“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 NKJV).
While the Old Covenant is work-based, the New Covenant is faith-based. Under the Old Covenant God’s dealings with men were contingent upon their good works or performance. But under the New Covenant, God’s dealings with men are purely dependent upon their faith in Christ and His finished work (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 4:4-5, 11:6).
Therefore, the good works of the born-again believers don’t commend them to God or influence God’s response towards them. The born-again believers are completely and eternally saved, justified, forgiven, loved, accepted, favoured and blessed in Christ, not on the account or basis of their performance, good works, or self-righteousness, but purely on the basis of faith in Christ and His finished work.
The Scripture clearly states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9 NKJV).
As explained in the first part of this piece the born-again believers in Christ are not expected to strive or seek to earn, merit or deserve God’s love, acceptance, approval, favour or blessing through their performance or good works. Why? Because they are completely and eternally loved, accepted, favoured and blessed by God in Christ!
Apostle Paul clearly states in Ephesians 1:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,
6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. (NKJV).
Also in 1 Corinthians 3:
21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come–all are yours.
23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. (NKJV).
Sadly, many ignorant, gullible or greedy believers today are still falling for the sweet-talking, coaxing or cajoling of many carnal and greedy servants of God who teach, motivate, persuade, or manipulate people to give or sow all kinds of ridiculous offerings or seeds into their “strange anointing” in order to move, stir up, motivate, impress, persuade, or compel God to give, bless, or reward them with some “strange miracles, favour or blessing, or give them “double anointing,” or “a hundredfold return.”
What an arrant nonsense!
What a maligning of God!
What a belittling of the finished work of Jesus!
If your aim, motive or purpose for doing any good work or giving any offering in the Church is to impress, influence, motivate or persuade God to love you, accept you, favour or bless you; you are still living or operating under the Law, the Old Covenant.
You are also apparently ignorant of or lack faith in the finished work of Jesus as the only basis for receiving righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption, or blessing from God.
The Scripture clearly teaches that our salvation or redemption with all its attendant blessings or benefits are purely God’s gift to us, and not a reward or wages of our good works or performance.
None of God’s blessings in Christ is put up for sales! It is either we receive them by faith as a gift of love from God or we do without them by seeking to earn, deserve or merit them by our self-righteousness, performance, or good works. This is a pivotal truth!
If good works are not necessary for our salvation and its attendant benefits, why then should the born-again believers become zealous for good works, be ready for every good work, or be careful to maintain good works as Paul taught and encouraged (in Titus 2:14, 3:1, 8)?
First, the born-again believers must be zealous for good works because when people see their good works they will glorify God.
This is why the Lord Jesus commands; “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16 NKJV).
Apostle Peter writes, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Pet. 2:11-12 NKJV).
It is not your good profession, confession or declaration as a Christian that people really cares about, but your good attitudes, works or actions. If you claim to belong to Christ but live not like Christ, you will only bring reproach to the name of Christ. It is not professing to belong to Christ, but living like Christ that brings glory and honour to the name of Christ.
Paul rebukes the religious Jews, saying, “You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.” (Rom. 2:23-24 NKJV).
Second, the born-again believers must be devoted to good works because good works are good and profitable to people.
Apostle Paul instructs Titus in Titus 3, saying,
1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work,
2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men…
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men. (NKJV).
Your good profession as a Christian has no significant impact on the people around you without corresponding good works or actions. Your faith in Christ does no good and brings no benefits to those around you unless you add good works to your faith.
Your faith alone without good works is dead, useless, unprofitable, of no effect on people, and of no benefit to people.
James puts it this way in James 2:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe–and tremble!
20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (NKJV).
Third, the born-again believers must do and maintain good works because without good works they are unfruitful or unproductive in the Church.
Apostle Paul writes to Titus instructing him on what to teach God’s flock he was shepherding in Titus 3:
8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.
14 And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. (NKJV).
A Christian who only professes faith in Christ but does no good works toward the spread of the gospel of Christ and the expansion of the Kingdom of Christ on earth is barren, unfruitful and unproductive in the Church.
As a member of the body of Christ on earth, you are expected to work or function effectively where God has divinely placed you, contributing to the growth and edification of the body (Eph. 4:16).
Paul encourages the believers to be a good and diligent steward of God’s resources in Romans 12:
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;
7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching;
8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord. (NKJV).
Therefore, if you claim to belong to Christ and you are not serving Christ and making profits unto Christ with all the resources Christ has entrusted to your care; you are a slothful, wicked, unfruitful and unprofitable steward of God’s resources.
Fourth, the born-again believers must be zealous for good works to serve as an encouragement, motivation, or example to other believers.
The Scripture encourages, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” (Heb. 10:24 NKJV).
As a believer in Christ, your lifestyle and works have a great impact on other believers around you. Whether you like or not, other believers around you will examine, observe and even seek to follow your examples. Therefore, you must ensure that you always show yourself to be a pattern of good works, thereby encouraging, motivating and provoking other believers to be zealous or devoted to good works.
Paul instructs Titus, saying, “Likewise exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.” (Titus 2:6-8 NKJV).
Lastly, while salvation is not a reward for good works, yet God will reward the born-again believers for their good works at the Judgement seat of Christ.
The Scripture teaches that all believers will appear before the judgement seat of Christ, not to be condemned, but to be rewarded for their good works after salvation. Good works cannot save anyone, but those saved will be rewarded by Christ for their good works (1 Tim. 6:16-19).
Paul clearly states, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV).
Beloved, you are not born-again by good works but for good works. The Scripture states that you are God’s masterpiece or workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10 NKJV).
Therefore, arise today to give or devote yourself to good works, not with an ulterior or impure motive to impress, motivate, persuade or compel God to love, accept, favour or bless you, but as your loving response and gratitude to God for His love towards you and to validate your testimony or profession as a new creation in Christ.
Great rewards await you in heaven for your good works!
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me today why I should become zealous for good works. Dear Holy Spirit, help and strengthen me to be zealous, prepared, ready for every good work, in Jesus’ name. Amen.