We Believe In: Good Works -- By: Arthur L. Farstad
JOTGES 26:50 (Spring 2013) p. 37
We Believe In:
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Bible-believing Protestants 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. The opening verse of this paper shows that we were specifically created for good works. Hence they must be important. Before examining what good works are, who does them, and with what result, for newer readers of our Journal we would
JOTGES 26:50 (Spring 2013) p. 38
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. If ever there was an opportunity for our Lord to stress the necessity for keeping the law (or part of the law) or availing oneself of the grace said to come through baptism (or holy communion, etc.) or total submission to His Lordship, or character-building, or ten or fifteen other “fai...
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