Category Archives: Good Works

“Saving faith is not the enemy of good works” by Michael Horton

“Saving faith is not the enemy of good works, but their only possible source.

We never offer up our good works to God for salvation, but extend them to our neighbors for their good. As a result, everyone benefits.

God, who needs nothing from us, receives all of the glory; our neighbors receive gifts that God wants to give them through us; and we benefit both from the gifts of others and the joy that our own giving brings.

Reverse this flow, and nobody wins. God is not glorified, neighbors are not served, and we live frustrated, anxious, joyless lives awaiting the wrath of a holy God.

The gospel produces peace and empowers us to live by faith. We live no longer anxious, but secure and invigorated because we are crucified and raised with Christ.

We are no longer trying to live up to the starring role we’ve given ourselves, but are written into the story of Christ.

We have nothing to prove, just a lot of work to do.Good works are no longer seen as a condition of our union with Christ, but as its fruit.

We are no longer slaves, but the children of God– co-heirs with Christ, our elder brother.

The first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism summarizes this faith well:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?

A. That I am not my own,
but belong with body and soul,
both in life and in death, 
to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 
He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood,
and has set me free from all the power of the devil.
He also preserves me in such a way
that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head;
indeed, all things must work together for my salvation.
Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life
and makes me heartily willing and ready
from now on to live for Him.

As God’s creatures, made in His image, we are ‘not our own’ already in creation. Yet our redemption doubles this truth.

Created by God and saved by His grace, I am truly ‘not my own, but belong– body and soul, in life and in death– to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.'”

–Michael Horton, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 41-42.

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“Christ is the sun; the individual words of God are His rays” by Herman Bavinck

“Finally the designation ‘word of God’ is used for Christ Himself. He is the Logos in an utterly unique sense: Revealer and revelation at the same time.

All the revelations and words of God, in nature and history, in creation and re-creation, both in the Old and the New Testament, have their ground, unity, and center in Him.

He is the sun; the individual words of God are His rays.

The word of God in nature, in Israel, in the NT, in Scripture may never even for a moment be separated and abstracted from him. God’s revelation exists only because He is the Logos.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena (Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; vol. 1; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 1: 402.

[HT: Nick Gardner]

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“What we sow on earth is harvested in eternity” by Herman Bavinck

“The final rest of God’s children is not to be conceived as inaction; His children remain His servants, who joyfully and in diverse ways serve Him night and day.

What we sow on earth is harvested in eternity; diversity is not destroyed in eternity but cleansed from sin and made serviceable to fellowship with God and others. Scripture even teaches degrees of glory in the future kingdom, commensurate with one’s works.

The blessedness of salvation is the same for all, but there are distinctions in glory. This distinction is not merited by good works but comes through a sovereign, free, and gracious covenantal disposition of God—a given right to believers merited by Christ.

God thus crowns His own work in order that in such active diversity the glory of His own attributes shines out. All creatures will then live and move and have their being in God, who is all in all, who reflects all of His attributes in the mirror of His works and glorifies Himself in them.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Holy Spirit, Church, and New Creation (Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend; vol. 4; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008), 4: 715.

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“Grace is glory begun and glory is grace consummated” by Francis Turretin

“Works can be considered in three ways: either with reference to justification or sanctification or glorification.

They are related to justification not antecedently, efficiently and meritoriously, but consequently and declaratively.

They are related to sanctification constitutively because they constitute and promote it.

They are related to glorification antecedently and ordinatively because they are related to it as the means to the end; yea, as the beginning to the complement because grace is glory begun, as glory is grace consummated.”

–Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, (17.3.15). Ed. James Dennison (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1692/1996), 2:705.

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