The Story: One of the great mysteries of the Christian life is that we can know blessings from God that override and overcome the sorrows and sufferings we may experience in this life. It’s not clear how that happens, but, when we are “in” the blessing of God, we know peace, joy, contentment, confidence, and strength, regardless of how difficult, challenging, or painful our temporal circumstances may be. The way into such blessedness is through faith and obedience, beginning with rejoicing and thanksgiving. As we walk in the promises of God and rein in the sinful tendencies of our flesh, we are able to bring good and peace into the lives of those around us. God sees us as we do this, and He hears our prayers when we cry out to Him for mercy and strength. He will not fail or forsake us. He will bring His wondrous blessing to us, even though others may persist in wishing or doing us ill. For our parts, we must be zealous for what is good. There is thus a twofold motivation for Christians to do good works (Eph. 2.8-10): gratitude for having been saved, and desire to know the promised peace of God.
The Structure: I find it difficult to understand why so many believers want to separate the life of good works from the life of salvation. Many, many Christians believe that we are saved simply but uttering a little prayer of confession and faith. Whether or not we ever get around to the good works part of the life of faith is irrelevant to the question of whether or not we are saved. We’re saved, many insist, just by “believing.” But Peter, John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and the vast majority of the witnesses of Church history would differ, insisting with the Lord Jesus that the “proof” of being saved lies in the good works which come with salvation (Matt. 7.20). Without those works, James insists, any claim to possessing saving faith is empty, dead.
Is there a difference between doing good works and being zealous for good works? Which of these best describes you?
Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “First, Be: 1 Peter 3,” simply click here.
T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.