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Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone 7.12.12

Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone 7.12.12

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 6:00 pm

Gratitude for grace!

By RICHARD SMITH
This week, we begin the third general division of the Heidelberg Catechism: Gratitude. A copy of the entire Catechism with Scripture support may be found at http://www.ccel.org/creeds/heidelberg-cat.html.
Question 86 asks: We have been delivered from our misery by God’s grace alone through Christ and not because we have earned it: why then must we still do good?
Answer: To be sure, Christ has redeemed us by his blood. But we do good because Christ by his Spirit is also renewing us to be like Himself, so that in all our living we may show that we are thankful to God for all He has done for us, and so that He may be praised through us. And we do good so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.
This question addresses the causes of good works. Good works do not precede conversion. Instead, they actually follow conversion, thus making it much more strikingly connected with what did precede in the act of regeneration. Christ’s atonement has already made full satisfaction for His own, those that the Father gives Him and whom the Holy Spirit regenerates. Those redeemed by Christ are not bound to make satisfaction again through efforts of their own because there is no need for good works to receive salvation. God’s sovereign grace doesn’t demand a double payment to be saved. We are, nevertheless, bound to render obedience, and perform good works, for the reasons referred to and explained in the above answer to Question 86.
Good works are fruits of our regeneration and sanctification by the Holy Spirit, which are always connected with our free justification. “Those whom he called, he also justified, and those whom he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11). Those, therefore, who do not perform good works, show that they are neither regenerated by the Spirit of God, nor redeemed by the blood of Christ.
Good works express our gratitude to God for the benefit of redemption. We are to yield ourselves as instruments of righteousness to God, out of thankfulness for His delivering us from death. “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness”  (Romans 6: I3).
We glorify God in our good works, testifying to a lost world that redemption and eternal life are assured only by our Lord’s shed blood. “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” (Matthew 5:16). Good works are the fruits of faith by which our own faith, as well as the faith of others are judged. “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:17).
Question 87 asks: Can those be saved who do not turn to God from their ungrateful and impenitent ways? Answer: By no means. Scripture tells us that no unchaste person, no idolater, adulterer, thief, no covetous person, no drunkard, slanderer, robber or the like is going to inherit the kingdom of God.
This question follows in a natural manner the preceding one, which established that good works are the fruits of our regeneration, the expression of our thankfulness to God and the evidences of true faith. Good works are evidence of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, but evil works are the fruits of the flesh. They reveal a soul filled with ingratitude and unbelief, and no one who continues to produce them can be saved. All those who are not converted to God from their evil state and works, but continue in their sins, are condemned forever, according to Scripture.  “… envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers nor men who practice homosexuality” (1 Corinthians 6:9; see also Ephesians 5:5).
In closing, another reason for good works may be presumed from the consequence which results from evil works. All those who perform evil works, and continue in their wicked and ungrateful lives, cannot be saved, inasmuch as they are destitute of true faith and conversion.
To God be the glory!
Editor’s note: Richard Smith lives in Union City and is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy.

Published in The Messenger 7.12.12

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