THE ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GOOD WORKS
Elder Jerry R. Miller Fairview Memorial M.B.C.
Though it has often been debated, there are many scriptures that plainly tell us we are not saved by our “good works”. Consider the following passages we find in the writings of the Apostle Paul. In Titus 3:5 he said, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. In his writing to the Ephesians we find the following: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:8-10)
Upon consideration of Paul’s life this question comes to mind; Who could have been better qualified to write such things? Before his conversion, he lived as a very devout Pharisee. He strongly believed that his justification before God would be the result of what he did through keeping the law. In other words, before he experienced God’s saving grace, he believed in salvation by works.
Within the realm of religion, many have developed the habit of taking every ingredient, throwing them into the blender, and mixing them as if they all go together. They do this by trying to prove that salvation is by grace, but that our works also play a part. As we look further into Paul’s writings we see that he did not teach such a concept.
In Romans 11:1-6, Paul spoke of the time that Elijah felt he was the only one left who was still standing for the Lord. However, God assured him by letting him know he still had many other faithful servants. In Romans 11:5-6 he wrote, Even so at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work Paul makes it very clear in these passages that salvation cannot be by grace and works combined because they vary so much from each other that one would cancel out the other. It is either by grace, or by works. Of course, as it has already been shown, The Apostle Paul said we are “saved by grace through faith.”
In his writing to the Galatians, Paul rebuked the churches of Galatia for allowing themselves to bewitched into believing that both faith and works were necessary for conversion. He wrote the following to them: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.(Galatians 2:16) Furthermore, in Galatians 3:1-3 he wrote, O foolish Galatians, who hat bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
THE SCRIPTURES CRY OUT TO US LOUDLY, WE ARE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH, NOT BY OUR OWN WORKS!!!
Then what is accomplished by Good Works? The scriptures also clearly answer this. First of all, we are not capable of performing what God considers, good works, until we have been saved. Going back to Ephesians 2:10, when the Apostle Paul wrote that we are saved by grace, he said that by this we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works!
He goes on to say that God has ordained that we should walk in them. Walk in what? In good works.
What we accomplish by walking in good works is that we show ourselves to be who we profess to be, THE PEOPLE OF GOD. We show our faith to those around us by our works. In James 2:18 it reads, Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.
Romans 5:1 says, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. To be justified means to be declared righteous. We are justified by faith, but faith is inward, hidden from the eyes of man. In 2nd Timothy 1:5, Paul wrote to Timothy and said, When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. Romans 10:10 reads, For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. The faith that justifies us before God is in our heart, and only God can see it. How could Paul know this faith dwelt in Timothy, and in his mother and grandmother? I’ll tell you how, they had shown it to him just as James said, BY THEIR WORKS. We can be declared righteous in the eyes of God without works because he can see our heart, but man cannot. Just as God told Samuel, Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart.(1 Samuel 16:7)
Being justified(declared righteous) in the eyes of men can only be accomplished through our good works. In Romans 4:2&3 we find, For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. However, if we look at James 2:21 it says, Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? These scriptures certainly do not contradict each other, they are merely talking about two different types of justification. Romans 4 is telling us that Abraham could not be justified before God by his works, James was telling he was justified before men by his works.
As the people of God, we are not to justify ourselves before men by our good works so that we can be exalted. The most important thing accomplished by walking in good works the way God has ordained, is that God is glorified in it. In Matthew 5:16, we find that Jesus told his disciples: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.