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God's Workmanship

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 25, 2020 7:00 am

God's Workmanship

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 25, 2020 7:00 am

Scripture is clear that we are certainly not saved by our own good works, but then the question always arises: where do good works come into play in the Christians life and are they necessary at all? Dr. James Boice introduces a simple math equation, faith= justification + works, and explains how it can help us better understand this difficult concept.

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Scripture is clear that were certainly not saved by our own good works within the question always arises where do good works come into play in the Christian's life and are they necessary that all in today's message Dr. James Boyce introduces a simple math equation faith equals justification plus works and he explains how it can help us better understand this difficult concept welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. Christianity's focus is always on God's work in his glory in our salvation. God is glorified and in the sanctification that produces good works in us.

He is glorified again. Let's turn together to Ephesians 2, verse 10, and listen into the teaching of Dr. James Boyce ever since they Protestant Reformation. All who follow in the steps of Martin Luther have been quick to assert that justification is by grace through faith launched by human works. But this is main that good works have no place at all. In Christianity, the doesn't the accusation true that the doctrine of grace actually leads to bad conduct. Here is the point at which sound Protestant theology and Roman Catholic theology part company. Most Roman Catholics would be quick to assert that salvation is by grace after all. Ephesians 28 says so. And the better Catholics they are, the more they'll insist upon that but Roman Catholic theology traditionally has a different way of stating the relationship between grace, faith and works, then Protestants do Roman Catholic theology talks about justification through grace, but it blinks works to faith in the sense that God justifies us partially on the basis of our faith and partially on the basis of those works which he produces in us Protestant theology. On the other hand, repudiates works as having anything to do with justification whatsoever, but sound Protestant theology insists nevertheless that if one is justified. There will, of necessity, be good works Roman Catholic theology would put it in a formula that goes like this, I would say faith plus works equals justification and sound Protestant theology would say faith equals justification plus works. Of course there is an unsound Protestant theology which eliminates the place of works altogether and that is rightly repudiated by all lawful theologians of whatever camp the subject comes before us in the text which we are studying today. Ephesians 210 and comfy for us here in a striking way. Perhaps in the most striking language of any passage of the New Testament, Ephesians 210 says for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God hath prepared in advance for us to do.

Commentators on these verses have long noted that there is a striking repetition of the word works in this passage. There are some mention of works in verse nine, which is negative. Verse nine says that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, lest anyone should boast. Then in verse 10 works and spoken out positively, saying God has created us to the say that text is something very interesting and eliminates works entirely from justification if it would be the case that one person would be saved, and someday find himself or herself itself in heaven. As a result, even in part of the good works of that person has not been boasting would come in because that person would be able to say well it may be true that I'm here because of the grace of God and grace of God is certainly been generous with me. I wouldn't of made it if it weren't for the grace of God, but nevertheless it is the grace of God. Plus what I did and so I'm hearing that other person over there is not here because I had the necessary amount of good works and they did not the result of that would be boasting God says you have no boasting in heaven, and therefore the basis of justification excludes works entirely at the verse goes on to say that if we are justified. That is, if God is at work in us then. Good works will necessarily follow because God has ordained that we should do them. That's what we want to look at the good works of course. But before we do that we have to look at the good works which are actually bad. Good works that are excluded after see why God can't use them. The reason of course is the standard is perfection must be perfection because God is perfect and he can have any standard less than that of himself and therefore even if we would spend all our lifetimes keeping up all the good works all the good deeds all the charitable actions all the pious thoughts which were capable. In the end, when we had it all together, it would still not add up to perfection.

Therefore, God saves us by a different approach entirely. Last week when I was discussing these earlier verses, I use the illustration of Donald Ray Martin houses and I want to use another would now because he was particularly clear in talking about these verses send this illustration perhaps will help some people referred in his illustration to the old kind of scale we don't see today with electronic measurements but we used to say in the old days in country stores where country grocers would use it to measure out the pound. For example, sugar, salt or some other dry good. It was a balance and somebody said well I wanted a pound of sugar. The grocer would take a 1 pound weight and put it on one side of the scale and then using the school would allow sugar to fall on the other side of the scale until the scale balance when that happened, then it was a pound of sugar there and he would put that in the container. A bag or some such thing. The person would have their pound of sugar. Now Barnhouse in this illustration said we have to imagine that God has his righteousness and his righteousness, which flows from his very nature is what he must demand of all of the letter and the fellowship with him and be in heaven. And that's for the sake of the illustration.

