May 21 – 27, 2023
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Study Help: Faith and Works, 47–50; 95–98
“The unselfish labor of Christians in the past should be to us an object lesson and an inspiration. The members of God’s church are to be zealous of good works, separating from worldly ambition and walking in the footsteps of Him who went about doing good.” The Acts of the Apostles, 109
1 SOLELY BY GRACE
1.a. What is the sure foundation of our salvation? Ephesians 2:8, 9
Note: “Salvation is God’s free gift to the believer, given to him for Christ’s sake alone. The troubled soul may find peace through faith in Christ, and his peace will be in proportion to his faith and trust.” The Review and Herald, January 29, 1895
1.b. What is the role of good works in our spiritual life? Ephesians 2:10
Note: “The Lord has ordained that good works shall be rewarded. We are accepted through Christ’s merit alone; and the acts of mercy, the deeds of charity, which we perform, are the fruits of faith; and they become a blessing to us; for men are to be rewarded according to their works. It is the fragrance of the merit of Christ that makes our good works acceptable to God, and it is grace that enables us to do the works for which He rewards us. Our works in and of themselves have no merit. When we have done all that it is possible for us to do, we are to count ourselves as unprofitable servants. We deserve no thanks from God. We have only done what it was our duty to do, and our works could not have been performed in the strength of our own sinful natures.” The Review and Herald, January 29, 1895
2 DEAD WORKS
2.a. What is the meaning of the expression “dead works”? Hebrews 9:14
Note: “True sanctification means perfect love, perfect obedience, perfect conformity to the will of God. We are to be sanctified to God through obedience to the truth. Our conscience must be purged from dead works to serve the living God. We are not yet perfect; but it is our privilege to cut away from the entanglements of self and sin, and advance to perfection.” The Acts of the Apostles, 565
“If God has chosen us from eternity, it is that we might be holy, our conscience purged from dead works to serve the living God. We must not in any way make self our god. God has given Himself to die for us, that He might purify us from all iniquity. The Lord will carry on this work of perfection for us if we will allow ourselves to be controlled by Him. He carries on this work for our good and His own name’s glory.” Selected Messages, Book 3, 200, 201
2.b. How can we be purged from dead works? Isaiah 6:5–7
Note: “Let every soul who claims to be a son or a daughter of God examine himself in the light of Heaven; let him consider the polluted lips that make him ‘undone.’ They are the medium of communication. …
“How many words are spoken in lightness and foolishness, in jesting and joking! This would not be so did the followers of Christ realize the truth of the words, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.’
“Harsh and unkind words, words of censure and criticism of God’s work and His messengers, are indulged in by those who profess to be His children. When these careless souls discern the greatness of God’s character, they will not mingle their spirit and attributes with His service. When our eyes look by faith into the sanctuary, and take in the reality, the importance and holiness, of the work there being done, everything of a selfish nature will be abhorred by us. Sin will appear as it is—the transgression of God’s holy law. The atonement will be better understood; and by living, active faith, we shall see that whatever of virtue humanity possesses, it exists only in Jesus Christ, the world’s Redeemer.” The Review and Herald, December 22, 1896
3 DEAD WORKS (continued)
3.a. What is the result of works which lack faith? Romans 14:23
Note: “We are not perfect, but it is our privilege to cut away from the entanglements of self and sin, and go on unto perfection.” The Upward Look, 99
“The Pharisee goes up to the temple to worship, not because he feels that he is a sinner in need of pardon, but because he thinks himself righteous and hopes to win commendation. His worship he regards as an act of merit that will recommend him to God. At the same time it will give the people a high opinion of his piety. He hopes to secure favor with both God and man. His worship is prompted by self-interest.
“And he is full of self-praise. He looks it, he walks it, he prays it. Drawing apart from others as if to say, ‘Come not near to me; for I am holier than thou’ (Isaiah 65:5), he stands and prays ‘with himself.’ Wholly self-satisfied, he thinks that God and men regard him with the same complacency.
