Do Christians Do Good Works?

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            Finally, this brings us to the Christian.  We have already learned that unbelievers do good works externally but cannot do these good works spiritually or inwardly speaking.[1]  However, what about the Christian? Does the Christian do good works?  No and Yes.
            Because the Christian still possesses the sinful nature after conversion the Christian will always be plagued by sinful motives and works that proceed from the flesh.  Christians will also attempt to do good works with their motive and source located in self and natural love for others.  Thus, the Christian will exhibit an imperfect life of sanctification and imperfect good works rooted in things under the sun.
            On the other hand, the Christian will do truly good works.  The Christian will do good works that are sourced in God with motives flowing out of the context of grateful faith.  The Christian will do good works that are prepared in advance for them to do.[2]  The Christian will not be able to take credit for the good works for God created them for the Christian to do; works that are a fruit of one’s justification.  Hollaz defines the good works of a Christian as, “free acts of justified persons, performed through the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit according to the prescription of the divine Law, true faith in Christ preceding, to the honor of God and the edification of men.”[3]  The good works of the Christian will flow outward to their neighbor.  These good works will externally look like natural love, however, these good works are rooted and sourced in faith, faith that is connected to the Gospel.  Thus the good works of a Christian proceeding from faith out towards their neighbor are not classified as natural love but truly good works flowing from a divine love, for we love because He first loved us.[4]
Quenstedt declares, “The works of the regenerate, in themselves considered, are not perfectly good, but are rendered sordid and polluted by the stain of sin; but in Christ they are perfectly good, and in such a sense that what is not done in them is pardoned through and on account of Christ, and what they lack in perfection is compensated for by imputation of the most perfect obedience of Christ.”[5]

Coming Next:  Conclusion to the Series "Understanding Good Works"

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[1] Reminder that what makes a good work essentially good is that it is done in faith; it is done in connection to fear and love for God.  Keep in mind 1 John 4:19 too.
[2] Ephesians 2:10
[3] Hollaz (Doctr. Theol., page 493) quoted in John Mueller’s Christian Dogmatics (Concordia Publishing, 1934), 408.  
[4] See 1 John 4:19.
[5] Quenstedt (Doctr. Theol. Page 493.) quoted in John Mueller’s Christian Dogmatics (Concordia Publishing, 1934), 408.