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Tuesday
Sep102013

Theological Term of the Week 

good works
Deeds done “in obedience to the will of God (Rom 6:16), from a principle of love to Him (Heb 10:24), in the name of Christ (Col 3:17), and to the glory of God by Him.”1 Our good works are never the grounds of our salvation, but they are the necessary result of salvation as the Spirit produces the desire and power to please God within a believer.

  • From scripture:
  • For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

  • From the Belgic Confession, Article 24
  • We believe that this true faith, worked in man by the hearing of God’s Word and by the operation of the Holy Spirit, regenerates him and makes him a new man. It makes him live a new life and frees him from the slavery of sin. Therefore it is not true that this justifying faith makes man indifferent to living a good and holy life. On the contrary, without it no one would ever do anything out of love for God, but only out of self-love or fear of being condemned. It is therefore impossible for this holy faith to be inactive in man, for we do not speak of an empty faith but of what Scripture calls faith working through love. This faith induces man to apply himself to those works which God has commanded in His Word. These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, since they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless, they do not count toward our justification. For through faith in Christ we are justified, even before we do any good works. Otherwise they could not be good any more than the fruit of a tree can be good unless the tree itself is good.

    Therefore we do good works, but not for merit. For what could we merit? We are indebted to God, rather than He to us, for the good works we do,8 since it is He who is at work in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Let us keep in mind what is written: So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty (Luke 17:10).” Meanwhile we do not deny that God rewards good works,9 but it is by His grace that He crowns His gifts.

    Furthermore, although we do good works, we do not base our salvation on them. We cannot do a single work that is not defiled by our flesh and does not deserve punishment. Even if we could show one good work, the remembrance of one sin is enough to make God reject it. We would then always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be constantly tormented, if they did not rely on the merit of the death and passion of our Saviour..

Learn more:

  1. Got Questions.org: What does it mean that good works are the result of salvation?
  2. Milton Vincent: Saved for Good Works
  3. Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries: What is the relationship between faith and works?
  4. London Baptist Confession 1689: Of Good Works
  5. Open Bible Info: 98 Bible Verses About Good Works
  6. Arthur Pink: The Bible and Good Works
  7. Brian Borgman: Saved by Grace for Good Works - Ephesians 2:10 (mp3)

Related terms:

Filed under Salvation

1From The Scriptures and Good Works by Arthur Pink.

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