Chapter 16: Of Good Works

PARA 1 – Pattern of good works

1._____ Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word, and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions.
Micah 6:8; Hebrews 13:21; Matthew 15:9; Isaiah 29:13 )

OUTLINE

  1. Correct pattern for good works
    • Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his Holy Word
  2. Wrong pattern for good works
    • and not such as without the warrant thereof are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretence of good intentions.

PARA 2 – Purpose of good works

2._____ These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith; and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness they may have the end eternal life.
James 2:18, 22; Psalms 116:12, 13; 1 John 2:3, 5; 2 Peter 1:5-11; Matthew 5:16; 1 Timothy 6:1; 1 Peter 2:15; Philippians 1:11; Ephesians 2:10; Romans 6:22 )

OUTLINE

Seven purposes of good works:

These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are

  1. Fruit and evidence of true faith
    • the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith
  2. Expression of gratitude to God
    • by them believers manifest their thankfulness
  3. Assurance is strengthened
    • strengthen their assurance
  4. Edification of brethren
    • edify their brethren
  5. Adorn the gospel
    • adorn the profession of the gospel
  6. Stop the mouths of the adversaries
    • stop the mouths of the adversaries
  7. Glorify God
    • and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness they may have the end eternal life.

PARA 3 – Performance of good works

3._____ Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit, but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.
John 15:4, 5; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13; Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Isaiah 64:7 )

OUTLINE

  1. Ability to perform good works is not in believers, but in Holy Spirit
    • Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure;
  2. Believers have to watch not be lazy with respect to good works. 
    • yet they are not hereupon to grow negligent,
  3. Believers receive Spirit’s aid in path of obedience of duty
    • as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit,
  4. Believers are responsible to stir up the grace of God in them
    • but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

PARA 4 – Parameters (limit) of good works

4._____ They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate, and to do more than God requires, as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.
Job 9:2, 3; Galatians 5:17; Luke 17:10 )

OUTLINE

  1. We can never attain supererogation in performance of good works (Supererogation (super works) meaning exceed the level required by God, so you have reserve (extra) good works which you could donate to others).
    • They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires,
  2. After we do our best, we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done. Luke 17:10
    • as that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

PARA 5 – Our good works cannot merit eternal life

5._____ We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s punishment.
Romans 3:20; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Romans 4:6; Galatians 5:22, 23; Isaiah 64:6; Psalms 143:2 )

OUTLINE

Four Reasons why our good works cannot merit eternal life

  • We cannot by our best works merit pardon of sin or eternal life at the hand of God,
  1. Disproportion between our good works and glory to come 
    • by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, 
  2. Distance between God and us
    • the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants;
  3. Spirit is the source of our good works
    • because as they are good they proceed from his Spirit, 
  4. Imperfect nature of our good works
    • as they are wrought by us they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection, that they cannot endure the severity of God’s punishment.

PARA 6–  Believers’ good works are accepted and rewarded by God for Christ’s sake

6._____ Yet notwithstanding the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight, but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.
Ephesians 1:6; 1 Peter 2:5; Matthew 25:21, 23; Hebrews 6:10 )

PARA 7 – Even the good works of unregenerate are sins!

7._____ Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the word, nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God, nor make a man meet to receive grace from God, and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God.
2 Kings 10:30; 1 Kings 21:27, 29; Genesis 4:5; Hebrews 11:4, 6; 1 Corinthians 13:1; Matthew 6:2, 5; Amos 5:21, 22; Romans 9:16; Titus 3:5; Job 21:14, 15; Matthew 25:41-43 )

OUTLINE

  1. Good works of unregenerate can be good at worldly level
    • Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others
  2. Yet they are considered as sins
    1. because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith,
    2. nor are done in a right manner according to the word,
    3. nor to a right end, the glory of God, they are therefore sinful, and cannot please God,
    4. nor make a man meet to receive grace from God,
  3. Yet if unregenerate neglect to do good works, they are condemned more (what a deplorable state is to be unbeliever in God’s slight!).
    •  yet their neglect of them is more sinful and displeasing to God

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