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Catechism Class – H/C LD 33, Q91 What Are Good Works


Catechism Class

Lord’s Day 33B Q91 – Good Works (Again)

1 Timothy 4:1-4 

The catechist has already dealt with good works in LD32/86, where he shows that good works are not a means to salvation, but are, rather a grateful response to what the Lord has done for us – establishing the principle that works are an evidence that we have been converted, and never a means of conversion. But in LD34, we are going to be steered through the Ten Commandments, as the ideal standard for what a Christian life should look like, and it’s really important to understand what those works will be, how we will distinguish godly living from basic human obligation, and that our motives for striving to keep the law must be examined.  So we begin with the question… 

What are Good Works?” 

Good Works

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The catechist answers in two ways, first telling us what they are, and then telling us what they are not.  So, let’s see… 

1 What Good Works areOnly those which are done out of true faith, in accordance with the law of God,  and to his glory.  John 15:5  

  • Our good works are a result of our faith in Christ.  Hebrews 11:6  Can an ungodly person do good works?  Yes. Are those good works acceptable to God?  NO!  Nothing that we do will ever please God, unless it is a grateful response to the grace of God in Christ.  In fact all of our works, outside of faith in Christ are sin! Romans 14:23  All our righteous, religious works are like filthy rags in the sight of God. 
  • Our good works are done in obedience to God.  Leviticus 18:4. 1 Samuel 15:22 Our good works are all to be in accordance with God’s law.  God has ordained our moral standards, our religious practices, our family structures etc etc.  We live by the book, and we apply it to our lives if we want to please the Lord in our everyday lives. 
    • INCIDENTALLY – If WORSHIP is a ‘good work, commanded by God, is it ok then to do it in whatever way pleases us?  Or should we be very careful that only what God has actually commanded in his word is introduced into our worship?  In the Reformed Churches we have a doctrine known as the Regulative Principle of Worship.  We believe fervently that our worship should consist only of those things which we are absolutely sure are explicitly sanctioned by God in his Word.  (Perhaps a subject for another time). 
  • Our good works must aim bring glory to God, not to ourselves.  Paul writes about this in 1 Corinthians 10:31  In the sermon on the mount, Jesus talked about people who did religious works, just to get praise for themselves.  Jesus told his disciples that these religious people would have their reward, in the admiration of others, but those showy works hold no currency in the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever we do, we do it for God, for his glory alone, so that he is praised and not us.
    Now there is a negative side to this question and answer…   


2 What Good Works are NOT.   and not those based on our own opinion or on precepts of men 

  • Our good works are not determined by our own notions and ideas.  Otherwise these would be simply subjective. Deuteronomy 12:32   1 Timothy 4:1-4 tells us that the doctrine of mandatory celibacy is actually demonic!  So we just can’t do whatever we want, if we are going to live lives that are God-pleasing.  We can’t make it up as we go along.  My opinion doesn’t count.  God’s Word is our guide and standard. 
  • Good works that are done because we MUST do them, don’t count!  Matthew 15:7-9 cf Isaiah 29:13. Finally, remember that Good Works that we do because we are TOLD to do them don’t count! We practise good works, living the Christian life, to please the Lord, out of a grateful heart, NOT because the church or the pastor or someone else tells us that we must do so. Acceptable good works are not based on the precepts (laws) of men. 

So, again we are confronted with the demands of the Christian Life.  Salvation is God’s free gift.  We cannot earn it or deserve it, or work for it.  But when God saves us, and brings us into His kingdom, he gives us a desire to serve him, and obey him.  It’s why he created us and it’s why he saved us.  Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. 

For reference:-  Jn 15:5; Rom 14:23; Heb 11:6. Lev 18:4; 1 Sam 15:22; Eph 2:10. 1 Cor 10:31.  Deut 12:32; Is 29:13; Ezek 20:18, 19; Mt 15:7-9.


  1. You have a wonderful neighbour who has been really kind to you. They never use bad language, and even sometimes go to a church.  In what sense can you describe that neighbour as a ‘good person.’  _____________________________ Will this be enough to get them to heaven? ____________________________
  2. How do you know if someone really is a Christian?  _________________________________________________ 
  3. As a Christian you want to please the Lord.  Why?  What does Jesus say about how we can please him in John 14:15? ___________________________________________________________________________________
  4. I give a lot of money to the church, and I’m proud of how, when the annual reports are published, everyone can see how generous I am.  I’m, really looking forward to my heavenly reward!”  What’s wrong with this statement? ____________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. Why can we not have a drama team in church on Sunday? ____________________________________________________________________________________

BobMcEvoy July 2020

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