Good Works in Difficult Times

Paul says we are God’s workmanship created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). The Bible is clear that salvation is never through our good works but through Christ alone, the lamb of God sacrificed on the cross for the sins of the world (Titus 3:4-7). Scripture is also clear that our faith in Christ is put on display through good works, the divine acts of love done by God’s redeemed. These good works allow others to learn more about our Savior, Jesus Christ. James teaches that we show our faith by our works which are inseparable from saving faith. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).

Paul writes to Titus about what a living faith is and what it does in the local church. Members of local churches by the very nature of conversion will be involved in the good deeds of the local church, demonstrating the sufficiency of Christ in the Christian soul. As children of God, Christ is the overflow in our lives (Col. 2:9-10), influencing the church and those who need Christ in every area of our lives (Col. 3-4). How we love our families, raise our children, do our jobs, serve in the church, work in the community, these are all good works in Christ Jesus.

God the Spirit has led many in our church body to persevere in living their faith through good works, especially during our difficult last two years. Paul reminds Titus and each of us of the bad works we once did before knowing Christ (Titus 1:10-11; 3:3) and the need to protect the church from those who continue to walk in these bad works (Titus 3:10-11). Paul begins this letter reminding Titus of how God started the good work in Paul himself. We learn how before the foundation of the world, God’s work of choosing us, which came to fruition the day we were born again, was a good work done upon our souls in eternity past so that we would now be able to do good works (Titus 1:1-3).

Nature of Good Works

Good works is second nature to true saving faith. It is God’s power and grace that saves and gives us a living faith and sustains the ability for every good work done by the believer (Titus 3:1-5). God’s grace appeared in the form of Christ. Once we are born again, God’s grace instructs us to be immediately active in a living faith, not dead or evil works. Good deeds are sourced in God’s action upon our souls. Our triune God is fully initiating the good work of saving faith in Titus 3:4-8. God allowed Christ to appear. God saves. God is merciful. God’s Spirit washes and renews. God poured out His Spirit on us richly through Christ. God justifies by His grace. God makes us heirs in Christ Jesus. We can spiritually breathe because God enacted His grace on our souls. We are no longer dead but alive in Christ. Paul concludes that those who are saved by faith through Christ are to be engaged in good deeds. Conversion and good works are inseparable. God’s saving work is the free choice of His good pleasure to the praise of His glorious grace. This is the nature of good works by a living faith empowered by God.

Nurture of Good Works

The nurture of these good deeds is by the Spirit of God just as He renews the spirit of a person at conversion. God has called specific groups and individuals to nurture good works in the church: elder/overseer (Titus 1:5-9), older men (Titus 2:2), older women (Titus 2:3-5), employees (Titus 2:9-10). The characteristics expected of these different groups are good works as they demonstrate living faith (Titus 2:7-9). Even during difficult times, we do these things together as a flock.

Next Things

A church that understands the nature and nurture of good works will be spiritual light. Paul was convinced that the church’s mission is to make disciples not transform the culture into a just society (Acts 9). Paul took the gospel to not only the Jew but also to the Gentile. Paul’s personal spiritual influence is seen in Titus 1:4, as he had personally led Titus to Jesus Christ, who was his son in the faith. Paul was actively living the good work of disciple-making and spiritual reproduction. In Titus, we recognize the extent of the influence of our good deeds as we reach the lost and are to continue living faith in the midst of darkness as a church body. Nature leads to the nurture of the saints, not only in Crete under Titus’s shepherding, but in other local churches doing good works among one another for gospel advancement (2 Tim. 4:19-22). The evangelistic next things naturally happen in Crete and are also attached to an interdependent work of likeminded believers in other local churches. Paul finishes this letter with people who are not members of Crete, encouraging Crete to be actively involved with the protection, provision, and progression of the gospel with these people. Our church lives a collective why together as a body, working with other church bodies of similar doctrine and practice for the good work of advancing the gospel.

Application Points

  • Are you allowing the grace of God to develop you in relationship to good deeds among our church body for the progress of the gospel?
  • Do you need help in determining what your spiritual gifts are and how to use them in our church body?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Romans 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12:1-31, 14:12; Eph. 4:7-13; 1 Peter 4:10-11 – Spiritual Gifts