Saturday, December 11, 2021

Advent Words Day 14 ~ Good


Day 14: Good

“Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us…to purify a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” Titus 2:14 

Today is our last word in our journey of digging into Titus 2:11-14, a passage that has shown us how to live in between the two Advents of Christ, from grace to glory. Between the first Advent, the incarnation of Christ, and the second Advent, Christ's return, we are called to a way of life that is characterized by godly living and good deeds for the sake of Christ. 

As I said yesterday, the NIV does not capture the full intent of this verse. The NASB and other older translations better capture the Greek words that were used – “Zealous for good deeds”. In the Greek this sentence ends with the words kalos ergon, kalos meaning good and ergon meaning deeds or works. The people who are Christ’s very own are described as those who are zealous for good works. 

On some levels I think this is a call that has not been emphasized in our modern culture. I was raised Catholic, and when I came into a relationship with Christ as an adult and began attending a protestant church, it was emphasized that we are not saved by anything we do – not by works, not by earning our salvation. And this is true. But somewhere along the reformation journey, the baby was thrown out with the bath water. As this passage of Scripture has popped up for me in my studies over the past months, I have been so surprised how often we are called to be a people who do good works. 

So, as we dig into this word, let’s lay the foundation first, that we are saved by grace and grace alone.

 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10 

Paul is very clear that we are saved by God’s grace and not our own works. But he is equally clear that we are saved for good works, saved to do good works. Good works are a part of God’s purpose for His people. Charles Spurgeon said, “Our good works are evidence of God’s grace within us”. In a sense we could say that good works are the visible fruit of our faith. 

What, then, are good works? I go to Jesus’ words when he was asked by the Pharisees which commandment in the Law was the greatest. Jesus replied, 

“Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”.” Matthew 22:37-40 

We love God and love our neighbors (others). Who are our neighbors? Basically everyone. Not simply those who are fellow Christ-followers, but all people we live and work in proximity to. Those we go to school with, shop alongside, pass on the street, etc. Even the ones who don’t believe as we do or see the world as we do. Even the ones who disagree with us or persecute us. 

And we imitate Christ’s life, which was others focused and love focused. 

“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 

“Be imitator of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 

The other thing I find notable about good works in Scripture is that they are to be visible, so that the good works we do give the glory to God and make Him visible. 

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 

“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” 1 Peter 2:12 

The scope of our call to do good works runs throughout the New Testament:

 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” Galatians 6:9-10. Good works help us reap a harvest for the Lord. 

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.” Titus 3:4-8 

“(We pray this) so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work…” Colossians 1:10 

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:10 

“Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.” Titus 3:1-2 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

 “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 

 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. *This one blows me away! It’s such a well-known passage and yet I never noticed the connection of Scripture as a tool to equip us for good works. Although that is exactly what this study has done! 

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16 

This is not an exhaustive list, in fact in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, known as the pastoral epistles, good works are mentioned 14 times (1 Tim 2:10, 3:1, 5:10(2x), 6:18, 2 Tim 2:21, 3:17, Titus 1:16, 2:7, 14, 3:1, 8,14). The Pastoral epistles, where Paul instructs the pastors on how to teach the people of God how to live, are full of teaching them to do good works! The list also does not include passages where the words are not included but descriptions of or examples of good works are referenced. 

May we spur one another on to do good works and live holy lives that show the world who God is, that they may come to praise Him for His marvelous deeds! This is our call on how to live in this present age between the Advents of Christ. 

Today ends the first half of the Advent Season. It also ends our journey of looking at the words of Titus 2:11-14. Tomorrow we will begin to explore the more traditional words of Advent and Christmas.

Share how you express today's word on social media using #adventwords2021. You can also share in the Words Challenge Facebook Group.

No comments:

Post a Comment