“ ‘God, I thank thee,’ he says, ‘that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.’ He judges his character, not by the holy character of God, but by the character of other men. His mind is turned away from God to humanity. This is the secret of his self-satisfaction.
“He proceeds to recount his good deeds: ‘I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’ The religion of the Pharisee does not touch the soul. He is not seeking Godlikeness of character, a heart filled with love and mercy. He is satisfied with a religion that has to do only with the outward life. His righteousness is his own—the fruit of his own works—and judged by a human standard.
“Whoever trusts in himself that he is righteous, will despise others. As the Pharisee judges himself by other men, so he judges other men by himself. His righteousness is estimated by theirs, and the worse they are the more righteous by contrast he appears. His self-righteousness leads to accusing. ‘Other men’ he condemns as transgressors of God’s law. Thus he is making manifest the very spirit of Satan, the accuser of the brethren. With this spirit it is impossible for him to enter into communion with God. He goes down to his house destitute of the divine blessing.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 150, 151
3.b. What is the source of dead works? James 2:17, 26
4 THE SOURCE OF TRUE GOOD WORKS
4.a. How do true good works come into being? Isaiah 26:12; John 7:37–39
Note: “Love is the basis of godliness. Whatever the profession, no man has pure love to God unless he has unselfish love for his brother. But we can never come into possession of this spirit by trying to love others. What is needed is the love of Christ in the heart. When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within—when the sunshine of heaven fills the heart and is revealed in the countenance.
“It is not possible for the heart in which Christ abides to be destitute of love. If we love God because He first loved us, we shall love all for whom Christ died. We cannot come in touch with divinity without coming in touch with humanity; for in Him who sits upon the throne of the universe, divinity and humanity are combined. Connected with Christ, we are connected with our fellow men by the golden links of the chain of love. Then the pity and compassion of Christ will be manifest in our life. We shall not wait to have the needy and unfortunate brought to us. We shall not need to be entreated to feel for the woes of others. It will be as natural for us to minister to the needy and suffering as it was for Christ to go about doing good.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 384, 385 [Author’s emphasis.]
4.b. What did Paul say about the basis of his spiritual life? Galatians 2:20, 21
Note: “Paul realized that his sufficiency was not in himself, but in the presence of the Holy Spirit, whose gracious influence filled his heart, bringing every thought into subjection to Christ. He spoke of himself as ‘always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.’ 2 Corinthians 4:10. In the apostle’s teachings Christ was the central figure. ‘I live,’ he declared, ‘yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ Galatians 2:20. Self was hidden; Christ was revealed and exalted.” The Acts of the Apostles, 251
5 DIVINE PURPOSES FOR GOOD WORKS
5.a. What did Christ say about the purpose of good works? Matthew 5:16
Note: “Practical work will have far more effect than mere sermonizing. We are to give food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, and shelter to the homeless. And we are called to do more than this. The wants of the soul, only the love of Christ can satisfy. If Christ is abiding in us, our hearts will be full of divine sympathy. The sealed fountains of earnest, Christlike love will be unsealed.
“God calls not only for our gifts for the needy, but for our cheerful countenance, our hopeful words, our kindly handclasp. When Christ healed the sick, He laid His hands upon them. So should we come in close touch with those whom we seek to benefit.
“There are many from whom hope has departed. Bring back the sunshine to them. Many have lost their courage. Speak to them words of cheer. Pray for them. There are those who need the bread of life. Read to them from the word of God. Upon many is a soul sickness which no earthly balm can reach nor physician heal. Pray for these souls, bring them to Jesus. Tell them that there is a balm in Gilead and a Physician there.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 417, 418
5.b. What will be the result of faith which works by love and purifies the soul? Galatians 5:5, 6; Romans 8:24
Note: “In the night of spiritual darkness God’s glory is to shine forth through His church in lifting up the bowed down and comforting those that mourn.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 417
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What is the place of good works in Christian life?
2 What are dead works?
3 What is the relation between justification by faith and good works?
4 What is the source of all good works?
5 How can the world know that we really believe in Christ?
Copyright 2005, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia 24019-5048, U.S.A.