The 1 pound of his righteousness. He puts that pound on one side of the scale and we are invited to come with our righteousness and added to the other side of the scale and see if it's possible for us to make the scale balance all the world is invited to come in so people do common. We begin with those who have not achieved much in the area of human righteousness. Matter of fact, they've fallen quite low in the human scale there ones who have been guilty of some great crime or another.

Perhaps thieves are murderers or whatever it may be they cop and they're invited to place their goodness on the scales of God. Well, without any goodness we say Verizon or even among thieves. And so they come with their little bit of goodness there one or 2 ounces of righteousness. They put that on the scale but of course it doesn't move the scale of all and so there set aside and didn't terms of Paul's teaching in Ephesians 2 they come under the just judgment of Almighty God. They are objects of God's wrath nice people to cover the average people. Like most of us are little better than the down and out. Or, say, their 8 ounces of righteousness as four times as good as a person went right before but when they bring their righteousness and place on God scales it doesn't move the scale either because 8 ounces. Although it's four times as good as 2 ounces is still short of that pound and so they too were set aside.

Finally, we bring that that the best people in our society. Those were models of integrity.

The outstanding leaders of our society. The philanthropists, the great ethical teachers and we say now you present your righteousness lay, with all their good works. I don't pretend to be perfect.

Of course, one aspect of their greatness is that they realize that they're not perfect so they, they bring their 11 or 12 ounces of a place not on the scale but of course air 11 or 12 ounces. Don't move the balance anymore then one or 2 ounces of the down and hours of the society so they too are set aside and all from the last of the greatest pass under the judgment of God.

They have fallen short of the glory of God and the judgment of God falls upon legislators were grace comes in notice when God comes God is and changes standards. One went God's standard is still that pound of righteousness. But God says to those all whom now are under his judgment. What you can't move my scale by your righteousness, but I'm going to move it for you. I'm going to send my son the Lord Jesus Christ to do what you can't do is going to come as a man and be a perfect man live on a perfect life because he is God is also going to come as God and he's going to die for you to do two things through Jesus Christ.

First of all because you send in your under my judgment. I'm going to place my judgment upon Jesus. He's going to bear it for you because sees man can die the wages of sin is death because he's God he can die for an infinite number of sinners, so he's going to die and I'm going to punish him for all your sin and then secondly, God says I'm going to offer you the righteousness of Jesus Christ is a free gift.

You don't have anything you can offer your own who come with their own righteousness, but it's inadequate manipulate.

I decided to forget about trying to please me by your own goodness things that flow out of your own corrupt character and if instead you receive the righteousness that Jesus Christ offers and I offer you and him and you can come with that and you'll find that the scales will balance so we do we come as the hymn says not with her own righteousness. Nothing in my hands, I bring we come receiving. Instead, righteousness of Christ. We placed out on the scales and when that is placed in the scales. The balance levels in God receives.

This is justified sinners through the work of Jesus Christ is what Christianity is all about.

If you come with your own righteousness if you think that you can achieve your salvation by anything you do if you think you can contribute anything to justification you are not justified or not safe, you're still under the wrath of God. You recognize the utter emptiness of anything you can do and instead receive what God is done in Christ and present back to God. While then you are justified and you have passive Paul says out of death into life with someone says if that is true. If that is the way sinful men and women are justified before God, then how is it possible for you or anyone else to insist on the necessity of good works, keyword their courses necessity necessity of good works because is not a matter of the works not be a good idea. Good works by their very definition, are a good idea to have them and it's not merely a question of perhaps the greatest pathway to happiness being through the giving and doing of good works.

God says is more blessed to give than to receive.

It's not even a matter of an obligation to do good works is if we would say if you're a Christian now you want to do good works. That of course is all true.

