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(c) Copyright 1971-2016 by Walter R. Dolen

NM 12: According to Works

God Awards Every Man According to his Work

Negative Rewards for Negative Behavior

God Gives Good for Good

God Rewards According to Works

God Gives the Power

Grace Given According to Measure

Paul as an Example

Notes: Parable of Pounds and Talents


NM12 Abstract

What does the Bible mean when it talks about mankind being awarded "according to his works"? Does this mean we can actually earn our way into paradise by working at it, or is paradise a gift given by the grace of God? What is grace? We will examine scripture pertaining to Paul to learn more about these things.

God Shall Award Every Man According to his Work

nm320 >> "For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then [at that time] he shall reward every man according to his work" (Mat 16:27). God through his word tells us he rewards men according to their works. "I will judge you every one after his ways" (Ezek 33:20). What does he reward for men's work?

By Grace you are Saved

nm321 >> Before we show you what is meant by according to works, we need to know the fact that "by grace you are saved ... for by grace are you saved through faith; and that [Faith] not of yourself: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph 2:5, 8-9). People are saved (freed) by the free gift of God. People aren't freed or saved through something they do. It is a free gift. But what does God reward according to works?

Negative Reward for Negative Behavior

nm322 >> "Alexander the coppersmith did me [Paul] much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works" (2Tim 4:14). "Therefore it is no great thing if his [Satan's] ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works" (2Cor 1:15). "And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books [Bible], according to their works" (Rev 20:12). Thus, those doing bad works are judged according to their works and given the reward suitable for their ways. What is the "reward" for wrong?

Wages of Sin is Death

nm323 >> "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom 6:23). The reward or wages for bad works is death. And this death is for an age: "these shall go away into aeonian punishment" (Mat 25:46).

Punished by Aeonian Destruction

nm324 >> And these, "shall be punished with aeonian destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2Thes 1:9). As we show in the paper, "Reward for Christians" [NM 11], the punishment for those who do evil will be a 1000 year death away from the coming utopia. The words "forever" and "eternity" in the Bible are wrong translations of words that mean either age or agelasting (aeonian) (see "Age Paper" [NM 7]). Those rewarded for wrong behavior will be given their "reward" of death in the aeonian judgement that lasts for 1000 years. They are dead and in the ground ("hell") while the utopia goes on above them on earth. This "reward" begins at the Messiah's coming (Rev 22:12; Mat 16:27). But what is the reward for good works?

God Gives Good For The Good

nm325 >> "I will give unto every one of you according to your works" (Rev 2:23). "And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (Rev 2:26-27). "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev 3:21). Those doing good works to the end will become rulers in the New Age, the kingdom of God, beginning on the first day of the 1000 years (Rev 20:4c). "And has made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev 5:10). Those who do good works will become rulers on earth as the kings and priests of God's Kingdom on earth beginning at his coming (Mat 16:27). But God says he will reward according to their works. What does that mean?

God Rewards According to Works

nm326 >> "They thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. He said therefore, A certain nobleman [J.C.] went into a far country [heaven] to receive for himself a kingdom [of God], and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come" (John 14:2-3). "And it came to pass, that when he had returned, having received the kingdom [of God], then he commanded these servants to be called unto him to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading. Then came the first, saying, Lord, your pound has gained ten pounds, and he said unto him, Well, you good servant: because you have been faithful in a very little, have you authority over ten cities." This servant gained ten times what he was given. According to this work he was given rulership over ten cities. "And the second came, saying, Lord, your pound has gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be you also over five cities" (Luke 19:11-19). The second servant who had increased what was given to him five fold, according to his work, he received rulership over five cities. When God rewards good works according to them, he is rewarding according to the amount of good works. The more good works in this age, the more service one will do in the new age (note Mat 20:25-28).

Not for Reward

nm327 >> From this we know what the Bible means by "reward according to works." Or do we? Just whose works are these that are performed? Did the person who will receive rulership over ten cities earn these rewards through his own will and power? Is the degree of good works achieved through a person's own will and power? Is the degree of good works from, and of, the person who performs them? Or, do they come from another source? Could it be that one is given the power to perform these good works? Notice the following: "I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, says the Lord [YHWH] of hosts" (Isa 45:13).

