Good Works: H.C. Question 91

What are good works? 

John 15:5 – “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Leviticus 18:4 – You must obey my laws and be careful to follow my decrees. I am the Lord your God.

1 Samuel 15:22 – But Samuel replied: “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Ephesians 2:10 – For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Deuteronomy 12:32 – See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it.

Isaiah 29:13 – The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

Ezekiel 20:18-19 – I said to their children in the wilderness, “Do not follow the statutes of your parents or keep their laws or defile yourselves with their idols. I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

Matthew 15:7-9 – You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”



2 Corinthians 9 – Cheerful Giving

Read 2 Corinthians 9

In a number of ways, 1 Corinthians 9 almost feels like a rehashing of the previous chapter.  Many of the same themes are present as Paul continues to talk about the same collection that is being taken for the church in Jerusalem.  Yet, where Paul was talking about the amount of giving in chapter 8, his focus shifts specifically to the attitude and heart of the giver here in chapter 9.

Paul points out in chapter 8 that the eagerness of the church in Corinth to give to this cause is a test of the sincerity of their love.  He then encourages them to give as they are able and even to go beyond that in some cases.

Here Paul points out once again that this is not a Law, and no one should give reluctantly, but rather, it should be done with a cheerful heart.  He draws on some themes from the book of Psalms here as well.  God does not desire sacrifice, the Psalmist writes in Psalm 51.  Rather, God desires a contrite heart, something that He would never turn down.

More important that the amount that is given is the attitude in which it is given.  In a world driven by money and material wealth, that is not always an easy thing for us to do.  We feel as though we have earned this money through our hard work, but what we fail to recognize is the blessing of God to bring us here in the first place.  God “supplies seed to the sower…”; He is always the primary mover in these things.  Everything that we have comes from Him and so, in an expression of thanksgiving to Him we give, joyfully thanking God for the blessings He has given us and trusting that He will continue to provide for our every need.



Acts 5 – Giving Everything

Read Acts 5

The story of Ananias and Sapphira comes on the heels of chapter 4’s conclusion that the believers had all things in common and because of this, no one among them was needy.  How this came to be, apparently, was through the selling of possessions and pooling their money.  It is a testimony to them living out Jesus’ teaching to love one another and to care for those that are marginalized.  In fact, most of the early church was made up of those on the fringes of society who have found both healing and redemption in Jesus’ name.

So when this couple comes to them, pretending to be a part of them, and yet still holding on to selfish motives, Peter calls them out.  It isn’t that what they did in principle was wrong.  In fact, Peter tells them that the money was theirs to do with as they pleased.  Indeed, it was the principle of the matter; true benevolence is a matter of the heart, not founded on empty actions or lies.  God doesn’t truly care about money, He wants your heart.

Remember the story of the widow’s mite in Luke 21?  Her offering amounted to throwing a penny in the offering plate, but it was honored by Jesus because of her willingness to give everything she had.

Contrast the beginning and end of this chapter.  A couple lies about their giving and winds up dead.  Peter and John continue preaching the Gospel, fully determined to spread the news about Jesus.  They hold nothing back, wind up in prison and are flogged for teaching about Jesus in the synagogue.  Yet here they have found true life and even rejoice in the persecution “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”  What a stark difference!



Mark 10 – The 1%

Read Mark 10

A lot of emphases is often placed on the “top 1%” of our society.  People in this category range from Hollywood stars to successful business people, athletes to politicians.  Often, these folks are idolized for their wealth and success, sometimes even envied, yet there are things, the most important things, that money and material wealth cannot buy.

In his interaction with Jesus, the “Rich Young Ruler” does everything he can to give the impression that he has his life all together.  It seems as though he is looking for Jesus to verify that he is on the right track for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Jesus’ answer, however, stuns him.

Scripture says, “He went away sad because he had great wealth.”  Literally reading this, it means that he “owned much property.”

This seems to be the story of his life.  He did everything right, followed all the laws, and even obtained vast material blessing.  However, what He missed was the very core of what God desires from us: our heart.  The true nature of this man’s heart is revealed when he is asked to give up the things he has many of.

Jesus’ answer, though, indicates the priority of the heart of God too.  Not only does God want us to give Him our hearts, He also desires our hearts to be for those around us.  Never in Scripture do we find encouragement to gain wealth for our own sake, to horde money and resources for gaining power for ourselves. God’s heart and His desire for the hearts of His people is to care for the marginalized.  Perhaps, though, there is a not so hidden truth here: when our heart is for God and for others, blessing and wealth, that of the God’s Kingdom, will truly be found.