The Nature of Good Works.
John 14:10 “10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I say to you I do not speak of my own accord: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his works.
Acts 26:20 “20 On the contrary I started preaching, first to the people of Damascus, then to those of Jerusalem and all Judaean territory, and also to the gentiles, urging them to repent and turn to God, proving their change of heart by their deeds.”
1 John 2:3-4 “3 In this way we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 Whoever says, ‘I know him’ without keeping his commandments, is a liar, and truth has no place in him.’”
Jesus says in Matt 7:22 “22 When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?
23 Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!”
The point Jesus is making here is that someone who is cut off from Him by doing evil is not going to be helped if they “prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Someone who is cut off from God by the evil he does is incapable of doing something truly good and pleasing to God, because his heart has turned away from God. Therefore “driving out demons”, “prophesying”, “working miracles” are not good deeds for him in the first place, because he is an unrepentant sinner.
That tells us a few things. Those who prophecy in Jesus’ name do not necessarily go to heaven. Those who drive out demons in Jesus’ name do not necessarily go to heaven, those who work out miracles in Jesus’ name do not necessarily go to heaven. That is if they do evil. Paul lists a few of these evils, adultery, slander, sodomy, etc, those who practice these things Paul tells us, will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor 6:9-10 “9* Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, * 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Some Christians do evil deeds, or fail to do good deeds, which is also evil. Matt 25:41-43, 46 “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42 For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.”
“46* And they will go away into eternal punishment,”
Paul tells us that we are saved by faith working through love. Gal 5:6 “6* For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” Good works are prompted by love. They are not things that we do in our own strength, but God works through us to enable us to do the good works. We are his “co-workers” (1 Cor 3:9 “ 9* For we are God’s co-workers; * you are God’s field, God’s building.”
He has prepared good works for us if we co-operate with His grace. It is impossible for anyone to do a good work pleasing to God if God is not working through that person, otherwise it is done out of duty or philanthropy, but not out of love.
Paul tells us that we can have faith even to move mountains, but that if we have no love, we have nothing. Love is the engine of good works, without love they are empty dead shells. God’s grace, which you respond to, gives you your faith. God’s grace, which you respond to, produces good works. In neither case are you doing something in your own strength.
Phil 2:13 “13 It is God who, for his own generous purpose, puts into you both the will and the action.”
That is what is meant by good works, doing the works that God has prepared for you, through His grace, not in your own strength.
Luke 11:41 “41 Instead, give alms from what you have and, look, everything will be clean for you.”
2 Peter 1:4-7 “4 Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion. 5 With this in view, do your utmost to support your faith with goodness, goodness with understanding, 6 understanding with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with devotion, 7 devotion with kindness to the brothers, and kindness to the brothers with love.”
|Eph 2:10 “10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.”
Rev 19:8 “8 His bride (the church) is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints.‘”
John 14:11 “11 You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works.”
Col 1:24 “24 It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church,”
Col 1:29 “29 And it is for this reason that I labour, striving with his energy which works in me mightily.”
John 5:30 “30 By myself I can do nothing;”
John 14:14 “14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 15:5 “5 I am the vine, you are the branches.
John 15:2, 6 “2Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away…. 6These branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt.”
John 15:6 “17 My command to you is to love one another.”
Prayer is a good work.
“Prayer (Gk. euchesthai, Lat. precari, Fr. prier, to plead, to beg, to ask earnestly), an act of the virtue of religion which consists in asking proper gifts or graces from God. In a more general sense it is the application of the mind to Divine things, not merely to acquire a knowledge of them but to make use of such knowledge as a means of union with God. This may be done by acts of praise and thanksgiving, but petition is the principal act of prayer. The words used to express it in Scripture are: to call upon (Gen.4:26); to intercede (Job. 22:10); to meditate (Is. 53:10); to consult (1 Kings. 28:6); to beseech (Ex.32:11); and, very commonly, to cry out to. The Fathers speak of it as the elevation of the mind to God with a view to asking proper things from Him (St. John Damascene, “De fide”, III, xxiv, in P.G., XCIV, 1090); communing and conversing with God (St. Gregory of Nyssa, “De oratione dom.”, in P.G., XLIV, 1125); talking with God (St. John Chrysostorn, “Horn. xxx in Gen.”, n. 5, in P.G., LIII, 280). It is therefore the expression of our desires to God whether for ourselves or others. This expression is not intended to instruct or direct God what to do, but to appeal to His goodness for the things we need; and the appeal is necessary, not because He is ignorant of our needs or sentiments, but to give definite form to our desires, to concentrate our whole attention on what we have to recommend to Him, to help us appreciate our close personal relation with Him. The expression need not be external or vocal; internal or mental is sufficient.
