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Christian Life

5 Truths About Good Works

Ladies, we discuss good deeds often here on Project Inspired. And regardless of the controversial discussions regarding faith and good works, it’s clear that scripture also takes good works very seriously. But what are good works?

Good works are acts of love. They include helping those in need, whether through volunteering your time or giving via charity. They also include showing love in the way that we treat people. In short, good works are acts that are pleasing to God.

But why are good works so important to Christians? Well, here are five truths that are clearly stated in scripture.

1. God made us to perform them. He wants us to love others by performing good works because we were created in His image and God is good. God is love. “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:10). When we do good works, we are emulating the love and amazing goodness of our God. We’re doing what He created us to do.

2. They reflect God. In this way, they are a reflection of God’s goodness, so that others see His love in our good works. Those who benefit from the good works feel God’s love when we do good works for them. Accordingly, others see God’s love when we do good works for someone else. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

3. They reflect your faith. Good works play a fundamental role in our own faith. Our faith is “dead” without it, remember? And even Satan believes, right? (James 2:19) So, as Christians, we should make good works a big focus in our lives, because our faith would mean nothing without them.

 

But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. (James 2:18-22)

 

4. They won’t save you. I don’t know any Christian denomination that states that good works lead to salvation, whether alone or in conjunction with faith. No, not even Catholics. I believe that all Christians are in agreement that grace alone saves us (Ephesians 2:8). So assuming that all you have to do is be a good person and do good things and you will be saved is as incorrect as stating that faith alone saves you. “See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24).

5. God does take them into account. There are many places in scripture that discuss the significance of good works and how God takes them into account on judgment day. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus Himself talks about how all nations will be separated: “He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Jesus then goes on to describe how those who performed good works for others will be separated from those who didn’t, and they will be rewarded or punished accordingly, explaining, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of My family, you did it to Me.”

 

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2:14-17)

Ladies, how important are good works to you as a Christian?

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4 Comments

  1. Project Inspired

    Posted by Ashleighm2001 on February 5, 2015 at 15:56

    I enjoyed this!!

  2. happyitsestie

    Posted by happyitsestie on January 18, 2015 at 15:52

    This is amazing! My pastor today preached on this… And I don’t think it’s a coincidence 🙂

  3. ata9

    Posted by ata9 on January 18, 2015 at 11:18

    I feel like the Catholic view of faith and caritas was not properly expressed in this article. Here is a very long (sorry!) excerpt from an email I once sent a friend expressing the Catholic view of justification and salvation:

    “Both Protestants and Catholics believe that you are justified through Christ and his grace. We also agree that you receive the gift of faith through the grace of God, and that faith is necessary for justification. Neither Catholics or Protestants believe that we can justify ourselves through our own works, as if we merit anything without the grace of God.

    Catholics really believe that the grace of justification is unmerited (ie: we baptize infants, who have no merit, but they still are justified). We also believe that a person must assent or cooperate with God’s grace in order for it to take effect, and that assent or cooperation also comes about through His grace. That way we still have free will –people can freely choose God or reject him. By free will, our first parents were able to reject God and commit sin; and by free will, we can choose to accept or reject God’s initiative in our lives today.

    Catholics believe that we do have merit, and some of our actions merit a reward, but we believe that it is only through the grace of God that we can merit anything. God does not strictly have to reward us for acts of charity and love, but he does so because he promised to (please reference Matthew 5:10-12, Matthew 6:1-6, Mark 9:41, Matthew 6:17-20, Phillipians 4:16-17, 1 Timothy 6:18-19, and Hebrews 13:16).

    Catholic and Protestants also agree that works of the Jewish Law do not justify us (ie circumcision). St. Paul clearly showed that we are justified by faith, and not by works of this old law, in Romans 3-6 and throughout his letters. You must understand that he was condemning the old law (the Jewish Law from the Old Testament), and not condemning works of charity and love (aka good works). At the time, there had been a controversy (which you can find in Scripture) where some Jewish converts were saying that Christians were still bound to perform works of the law. In opposition to such views, Paul continually stated that we are justified through faith, not through works of the Jewish law. Everything St. Paul said was in obedience to the decision of the Council of Jerusalem , where the council members had decided not to impose burdens of the Mosaic law upon Gentile converts. Paul and Timothy were the ones who had been told to spread the verdict of the council from city to city (Acts 16:4), which is why St. Paul talks about it so much.