God Gives the Power to do Good Works

nm328 >> "Are you so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are you now made complete by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3) Are those who have the New Mind (Spirit of God) made complete through the flesh? Notice Paul is speaking to those who are supposed to be Christians. He asks now after you have the Spirit are you made complete through the flesh or by the flesh?

nm329 >> Paul reveals something when he says: "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me" (Gal 1:15-16). Paul was called by grace to reveal Jesus in himself. What does this mean? How does Paul reveal Christ in himself?

nm330 >> "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1Cor 15:10). Paul is what he is through God's grace. "And his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: Yet not I" (1Cor 15:10). It was Paul who labored more than the other apostle's (1Cor 15:9), yet he says it wasn't him who worked. "But the grace of God which was with me" (1Cor 15:10). It wasn't Paul who worked (the fleshly Paul - Gal 3:3), but it was the grace given to Paul. Isn't that what is being said here? Or was Paul being falsely modest? For if what Paul said is not true, then Paul is being falsely modest! This verse, 1Cor 15:10, is to be taken literally. Paul does not lie in these inspired scriptures! What is this grace Paul is speaking of that allows him to work so abundantly?

Grace Given According to Measure

nm331 >> "But unto everyone of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph 4:7). "Now, concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant ... But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit everybody. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit ... But all these works that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man separately as He desires" (1Cor 12:1, 7-9, 11). These free gifts of Spiritual power that work the works described in this chapter of First Corinthians, are given by God's will. "And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which works all in all" (1Cor 12:6).

nm332 >> When Paul told us that it wasn't him that worked or labored but the grace within him (1Cor 15:10), he meant, by grace, the free Spiritual gifts and the power of these gifts (1Cor 12:11, 6 & all of 1Cor 12). Is this confirmed elsewhere in the Bible?

nm333 >> "Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his workings, which works in me mightily" (Col 1:29). Paul works or strives according to God's workings inside him through the power of God's Spirit or New Mind.

nm334 >> "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another builds thereon" (1Cor 3:10). According to Paul's grace, he works.

nm335 >> "I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwells in me, he does the works" (John 14:10). Even Christ didn't do his great works; God's Spirit in him did the works!

nm336 >> "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom 15:13). Even hope comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.

nm337 >> Again Paul reiterates God's message that it's the power of God's Spirit that works: "Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power" (Eph 3:7).

Paul As An Example

nm338 >> Paul epitomizes what God is doing on earth. It is through Paul that we can understand how God is working his wonder on earth! (1Tim 1:16, 12-16) Paul had been the antithesis of a Christian, for he had persecuted the Church of God before his conversion (1Cor 15:9 & Acts 8:3). How was Paul converted to a real Christian? Read yourself about it in Acts 9:1-18. Paul was not seeking to be a Christian. It was Christ through the power of God's Spirit that changed Paul's attitude towards Jesus Christ. Even a changed mind (repentance) is given to people by God (2Tim 2:25; Acts 11:18). Paul was given repentance (a changed mind) by God.

nm339 >> Paul was "appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2Tim 1:11) in spite of what Paul was up to the time God brought him to repentance. Paul received his Spiritual gifts of being a preacher, apostle, and teacher through the will of God (1Cor 12:28, 11). Hear Paul's inspired words: "Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began" (2Tim 1:9).

nm340 >> Good works come through the power of God's Spirit (grace), and God's Spirit is given to man because of God's purpose. It does not matter what a man was before God gives him his Spirit. As in the case of Paul, God gives it to one in spite of what that one has done before; he gives his Spirit of power to those who were set aside before the world began. See the paper on Predestination [NM 8] to understand this last point.

God Gives The Power for Good

nm341 >> God gives us Spiritual power to do good works; He makes us good through his Spiritual power. God is the source of energy for good works:

  • "But when he sees his children, the work of mine [God's] hand" (Isa 29:23).
  • Speaking about Zion (God's church): "I will make you an aeonian excellency" (Isa 60:15).
  • "But now, O Lord, you art our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we are the work of your hand" (Isa 64:8). "We will not boast of things apart from our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God has distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you" (2Cor 10:13). What is this measure spoken of here? "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (Eph 4:7).
  • Faith, a grace of God, for example, is given according to measure (Rom 12:3). Thus, Christians are given a measure of grace "according to the measure of the rule which God has distributed." "Not boasting of things apart from our measure, that is, of other's labors: but having hope [Hope comes from the Spirit, Rom 15:13] when your faith [Faith is a gift of God, Eph 2:8; Rom 12:3] is increased [God gives the increase, 1Cor 3:6; Col 2:19], that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule [measure of rule is from God, 2Cor 10:13] abundantly" (2Cor 10:15). Are you beginning to see?

nm342 >> Paul adds, "but he that glories, let him glory in the Lord" (2Cor 10:17). "And whatsoever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col 3:17). Why?: for God does all through his Spiritual power! It's God's Spirit that does the good works (Isa 26:12). All men are clay in God's molding Spirit. But how does God create through his Spirit?

nm343 >> Paul again gives us the answer, Paul had a thorn in his flesh - the angel (KJV "messenger") of Satan that troubled him (2Cor 12:7). This angel of Satan (the other-mind) was the other spirit in Paul's mind that was warring against God's Spirit (Eph 6:12; Rom 7:22-23, see "Other Mind Paper" [NM 21]). Paul had prayed to God that God would take this spirit from him (2Cor 12:8). God had answered, "My grace [Spiritual power] is sufficient for thee." Paul concludes, "for my strength is made perfect in weakness." What does Paul mean that weakness makes for strength?

