Good Works (1689)

By Steven Shaw

The London Baptist Confession of faith is a beautiful and rich confession of the Christian faith. I simply included the scriptures they give after each section but written out. It is a beautiful meditation and devotion time to read through. I pray you are blessed by it and it helps you see the bigness of God, exalt Christ higher and live by the power of the Holy Spirit more each day. I plan on doing the whole confession so keep checking back or subscribe!

Link to full confession: http://founders.org/1689-confession/

Chapter 16 – Good Works (In Full) 

Good works are only those works that God has commanded in his holy Word. Works that do not have this warrant are invented by people out of blind zeal or on a pretense of good intentions and are not truly good.

These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruit and evidence of a true and living faith. Through good works believers express their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, build up their brothers and sisters, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of opponents, and glorify God. Believers are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, so that they bear fruit leading to holiness and have the outcome, eternal life.

Their ability to do good works does not arise at all from themselves but entirely from the Spirit of Christ. To enable them to do good works, they need—in addition to the graces they have already received—an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do his good pleasure. Yet this is no reason for them to grow negligent, as if they were not required to perform any duty without a special motion of the Spirit. Instead, they should be diligent to stir up the grace of God that is in them.

Those who attain the greatest heights of obedience possible in this life are far from being able to merit reward by going beyond duty or to do more than God requires. Instead, they fall short of much that is their duty to do.

We cannot, even by our best works, merit pardon of sin or eternal life from God’s hand, due to the huge disproportion between our works and the glory to come, and the infinite distance between us and God. By these works we can neither benefit God nor satisfy him for the debt of our former sins. When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty and are unprofitable servants. Since our good works are good, they must proceed from his Spirit; and since they are performed by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot withstand the severity of God’s punishment.

Nevertheless, believers are accepted through Christ, and thus their good works are also accepted in him. This acceptance does not mean our good works are completely blameless and irreproachable in God’s sight. Instead, God views them in his Son, and so he is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, even though it is accompanied by many weaknesses and imperfections.

Works done by unregenerate people may in themselves be commanded by God and useful to themselves and others. Yet they do not come from a heart purified by faith and are not done in a right manner according to the Word nor with a right goal—the glory of God. Therefore, they are sinful and cannot please God. They cannot qualify anyone to receive grace from God, and yet their neglect is even more sinful and displeasing to God.

 

Chapter 16 – Good Works (w/Scriptures) ESV

-Good works are only those works that God has commanded in his holy Word.

(Micah 6:8, He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?)

(Hebrews 13:21, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.)

-Works that do not have this warrant are invented by people out of blind zeal or on a pretense of good intentions and are not truly good.

(Matthew 15:9, in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”)

(Isaiah 29:13, And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men,)

-These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruit and evidence of a true and living faith.

(James 2:18, But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.)

(James 2:22, You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works;)

-Through good works believers express their thankfulness,

(Psalms 116:12-13, What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,)

-strengthen their assurance,

(1 John 2:3, And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.)

(1 John 2:5, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him:)

(2 Peter 1:5–11, For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.)

-build up their brothers and sisters, adorn the profession of the gospel,

(Matthew 5:16, In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.)

-stop the mouths of opponents, and glorify God.

(1 Timothy 6:1, Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.)

(1 Peter 2:15, For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.)

(Philippians 1:11, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.)

-Believers are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,

(Ephesians 2:10, For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.)

-so that they bear fruit leading to holiness and have the outcome, eternal life.

(Romans 6:22, But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.)

-Their ability to do good works does not arise at all from themselves but entirely from the Spirit of Christ.

(John 15:4-5, Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.)

-To enable them to do good works, they need—in addition to the graces they have already received—an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do his good pleasure.

(2 Corinthians 3:5, Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,)

-Yet this is no reason for them to grow negligent, as if they were not required to perform any duty without a special motion of the Spirit. Instead, they should be diligent to stir up the grace of God that is in them.

(Philippians 2:12-13, Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.)

(Hebrews 6:11-12, And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.)

(Isaiah 64:7, There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in[a] the hand of our iniquities.)

-Those who attain the greatest heights of obedience possible in this life are far from being able to merit reward by going beyond duty or to do more than God requires. Instead, they fall short of much that is their duty to do.

(Job 9:2-3, “Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God? If one wished to contend with him, one could not answer him once in a thousand times.)

(Galatians 5:17, For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.)

(Luke 17:10, So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”)

-We cannot, even by our best works, merit pardon of sin or eternal life from God’s hand, due to the huge disproportion between our works and the glory to come, and the infinite distance between us and God. By these works we can neither benefit God nor satisfy him for the debt of our former sins.

(Romans 3:20, For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.)

(Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.)

(Romans 4:6, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works)

-When we have done all we can, we have only done our duty and are unprofitable servants. Since our good works are good, they must proceed from his Spirit;

(Galatians 5:22-23, But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.)

-and since they are performed by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot withstand the severity of God’s punishment.

(Isaiah 64:6, We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.)

(Psalms 143:2, Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.)

-Nevertheless, believers are accepted through Christ, and thus their good works are also accepted in him.

(Ephesians 1:6, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.)

(1 Peter 2:5, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.)

-This acceptance does not mean our good works are completely blameless and irreproachable in God’s sight. Instead, God views them in his Son, and so he is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, even though it is accompanied by many weaknesses and imperfections.

(Matthew 25:21, His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’)

(Matthew 25:23, His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’)

(Hebrews 6:10, For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.)

-Works done by unregenerate people may in themselves be commanded by God and useful to themselves and others.

(2 Kings 10:30, And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”)

(1 Kings 21:27, And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly.)

(1 Kings 21:29, “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”)

-Yet they do not come from a heart purified by faith

(Genesis 4:5, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell.)

(Hebrews 11:4, By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.)

(Hebrews 11:6, 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 are not done in a right manner according to the Word

(1 Corinthians 13:1, If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.)

-nor with a right goal—the glory of God.

(Matthew 6:2, “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.)

(Matthew 6:5, “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.)

-Therefore, they are sinful and cannot please God. They cannot qualify anyone to receive grace from God,

(Amos 5:21-22, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.)

(Romans 9:16, So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.)

(Titus 3:5, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,)

-and yet their neglect is even more sinful and displeasing to God.

(Job 21:14-15, They say to God, ‘Depart from us! We do not desire the knowledge of your ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit do we get if we pray to him?’)

(Matthew 25:41–43, “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’)

Closing.

Please don’t let my word or any mans word be the final word on this. Pick up the bible, read Gospel saturated books by good authors, read good commentaries on the bible, pick up Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology” and learn from a man’s lifetime of study and meditation on the Word of God. Most of all, trust in Jesus Christ and know what He has given us is whole, perfect and is for our good and His glory. Love you all!

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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One thought on “Good Works (1689)

  1. Pingback: “God is Love” Means What? | by S.C. Shaw

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