And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6-8 (ESV)
So far, we have seen Paul’s heart of thanks for his partnership with the Philippians in the spread of the gospel. He expressed this gratitude to God who worked through them, and he claimed to thank God for the Philippians every time he remembered them.
We now continue Paul’s opening remarks to his beloved brothers and sisters. In these three verses, Paul expresses his confidence that because of their strong display of faith God would ultimately complete the Philippians’ salvation at the day of Jesus Christ. He also emphasizes for them how strongly he yearns for all of them with the affections of Jesus Christ. Let us draw comfort and challenge from this text. May we grow in love for one another as we make ready for Christ’s return.
BLESSED ASSURANCE // VERSE 6
We now come to verse 6, which is one of Philippians’ most frequently cited verses. Dr. Thomas Constable gives us a glimpse as to why this verse is so popular:
This is one of the most comforting verses in the Bible for Christians. Our getting to heaven safely does not depend on us, on our ability to hold on and to persevere faithfully to the end of our lives. The Lord will see to it that we reach heaven safely in spite of our failures and shortcomings. Salvation is God’s work, not man’s (Jon. 2:9). As surely as He has already delivered us from the penalty of sin (Rom. 5:1), He will one day deliver us from the presence of sin (cf. Rom. 8:31-39). (13)
The doctrines and applications of this small sentence are tremendous, so we will eat the elephant piece by piece.
The first question that we must seek to answer is: what good work was begun in the Philippians? Of course, to answer this question, we must remember that our verse is directly tied to verses 3-5 from our previous study. In those three verses, Paul expressed his thanksgiving through prayer to God because of the Philippians partnership with him in the gospel. The present expression of Paul’s confidence in the completion of the Philippians salvation must be understood within this context, especially since Paul refers to their partnership as beginning from the first day until now (v. 5). The good work, therefore, that was begun in the Philippians is their partnership in the gospel.
The next question for understanding this verse must be: what does being brought to completion at the day of Jesus Christ mean? The opening expression of thanks in 1 Corinthians, which parallels Philippians to a great degree, provides a clearer understanding of what exactly is meant by the day of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:4–9 | I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge—even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you—so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
What then is the day of Jesus Christ?
It is His revealing.
It is the day when “the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn!” (2 Peter 3:12).
It is the day when Christ, who first came “to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
It is the final day of vengeance falling upon “those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 1:8), while granting relief to all who are afflict for the sake of Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:6).
In short, the day of Jesus Christ will either be our supreme joy and pleasure or our utter horror and terror.
The final preparatory question we need answered is: who is completing the good work? Paul claims confidence that he will complete the good work that he began in the Philippians, but to whom is Paul referring? The answer is found in verse 3. God, who was the recipient of Paul’s thanks for the Philippians, is now being proclaimed as one who will bring their partnership in the gospel to its completion as they stand before Christ.
God, therefore, is the one who began the good work of their partnership in the gospel in the Philippians, and God will also be the one who completes that work so that they will find joy and peace at the day of Jesus Christ. We now have the clarified mechanics for analyzing and applying the verse more fully.
Understanding this verse in context, enables us to avoid one of the most common errors when quoting our text since it is often cited as a general proclamation that God will complete the salvation process. It has, therefore, contributed to the overused adage, “Once saved, always saved.” Unfortunately, this thought, while deriving from biblical truth, is a severe over-simplification. Indeed, Paul is not speaking of the completion of our salvation as if it were a law of nature: if an apple falls from a tree, it hits the ground; if a person asks Jesus to forgive their sins, he or she will go to heaven when they die. Remember that the good work began in the Philippians is not exactly their moment of justification; rather, the good work is their partnership in the gospel that began at the moment of their justification. As we learned last week, God saved the Philippians and brought them into a fellowship centered upon the message of the gospel and a partnership dedicated to the mission of the gospel. This fellowship/partnership was what caused Paul to constantly thank God for them in joyful prayer because through the gospel, God brought them together in the gospel to the send them into the world for the gospel. It is this partnership that God will complete at the day of Jesus Christ.
Allow me to make clear what I am NOT saying. Salvation is not dependent upon being in community with other Christians. We are saved solely by the death and resurrection of Christ. Even baptism for all its importance, weight, and significance is not necessary for salvation. But like baptism, community is necessary for our assurance of salvation. God designed it to be so.
