Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Unto Good Works"

"This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men" (Titus 3:8).

The issue of works in the life of born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ is challenging. Many shy away from the consideration, fearing that too much discussion will lead to legalism. Certainly this can happen, but the possibility of error must never keep us from the emphasis placed on our actions by the New Testament. The Apostle Paul mandates that the ongoing affirmation of works is not optional among born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are commanded to do so. However, we must be sure we consider the matter in a way that leads not to fleshly legalism, but to an increasing experience of the love and life of Christ.

Paul provides much light concerning this vital issue is his epistle to the Ephesians.

"We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works" (Ephesians 2:10).

Note the Divine order. His workmanship. Created in Christ Jesus. Unto good works. Our works are the fruit of His work whereby He has made us "new creatures" in the Lord Jesus (II Corinthians 5:17). As Paul testified, "I also labor, striving according to His working, which worketh in me mightily" (Colossians 1:29). Furthermore, the dynamic process continues by our Lord's ongoing operation on our behalf. "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). Works are therefore fruit, and if we understand and maintain the holy sequence that leads "unto good works," the consideration becomes a matter of joyful expectation rather than fearful expectation of legalism and failure.

I love McIntosh apples, and would plant McIntosh trees if I lived in a suitable climate. Planting and cultivating them would be for me a thing of joy. However, expectantly awaiting and then harvesting the glorious fruit of the tree would be an even more ongoing and blessed consideration. In the same manner, believers must have much confidence in God's promised working in us to produce "the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:11). We cannot adequately discuss grace without considering both root and fruit because our Lord did not merely save us to get us to Heaven. He saved us to first bring Heaven to us, changing the very heart of who we are through the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Thereby we are enabled to a life of consistently honoring the Lord Jesus and doing His will. Just as merely having a McIntosh apple tree would not be enough to satisfy, neither is it adequate to simply be a child of God. We are planted in order to bear fruit, and to "constantly affirm" the joyful consideration and expectation of harvest to come.

What will God do in us and by us today? The believer who walks in the grace and truth of the Lord Jesus bears this holy expectation within his heart, and encourages the same anticipation in fellow Christians. Indeed, it is God Himself who has planted us in the perfect soil, light, and nutrients of His Son. Failure to expect and talk about a fruitful harvest is an indication that we are not fully understanding the magnitude of the grace that saved us "unto good works." We are liberated and empowered by the life of God within us to consistently trust Him and obey Him. Let us expect to do so as the expression of our confidence in Him, declaring with the Psalmist...

"My expectation is from Him."
(Psalm 62:5)

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I like this devotional- "faith without works is dead" As we increasingly value the Lord Jesus how can we not value what He values? Dead faith is really not faith at all- true faith changes us because true faith connects us to the living person of Christ as you said. And if His Life is our Life then how is it possible that we do not walk as He did?