Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Good Works and the Gospel, Part 3

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.--Titus 3:1-8 (ESV)

Titus 3 opens with a list of ethical commands. Paul sums this up in the phrase "devote themselves to good works." But why should we do this? What motivation does Paul give for doing good works? In the last two posts, we saw that good works are not our means of salvation nor even the means of deserving salvation. So, why should we do them?

The answer is: the Gospel. The very truth which says good works can't save us also drives us to good works. Titus 2:11-14 says, "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works."

How does the Gospel bring about good works? By giving us a reason to love God. 1 John 4:19 says, "We love because He first loved us." I for one cannot meditate on the Cross and on Jesus' sacrifice for my sin without being emotionally affected. This affection drives me to hate sin and love good works. I can't help but think, "I owe Jesus. I want to do His commands. I want to be His servant because He has saved me with such grace." Romans 8:12 says, "So then, brothers, we are debtors." Doing good works is paying God back. Though we can never truly pay Him back, we love to do good works because it brings glory to Him who loved us.

So, though our good works are not effective in our salvation, they are the result of our salvation and our offering to the God whom we love for His salvation.

1 comment:

Ben said...

soo goooood....(y)! wait..