Which is more important: DOING the works Jesus did, or BEING like Jesus in holiness?
In The Elijah Challenge we train believers to do the works that Jesus did according to John 14:12.
John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
These miraculous works are evidence to the lost that Jesus is in fact the Son of God, the promised Messiah—the only way to the Father.
John 14:11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.
Thus the primary focus of The Elijah Challenge is to train disciples to be effective and fruitful witnesses of Jesus Christ through accompanying miraculous signs, in particular, healing the sick and casting out demons.
But what about being like Jesus—walking in holiness and in the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness? Which is actually more important in terms of our personal salvation: doing what Jesus did or being like him in his character?
With regards to the gospel and the Great Commission, believers are indeed commanded to preach the gospel and do the works that Jesus did. But with regard to our personal salvation, which is the outward evidence that we are in fact saved? Is it our works like preaching the gospel and healing the sick, or is it the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifest in our daily walk? Which of the two shows that we are actually God’s possession?
Matthew 7:22-23 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
There will be servants of God who called Jesus “Lord” and who during their earthly walk preached the gospel, healed the sick, cast out demons, and ministered in the gifts of the Spirit. But on that Day Jesus will not acknowledge them as His. Clearly something was missing in their lives. It must have been the holy character of Jesus Christ. They failed to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit during their time on earth.
How can we tell if a believer has really cultivated the fruit of the Spirit? We are evaluated not by how we act in church or toward outsiders—when we are of course on our best behavior—but how we act in situations where we don’t “have” to behave or be holy. How do we act at home toward family members or in an environment where we are in authority? There we feel we can relax and be our “real” selves. But Scripture says:
1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…
We are to be holy as the Lord is holy in all we do. That includes our comportment at home with our spouses and children. Are we loving, kind, and gentle toward them even in trying circumstances, or do we become impatient and judgmental at such times? It may be that how we treat “one of the least of these” at home (and at the office) is how we are treating the Lord himself (Matthew 25:45).
Matthew 25:45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
How do we know if a pastor or servant of God is holy in his personal life? Ask the immediate family members. They are the ones who know the “real” person. As we cultivate the fruit of the Spirit and put to death the works of our flesh by the power of the Spirit who lives in us, the “real person” indeed becomes more and more like our Lord Jesus. We will of course speak the truth to others, but now in love (Ephesians 4:15). That is what is meant by the new creation.
Philippians 4:5 Let your gentleness be evident to all [including of course our family members]. The Lord is near.
Hebrews 12:14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
We conclude that with regard to our salvation, being holy like Jesus is more important than doing the works that Jesus did. Having said that, however, we should have both the power of the Holy Spirit to serve Him fruitfully as His witnesses as well as the fruit of the Holy Spirit to be holy as he is holy in our personal lives.