It is clear that we are not saved by good works. Titus 3:4-5 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Salvation is a gift of God. No one could ever do enough good works to earn salvation. But see the very next verse. 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.” As Christians, we are created for good works. God expects each of us to be full of good works.
There are multiple scriptures in the New Testament that encourage good works. Here are a few. Colossians 1:10 “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” 1 Timothy 2:9-10 “In like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works.” 1 Timothy 6:17-18 “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.” Titus 3:1 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.” Titus 3:14 “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful.”
Our good works are a light to others and bring glory to God. Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” 1 Peter 2:11-12 “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
What are good works? Let us look as some examples from the Bible. When Jesus was in Bethany, shortly before his crucifixion, a woman came with a flask of very costly, fragrant oil and poured it on His head. The disciples were indignant, thinking about the cost, but Jesus said that she had done it for His burial and she had done a good work for Him (Matthew 26:6-13). In Acts 9:36-39 we have the account of a disciple named Tabitha or Dorcus who was described as a woman full of good works and charitable deeds. Since she had just died, Peter was shown the tunics and garments which she had made, most likely as gifts for those in need. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus draws a picture of the judgement in which those who were accepted gave food to the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, took in strangers, and visited the sick and those in prison. Jesus talked about giving a cup of cold water for someone to drink (Matthew 10:42). The apostle Paul said that if a man desires the position of an overseer (elder), he desires a good work (1 Timothy 3:1). Jesus was known for good works. He gave a short description of His works in Luke 7:22b “the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them.” Look at the list of good works expected from a Christian widow that the church would support. 1 Timothy 5:9-10 “Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.” It is interesting that bringing up children is included as a good work. The possibilities for good works are unlimited. When you give of your time and ability and resources to meet the physical or spiritual needs of someone, I understand that to be a good work.
Scripture gives us instruction in righteousness and thus equips us for good works. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Since the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor (see Matthew 22:37-49), good works should flow from your love.
You have been saved by Jesus so that you will be pure and zealous for good works. Titus 2:13-14 “Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Encourage your brother and sister in Christ to have love and good works; the assembly is one place you can do that. Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
My final encouragement to you for good works is a prayer taken from Hebrews 13:20-21 “Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”