We Believe In: Good Works -- By: Arthur L. Farstad
JOTGES 2:2 (Autumn 89) p. 3
We Believe In:
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10, emphasis supplied
“You Protestants,” said the pious and elderly lady standing at the back of St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C. to the teenage art school student (who was there for strictly aesthetic reasons), “don’t believe in good works.” Of course, she was wrong. What she should have said was “You Protestants don’t believe in good works for salvation.” Bible-believing Protestants do indeed believe in good works as a normal fruit of salvation, but grace alone as the root. The Reformers were clear on this, even if their descendants are not always so. In taking a firm stand against Rome’s salvation by faith plus works (their seven-fold sacramental system) Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and the English Reformers were crystal-clear on this very important topic. Would that it were still true in most “Protestant” quarters. Even the conservative remnants of the so-called mainline denominations and the generally smaller, but typically more biblical, groups seem to have drifted from sola gratia.
If salvation were by grace through faith plus a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or a gift of $50 to the Church, we would be saying through all eternity, “Am I glad I made that pilgrimage (or gave that gift)!” We would share the glory of our salvation. And God does not wish to share His glory with anyone—even with us!
In stressing the grace-alone aspect of salvation we are always in danger of becoming (or at least appearing) uninterested in good works. Our lead verse shows that we were specifically created for good works. Hence they must be important. Before examining what good works are, who
JOTGES 2:2 (Autumn 89) p. 4
does them, and with what result, for newer readers of our Journal we would like to underscore one of our strongest emphases, the finished work of Christ.
II. The Greatest Good Work
The only reason a Christian can do any work that can be considered good in God’s eyes is because he or she is building on the foundation of the once-for-all good work of Christ.
In John 6:28, after Jesus fed the 5,000 with the five loaves and two fishes, the Jews asked Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” A very good question deserving a clear, concise answer...
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