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Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 3-Chapter 1-Good Works

November 27, 2015 Leave a comment

PART 3-THE BIBLE DOCTRINE OF SERVICE

CHAPTER 1-GOOD WORKS

The Scriptures have much to say about good works. We “are created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (#Eph 2:10). Believers must “be careful to maintain good works” (#Tit 3:8). The rich in this world must be rich in good works, ready to share their good things with the needy “That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate” (#1Ti 6:18).

Our Lord testified that the works of the world are evil “The world cannot hate you; but me it hateth, because I testify of it, that the works thereof are evil” (#Joh 7:7). He also testified concerning the Pharisees, that all their works were done for human praise: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments” (#Mt 23:5). We also read of dead works, works of the flesh, and works of the devil. And so we need to discriminate in dealing with the subject of good works.

1. QUALIFICATIONS FOR GOOD WORKS. Who can perform a good work in the sight of God? The Scriptures make it plain that none but the saved can engage in good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (#Eph 2:10); So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (#Ro 8:8); “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (#Heb 11:6).

Good works are the fruit of the Spirit, and none but the saved have the Spirit. Good works are the result of salvation and not the cause of it. The Divine order is salvation, then service. We are saved to serve God and others. In every realm except mechanics, there must be life before activity. Every man by nature is dead in sins and alienates from the life of God. The belief that a sinner may work towards salvation is a heresy of the deepest dye. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (#Tit 3:5); “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (#2Ti 1:9); “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (#Eph 2:8,9). All the work that the lost man does to ingratiate himself into the favor of God is a dead work and needs to be repented of. There is no way into the favor of God except through His Son. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (#Eph 2:13).

2. THE NATURE OF GOOD WORKS. A good work in the Scriptural sense, the only true sense, is a work that pleases God, and brings upon the doer God’s approbation and blessing. A man may perform an act that will meet the human conception of a good deed, but God may judge otherwise. What men might pronounce good, God might reject as evil. Men may reward for that which God will censure.

How may one know when he is engaged in doing good? This is a very important question. Multitudes are in a whirl of so-called Christian activity, nervously executing man-made programs, only to reap in the end a terrible awakening and a sore disappointment. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (#Mt 7:22,23).

It is not our aim to enumerate the good deeds a Christian may do, but rather to show the necessary elements in any work to make it a good work in the sight of God. As individuals, particular deeds may vary according to our relation to society and to our opportunities. Observe,

1. A WORK OF FAITH IS A GOOD WORK. To do that which God commands, just because He commands it, is a good work. A work of faith is possible only to those who have faith. Works of faith are often opposed to human reason. The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is filled with works of faith. Human reason did not dictate the acts of Noah, Abraham, and others mentioned in this chapter. The only reason behind a work of faith is that God says do it. And this is to become a fool in the eyes of the world. It was only because Noah believed God that he built the ark.

2. A LABOR OF LOVE IS A GOOD WORK. Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” I Corinthians 13 emphasizes the necessity of love as an element in good works. Faith works by love. “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” #Ga 5:6. Faith and love are twin graces God wrought, and where these are good works will surely follow.

The unregenerate, so far as the external act is concerned, may do a good deed; however, the inward motive as well as the outward act is essential to a good work in the sight of God. A cup of cold water, given in the name of a disciple of Christ, is a good work, while the gift of a million dollars to a good cause may fall short of a good work. Here is the acid test for every good deed: is it done for the glory of God, and from love to Christ? if so—-

2a) It will not be done for human rewards. This was the motive of the Pharisees in almsgiving. And it is to be feared that many professing Christians want their rewards here and now, and therefore, their motive is to please men rather than God. And the writer must confess that his greatest temptation has been to preach to please men-something he has had to confess before God. He dares not claim a holy motive in all he has done. A good work is done for the glory of God and will be rewarded by Him in the day of judgment. It is not wrong to please men if they are pleased by our seeking to please God.

2b) A labor of love is not done out of envy and strife. “Love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (#1Co 13:4,5).

2c) It will not be done for prizes, banners, etc. All sorts of means are being resorted in today to keep church members active in some form of Christian activity. What is needed today is the faithful preaching of the Word, speaking the truth in love, and in utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit for results.

2d) Acceptable service must flow from fellowship with Christ. If we have not learned to worship in secret, we cannot worship in the public assembly. If Christ is not real to us; if we are not walking and communing with Him, it is but mockery to speak of Him to others. It is only when He is precious to us that we can sincerely recommend Him to others.

Paul said that Christianity in the last days would be characterized by people having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (#2Ti 3:5). And this is the certain result of too much public service apart from much secret prayer.

