Q. What are good works?
A. Only those which are done out of true faith (1), conform to God’s law (2), and are done for God’s glory (3), and not those based on our own opinion or human tradition (4).
Read: (1) John 15:5; Heb. 11:6; (2) Lev. 18:4; 1 Sam. 15:22; Eph. 2:10; (3) 1 Cor. 10:31; (4) Deut. 12:32; Isa. 29:13; Ezek. 20:18-19; Matt. 15:7-9.
I have never met Queen Elizabeth of England. But I would guess that serving her implies doing everything according to her standards. An I would imagine that everyone, from her private secretary, to her trusted advisor, to her bedchamber maid, to her to the person who cleans the toilets, all of them know and follow the standard that Queen Elizabeth has set. Every single detail, every single worker, every single deed is done according to her will because she is the queen. There is no wishy washy notion of what she expects. There is no vague idea of her standards. And all of these point to the fact that she is queen. Anybody who walks around the palace works according to her standards and even strangers know by this, that she is queen. But when we think of good works in Christ, there is generally a vagueness, a question mark, a lack of understanding so today, as we study question 90 of The Heidelberg Catechism we will see what good works are according to The Bible.
It all starts with King Jesus. For us to understand what good works are, we need to understand that it all starts with Him. We are incapable of doing good anything if we don’t put our faith in Him. Christ is the root. He is the catalyst. He starts everything and without Him good works are impossible. So we need to pledge our allegiance to Him. By grace, we place our faith in Him for salvation and there, we become His own.
Well, King Jesus now gives us His standards. Before we knew Jesus as Lord and Savior, we didn’t know He was King and hence the words in The Bible were mere words of a page that made little sense to us. But now, awakened in Christ we know that “these are not idle words, these are our very live” (Dt. 32:47). The Bible tells us how we are to live now. The more we study The Word, the more capable we become of understanding what following Christ means and hence, what those good works that He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10). God has told us what pleases Him, what is right, what is good in His eyes and now, by our faith in Christ, we can understand and learn and grow in pleasing Him. And therefore, since He is King of our whole life, of everything we do and of everything we have; because “there is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” (Abraham Kuyper), we make it our goal to please our King in every single are of our life. This means that we look to please God even if it displeases our family, friends, boss, etc. Even if it goes against the grain of the teachings of the world or against cultural norms. We live to please King Jesus in all that we do. And when we do something incredible happens. We find that pleasing Jesus and walking according to His ways not only glorifies Him but also brings us joy and shows others that King Jesus is actual King of all.
Our good works in Christ and according to His standard is good and acceptable and perfect because it is the will of God (Ro 12). Our good deeds are also a powerful witness of Christ’s love overflowing in our lives so that others may know Him because of our witness (1 Peter 2:11-12). We don’t do good works just for the sake of passing life. We do good works for the sake of God’s glory, for the sake of the lost and for the sake of our joy, because when we work to please King Jesus, we receive His joy and His peace because we do what we were made to do.
So sister, as we finish this teaching today, I want to ask you if you are doing “good works” according to your own standards or if you are submitting to the standards of The King. Are you finding these good works hard and tedious to do or are they an outflow of your love to please Him and therefore are easy and light? Sister, if you are not finding joy and peace in doing them, will you humbly come to King Jesus ans ask in faith for His guidance? May the works that you do be pleasing to God and may they bring you joy as many come to treasure and experience the love of Christ.