5. Good works

  1. Not all works meet God’s expectations of us. Only good works are good for God. God wants us to do good works.63
  2. Good works are works done from faith in God, with and for God. God is the only source of value; He is the source of all who and what we are, of all that we have and all that we know. He is the only one who gives our work real meaning. God makes our work good. Good works are good not because we are good but because God is good. The value of work lies in how God values our work and therefore not how we or other people value it. Therefore, good works are in God.
  3. Work that does not stem from a true vision of who God is and what He has promised is not true work. The point of reference for what good works are is God’s good works. The point of reference for what a good worker is is God as the good worker. Good works reflect God’s holy deeds. A good worker reflects God’s holy character. Good works and good workers are according to God’s word, law, and revelation, and they are according to His heart.
  4. Good works are works that originate from our faith. Works without faith in God cannot be64 all faith in God is a prerequisite for good works for God.65 If we deny that God exist, then we thereby deny that we work for God.
  5. Good works are works that come from our hearts.66 Good works are not works that we do because we have to, or because others expect them of us, or because they will benefit us, but because we want to serve God by doing them. Our heart determines who we worship through our work. Therefore, works done out of purely unconscious habit cannot be good works, neither are works that are considered as checklists.
  6. Good works are the result of acceptance by God and not the means or basis of our acceptance by Him. Good works are made possible by faith in Christ. Good works are our heartfelt response to God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Our good works are the result of and response to Jesus’ redemption work. We are saved by faith and grace and not because of our works.67 But our works are of vital importance to God: He created us to work well. We are not saved by our works, but by Jesus’ work so that we can work. In Jesus we have been recreated to do good works.68 Through Jesus’ good work we can do good works.69
  7. Works are meaningless and senseless if they are not done unto God. A good work is not good if God is not considered as its end. Works that are not good are a shame and a sin, no matter how good they are by earthly standards. Not seeing God’s purpose in our work makes our work in vain, useless, and even harmful.70
  8. Ultimately the question is not whether we work well for God but whether God works in us. We do not work for God, but God works in and through us. It’s about letting God work in our work, giving Him the leadership, putting Him in control over us and our work. God does not work with us, but we work together with Him.
  9. Our work becomes divine when we worship God with it, when we serve God, see God as the highest purpose, experience Him as the ultimate source of our fulfillment and identity, when God comes into our work, and it becomes, is, and remains God’s work. Even the lowest, tiniest, and most humble work embodies the highest and greatest purpose when done as an act of worship.
  10. Since God is the source of good and of our work, the work is not the only gift from God to us, but so are all the good works we may do. Good works are not ours but God’s. Work is therefore giving back and passing on what we receive from God. God gladly accepts good works. God’s blessing on our work is the seal of approval.71 With God’s blessing, God says that our work is good. Every working day is a day of jubilation: that we give back to God the fruits of our labor.
  11. Good works are not merely extraordinary works, rather they are precisely the ordinary, everyday works that God uses. However, good works are extraordinary because God is present in them.
  12. Good works need not be perfect, exemplary works. Only God is perfect. Our work is burdened with sin; what we do is broken and imperfect. With God, good is good enough. Our work is often not good enough by earthly standards: it must be more, better, bigger, easier, and faster. God doesn’t think like this. God accepts our works as long as we desire to serve Him with them.
  13. Good works do not involve doing bad works. Bad works ignore God, offend Him, dishonor Him, demean Him.72 Bad works curse God because He is good. Bad works curse God for being good. Sin is when we act like a god in our works because then we ignore God, when we honor our works because then we dishonor Him, when we infringe on God’s works because then we offend Him, when we do not put God first because then we demean Him.
  14. Good works are more than just not doing bad works. Christian faith is not a passive assent to the truth of the gospel. Christian faith is about being activated; it is not about doing nothing but doing something and doing the right things. Not doing that which is good when we know and can do it is not only a missed opportunity but also a sin.73 Frequently missing opportunities to do the good is totally sinful.
  15. Good works do not only take place in a community of faith or church. Everywhere we work, we can do good works. Good works is reserved not only for spiritual workers but for every person who works in God’s Spirit.