    So you can see, St. Paul did not intend to condemn good acts. He simply intended to condemn those who believed they could be justified through works of the Jewish Law. Galations 5:4-6 shows Paul’s opposition to works of the law, and at the same time shows his support for works of love (Paul continues in verses 13-14). St. Paul treated works of the law and works of charity or love, “good works,” in completely different ways; he considered the works of the law to be useless, but works of charity to be noble and necessary (Galations 6:9, Titus 3:8, Titus 3:14, 1 Timothy 6:18, 2 Thessalonians 3:13). In Romans 2:6-8, he spoke of “the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.”

    Also please look at what St. James said in 1:27 and 2:25 (arguing that in some way a woman’s act of kindness affected her justification).

    It’s at this point that Catholics and Protestant disagree -on the issue of whether or not faith itself is sufficient for justification. Protestants use Paul’s opposition to works of the law as a means of justification to go one step further, saying that we are justified by faith alone (sola fide), implying that acts of love, charity and kindness do not count for anything for Christians. The doctrine of faith alone seems to mean that as long as we believe in Christ, we will be saved – nothing else is required. Good or kind actions may be present in our lives, but they have no bearing on our salvation; a good life is simply a sign that we have true faith.

    Perhaps the real distinction between traditional Protestants and Catholics is in our definition of faith itself. Catholics believe that justifying faith is faith that is lived out in love and charity, it is “faith working through love.” (Galations 5:6). Faith that doesn’t include love and charity is an empty faith, and such bare faith does not justify (please also reference 1 Corinthians 13:2, 1 John 3:23, James 2:22, Phillipians 2:12, Hebrews 11, and Genesis 22:18).

    Faith is something more than simply belief. Even the demons have faith, to some extent (see James 2:19). However, something more than bare belief is required – an active faith is necessary (see James 1:22 and 1 John 2:4-6). While it’s true that some Protestants accept the idea that justifying faith is a faith that is lived out in love, the Protestant focus on faith “alone” seems to reject the idea that faith lived out in love is in any way required. They see works of love as a sign of true faith, but refuse to recognize the efficacy of works in our lives.

    In James 3:24, he stated: “A person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” This is the one place in the Bible (save for Ephesians?) that directly addresses this issue, and James’ statement is very clear. It buffers St. Paul ’s reference to faith working through love, and it makes it very clear that bare faith does not justify. Here’s the verse in its immediate context, James 3:14-26:

    “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

    Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.” See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

    We will be judged, and thus saved or damned, based upon our works (in addition to our faith) – but do not forget that works and faith are both gifts of God’s unmerited grace. The debate regarding justification is strongly related to the question regarding how people are “saved.” To a Protestant, a person who is justified is saved; they are going to heaven, and nothing that they do will aid or prevent their salvation, which cannot be lost. To Catholics, we will not definitively know whether we are saved or damned until judgment day (but, through the virtue of hope, we confidently await and hope for our salvation in Christ), when we will be judged according to our works. The Bible is filled with statements that show that only those who persevere in good works will be saved. After reviewing those references, the reader should agree that good works clearly play a part in our salvation.

    The Catholic view can be presented as follows: On Judgment Day, people of faith who have persevered in following Christ through a holy life will be saved (remember that Catholics believe that we depend on God’s grace for both faith and holiness of life); those who have led wicked lives (including those who have fallen into mortal sin after their initial justification and have failed to seek forgiveness from God) will be damned, even if they professedly believed (had faith) in Jesus. Thus, something more than a bare faith is required for eternal salvation.

    Catholic teaching on this issue is heavily supported by Sacred Scripture, as shown in: Matthew 3:10, Romans 2:6-7, James 2:24, Revelation 20:11-13, 1 Peter 4:17, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, Revelation 22:12, Matthew 25:31-46, Luke 10:25-37, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 7:21-27, Matthew 19:29, Mark 10:17-30, Luke 13:6-9, Mark 11:13-14, John 5:24 and 29, Romans 2:6-8, Galatians 5:6, 1 John 3:10, 14, 18, Philippians 2:12, 1 Timothy 2:15, 2 Timothy 4:14, James 1:22-27, James 2:17, 1 Peter 1:17, Acts 10:4, 1 John 3:17-18, and the entire book of 1 John.

    • tmgaouette

      Posted by tmgaouette on January 19, 2015 at 10:50

      @Anne Thanks for the response. I did want to clarify that this post is not about any denomination’s view on good works, Catholic or Protestant. Rather, it’s about the significance of good works themselves to all Christians. Best and blessings, TMG