The Purpose of Good Works

“So, what exactly is the purpose of good works in the Christian life?”


1) Is it to gain a right standing before God or be accepted by Him? Is it to try and appease His infinite, holy, and just wrath against our sin? Is it to earn our own salvation from the right wages of our sin, spending an eternity in conscious bodily torment as the just penalty for our offense against God?

No, because salvation cannot be earned. Rather, it is a free gift of God. The Word of God reads:

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6.23

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2.8-9


2) Does this question seem irrelevant? Are works to even play a part in the Christian life since salvation is by grace? 

Yes. Works do play a part. In fact, they are a vital part of the Christian life, as they serve to validate the Christian faith:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? … So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead … For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.” – James 2.14-17, 26


3) Is it to make much of the Christian? Is it to make moral the pagan man? Is it to clean up that which would otherwise be filth? Is it to exalt the Christian that he might appear good before others? Is it to puff-up the Christian in order to look down his nose at others?

No. While genuine salvation does cleanse, it is not about spreading the cause of morality or elevating self-image. Rather, it is about making much of God:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5.16


So, what is the purpose of good works? To point those around us to the Father. This can be evangelistic if we find ourselves in the company of non-believers or it can be for the purpose of building up the body of Christ when in the company of fellow believers. However, it is always to validate the profession of faith we have already made and affirm the salvation we have already freely received, to the glory of God, the Father.

About Elizabeth

I am a sinner, saved by grace striving to increase in the knowledge of my Savior and His precious Word each day. The reader should know that there are a few presuppositions with which I approach this blog: 1) I believe in the biblical gospel, which basically purports that all mankind is born under the curse of sin (due to the sin of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden). Therefore, man is separated from God and can have no relationship with God because He is perfectly holy, not even able to look upon sin. Unfortunately, God is also perfectly just and must not only separate Himself from sin, but must also punish it. In order to reconcile man to Himself, God, the Father, sent God, the Son, down to earth to live as a man and take our sins upon Himself on the cross. While on the cross, God, the Son, bore the full weight of the wrath of God, the Father, against our sins in order that we who believe in Him might be set free from the curse of our sin. God, the Son, Jesus Christ, died as a propitiation for our sin in order to appease God, the Father's, holy and just character, redeem us from sin, and reconcile those who believe in this gospel to God, the Father. 2) I am primarily writing to those who already believe in this biblical gospel. In other words, this blog is not focused on evangelizing the lost, but edifying believers. 3) I believe that the Christian Bible is the very word of God. Therefore, it is completely inerrant, infallible, sufficient, and authoritative in the life of a believer.
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