“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Glory of Good Works, by Randall D. Kittle


It is only by grace that any of us have come into the kingdom of God. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Grace is also how we grow, mature, and work out our salvation. The grace that is measured into our lives by faith changes us, and the first change in us after salvation is that it restores us positionally. Because of God's grace in our lives, we are no longer under the bondage of sin, neither are we under the law.

When you became a believer, not only were your sins forgiven, you were set free from being a slave to sin. No longer are you under the bondage of sin, but instead the life of Christ within you can allow you to live a life above sin. The power of God in your life is designed to enable you to live a life above sin — to live a holy life. Charles Spurgeon once said,
“Grace is the mother and nurse of holiness, not the apologist of sin.” When grace comes in, sin is supposed to move out, as the life of Jesus Christ is worked out in our lives.

Not only are we no longer under the bondage of sin, we are no longer under the Law. Instead, we are to live by what the Bible calls
“the new way of the Spirit” (Romans 7:6). Since Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled the Law, we no longer have to make a list of rules and regulations and be ruled by them. We are no longer under the heavy burden of legalism. The Bible is no longer a rule book held over us to “wack” us into doing what is right. Now, by grace, the Bible has become the precious principle and precepts of God's kingdom that undergird our faith. It is the “user manual” of the Christian faith.

Grace Produces Good Works
Grace not only changes our position — releasing us from being under sin and under the law — it also causes production — producing good works in and through our lives. It says in 2 Corinthians 9:8,
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” Simply stated, this verse tells us that grace pours into our lives in great measure, and good works should come out in an equally great measure. The threefold test of grace in our lives is:

• Are we living above sin?

• Are we living above the law?

• Are we abounding in goodness and good works?

How sad that the world often does not see God's grace because the ones who have touched it don't show the signs of it!

Good works will never produce grace in your life (it is a gift from God), but grace in your life should be producing good works. It is not that good works produce faith, but as it tells us in James 2:14-20, good works prove faith.
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe — and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” How true, for only true faith is alive, and true faith will produce good works by the grace that it has attained.

This passage is well known but greatly misunderstood in the body of Christ. Faith is the means of laying hold of the grace that God has given you to be born-again (as seen in Ephesians 2:8-9). If this grace has been apprehended, it will not only remove sin but produce good works (as we saw in 2 Corinthians 9:8). Therefore, true faith produces good works, and faith that does not produce good works is not true faith. This kind of "faith" is only some kind of "easy-believism" that assures a sinner they are going to heaven without really changing their heart. You are never saved by works, but the faith that lays hold of God's grace will always produce good works in our lives!

The Life of God Showing Forth
If you are not changed by the grace you have received — changed such that the good life of God within you becomes apparent to others — I wonder if you have really been saved. The life of God within you should reveal His goodness. After all, God is good, and if His life is now indwelling you that indwelling goodness should be breaking forth.

We must not move on without making certain that we have an understanding of this important foundational principle — God is good! We love to talk about the greatness of our God, and declare that
“God is love." However, the Bible uses the word "good" to describe God far more often than the word “love.” You cannot read the book of Psalms without coming to understand that God is good.

In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us this clearly when He was questioned by the rich young ruler.
“Now behold, one came and said to Jesus, ‘Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?’ So He said to him, ‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God’” (Matthew 19:16-17).

God, and only God, is good! Every good thing that is done in this earth is because of God, and all goodness in man is from God. Even when an atheistic philanthropist who hates God does some good work it is because of God. Every sliver of goodness which remains in the heart of mankind is because we were made in God's image. When God breathed the breath of life into man, His goodness came into our lives. While we may be fallen, the thumb-print of God is still evident in our lives. Every good thing man does is simply releasing the goodness God created in us of Himself.

Good Works Bring Results
Good works cause things to happen in our lives. First of all, good works please God. Isn't God great! He pours His grace upon us and then when the good works come out of our lives, produced by this grace, He says "I am well pleased." It is no wonder that it works this way, for we were made to bring Him pleasure. We please God when our lives are fruitful in every kind of good work. Hebrews 13:16 tells us,
“But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” A life that does good to others is a pleasing and acceptable sacrifice to the Lord.

Good works also help us fulfill our destiny. (This also pleases God, for He has a destiny for you that He treasures, see Jeremiah 29:11.) Ephesians 2:10 tells us,
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Before the earth was created, God, knowing all of your skills, gifts, talents, and abilities, created works for you to walk out and fulfill upon this earth. He has prepared these good works for us to do, and delights as we work them out ever-increasingly fulfilling the plans of God for our lives.