ILLUSTRATION

The story is told that when Handley Page was making an Eastern flight, he and his companions descended at Khobar in Arabia. While there a large rat attracted by the smell of food managed to get into the plane. When the flight was resumed Mr. Page discovered the presence of the rat by the sickening sound of gnawing behind him. He thought with horror of the damage those pitiless teeth might do to some vital part of the plane. What could he do? It suddenly occurred to him that a rat cannot stand a high altitude; it is made to live on the surface or burrow beneath the soil. So he decided to soar. He turned the nose of the plane upward and rose higher and higher until he himself found it difficult to breathe. He listened—and to his delight the rat was found to be dead. Now, there are moral pests in the nature of fleshly lusts that war against the soul: worldly amusements in various forms. Our only safety is to soar. These things cannot stand heaven’s air. They die in the presence of Christ Who died for us. Prayer and Bible study-lift us into an altitude that is too high for sinful amusements.

IMPORTANCE OF GOOD WORKS

Good works are important as necessary evidences of salvation. They do not procure salvation but manifest it. They are not the cause but the effect of the new birth—created in Christ Jesus unto good works.

The works of the Christian come before him in judgment to be rejected or rewarded. This is not true of the believer’s sins; they were laid upon Christ and He bore them in His own body on the tree. In respect to salvation, the believer’s sins were put upon Christ and judged in Him. In respect to chastisement, they are dealt with in this life. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (#Heb 12:5-11). The believer will be rewarded for his good works when Christ comes. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (#1Co 4:5).

Is thy cruse of comfort failing?
Rise and share it with a friend!
And through all the years of famine
It shall serve thee to the end.
Love divine will fill thy storehouse,
Or thy handful still renew;
Scanty fare for one will often
Make royal feast for two.

For the heart grows rich in giving:
All its wealth is living grain;
Seeds-which mildew in the garner
Scattered, fill with gold the plain.
Is thy burden hard and heavy?
Do thy steps drag wearily?
Help to lift thy brother’s burden
God will bear both it and thee.

Lost and weary on the mountains,
Would’st thou sleep amidst the snow?
Chafe that frozen form beside thee,
And together both shall glow.
Art thou wounded in life’s battle?
Many stricken round thee moan;
Give to them thy precious ointment,
And that balm shall heal thine own.

Is thy heart a well left empty?
None but God its void can fill;
Nothing but a ceaseless fountain
Can its ceaseless longings still.
Is thy heart a living power?
Self-entwined, its strength sinks low;
It can only live by loving,
And by serving love will grow.

—Author Unknown

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 3

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The Church has always been living and we have no quarrel with it

February 20, 2013 Leave a comment

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6. Their dilemma does not push us so violently as to oblige us to confess, either that the Church was a considerable time without life, or that we have now a quarrel with the Church. The Church of Christ assuredly has lived, and will live, as long as Christ shall reign at the right hand of the Father. By his hand it is sustained, by his protection defended, by his mighty power preserved in safety. For what he once undertook he will undoubtedly perform, he will be with his people always, “even to the end of the world,” (Matthew 28:20.) With the Church we wage no war, since, with one consent, in common with the whole body of the faithful we worship and adore one Gods and Christ Jesus the Lord, as all the pious have always adored him. But they themselves err not a little from the truth in not recognizing any church but that which they behold with the bodily eye, and in endeavoring to circumscribe it by limits, within which it cannot be confined.

John Calvin-Prefatory Address to Francis King of the French-Institutes of the Christian Religion

 

Dead Faith

February 4, 2013 1 comment

fullerSpeaking on the blessings through Christ sacrifice and the curse for unbelief; Andrew Fuller states “……Say not in thine heart, “All these things I have believed from my youth up.” You may indeed have been taught them, and have received them as a tradition from your fathers; but such faith is dead, and consequently inoperative. It is the same as that of the Jews towards Moses, which our Saviour would not admit to be faith. ” If ye believed Moses, ye would believe me, for he wrote of me.” It is no better than the faith of devils, and in some respects has less influence: for they believe and tremble, whereas you believe and are at ease.”

