“Good Works” Must Accompany Faith

Our Work of the Chaplain passage for this episode is Matthew 25:40 which says, “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Our Work of the Chaplain quote for this episode is from Martin Luther King Jr. He said, “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’”

In this podcast, we are going through the fine book: “The Work of the Chaplain” by Naomi K. Paget and Janet R. McCormack.

Our topic today is: “Good Works” Must Accompany Faith

In Matthew 25, Jesus seems also to be defining spiritual care in practical terms— giving people food, water, shelter and clothing rather than using specifically religious terms, language, or rituals. This alone does not limit spiritual care to practical needs nor does it negate the practical and spiritual helpfulness of religious terms, language, or rituals. This definition simply elevates practical care to ministry legitimacy. Jesus understood that unless their basic survival needs are met, people are not in any position to want or appreciate being in fellowship with others, be it with like-minded believers or in any other social community. Likewise, people certainly are not in a position to care about matters of theology or doctrine — even their own eternal survival needs — when they are focused on their present and physical survival needs.

By a chaplain’s very mandate to be involved in the crises of people’s lives, regardless of personal religious convictions, the chaplain is often in the position of ministering to the basic needs of others. That ministry is not a “hook” to obligate the client to remain for the sermon or any other overtly religious teaching or service but as a genuine example of the chaplain’s own living faith. Ministry is provided without conditions and unrealistic expectations, out of genuine love and compassion.

Floods and rain had destroyed the community. Disaster relief units had arrived, and chaplains walked around each unit, providing words of comfort and assurance. But the most important thing they seemed to be doing was handing out water, blankets, and directions to the feeding stations. There were no sermons, no religious tracts, and no conditions. Two years later a woman entered a small church in her rebuilt community: “Pastor, I came to church today because you gave me a blanket when I lost my house.”

The chaplain must always exercise wisdom in choosing the appropriate ministry intervention for each situation. Attending to the basic human physiological needs of survival must often take precedence over evangelizing with the gospel message. Starving people perceive that they have a greater need for food than they do for religion, and no amount of religion will assuage their aching bellies. The cold, the hungry, the thirsty, the hurt — they find little comfort in religious tracts and platitudes. They need warm blankets and a place of physical and emotional safety. The “good works” of chaplains and other ministers often open the doors for faith. Jesus made ministry practical in order to make evangelism possible. James also made this point when he asserted that by our good works (deeds) others will be able to see that our faith is genuine.

If the Lord tarries his coming and we live, we will continue learning about the Work of the Chaplain in our next podcast.

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— PRAYER —

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, here’s how.

First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”

Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”

Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

Now this is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.

Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

God bless.

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