This title might raise some red flags for those of us who take Ephesians 2:8-9 at its word:
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.
We touched briefly on this verse yesterday. We can’t leave out verse 10, though:
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
So even the “good works” that we do are given to us by a loving and gracious God. He works both in and through us, for the purpose of seeking and saving the lost.
Let’s turn to Acts 9:36-43 for an illustration of what it looks like to walk in the good works that God prepared for us. Tabitha was a woman, a disciple, living in Joppa. The second part of verse 36 tells us that she was “full of good works and acts of mercy.”
Now, before Luke (the writer of the book of the Acts of the Apostles) even tells us about her story, he is sure to tell us these two things: she was a disciple, and she was full of good works. Notice that he doesn’t say she was full of good works and was a disciple. The order follows the truth of our Ephesians 2:8-10 verses above. Faith through grace, and then follow the good works, prepared for us. Tabitha was walking in those good works without a doubt.
As we read on, we learn that she grew very ill, and died. In the midst of their funeral preparations, they heard that Peter was nearby, and they send for him. Acts 9:39 gives us a clue about the sort of mercy work she was doing in her life. The women, the widows, who are mourning her have with them tunics and other clothing she had made for them. She had clearly made an impact on their lives, and they mourned the loss.
Luke goes on to tell us that Peter comes to them, and God uses him to raise Tabitha from the dead. Verse 42, though, shows us the greater good that He was working through first Tabitha’s good works, and then through her death and raising.
And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
This is at the heart of Christian good works, of Christian vocation: making known the love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Tomorrow, we’ll have a tutorial by Grace Hughes, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear about some people you know that are “full of good works”, that God is doing great things in and through their lives.