In Sunday’s sermon we discovered in Philippians 2:12-13 not only that joyful followers work, but that this work is something that very much pleases God. Since Christians who are taught that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone often conclude salvation-produced, God-pleasing good works don’t matter all that much, I want us to look at more biblical evidence.
1. Good Works In The New Testament.
To begin, let’s look at how much the New Testament emphasizes good works and what those good works are.
· Genuine repentance brings about fruit, which is the same as saying good works (Mt. 3:8).
· Those who are genuinely part of the kingdom of God and thus have eternal life are those who do the will of the Father—another way of saying they do good works (Mt. 7:21-24).
· Good works demonstrate one has trusted Christ for salvation. This would include desiring God’s glory and honor, along with immortality (Rom. 2:6-10). Since works either demonstrate the presence or absence of salvation, God will judge men by their works (2 Cor. 11:13; 2 Tim. 4:14).
· Good works involve obeying governmental authorities (Rom. 13:1-4).
· Paul clarifies that faith, hope, and love are part of the work to which God calls us (1 Thes. 1:3). Here “work”, “labor,” and “patience” are parallel. These also, in context, are part of the way the Thessalonians demonstrated the Spirit was working in them in response to the gospel (1 Thes. 1:4-5).
· Paul speaks of the “work of Christ” which in context consists of ministering to the needs of the fellow believer and evangelizing in the process (Phil. 2:30).
· The ministry of Christian leaders (1 Thes. 5:13; 1 Tim. 3:1; 5:17) is part of the work that God brings about in some saints.
· Good works include helping those in need, especially fellow believers (2 Cor. 8-9).
· The fruit that is produced by the Spirit (and this is opposite the works of the flesh, so fruit=good works) includes: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control (Gal. 5:19-23).
· Good works involve all that God calls us to do. All these works flow from the grace-giving saving work of Christ in us and the work of the Spirit (2 Cor. 9:8; Gal. 2:20; 5:22-23; Col. 1:12-13) and bring glory to Him (Col. 1:10; 3:17).
· God sovereignly planned and prepared ahead of time that our grace-filled, Christ-bought salvation would bring about good works (Eph. 2:8-10). Such good works are so important to God He reveals through Paul those who are rich in this life should be rich in good works—including being generosity and sharing what one has (1 Tim. 6:18).
· Our carrying out of Christ-bought, God-glorifying good works leads to increased knowledge of God and joy (Col. 1:10-11), which also proves to us the goodness of God’s will (Rom. 12:2).
2. God’s Pleasure in Good Works.
Paul affirms that God is pleased in obedience to his moral will (Rom. 8:7-8). More specifically, elsewhere it is clarified that God is pleased in the good work of sexual purity (1 Thes. 4:1-3). Hebrews 11:5 also emphasizes that walking with God in faith and obedience pleases God. Finally, the New Testament affirms that God the Father is pleased in his Son because he obeyed him perfectly (Mt. 3:17; Luke 3:22; John 5:30; 2 Peter 1:7).
Given this thread of New Testament teaching, we should not be surprised that Paul affirms in Philippians 2:12-13 one of the results of God’s gracious working in the Christian is that he desires to please God by doing his will—i.e. by working out his salvation.
Pleasing God With You As A Joyful Follower,