Zealous For Good Works
Knowing that good works please God and help us fulfill our spiritual destiny, we should be a people desiring and delighting to do good works. In fact, Titus 2:13-14 tells us that Jesus' heart for us is that we become a people zealous for good works.
“... Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” This verse does not say that Jesus redeemed us to make us a people hoping to do good works or wanting to do good works, but zealous for good works.

Let me see if I can get you to really understand what the word "zealous" means. Imagine you are at a community Easter egg hunt. Hundreds of little ones are lined up at the starting line, baskets in hand, and there laid out before them are an untold number of brightly colored Easter eggs, each one filled with candy. As the announcer gets ready to countdown to the start, he has to stop and warn the children to wait until he says go. "No jumping ahead!" Then, finally, he counts down 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 … GO! When that announcer says "go," if you can picture the faces and sense the attitudes of those little ones, that is being zealous. Unfortunately, the average saint doesn't seem to have the same "chomping at the bit," "where are my good works to do today" attitude. If the church had more zeal for good works, we would both be more pleasing to God and attain more of our spiritual destiny.

Good Works Glorify God
One of the most important aspects of good works is that they bring glory to God. We cry out in prayer and in song "show me your glory," but the Lord has told us that when we do the good works He has created for us, that He will be glorified. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). The good works that you do are like a bright light that shines forth declaring the glory of God. The glory from God's presence brought Moses an external glow to his face such that he had to put a veil over his face. But the glory of God within us should cause our lives to be aglow with good works revealing God's glory to others.

God wants each of our lives to be like spiritual lighthouses — bright light streaming forth in all directions, helping to point the way! How does that happen? Good works! Good works glorify God. Moses said
“Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18), and God replied not "I will show you My glory," but “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you'" (Exodus 33:19). Moses said "show me Your glory, and God said "Sure, I will show you My Goodness." Goodness and glory are inseparably intertwined together. They are in God, and they are in us.

God's Glory Covering The Earth
The Scriptures promise that all the earth will be filled with God's glory.
"For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord , as the waters cover the sea" (Habakkuk 2:14). This will happen at the end of the age, but it will also begin to happen in a visible and increasing measure as we approach the end of the age. How? As the body of Christ begins to be represented all around the globe, and they begin to do the good works God has created for them, His glory revealed through these good works will begin to flood the earth. This is how the world will first be covered with God's glory. When the glory of the Lord covers the earth in this manner, it won't be long until the manifest presence of God covers all the earth.

The body of Christ is to be revealing the glory of God through good lives that speak good words and do good works! We must not limit these good works to things done in our church buildings or done only for each other. The good works that glorify God need to be seen everywhere we go: in the workplace, in the grocery store, in your backyard, at your school, at your relatives' homes, etc.

The good works that glorify God are not huge, herculean tasks. They are simple and every one of us has some to produce. For example, there is the good work of honesty. Like when you receive too much change at the cash register and insist on giving it back to the cashier. This may sound trivial, but most of the world would stick it in their pocket and call it their lucky day. There are the good works of having values, which might mean you have to say no to seeing a bad movie all your friends are going to, or that you have to turn off the TV when the show goes beyond acceptable limits. There is also the good work of helping others by doing simple things like helping someone with young children return a shopping cart, tutoring at a local school, or helping someone change a tire or shovel snow.

Whether they let you know it or not, the world will notice all of these things, and they will see the glory of God. It is this example that testifies to the world that God changes lives and really matters. The world will notice the glorious brilliance of a life that does the good works God has created for them. But that doesn't mean they will necessarily shower you with applause and acclaim. On the contrary, it is this light the world (who loves darkness) will try to suppress. When you do good, the world feels worse about itself and its sinful lifestyle. Your light will make their darkness seem even more dark. While the world will notice, they are not going to call you blessed for doing good works. You are more likely to be called a "goody-goody" or a “goody two shoes.” But if you, by grace, are doing the good works God has created for you to do in a spirit of humility, let them say what they will. The good works that you are doing will be pleasing to God and reveal His glory all at the same time. Most of us would be willing to do great and burdensome things to please God and reveal His glory. Let us therefore be willing to zealously do what it is He has called us to, and glorify God through the good works He has created for us to do!

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