Faith and Good Works . . . which comes first?

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» Faith, Works, and the ChurchPhil Ryken

My colleage Aaron Messner concluded his sermon series on Titus on Sunday night, and his comments on Paul’s closing appeal to do good works are well worth sharing:

“If God saves us by grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work of Christ alone, then what is the point of good works?

Ultimately that question reflects an individualistic mindset that is not considering the mission of God in the world. . . . The point, or at least “a point” of good works stems from the fact that God’s purpose is not all about us and our individual salvation. God’s mission is not just to save you, but to save you and use you to bring the message of salvation to the nations, indeed to the entire world. God’s mission is to actually use you and me and all his children to meet the urgent missional needs of believers and unbelievers alike. And those needs are not going to be met by an apathetic, self absorbed, authority rejecting, theologically wayward, legalistic, divisive, lawless, world conforming, disobedient church.

“”While many of us in the church are busy living for ourselves, indulging our own selfish pleasures with money, sex and substances, quarreling with our leaders over theological minutia, refusing to own our own familial responsibilities in keeping with God’s Word, and walking away from the message of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in the work of Christ alone, the mission of God in the world is suffering. People are dying without knowledge of Jesus Christ, Christians across the city and world suffer in material poverty, Christians fail to grow and mature in the faith because of lack of trained leaders.

“Paul’s message here at the end of Titus is that the mission of God, to bring about the obedience of faith among the nations, that mission calls for a Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, grace-proclaiming, well-governed, properly-submissive, self-disciplined, mentor-making, hospitality-practicing, good-work-pursuing church. . . to bring about the full harvest of the nations.”

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