The issue here is the necessity of good works, the one who has been justified if he or she has been justified must do works, which God has ordained for that one to do. How is it possible the answer is found in the fact that although justification is a key term for describing what happens in the salvation of the center. It is not the only term the Bible uses and it is not the only thing that happens you know, I'm sure that the Bible also speaks of the new birth being born again or regenerate. And that means is, Paul certainly has been teaching here in the second chapter of Ephesians that in this matter of salvation, we are not merely transferred in the sight of God. The condition of condemnation to one of justification but we are also made alive in Christ with a new life that comes from God himself theologically way to state this is to say that there is no justification apart from regeneration. There is no justification apart from sanctification. Rectification does not produce justification. Regeneration does not make us justified.

Once we are justified and regenerate.

We will be sight defied in the good works of Paul speaks of here will begin to be done in the lives of Christians know when you study Christ teachings you soon find that this was a major aspect of his teaching my opinion, this is one of the greatest lacks of the evangelical church in America today. At the beginning of the study.

I contrasted traditional Catholic theology with sound Protestant theology saying that Catholic theology adds works to faith for justification so that it's formula reads faith plus works equals justification while Protestants, by contrast, say, faith equals justification plus works.

I disagree with the Catholic theology I promote the Protestant theology yes, but what are we to say about a theology such as that found in much of the evangelical church today eliminates the need for good works entirely. That's pernicious. No sound theologian should say that yet. That's characteristic I would say perhaps of 90% of the theology and the so-called evangelical church.

Well, you know what Christ said Christ's certainly talked about his work in providing salvation. He said the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve in the give his life a ransom for many. It was going to save men and women by his death that is utterly consistent with the doctrine of justification by grace through faith alone. Jesus also said that anyone would come after me, must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. He said why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say.

The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete. Jesus told the Jews of his day.

Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

I'm sure you can understand from those teachings and especially from the last one that this is something even more than having good works I criticize certain branches of the evangelical church were teaching that is possible to be saved without good works all be safe and do nothing whatsoever that is good in God's terms and still go to heaven. That is absolutely wrong with these texts are saying not only that the stakes are saying. Not only must be good works, but according to Christ's teaching in Matthew 520 must be good works that even surpass the good works of the scribes and the RC so were the acknowledged religious and moral leaders of the day what Jesus is saying he saying there must be a change in use so great that it lasts your good works that is works by you who have already repudiated good works as having any possible thing to add to your justification as you who have repudiated good works as the basis of your justification, nevertheless, have good works that exceed the good works, even of the scribes and the Pharisees, you are not justified because if you're justified you have the life of God within the life of God within will do the things that God does, which are good works flowing from the perfection of his love John Gerstner, who speaks very well and this theme calls this a built in apologetic for Christianity. And I think he's right because nobody would God to think of a religion like that you see where the kind of people that are concerned about morality, about the doing of good works and the importance of good works.

There is a built-in tendency almost an obsession with achieving our own salvation on the basis of what we do. If on the other hand, where people who have had our eyes open to the necessity of grace. People who realize that we can't save ourselves by our works at all and it is all of the grace of God, well then I tendency our temptation is to eliminate the need of works entirely okay ever think of a religion like that by which you were justified apart from works but which, if you are justified inevitably produces good works. Nobody would God think of that. Therefore, we come teachings like this in Scripture and we say yes this has the ring of truth is must be from God because it glorifies God and at the same time the dozen. The people of God, the kind of things that need to be done of God is glorified by know that for many people, especially those appear that for the first time. That sounds confusing and even contradictory, but it is a problem. The disappears quickly. As soon as you realize that the good works that are done in Christian's that exceed the good works of the scribes and the Pharisees.

The unregenerate moral people of the day that those good works are done by God in the Christian seat. That's why Paul talks as he does in this verse. He says verse 10 we are God's workmanship and because we are God's workmanship. It is God who works in us to do the good works, what Paul says later on in the book of Philippians, where he tells us to work out our own salvation and how he says that work out your own salvation, he says keep it do it, persevere to the end. Do good works, why because he says it's God was at work in you are willing to do of his good pleasure. The thinking goes that point we say will work out our salvation will that it must be of us. Let's depend on ourselves.

