In our current series we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism published in 1648. In previous weeks we’ve seen that God made a ‘covenant of works’ with us which we broke with sin. But God also made a ‘covenant of grace’, which means God graciously gives us many things, including his Spirit to produce obedience in us. This week I want to begin look at why that obedience is so valuable.
One of the reasons God produces good works in us by his Spirit is so that we can have evidence to the truth of our faith. Part of the struggle for a Christian is doubt over whether their faith is genuine. We know that if we believe in Christ we will be saved. But how do you know that you have the faith that saves?
Enter good works. Good works help prove your faith as genuine saving faith. James teaches precisely this: ‘But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend”’ (James 2:18-23). James point is clear, many can claim belief in God, after all even Satan believes in God. But saving faith is always accompanied by good works. Thus good works become a badge of genuine faith. They don’t save you from sin, but they do show that you are saved.
The apostle John teaches the same thing: ‘We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did’ (1 John 2:3-6).
So do you know that you are saved because the Spirit graciously produces good works in your life?