From Trials to Strength

nm344 >> "No trial has taken you except what is common to man. But God is faithful, who will not permit you to be tested above what you are able. But with the trial, he will make a way of escape, so that you may be able to bear it" (1Cor 10:13). Thus so far we see God's grace to Christians is sufficient, and that God will not permit any Christian to be tested in a Spiritual trial above what he is able to endure. God further tells us that for Christians "all things work together for good" (Rom 8:28). This includes trials.

nm345 >> "And not only so, but we glory in trial also: knowing that trial works patience; and patience, proof; and proof, hope" (Rom 5:3-4). "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into divers trials; knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. But let patience have her complete work, that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4). It is through trials that God works good fruit in Christians.

nm346 >> "Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yields that peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Heb 12:11). Those exercised by these trials produce good fruit, if they have the grace that allows them endurance and overcoming of these trials (2Cor 12:9 & 1Cor 10:13). The whole world is now in a trial because of the "other-mind." See New Mind 20.

nm347 >> Of course some fruits of the Spirit are not produced through trials such as those described in Mark 13:11, "but when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what you shall speak, neither do you premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak you: for it is not you that speak, but the Holy Spirit."

nm348 >> Review. It is God's Spirit that produces good works, and God calls and chooses people to fulfill positions in the Church according to his will (2Cor 10:13; 2Tim 1:9). God gives to Christians Spiritual power by measure (Eph 4:7). God gives roles in the aeonian Kingdom of God under Christ, by the fact that God through his Spirit and by the measure of power given, does the good works. Why?

No Reason To Boast: God Gives The Power

nm349 >> "Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph 2:9). Although in this verse it is referring in context to being saved through Faith, and is not speaking about reward according to works, the same conclusion is still valid. The scriptures quoted in this paper clearly indicate it is God who does the good works, not man. Even Christ the man said it was his Father that did his works (John 14:10). Shall we take Christ's word as true? Further Christ the man did his works according to the power given him: "And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness" (Rom 1:4). But unlike regular Christians, Christ the man was given the Spirit without measure (John 3:34). He was a man given enough power to be the only sinless human in this age (see God Papers).

But We Work

nm350 >> Let's clarify something here through an allegory. We are like the branches of a tree (Rom 11:17), and God is like the root and trunk. God as the root and trunk supports us, the branches (Rom 11:18). God provides the sap (Spirit), for us, the branches, to produce the good fruit (John 15:5). Without the sap and support from the root and trunk, we would produce nothing. God does the works by providing the support and sap for us to produce the fruit. Yet we, the branches, do perform works, but only because of the support of the sap from the trunk and root. We, the branches, produce fruit according to the amount and quality of sap from the roots reaching us.

nm351 >> Hear what Paul says, "I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that you might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written [God gives the increase, 1Cor 3:7], that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who makes you to differ from another? and what have you that you didn't receive? now if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you hadn't received it?" (1Cor 4:6-7) "And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in his presence ... That, according as it is written, he that glories, let him glory in the Lord" (1Cor 1:28, 29, 31).

nm352 >> It is God who does the good works; it is God who creates Spiritual men according to the measure of Spiritual power given them (Deut 8:17-18). God gives his Spiritual power; one cannot earn Spiritual power; one cannot qualify for Spiritual power, it is given to those it is given to (see "Predestination Paper" [NM 8]). Spiritual power is given as a non-earned gift, so people won't become puffed up and have glory in their own selves.

nm353 >> Let's summarize this topic through a few scriptures. Note the following verse in a Spiritual way:

  • "Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter's clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?" (Isa 29:16)

nm354 >> God is the potter; we are the clay (Isa 45:9-10; 64:8). Notice the rhetorical question in Isaiah 29:16. Shall real Christians, the clay, the Spiritual work of God's hand, say God made them not? The answer, "we all are the work of your [God's] hand" (Isa 64:8).


