Many Christians are confused about the role of good works in the Christian life. To some (called legalists), good works are essential for achieving salvation. To others (called antinomian or anti-law), good works are optional and unnecessary in the life of a Christian. But what does the Bible say?
The Apostle Paul’s short letter to Titus provides a good case study in the biblical perspective on good works.
1. Good works are irrelevant for experiencing the new birth of salvation.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-5)
2. The lack of good works is evidence that somebody has not experienced the new birth of salvation.
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party…They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. (Titus 1:10, 16)
3. A passion for good works are the expected outcome of anyone who has experienced the new birth of salvation.
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8)
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, (Titus 3:1)
The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people. (Titus 3:8)
And let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful. (Titus 3:14)
What helps you cultivate a zeal for good works?