By prayer we acknowledge God’s power and goodness, our own neediness and dependence. It is therefore an act of the virtue of religion implying the deepest reverence for God and habituating us to look to Him for everything, not merely because the thing asked be good in itself, or advantageous to us, but chiefly because we wish it as a gift of God, and not otherwise, no matter how good or desirable it may seem to us. Prayer presupposes faith in God and hope in His goodness. By both, God, to whom we pray, moves us to prayer.” (Para. On prayer: Catholic Answers).
Repentance is a good work
Repentance is a good work. Good works are necessary for salvation. Salvation is not possible without repentance.
Acts 2:38 “38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
1 John1:8 “8 If we say, ‘We have no sin,‘ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth has no place in us;”
Forgiveness is a good work
Matt 6:15 “15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”. Salvation is not possible if we are unforgiving.
Because David is forgiving and forgives Saul, God forgives David. If God had not forgiven David, Heaven would have been closed to him.
Council of Trent; Decree Concerning Justification.
HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD
But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely, (Rom 3:24 “24* they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” ; Romans 5:1 “1* Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we * have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”) these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6 “6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”) and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.” For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace. (Rom 11:6 “6* But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.).”
Matt 28:19-20 “19* Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20* teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Which commandments? These are summed up in Matt 22: “37* And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39* And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
How do we love our neighbour? By good deeds.
1 John 4:20 “19* We love, because he first loved us. 20* If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot * love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”
James 2 on Faith and Good Deeds.
15 If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on,
16 and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?
17 In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead.
19 You believe in the one God — that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear.
20 Fool! Would you not like to know that faith without deeds is useless?
24 You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by faith alone, that someone is justified.
25 There is another example of the same kind: Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified by her deeds because she welcomed the messengers and showed them a different way to leave?
James repeats his teaching on Faith and Good deeds seven times in 13 verses.
Romans 2:6-7 “For God will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well doing (good works) seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life” – note “by patience in well doing….. he will give eternal life.” Eternal life.
1 Cor 13:13 “13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of these is love.”
Rev 3:15 “15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
Rev 20:12 “the dead were judged from what was written in the books, as their deeds deserved.”
Things that build up the Body of Christ.
Worshipping and praising God.
Prayer of praise, thanksgiving and petition.
Reading and meditation on the Word of God.
Proclaiming the Gospel.
Teaching the Word of God.
Love of neighbor.
Forgiving our neighbor.
Feeding the hungry.
Clothing the poor.
Visiting the sick and those in prison.
Reading and meditation on the lives of the saints.
All of these are Good Works. The first effect of a good work is to increase the faith and charity of the one who practices it, as it flows from God’s grace. This in itself builds up the Body of Christ, as the good of one member of the Body of Christ results in the good of the whole Body of Christ, just as the hurt felt by one member of the Body of Christ results in the hurt of the whole Body of Christ.
1 Cor 12:12-27
“12 For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts — all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body — so it is with Christ.
14 And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many.
15 If the foot were to say, ‘I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body,’ it does not belong to the body any the less for that.
16 Or if the ear were to say, ‘I am not an eye, and so I do not belong to the body,’ that would not stop its belonging to the body.
17 If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? If the whole body were hearing, how would there be any smelling?
18 As it is, God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose.
19 If they were all the same part, how could it be a body?
20 As it is, the parts are many but the body is one.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ and nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’
22 What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones.
23 It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability
24 which our presentable parts do not need. God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it,
25 and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others.
26 If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy.
27 Now Christ’s body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole.”