Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Working for His Glory

Lest you think that I am promoting antinomianism (lawlessness; living in such a way as to imply that the Law is bad and/or useless) because of my last post, and lest I fall off the wagon of discipline because I am immersed in the luxury of God’s grace, I write today’s post to help myself understand the reason I still must strive for growth in my Christian walk.  Here goes…

So, if I am covered in Christ’s Robe of Righteousness, and if God sees me as perfect and forgiven and clean, and if I can do nothing to earn or reject His love, then why should I do anything at all?  If I suffer no condemnation in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and my un-payable debt has been canceled by Jesus’ death on the cross (Colossians 2:14), should I still be required to work out my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)? 

The unequivocal answer is “YES!”  Here’s why:

Let’s go back to Romans 5:20-21 where Paul says, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” and 6:1-2, “What shall we say then?  Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?  By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”  So, it’s obvious in scripture that:
1) God’s grace is sufficient for all of our sin;
2) In our old life without Christ, sin reigned, but in our newfound life in Christ, (because of grace) righteousness is to reign;
3) Righteousness through Jesus brings eternal life;
4) When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are to “die to sin”;
3) We shouldn’t abuse grace by choosing to live in sin (live for ourselves alone) when we have been freed from it.
That brings us back to our main point:  We have been made righteous through Christ and we are to live in a different way because of this.  How does this look? I think it spurs us to action.  I think it looks like this:

In the Westminster Catechism, the question of man’s purpose is addressed in question 1:

Question 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever

If our purpose in life is to glorify God, how are we to do that?  With good works!  The Westminster also explains this reality:

Question 16.2  Are good works necessary in the life of a Christian?
Answer:  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.

So this means that the work of God’s free grace enables me, and you, to show the expression of my love and obedience to God THROUGH MY GOOD WORKS!  Now these good works SHOULD NOT be confused with justification.  Justification is the work of God’s free grace, and we can do nothing to earn or deserve it.  It is this work of God’s free grace that enables us to express our devotion and our love THROUGH good works.  Good works do not give us salvation, God’s free grace does.

When we bear fruit then (when we practice spiritual disciplines and put them into practice), we glorify God!  Tullian Tchividjian says, in his book, One Way Love that “We read the Bible and pray and go to church and partake of the sacraments, because it is in those places that God reminds us that things between Him and us are forever fixed.  They are the rendezvous points where God declares to us concretely that the debt has been paid, the ledger put away, and everything we need, in Christ we already possess.”

The primary requirement, then, for producing good fruit, is a longing after God…a desire to make His name great.  So, we go about completing these good works (that God prepared in advance for us to do according to Ephesians 2:10) by asking for Him to enable us, by immersing ourselves in Him.  We do NOT succeed and attain victory over sin by the strength of our will alone.  When we do this, we are worshipping our own will power—not the power of Christ.  Our own will power is fallible, but Christ’s power never fails.  Henri Arnold puts it this way, “As long as we think we can save ourselves by our own will power, we will only make the evil in us stronger than ever.”

So, my conclusion (assisted by Richard J. Foster in the book The Spiritual Disciplines) is this,  “The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us…This is the way with the Spiritual Disciplines—they are a way of sowing to the Spirit.  The Disciplines are God’s way of getting us into the ground; they put us where he can work within us and transform us.  By themselves, the Spiritual Disciplines can do nothing; they can only get us to the place where something can be done.  They are God’s means of grace…Spiritual growth is the purpose of the Disciplines.”

There you have it folks, an annotated dissertation on my journey through the question of good works.  Do I need to do them? Yes!  Does my salvation rely on them? No! How do I do them?  Through God’s grace and not my own power!   What is their purpose? To help me to glorify God! 

And that is my chief aim:  To Glorify God and to make Him known.  And it ought to be your aim too, if He has saved you. 

So, first, bask in His grace that requires nothing of you, and then, go make Him known by giving everything in you. 

The Bottom Line: Your works, enabled by Grace, show your love for Him.  And just like you, God longs to be adored. 

Let’s make Him famous, shall we?

 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

1 comment:

  1. How appropriate. My third graders and I are memorizing this verse this week! So. NEAT. Definitely can use your lesson here, to share with them in a different light.