The Meaning of “Good Work” in the Reformed Tradition.


Works are only “good works” if they’re things God commands us to do in his Word. They are not the works, actions or programs with good intentions made up without any basis in Scripture, even if they are done with zeal and humanistic purposes.

True good works are the fruit of a lively and true faith. They are done to obey God’s commands, his holy will, and by them we show our gratefulness to God for our salvation only by grace through faith. It helps us to celebrate the salvation we were given by God according to his sovereign will.

If we do God’s will it will build up our brothers and sisters and make our testimony about God’s love, grace and mercy believable.

Our Biblical good works shut the mouths of God’s enemies.

And they glorify God. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works – Ephesians 2:10”.

They are done only to the glory of God.”  


Our Holy Spirit inspired works lead to our sanctification and help us to look forward to joyful eternal life.


Our ability to do good works definitely doesn’t come from ourselves, but only from the Holy Spirit. So we need to be diligent to stir up the grace of God that is already in us.


Even people who obey God well in this life are never are able to go above and beyond the call of God’s duty. In fact, we will always fall short of many things God requires us to do.


Our best works will not earn us forgiveness of sin or eternal life with God – even our best works are completely unequal to the eternal glory still to come.

The distance between us and God is infinite. We cannot benefit God by our works or satisfy the debt of our sins. When we have done all we can, we have simply done our duty and we became God’s imperfect servants.


But despite our short comings and imperfections, God accepts us who believe through Jesus Christ our Lord. He accepts our lives, works and intentions, because our Lord looks at us through his Son, our Redeemer and Saviour. So, God wants to accept and reward what we do as sincere, even if it will in this life remains weak and imperfect.


When we strive to live holy lives and do what is good for God’s glory, for the well being of his Church and the benefit of our brothers and sisters and our neighbour, they come from God’s saving grace and from the gift of true faith.


So our good works can please God and profess that by the grace of God we became carriers, though in our limited human way, of the image of our Creator and that we live only according to the Word, only by grace, only through faith and above all, only to the glory of God, only through the work and power of Jesus Christ, our Lord.