  1. God is good; therefore, He loves good works and desires us to do good works. Bad works curse God’s goodness, therefore He disapproves of them.
  2. Because God always does good, He also wants us as His creatures, children, and workers to always do good;74 and not do it half-heartedly, but fully, completely, and radically.75 Serving God in our work is a full-time not a part-time occupation. To be a Christian in everything else except in work is impossible. Being a Christian permeates life, including works and occupation. To exclude God from our work is to exclude Him from our lives. Christianity is not a coat that we take off when we start working.
  3. Because God abounds in good works, He also wants us to abound in our good works.76 He wants us to do not just some good works but to do plenty of them, to do them incessantly, and to create and use every opportunity to do good works. If we have the opportunity, we must never withhold good from others.77 God desires that we always seek the good in everything.78 Every work we do must contribute to God’s work in the world. Seeking good is not seeking gold but seeking God.
  4. By performing good works abundantly, we become rich, not by earthly standards, but in good works.79 There is no better investment than performing good works. Good works on earth have heavenly value. We contribute to God’s kingdom through good works, and God’s dividend is of eternal value.80
  5. By performing plenty of good works, we are answering God’s call to a holy life. When we are called to live holy lives, this also means to work in a holy way:81 to do good works in everything, to work ceaselessly for the glory of God, and to take advantage of opportunities to work well.
  6. Precisely because God cares so much about the work we do and the way we work, He gives many of us plenty of abilities and opportunities to do good works. God equips us to do good works. He trusts us to do good works and entrusts His creation to us.82 If God did not trust people to do their works, He would not have made people but robots.
  7. God gives us the freedom to do good works so that we can work out of love for Him and His creation. However, this also gives us the freedom to do bad works. God gives us freedom and responsibilities. He trusts us to be faithful to Him in our work. Therefore, it hurts God when we misuse His trust in us, when we are unfaithful to Him.
  8. God gives us the confidence to do good works.83 In Christ, we already have what other people work for: preservation, life, peace, self-esteem, and acceptance. Thus, we can focus on doing good works. God accepts us regardless of our good works, thus allowing us to excel in good works. Our vindication frees us to serve God and humanity because we no longer have to worry about our own acceptance before God. God does not liberate us from work; He liberates us to work. In our work, we can exercise our freedom in Christ to honor God. Jesus saves us so that we strive to do good works.
  9. God’s gospel makes us joyful to do good works because it means we can obey freely from our hearts, and not from fear of what God might do to us if we don’t or from self-interest to please God with good works. Our vindication depends solely on God accepting us wholly and completely, regardless of our works, through our faith in Christ.84 And precisely because God accepts us without any merit on our part, but out of pure, free grace, this leads to great and pure joy, love, and eagerness to do good works.85 In our works, we can show our joy in Christ to honor God.
  10. To the extent that we do our work well through God’s grace, our work will be part of God’s Kingdom. This motivates us once again to do our work as well as possible and to do as many good works as possible. We work in two worlds.86 Although these worlds overlap, we work first for God and in His Kingdom, and second, for humanity and in the world. Therefore, we have a double passport, wear two hats, and the services we perform count double.
  11. God can make good works even better.87 Doing God’s work in God’s way will never lack God’s support. God can fix the fracture in good works. God can even multiply the fruits of good works.88 God can re-use work that is insignificant to us for the salvation and blessing of other people.

  1. Matthew 5:16, Matthew 7:21, Titus 2:14, Titus 3:8
  2. Romans 14:23
  3. Romans 3:20
  4. 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 Corinthians 15:58, Ephesians 6:7
  5. Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 2:8-9
  6.  John 15:16
  1. Psalm 127:1-2, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
  2. 1 Corinthians 15:58
  3. Psalm 90:17, Jeremiah 17:10
  4. Romans 2:24
  5. James 4:17
  6. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
  7. Proverbs 11:24-25, 2 Corinthians 8:2
  1.  John 15:8, 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Galatians 6:9
  2.  Proverbs 3:27, Galatians 6:10
  3. Amos 5:14, 1 Corinthians 10:31, 1 Thessalonians 5:15
  4. 1 Timothy 6:18
  5. Isaiah 49:4, Matthew 6:19-20, Romans 2:6, 1 Corinthians 3:14,
     Colossians 3:23-24
  6. Leviticus 11:45
  7. Psalm 8:7
  8. 2 Corinthians 3:12
  9.  Titus 2:14
  10.  Luke 7:47
  11. 1 Peter 2:11
  12. John 14:12
  13. Ezekiel 36:30


  1. Do I think that the above-given definition of “good works” is good, too limited, or too demanding? (#1-14))
  2. Does the above-given definition of good works make sense to me or are there contradictions in it? (#1-14)
  3. Do I think our work can become divine? (#9)
  4. Is there a difference between working well and good works? (#4-13)
  5. Is there a difference between working well and working in a holy way? (#20)
  6. How do I define good works? (#1-14)
  7. How do I define bad works? (#13)
  8. Looking at my own work, to what extent is it good? And what, if anything, does it lack?
  9. Would I be able to explain how my work can contribute to Gods Kingdom? And could I make this concrete for my past works? (#19 and #25)?
  10. Do I think that God trusts me in my work? If so, how is this manifested? (#21-22)
  11. Do I think a Christian can be abundant in good works? Or does God not require this of us? (#18)
  12. Do I think of myself as being abundant in good works? Or to put it better: do I think God thinks I am abundant in good works? (#18)
  13. If I think my work should and could be better, what should I concretely do to make it happen?
  14. If I had to stop working now, what would I regret not having done more of? And is this then something I should prioritize as long as I still work?
  15. Do I feel confident to do good works? If not, what needs to happen so I will? And what can I do about this? (#23)
  16. Do I feel joy to perform good works? If not, what needs to happen so I will? And what can I do about it? (#24)
  17. Do I think that a Christian works in two worlds? If so, does this also apply to me? And how is this manifested and how do I experience it? (#25)
  18. Do I have (my own) examples of God multiplying the fruit of good works? (#26)
  19. Having read this chapter, what will I say to God about it the next time I pray?
  20. What other question would I like to ask myself after reading this chapter?
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