It has to be asked to be gone or we say well it's of God that's good, but we were God will do it both as noisy as God was at work in you. Therefore, work it out wordy uses here in verse 10 is creation. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.

I am sure when he wrote that word that he was thinking of the original creation of Adam and the contrast between that original creation and God's new creation of us in Jesus Christ the same kind of contrast, he makes of the fifth chapter of Romans verse 12 and follow when God created the first man Adam. He created and with every capacity for good works. That's what Adam was to do an NFL as we know it is results Adam's nature was corrupted then his corruption passed from him to his children to his children's children and eventually so that everything we do, even when we try to do our very best is contaminated by our sin and even at the best we do it on unworthy motives because we do it to bring glory to ourselves, and not glory to God about QC. Paul says God is intervening to do something absolutely wonderful. God made a first creation, and Adam fell in sin passed upon the race now in case after case is God through his Holy Spirit reaches down and opens our eyes to the truth God re-creates man and women in the image of Christ to now because of his recreation are able to please him know God gives us a new set of senses, spiritually speaking before our rebirth. We had eyes we can see physically, but we were spiritually blind and God opens her eyes. We begin to see spiritual things we'd never seen before and all of life changes for us before that we had in years. But we can only hear physically we couldn't hear God we couldn't understand what God said couldn't hear the voice of Christ and then the voice of Jesus, which itself brings forth life and his people spoke our name on our ears were opened to him, and now we hear his voice, and we respond to his commands. Before this, our minds were darkened.

As Paul says in Romans, all we could understand as the world understands we mixed it all up and when we tried to think about spiritual things didn't make sense to us. It seemed like well it had to be BIOS and God had to take us on our terms and we were hostile to God and rebellion of our minds. Then God gave us new minds and the ability to see things differently. Everything was transformed. Now we find our selves feeding upon his word rejoicing and what God is Don loving them for what he's done.

I'm beginning to have our minds renewed day by day as Paul says in the 12th chapter of Romans verses one into before our rebirth, our hearts were hard, our hearts were hard against God, and they weren't even very soft toward one another.

We were in this life and what we could get out of it. Now God has softened our hearts, giving us hearts of flesh, and we find love going out to God because he loves. We love him and because of that we also find ourselves loving one another's out of that love the Lord Jesus Christ within us that we begin to do the kind of things that Jesus himself talked about in Matthew's gospel what he said those were my sheep will feed the hungry, good first to the thirsty visit the sick, comfort them, go to those in prison and help people of all kinds and in all places my study. I have a book by the distinguished Dr. Dr. Paul Brandt called fearfully and wonderfully made this Dr. Dr. Brandon is the chief of the rehabilitation departments of the United States government hospital in a small town in Louisiana he's distinguished himself because of his research into the cure and help of leprosy, and in this particular book fearfully and wonderfully made this great doctor and surgeon examines the difference parts of the human body and make spiritual applications, marveling at what one of wonder God is done in creating a manner the woman he talks about the cells and how they function the skin. The bones in the wonders of motion. Every time I read that book, I marvel at God's creation, yet wonderful is that maybe that great creation. Man made in the image of God with all that intricate workmanship is not begin to compare with that new creation, God accomplishes in those who come to him through the Lord Jesus Christ.

These are ones who were spiritually dead and who are made alive. Those who walked according to the prince of this air but do not walk according to righteousness those who were under harassment of now pass into a sphere of love of God and for God, out of which they do good works of the blessing of other men and women in the glory of their heavenly father is prayer our father, we would ask such a text like this might by your grace be used in the lives of many people as we pause to examine our lives and see whether the life of Christ is really there within. We confess that we find it easy to move into abstractions theologically easy for us to talk about being justified by faith, yet important as that is.

We pray that you would keep us from a false kind of security based in words only, and so the life that is utterly separated from the life of Christ. Her father use these words because that kind of self examination which draws us near to Jesus and saving face and which sends us forth from him to serve others in his name in this needy world. We pray in Jesus.

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