Evangelical Essentials (Part Nine)
Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
Titus 2:13-14 (NLT)
Although good works, which are the fruits of faith and follow on after justification, can never atone for our sins or face the strict justice of God’s judgment, they are nevertheless pleasing and acceptable to God in Christ and necessarily spring from a true and living faith. Thus a living faith is as plainly known by its good works as a tree is known by its fruit.
Article Twelve,“A Contemporary Version of the 39 Articles of Religion,” available from; www.stjohnsanglican.org/39.doc.
Good Works as the Fruit of Salvation
No works can produce salvation. However, a faith-filled salvation will produce many good works. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not its cause or basis.
It seems that ‘good works’ is a general expression to cover everything a Christian says and does because he is a Christian, every outward and visible manifestation of his Christian faith . . . Rather we are to be ourselves, our true Christian selves, openly living the life described in the beatitudes, and not ashamed of Christ. Then people will see us and our good works, and seeing us will glorify God. For they will inevitably recognize that it is by the grace of God we are, what we are, that ‘our’ light is ‘his’ light, and that our works are his works done in us and through us.
[John Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, John Stott Daily Bible Study Email, August 14th, 2007 (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1985).]
Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Good works can be described as the fruit of faith. An expectation of redemption is living in a godly manner. There is no place in the Christian life for claiming a “born from above” experience while giving no evidence of a changed life. A changed life is life that allows Christ to live His life in and through the believer (1 John 4:9).
This is the rest of faith. You relax, almost like a spectator, except that it is your hands with which He is at work, your lips with which He is speaking, your eyes with which He sees the need, your ears with which He hears the cry, and your heart with which He loves the lost.”
[Major Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2006). 99.]
Good works are not produced by the Christian, but good works are borne in the life of the Christian by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are fruit-bearers not fruit-producers. Grace works out the life of Christ in us.
Saving faith has intrinsic power to produce fruit.
[John Piper, The Pleasures of God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1991), 244.]
Good works or deeds display to the world the changed heart that Christ has created (Matt. 7:15-20). Faith in the finished work of Christ expresses itself in deeds done for God and others.
Although we cannot be saved by works, we also cannot be saved without them. Good works are not the way of salvation, but its proper and necessary evidence. A faith which does not express itself in works is dead.
[John Stott, Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1970), 127.]
Therefore, good works are the fruit of faith, they follow after justification, they are evidence of a changed heart, and therefore will flow from a life changed by the Cross.