Our Good Works

Our Good Works

By Curt Wildy

When I think of my good works, my mind gravitates towards Isaiah 64:6But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags…” I look at my abstentions from outward evil, and my strivings (even delight) to do that which is right before God, and see the reality that self is ever before me and that I constantly fall short of the law of God.

There is another precept however; one that is often harder to see. This precept declares unquestionably that I have good works and that we all, as Christians, have good works. God says of all Christians in Matthew 5:16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” God says your good works (or, the good works of you); they belong to the Christian. The word good means not only good, but beautiful, precious, excellent. Can you say your good works are beautiful? Hard to believe it in this life, but to God they are beautiful and precious indeed. 

In Hebrews 10:23-24 we read “Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” What an amazing truth; that we can provoke (incite) one another to good works. How can this be if it is all of God and none of us? If all of our good works stem from God and no aspect of our being can be said to generate good outside of the working and influence of God; how do we provoke one another unto beautiful and precious works? Remember, God is a God who works through means. He ordains our good works, He ordains His working in us to manifest those good works, and He ordains our godly provokings unto the very good works that He has ordained for us and works in us. It is like prayer; prayer does not change the mind and will of God. When we pray, we are to bow to His will, saying “Thy will be done.” Yet we read in James 5:16Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The words fervent effectual in the Greek is ernegeo (ενεργεω G1754; en-erg-eh’-o) and it is the same word used in Philippians 2:13 “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do <G1754> of his good pleasure.” Our effectual fervent prayer (petition) worketh much because God moves us to make the very prayer that He works in us. It is effectual because God in us makes it effectual; He is the Righteous man in us and He makes us the righteous men and women in Him.  

Consider another aspect of Ephesians 2:10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  That word workmanship is poiema (ποιημα G4161; poy’-ay-mah) and it means the thing that is made; a product, i.e. fabric or tapestry.  God is not just teaching that each one of us is His workmanship, although we are individually His workmanship. The point is that together, as a body, we are His workmanship and He has created us as one body unto good works. We each carry out the good works that He has ordained for us, but we do it together, in conjunction, as we provoke, exhort, admonish, encourage, and comfort one another.  This goes back to Romans 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” The word conformed is summorphos (συμμορφος G4832; soom-mor-fos’); it stems from sun (G4862 συν soon) which is a primary preposition denoting union and means with, together, (in composition) association, companionship. The other root word is morphe (μορφή G3444; mor-fay’) and it means shape or form. In our union with the Lord, and with each other as a body, we are shaped, or formed, together with the brethren into the the image and likeness of Christ. This is why fellowship is so important and why forsaking the assembly is so problematic; God has ordained that we, together, grow in Him as we grow in love and edification towards one another.

As we go through our trials, tribulations, and sorrows, we comfort one another and exhort each other to fight the good fight and endure. As we share our godly joys, triumphs, and insight, we edify one another and, in so doing, we are being shaped together into that one, united, God-glorifying tapestry. Likewise, when we witness faithfully, strive to live godly before the heathen, and endure the persecution that results, we are being conformed both individually and as a family (the congregation matures as the individual members mature).

So we see that God has seen fit to make His work in us ours; even though He gets all of the glory, He condescends to see us, like He saw Tabitha, as being full of good works (Acts 9:36). We read in 1 John 4:17Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He is, so are we in this world.” As Christ is, so are we, even now. His good works are our good works. His righteousness is our righteousness. His faithfulness is our faithfulness. His obedience is our obedience. They are as really ours as they are His through eternal vital (or living) union with Him. This is what makes the Lord so precious to us (one of many reasons at least). He has taken filthy worms like us and risen us up to be as He is in this world. Such grace and mercy is of greater expansive and magnitude than this universe and all that it contains. Because of this, and a whole host of other reasons, we need to strive to glorify Him in our minds, heart, and walk. We can speak of doctrine day after day, week after week, and this is needful to help build each other up in the truth of God’s word. But doctrine concerning Christ, and our walk in Him, must never come to eclipse Him. Instead, it should point us to Him and encourage us to run to the Lord in haste. He is precious to the believer because He is our everything. Through Him, we have perfect union with the entirety of the Godhead. He has saved us with an everlasting salvation and has given us the honour to be with Him, united as One, for all eternity. This is too vast, too glorious, to even begin to contemplate.

All praise, glory, and honour to the Lord — forever.    

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