserved it in some way. He was expecting help from God, but based on God’s mercy and compassion. God is moved on behalf of His children. It’s part of His character, His loving devotion.

If you are praying for something and find yourself trying to say things to make your prayer accepted, stop. You can’t earn your answers to prayer like that.

Maybe you’ve been taught to earn your salvation not by praying a certain way but by declaring truths. That’s just another version of trying to save yourself. We don’t wave around words like swords trying to accomplish things. Jesus is our example. He had all power and authority, but He did NOTHING on his own. He didn’t try to make things happen. For instance, He was hungry and Satan tries to get Jesus to perform a miracle to save Himself out of the circumstance. Jesus refuses. If you find yourself trying to save yourself by declaring words as if they had power, I have written a whole book on that called, “The Word of Faith.” You can read it for free online.

When you have a need, just talk to God as your loving Father. Go to Him with Christ by your side. He’s the one accepted in the Father’s presence. He’s the reason you can be there too.

Here’s what Jesus does for us. Read this verse from the end of the Bible.

Jude 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy.

Jesus, with great joy, takes us before the Father, blameless, which is how we can enter and not die in His presence. He is the one that makes us able to be in God’s presence to make our requests. He’s the deserving one. He’s the one with the merit. We just receive it all as a gift from Him. Because of Christ we’re accepted in God’s presence.

Lesson Point: Don’t try to save yourself by good works. Jesus makes us accepted before God.

Challenge Question: Do you ever try to prove to God you deserve something? If you knew Jesus came with you to make your request (because He’s in you by the Spirit if you are in Christ), could you believe God would always hear your prayer?

Here are the verses I was referring to when Satan tempts Jesus.

Matthew 4:2-4 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”