Notes for NM 12

Parables of Pounds And Talents

nm355 >> We have just seen in the paper, "According to Works" [NM 12], that God gives Spiritual power by measure. As explained, God gave Paul just enough Spiritual power to do the task he was commissioned to do, "my grace is sufficient for you" (2Cor 12:9).

nm356 >> We saw in that paper that the parable of pounds shows us that Spiritual Christians are given rulership (serviceship) over cities according to how much they produce from the one "pound" that was given to each at the start. One gained ten times as much as what he was originally given, and he received rulership over ten cities. Another gained five times as much, and he was given rulership over five cities in the kingdom of God. Remember rulership in the kingdom of God will be different from how it is now done in this age (see Mark 10:42-44). But the one who gained nothing, his only pound was taken away from him because he gained nothing.

nm357 >> Now the "pounds" of this parable can be looked at as being good Spiritual fruit. The more good fruit (pounds) one produces, the more responsibility that person will have in the kingdom of God. Look up the following verses and see how those who will rule in the kingdom of God are those who produce much good Spiritual fruit: Mat 13:23; Luke 8:8, 15; John 15:5, 8, 16; Rev 2:26. Thus, those who produce much Spiritual good fruit receive rulership (serviceship) according to their production of good fruit (pounds).

nm358 >> Notice that all the servants in the parable of pounds received just one pound to begin with. This should be looked upon as what any one person has in good fruit without God's Spirit. Someone without God's Spirit is like one who has one pound. But with God's Spirit, one produces much good Spiritual fruit (pounds).

Now let's examine the parable of talents:

  • "Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents [a talent was worth about a thousand dollars] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
  • His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
  • The man with two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
  • His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
  • Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
  • His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest [KJV, "usury"].
  • 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth."' (Mat 25:14-30, NIV)

nm359 >> Notice the servants in this parable were apparently given talents according to their ability. Since we are to perceive Spiritual lessons out of the Bible (John 4:24), then the "ability" spoken about is Spiritual ability. These servants were given "talents" according to their Spiritual ability. And we showed in the paper, "According to Works" [NM 12] that Spiritual ability is a gift. Thus, the "talents" given correspond exactly to the given Spiritual ability. Hence, these "talents" can be looked upon as being one and the same as the degree of Spiritual ability that is given to each Christian. The person receiving five talents can be looked upon as one who is given five times the Spiritual ability as the person with one talent; he thus will grow five times, so to speak, in Spiritual ability.

nm360 >> You can see in this parable that as each was given, so did they gain, except the person given one talent. The person who was given five talents brought back to Christ an increase in good Spiritual works according to what was given to him in Spiritual ability. And the one given two talents brought back two more talents. But the one given one talent brought back just one talent - the one talent given to him. Each (except the one) brought back an increase according to what was given to him. And each was given talents according to their ability, Spiritually speaking. Therefore, each produced according to what was given to him, except the person given the one talent: he produced no increase.

Both Parables Together

nm361 >> The servant in the parable of pounds who gained ten pounds is merely a servant who was given ten talents of Spiritual ability (cf. Mat 25:28 with Luke 19:24 in context noting in Mat 25:15 that the parable didn't mention someone receiving ten talents). Not only do these parables need to be looked upon as going together, they have to be looked upon that way in order to understand them. The servant who gained five "pounds" is merely the one who was given five "talents" of Spiritual ability. The servant who gained two "pounds" is the servant who was given two "talents" of Spiritual ability.

nm362 >> Now the one who gained nothing, who just kept the one "pound" was the one given the one "talent" of ability. Yet since we know that those who are real Christians do produce much fruit (John 15:5, 8, 16; and paper called "Prove Paper" [NM 10]), then we know that the one who produced no pounds above and beyond the original one given him, is a non-Christian. A non-Christian is one without the New Mind, he is one with the old mind. The one "talent" can be looked upon as the normal Spiritual ability of anyone without God's Spirit. And the one "pound" can be looked upon as the degree of good fruits one has without God's Spirit.


nm363 >> For another way to prove that the person who had but one talent and one pound was a non-Christian please note Luke 19:23 and Mat 25:27. Here it says God was requiring usury (interest) from this person. But notice it is against the law of God in the Old Testament to take interest from a member of Israel, yet it is alright to take interest from a stranger or Gentile (Deut 23:20). Now Spiritual Christians are Spiritual Israelites (Gal 6:16). Therefore those without God's Spirit are spiritual strangers or spiritual Gentiles. Since God is a brethren of the Israelites, he is their Father, he cannot require interest from them, but he can require interest from strangers. Since God does not break his own laws in an antitypical way, the person from whom God requires usury or interest is a spiritual stranger, a non-Christian. The persons with one talent and one pound God required usury from. Thus, they are spiritual strangers, or non-Christians.


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(c) Copyright 1971-2016 by Walter R. Dolen