The Mystery of the True Gospel
When Jesus talked, He changed lives. When the apostles preached what Jesus Christ had taught them, lives were changed by that one true message. Thousands responded with changed lives. Wealthy people gave large amounts to the poor and became rich in good works (1 Tim. 6:17-18). Zacchaeus, the tax collector, gave half of his wealth to the poor and paid back four times the amount he had extracted from people dishonestly, and then practiced righteousness (Luke 19:8). People sold their property and pooled it all together so that all might have substance (Acts 4:34-35). One thing was for sure, lives were changed. They were doers of the word (James 1:22).
Consider Dorcas, a woman who was continually abounding in good deeds, works of kindness and charity (Acts 9:36). Consider Cornelius (Acts 10:2, 4, 22). We should consider him because God considered him. Cornelius gave money to the needy people and prayed to God continually. Not only that, but he had a respect for God’s commandments and walked in them by practicing righteousness as Noah did (1 John 3:7).
Yes, the apostles were telling people to engage in good deeds for God in order to repent (Titus 3:8; Acts 26:20). It was not something they would naturally do as a result of having God’s Spirit; they had to learn to do it (Titus 3:14). Jesus said they would have to strive to overcome their natures by doing good (Luke 13:24; Rom. 12:21). Yet, by perseverance they would win their souls (Luke 21:19). Their good works would have to exceed that of the Pharisees if they were to enter the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:20; 7:21; Luke 17:21, KJV). They would have to do the Will of God to enter the kingdom (Luke 16:16). The easiest way was to consider themselves as slaves to righteousness until they could eventually do it happily from their hearts (Rom. 6:13, 18-19; Eph. 6:6).
Wherever you found disciples of Jesus Christ back then, you found "do-gooders." They knew their deeds for God would assure them of being resurrected, but they also knew eternal life was a free gift that could not be earned (Rom. 2:6-7; John 5:29; Rev. 14:13; Eph. 2:8-10). They were subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God as Jesus Christ did (Rom. 10:2-3). They overcame their human natures by being zealous for good deeds, keeping Christ’s deeds instead of their own self-righteous deeds (1 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 2:26). They knew faith without works is dead (James 2:17). You never saw so many people doing so much good. It was marvelous! It produced good fruits (Col. 1:10). It changed lives. Do not worry, they did all their deeds in Christ’s name to be sure that it was not self-righteousness they were practicing (Col. 3:17). They did their deeds in secret, just as the Lord commands us to do. This is the mystery of the true gospel.