Rev. Andrew Fuller–The Great Question Answered

We Must Exercise a Living Faith

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

We must exercise a lively faith in the power and promise of God. I reserve this remark to the last, because it contains the spirit of the passage, and is a matter of the highest importance. It was owing to unbelief that the body of the people drew back, and to faith that Joshua and Caleb were for pressing forward. Nor is there anything of greater importance to the Christian ministry, especially to those engaged in extraordinary labours. He that endeavors to extend the limits of Christ’s kingdom, resembles a navigator who engages in a voyage of discovery: he is exposed to ills and dangers which cannot be foreseen, nor provided against. Carrying a doctrine to which all his hearers have a natural and deep-rooted aversion, the difficulties he has to encounter are as islands of ice near the poles, or as rocks in unknown seas; but faith in the power and promise of God is sufficient for all his wants. Confidence is agreeable to a generous character, while suspicion thrusts a sword into his heart. The former is honourable to him, affording him opportunity of carrying his kind intentions into execution: the latter dishonours him, and lays him under a sort of incapacity of doing good to the party. A generous character will feel impelled by a principle of honour to keep pace with the expectations of those who confide in his goodness and veracity. Nor is this confined to the concerns of men. There is something greatly resembling it in the dealings of God with us. The Lord has magnified his word more than all his name; and as faith corresponds with the word, he has bestowed greater honour upon this grace than upon any other. Hence we find such language as the following: O how great is thy goodness which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men. –Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper–The Lord taketh pleasure in them that hope in his mercy. Under the New Testament still more is said of this important principle. In almost all the miracles of our Saviour, he made a point of answering to the faith of the parties, or of those that brought them; and where this was wanting, he is represented as under a kind of incapacity to help them. If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. –According to your faith be it unto you.–Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.–He could there do no might works–because of their unbelief. Nor was this principle honoured merely in miraculous cases: our Saviour taught his disciples to cherish high expectations from the divine mercy and faithfulness, in their ordinary approaches to a throne of grace. Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye shall receive them, and ye shall have them.

Rev. Andrew Fuller-God’s Approbation of our Labours Necessary to the Hope of Success-Preached

Chapter XVI : Of Good Works

1. Good Works are only such as God hath (a) commanded in his Holy word; and not such as without the warrant thereof, are devised by men, out of blind zeal, (b) or upon any pretence of good intentions.

a Mic. 6.8. Heb. 13 21.

b Mat. 15.9. Isa. 29.13.

2. These good works, done in obedience to Gods commandments, are the fruits, and evidences (c) of a true, and lively faith; and by them Believers manifest their (d) thankfullness, strengthen their (e) assurance, edifie their (f) brethren, adorn the profession of the Gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries and glorifie (g) God whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus (h) thereunto, that having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end (i) eternal life.

c Jam. 2.18.22.

d Ps. 116.12,13.

e 1 Joh. 2 3.5. 2 Pet. 1.5-11.

Mat. 5.16.

g 1 Tim. 6.1. 1 Pet. 2.15. Phil. 1.11

h Eph. 2.10.

i Rom. 6.22.

3. Their ability to do good works, is not at all of themselves; but wholly from the Spirit (k) of Christ; and that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is necessary an (l) actual influence of the same Holy Spirit, to work in them to will, and to do, of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty, unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in (m) stirring up the Grace of God that is in them.

k Joh. 15.4.6.

l 2 Cor. 3.5. Phil. 2.13.

m Phil. 2.12. Heb. 6.11 12. Isa. 64.7.

4. They who in their obedience attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to superrogate, and to do more then God requires, as that (n) they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

n Job 9.23. Gal. 5.17. Luk. 17.10.

5. We cannot by our best works merit pardon of Sin or Eternal Life at the hand of God, by reason of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come; and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfie for the debt of our (o) former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants; and because as they are good they proceed from his (p) Spirit, and as they are wrought by us they are defiled (q) and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they cannot endure the severity of Gods judgement.

o Rom. 3.20. Eph. 2.8,9.Rom. 4.6.

p Gal. 5.22,23.

q Isa. 64.6. Ps. 143 2.

6. Yet notwithstanding the persons of Believers being accepted through Christ their good works also are accepted in (r) him; not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreprovable in Gods sight; but that he looking upon them in his Son is pleased to accept and reward that which is (s) sincere although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

r Eph. 1.6. 1 Pet. 2.5.

s Mat. 25.21.23. Heb. 6.10

7. Works done by unregenerate men although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use, both to themselves and (t) others; yet because they proceed not from a heart purified by (u) faith, nor are done in a right manner according to the (w) word, nor to a right end the (x) glory of God; they are therefore sinful and cannot please God; nor make a man meet to receive grace from (y) God; and yet their neglect of them is more sinful and (z) displeasing to God.

t 2 King. 10.30. 1 King. 21.27,29

u Gen. 4.5. Heb. 11 4.6.

w 1 Cor. 13.1.

x Mat. 6.2.5.

y Amos 5 21,22.Rom. 9.16 Tit. 3.5.

z Job 21.14,15. Mat. 25.41,42,43.

The 1677/89 London Baptist Confession of Faith

Christ only Gives Rest to those who have faith in Christ

Benjamin Cox Answered an Objection by a Pelagian to a Certain Passage

The Objection

Come unto me all you who labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matt 11:28

Answer

Here Christ promises to give rest, not to all persons whatsoever, but only to those laboring and heavy laden ones who come to Him, namely by a true faith in Him. This makes nothing against us. It still remnants true that they, and only they, do thus come unto Christ, in whose hearts God works lively faith. This God works in His Elect and only in them.

Benjamin Cox-Some Mistaken Scriptures Sincerely Explained, in Answer to One Infected With Some Pelagian Errors 1646.