There has been a lot of discussion lately about the Christian life and sanctification. Much of this discussion has included differing views on good works and the relation of the Christian and the Holy Spirit to these good works. Here are a few questions and answers to help in this discussion.
What are good works?
- Only that which God has commanded us in the Bible to do may be called good works.
Why do good works? Because good works done in obedience to God’s commandments
- are the fruits and evidence of a true and lively faith
- manifest our thankfulness to God
- strengthen our assurance of salvation
- encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ
- adorn the profession of the gospel
- silence adversaries of the faith
- glorify God
- lead us on to eternal life
Who brings forth our good works?
- We can’t do good works in and of ourselves.
- Good works are wholly from the Spirit of Christ.
- The Holy Spirit must work and will in us according to His good pleasure to produce them.
- However, this does not mean the Christian can be negligent in seeking to do good works.
- We are not to “let go and let God.”
- Rather, we are to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is already in us.
How good are these good works?
- The good works we do in no way exceed what God requires us to do.
- Therefore, it is equally true that in no way can our good works earn pardon for sin or eternal life.
- Whatever good works we do bring forth, we have still only done our duty.
- In any way that our works are good, it is because they proceed from the Holy Spirit.
- And any way that they are not good, it is because they proceed from us.
- Ultimately, what we produce is always mixed with weakness and imperfection.
Then how are our good works acceptable to God?
- Because we are accepted through Christ and God is looking upon us in His Son.
- Therefore, our good works done in sincerity, are accepted and rewarded though filled with these many weaknesses and imperfections.
**If you liked the above answers, there is good reason. You are resonating with Reformed Biblical thought through the centuries. And that isn’t because you agree with me. These aren’t my ruminations. The answers to these questions are the thoughts articulated in Westminster Confession of Faith chapter sixteen: Of Good Works. There is much biblical wisdom in our confessions. There is a reason they have stood the test of time.