Saved to Do Good Works

Bible1_2 I went to a Calvinistic college. It’s not a bad thing; I’m just stating fact. I went there fairly skeptical of the doctrine of Election and left a disciple. Now, almost 10 years later I’m a little skeptical of election the way I was taught it. Again, this is not a knock on my professors, just a statement of fact. One of the passages used to support election is Ephesians 2

Which says, “1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” …”8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.”

In my five years in college I probably heard at least 20 sermons/teaching/lectures/discussions on those verses each year. Maybe more. How can a dead person do anything to save themself, etc. What I don’t ever remember hearing a sermon on (perhaps in my entire life) is verse #10

Which says, “10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Emphasis Mine)

There seems to be some sort of gag reflex amongst conservative people the church (all across the spectrum here) today when the idea is brought up that the church should be about doing something socially.  RBurdenick Warren gets involved with AIDS relief and he’s decried as a heretic. Mars Hill makes part of its mission to help relieve poverty and entire BLOG’s are dedicated to attacking the church. Labels are thrown around like confetti at a ticker tape parade. Cries of “Emergent” and “Social Gospel” are flung like a Roger Clemens fastball. And truthfully, it amazes me.
Why is the church so afraid to do something socially? Why are we like cats in the proverbial room full of Rocking chairs? Go back and read verses 8-10 together.
How can we read those verses and believe that we are not to do something about social injustice? Yes, salvation is about Heaven and imputation and justification, but it’s also about doing good works. I would go so far as to say if you’re not doing good works there is something radically wrong with your spiritual life.
Let me be as plain on this as I can. If you claim to be in a right relationship with God, you should be more concerned about the poor than you are about your 401k. If you say you are part of the family of God you should be more concerned about the homeless in your neighborhood than you should be about the typo you found in your church’s bulletin last week. If you claim to be a Christian God has prepared good works for you to do.
It is high time we start caring more about the families being displaced in this war.
For too long the American church has been about politics. We’ve fought battles we’re never going to win, we’ve abandoned our most powerful weapon: LOVE! I dare you to read the New Testament and just circle every verse where we are told to love each other, or love others. Circle each verse where we are told to act with kindness to each other. Go to James where we are told that religion that counts in God’s eyes is “to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

The most horrible truth here is we’ve forfeited what is rightfully ours; the fact that we can stand up to injustice, not with force but with love and meekness. We have been given the awesome opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world. So today, as you go about your life, look for opportunities to do that.
It is OK It is good if a church is known as a place of good works–that’s part of God’s plan prepared in advance for us.

John 13:35
35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 15
17 This is my command: Love each other.

Mark 12:28-30
The Greatest Commandment
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. [a] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [b]


About Joe

I am a simple guy. I live in West Michigan and have a counseling business. I also do public speaking. I'd love to hear your story.

9 thoughts on “Saved to Do Good Works

  1. Great first post Joe. Welcome to the RelevantChristian team!

    I love this part:
    “We have been given the awesome opportunity to be the hands and feet of Christ to the world. So today, as you go about your life, look for opportunities to do that.”

    I want to always live my life like that.


  2. Joe,

    You sure get around.

    I agree that we are saved TO GOOD WORKS.

    You make some good points and back it with scripture (always a good thing to do).

    However, I don’t think you’ve got the reason why people are uncomfortable with Rick Warren’s brand of social good works.

    The reason why ‘fightin’ fundies’ take issue with Warren is because the context for his PEACE plan is what he calls a ‘Second Reformation’ of Deeds NOT Creeds.

    ‘Deeds not Creeds’ was the slogan of the Unitarians 30 years ago. That slogan drives a wedge between sound doctrine and good works. (This is an unbiblical position)

    Scripture calls us to both Sound Doctrine (Creeds) and Good Works. They are a package. Even the verses you quoted bear this fact out.

    If Warren would publically embrace Both Creeds and Deeds in his second reformation, I for one would have no problem what-so-ever with his social agenda.

    Let us also not forget that good works primarily included being a good husband, father, mother, wife, son or daughter. It includes being a good employee, friend and neighbor. Feeding the poor is certainly a good work but let us not exalt that over the others.

  3. Chris,
    I agree with you that feeding the poor isn’t the end all in good works. I would never mean to imply that. As for RW, I’ve seen too much name calling with him over it and a little substantive disagreement (such as what you laid out here–most people do not explain themselves as you have they simply call him names) which was what I was trying to address. I hope that explains my position a little more.

  4. Well, in the debate over doctrine and good works, I am reminded of when Jesus healed the person on the Sabbath. Was it against the doctrine of that time? Yes. Did it really matter whether He healed the person on the Sabbath? No.

    By no means am I discounted doctrine. It’s something that the church needs and is commanded to have to protect ourselves from false teachers along with a ton of other reasons. But it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to dodge the work of combatting social injustice or ‘good works’.

    I agree with you Martino. The church has seemed to remove itself out of the social realm, and therefore has lost it relevancy to society. Is it laziness that drove the church to back out? Is it a lack of confidence in the church’s power? Personally, I think it’s a multiplicity of things, but whatever it is, God has the power to radically change it, and from what I’ve seen, I think that He is in the process of doing it as we speak.

  5. the problem with the emergent church and groups closely affiliated with them is not that they don’t do good works, but the doctrine they teach and claim to be biblical.

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