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Catechism Class, LD24, Q63-64


Rewards and Fruits

Lord’s Day 24, Q63-64

These two questions are really follow-up lessons, from Q62, where we are taught that our good works cannot save us. Obviously knowing this will raise important questions in our minds, like, “If our good works are all tainted with sin, why does the Bible tell us that God will reward us for our good works?” And, perhaps even more critical, “If good works cannot save us, then can a Christian believer live a life of carelessness and debauchery, and still go to heaven?” Here’s our two catechism questions, and the answers we must give:  

Q63. But do our good works earn nothing, even though God promises to reward them in this life and the next? A. This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.  

Q64.Does this teaching not make people careless and wicked? A.  No. It is impossible that those grafted into Christ by true faith should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.  And those are our subjects for this lesson. Let’s begin then by stating that…


1. Our Good Works are Rewarded by God! Q63

This seems like a contradiction! Good works cannot earn God’s approval, but good works are rewarded by God! In fact the Bible teaches us that on judgment day, we will be judged according to our WORKS! Revelation 20:11-15. You can understand why the ungodly would be condemned by their sinful works, – if even their best works fall short of God’s standards. But how does God judge the believer by his works? Remember that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the Christian, credited to the believer’s account. When God looks at us he sees Christ, his perfection, his sinlessness, and we are declared not guilty. But the Bible goes further than that. Our feeble, imperfect works are rewarded by God! READ: Matthew 5:12 Hebrews 11:6   We will be REWARDED in heaven. The catechist deals with this apparent  contradiction when he teaches us that “This reward is not earned; it is a gift of grace.” Put simply, God rewards the imperfect works of the believer because it pleases him to do so.  READ Luke 17:10  God rewards his children, not because their feeble, imperfect works have any merit, but because he loves them, and wants to bless them. That’s grace, getting something that you haven’t earned and that you don’t deserve.  READ 2 Timothy 4:7-8 

2. Can a Christian Live a Sinful Lifestyle? Q64

This is really relevant today, when churches around the world are teaching that there are ‘gay Christians’ – people who claim to be followers of Christ, but who are continuing to practice lifestyles that are contrary to the Scriptures, and therefore the opposite to a God-pleasing life. Can you be a Christian and continue to willingly and openly sin? Does this teaching not make people careless and wicked?   The answer is NO! The catechist tells us that It is impossible that those grafted into Christ by true faith should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness. His use of the word ‘grafted’ is interesting. We have been ‘grafted into Christ.’ He’s using horticultural language to describe our relationship with Christ, just as Jesus himself did, in John 15:5  Because we are drawing our life from Christ, as an engrafted branch draws its sap from the host plant, it is impossible for us not to be producing good fruit in our lives.  So,

  • Just as Christ has forgiven us, we will forgive others.
  • Just as Christ loves us, and loved us when we were still unlovable, we will love our neighbours as ourselves, in fact we will love our enemies and pray for them!
  • Just as Christ demonstrates mercy to us, we will show mercy to others…

And so on. Our lives will start to reflect Christ’s life, dwelling in us through the Holy Spirit’s indwelling. Jesus simply took it for granted that his disciples would be known by their good works. READ Matt 5:16, Their good works would be clear evidence that they have been converted. James put this very strongly, in James 2:18-20. What of those then, that continue in their sin, claiming to be Christians? We must conclude that they know nothing of Christ, or of his saving work, and that they have never know him. Their future is not bright. Matthew 7:18-20  

Our catechism is divided into three sections. George Bethune summarised it in three words, Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude.  It is gratitude, being thankful, – for Christ’s saving work in Christ, allied to our lives, that is the wellspring of our Christian life, which out-works itself in good works. How can we not be truly grateful for what we have in Christ, guilty sinners, saved by God’s grace, forgiven and eternally secure… Won’t we want to respond in thankful obedience, living for him, a life that shows others that we have been with Jesus? Grace never leads to licence, to careless lives. Grace leads to gratitude, and gratitude to  good works. Let’s quote again that summary we used in our last lesson, “Works are the fruit and not the root of your salvation.” 

© Bob McEvoy

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