February 12, 2015

Christian Manifesto VII: Good Works

Declaration VII: True Christians Manifest Good Works

Matthew 5:16 ~ "In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

I believe that a true Christian will manifest good works as a fruit or a outgrowth of what they are in Jesus Christ because they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Conversely, the works are not a work to gain salvation. Therefore salvation was accomplished once and for all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The works of a Christian are the logical reaction of a person that believes in the magnanimous gift of the Gospel and realizes what God has done for them.

Titus 3:8 ~ “Those who have believed in God may devote themselves to good works.”

James 2:14-20   ~ “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?”

Let me be clear. Nothing you do will gain you salvation. That work has been completed by Jesus Christ on the Cross. It is nothing we do.

Ephesians 2:8 ~ “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”

Good deeds are mentioned throughout the Bible. It is especially focused on in James and in Titus. It is mentioned six times in three chapters of Titus. It is repeated shown that good works did not save but works proved saving faith. The Westminster Confession of Faith states:

“These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith” Westminster Confession of Faith 16, Part 2

These works become the main actions by which Christian values are put out into the world. Without these deeds driven on by the Spirit, our witness becomes null or muted as James states, faith without deeds is useless. We need to assure that in engaging in justice, grace and helping others we don't inadvertently make the Gospel into the social gospel. We must be careful to not do humanitarian actions for our own glorification or thinking that we ourselves are ringing in the Kingdom only the Lord can ring in.

Paul states in Titus 2:14 that Jesus died for the elect for this reason: “…to purify for Himself a people for His own possession who are zealous for good works”. Are we doing what Jesus died for? Is the practice of good deeds even for those we don’t deem deserving characterize our lives? Charity begins at home in and the Church, but if it doesn’t work its way into the community at-large, something is missing.

If you are a Christian the Gospel becomes a call to action. As I’ve heard it said before, the Spirit in one’s heart is shown most profoundly in one’s worn-out soles (on their shoes) and callouses and dirt on one’s hands. They are deeds done not for selfish motive but through compulsion of the Holy Spirit and a desire to bring glory to God. If Christ in the Gospel is the root of our faith than part of the fruits are the deeds done out of a purified heart. Good works are our an educational example to our fellow believers and even the non-believer.

Titus 2:7 ~ "In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility"

If understood properly a Scriptural view of "good works" encompass every aspect of our thinking and conduct before God. They therefore become acts of worship before God also. That means that good works don’t just encompass charity to the poor, but also behaving in a holy way toward your neighbor and even your family whether you’re being watched or not. In truth you are always being watched as God is omniscient.

We were created for good work. 

Genesis 2:15 ~ "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." 

After we fell in Adam, God still used man for the same purpose (work) but because sin came into the world, God point man to the work of spreading the Gospel to overturn the very sin that man committed and fell into. We could've had it easy working in the Garden but instead, through our own fault we chose a much harder path. God though is still glorified because we are still being utilized for our original purpose, just in a different way. If we are indeed God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, how better can we reflect this fact than to show it in our own works that emulate His work of creation in us?

Let’s face it, it’s hard to criticize someone who is doing good actions for another person regardless of what their motive but when people realize the deeds are not selfishly motivated even the most jaded person sits up and takes notice. When the person doing the deed is a Christian, it makes even the jaded man look on in earnest.

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