Faith expressing itself through love. The result of faith can be none other but obedience to great command of loving God and neighbor. As John says, “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” We learned a few weeks ago that Christ alone is our righteousness before God, and it is only by faith that we receive that righteousness.
But what about good works? Christ justifies no one whom he does not at the same time sanctify. Good works frow from faith. Or better faith expresses outwardly that Christ lives in us. They flow from Christ. They are not a means of receiving Christ. True love only comes after you have come to know Christ. We love because he has first loved us. One does not repent to believe. You believe and therefore you repent. Love flows naturally from a Christ filled person. They flow from a heart of joy, and thankfulness that come from receiving the grace of God.
Faith expressing itself through love.
The source of your love
The reason for your love
The result of your love
The source of your love
We believe that this true faith, worked in us by the hearing of God’s word and by the operation of the Holy Spirit regenerates him and make him a new man.
It is not mere improvement but transformation that God works in us. He has made you knew. You have been raised with Christ and it is quiet impossible then to keep doing what you were doing before you were made new. Your actions prove who you are. They do not make you who you are.
That is why we should be careful to say good works is the same as sanctification. They are a result of being sanctified. Sanctification is a work of the Holy Spirit inwardly which produces outward fruit. The source of any good that you do starts with God. There is no true love outside of his love. Which means that if you are not filled with the Spirit of Christ you cannot truly obey the law whose summary we find in loving God and loving neighbor.
And he has done it. The work of regeneration is the first work in time that God does in the heart of a person. Before he repents, before he believes. God changes your heart so that you are enabled to believe. Enabled to repent. Without the new birth it would be hopeless. You had nothing to do with your first birth, and you have nothing to do with your second birth. The source is God and God alone.
That new live is born form the life-giving womb of the Word of God, conceived by the holy Spirit. In other words that new live is a product of Christs finished work which is applied to the believer through the Holy Spirit.
We confess that this faith “makes him live a new life and frees him from the slavery of sin.”
Holy Spirit wrought faith frees one from the slavery of sin. It means that you believe your sins hold no power over you to condemn you, it means that you can go to the cross with all the shame and guilt and burdens in your live. it means that in him you have the power to not sin. To conquer it. To fight it. Christ forgives you, gives you his live, and equips you with every spiritual weapon you need, both offensive and defensive to live a life of holiness.
This is new life children of God. You are released from the prison of having to find your identity in what others think of you, or in your family, your work, your church. You are free from slavery of living for yourself, worrying about yourself, thinking about yourself, feeling sorry for yourself. You are free. Set free to live a new live through the power of God. Only in and by the strength that he provides because you have confessed you lack any strength to make the first move. You see sanctification is as much by grace as justification. In fact you justification is the motivating factor of sanctification.
Christ leaves no person where he is at the moment that he saves him. He will take you by the hand and lead you as a child of the Father.
The Reason for your love
Therefore, it is not true that this justifying faith makes a man indifferent to living a good and holy life. On the contrary, without it no one would ever do anything out of love for God, but only our of self-love or fear of being condemned.
If you are not fully saved. If Christ had not done everything. Then your good works would not be out of pure love, but so that you could earn something. This is a terrible way to live. No child should ever have to feel like they need to earn their fathers love. A father loves his child from the first days. Unconditionally. And that child can do nothing to earn that love. That unconditional love will lord willing conform that child and be the motivating factor to obedience.
If you get the gospel, and you believe it at its heart, it is impossible to not live differently. This is what the picture that Jesus gives us in John 15 so beautifully portrays as he says, I am the vine and you are the branches. If you are attached to the vine, you are not going to remain the same. It is impossible that someone connected to the vine does not grow.
It is important that you understand the reason behind your love.
What is the reason that you do what you do? If my deepest desire in raising kids is for them to be good. Then I will crush the children and place tremendous pressure on them. If my deepest reason for raising kids is so that they may glory in God, I will show them Jesus in all I do. If my biggest reason for going to work is to provide for my family, then I make myself the provider and not God. If my biggest reason for going to work is simply to glorify him in the task that he gives me and thank him for giving me this work, and the means that he provides, I will see my work differently. Not has a duty, but as an opportunity to display Jesus. I have nothing to prove there, but everything to show about who and what Christ is.
In fact this is the whole purpose we were created. ‘good works’ lie at the very heart of God’s purpose for his people in redemption. ‘For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Eph 2.10). They belong to the telos – the Greek word for “end” or “goal” – of what it means to be a Christian. We were created in him FOR GOOD WORKS!
Every aspect of how we express our humanity which has been corrupted in Adam has been made new in Christ. Therefore, as we work this out in practice, it should translate into our intentionally seeking to do what is right and pleasing in God’s sight. With heart, mind and will renewed by the Spirit through our union with the Son. Indeed the more we hear Gods word preached the strong our faith becomes the more that word engages, encourages and directs us towards that ‘newness of life’ in which we now live as God’s people.
As we confess in Lords day 32 in answer to the question. Since then we are redeemed from our misery by grace through Christ, without any merit of ours, why should we do good works?
Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image, that with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for His blessing, and also that He be glorified through us; then also, that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by the fruits thereof; and by our godly walk win also others to Christ.
The Acceptance of your Love.
These works, proceeding from the good root of faith, are good and acceptance in the sight of god, since they are all sanctified by his grace.
If Christ has done all nothing we do can add or take away from his work. Whatever good works we bring forth we will only be able to say, ‘We have only done our duty.” And if there is any way our works can be called good, it is because they proceed from the Spirit which dwells within us. So it is not us who should rest in our good works, but God who is please with our good works.
God accepts them, and indeed rewards only insofar as they flow from his love. It is his love in a sense flowing back to him. We love because he first loved us. He will not accept them in so afar as they are in anyway an effort to receive his love.
This is why it is so important to understand that God is source of your love and the reason for what you do, so that as the confession says, “always be in doubt, tossed to and fro without any certainty, and our poor consciences would be constantly tormented, they did not rely on the merit of the death and passion our savior.”
Sanctification itself is nothing that conformity to Christ. It is being renewed, by the gracious, free, gradual work of the Holy Spirit within us renewing us into the image of Christ. And in so far as we look more and more like our Lord Jesus, he is pleased and glorified.
So these feelings of guilt come when we start to wonder from Christ. Realize they are a gift to drive you to the gospel. To Christ. They aren’t made for us to seek comfort in our Good works of church attendance, bible reading and prayer. They discipline us so that we are driven to Christ, not ourselves. And we do that through committing ourselves to the means of grace which are the word, prayer and sacraments.
When the source of the good works is God, the reason is the gospel, then the result will be that God crowns these good works with his gifts. We can never out give God! In fact all we give is already given. And God gives on top of that when we respond to what he has given! Both in this life as we experience the joy and blessing that often come with doing the work of god, and in the next as he invites us in and says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master”