We can view this at work in church membership. Upon affirming someone as a church member, we declare our sincere belief that they are genuine follower of Jesus, while excommunicating a church member through discipline is a declaration that we can no longer affirm his or her salvation since there is no sign of repentance. Biblical community, therefore, builds the assurance that our salvation is genuine by affirming and safeguarding our faith.
On the converse, this is also why a decay in our walk with the LORD is almost always followed by a withdrawal from community. Just as going for a walk in the sun is both the best thing for someone experiencing depression and often the last thing they want to do, so being around other brothers and sisters is best thing for our sin-filled, joyless souls, while also being the last thing we want to do in those moments. We create all kinds of excuses for avoiding community. Exhaustion seems to be one of the most common ones today for avoiding corporate worship. After a heavy and draining week, the idea of going to church on Sunday is simply too much work, too much hassle. Tragically, this kind of thinking ignores both Jesus’ command to come to Him for rest (Matthew 11:28) and His promised presence among those who gather in His name (Matthew 18:20).
Going beyond the occasional withdrawal from community, what about Christians who blatantly refuse to participate in worship among other believers? Such people often appear to be entirely certain of their salvation when conversing with them. However, based upon texts such as this one, assurance of that kind can be deadly. Apart from community to encourage and correct us, we can easily form our own idea of who God is, either avoiding any Scriptures that contradict it or simply avoiding the Scriptures altogether. As I said before, a failure to participate in Christian community does not necessarily mean that he or she isn’t saved. It does, however, mean that they can have no biblical assurance of their salvation, and indeed, it certainly is an indication of a possible false conversion.
If this describes you, repent.
If you consider yourself to be a Christian, but you avoid being a part of Christ’s Bride and Body, the Church, then this is great evidence that you do not truly know Christ.
Repent of self-assurance, and join the partnership in the gospel.
Having now discussed what this verse is not teaching, let us take note of what it is saying. For all who are partnering together in the gospel, God both started that work and will finish it. Referenced here are all three stages of salvation. Our partnership in the gospel began, as noted last week, because God reconciled us both to Himself and to one another by the blood of the cross. We call this one-time work justification. Our sin is forgiven, and we are legally declared righteous before God. But from this comes the ongoing work of sanctification. In sanctification, we partner with one another in the gospel to kill our indwelling sin and to fulfill the Great Commission. All of this points toward the day when we will be glorified, when our salvation will be complete and we will no longer be capable of sin.
We know that justification and glorification are the works of God on our behalf, but what of sanctification? Once again, consider the verses that we will be studying within a few more weeks:
Philippians 2:12-13 |Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Are we called to do good works for God? Certainly. Do those good works require a willful contribution on our part? Absolutely! Yet even as we participate in our sanctification (which differs from justification and glorification because in them we are simply recipients), God alone gets the glory because our will and works are the result of Him working in us. Therefore, just as we trust God to forgive our sins and save us, we can also trust that He will ultimately save us from our sins because He is currently empowering us to overcome sin and walk in obedience day after day.
The good work of our partnership in the gospel, therefore, is an evidence of salvation, but it does not contribute to our salvation. Walking in obedience to God cannot cleanse previous sins, but it can indicate a heart that has been transformed by the LORD. The beginning, middle, and ending of Christian life is overseen by God; thus, He alone is our hope of heaven and all its joys, a hope that is our “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). In this hope, we have a certainty, a surety along with Paul, that God will complete whatever work He begins.
Christian, are you trusting that God alone can bring you safely into His kingdom, or have you, perhaps subtly, begun to rely upon your own good works?
In what ways do you willingly embrace the safeguards of Christian community to provide assurance of your salvation?
AFFECTIONS OF GRACE // VERSES 7-8
After expressing his deep thanks for the Philippians and his confidence in their perseverance in the faith, Paul now expresses his affection for them. Notice the intimate expressions being used: I hold you in my heart and how I year for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. This “feeling” that Paul has for the Philippians is a key word that is found in nineteen verses in the New Testament, and seven of them are from Philippians. Gordon Fee lauds the NIV’s translation of as “feel” (which is true of the ESV as well) instead of the more common “mind” or “mindset” because it incorporates affections as well as thoughts (89). Thus, as we see Paul continue to urge us throughout the letter to conform our minds to Christ, this verse must be a reminder that doing so is no mere intellectual exercise. God desires our thoughts and affections.
But why is Paul so affectionate for the Philippians? He holds the Philippians in his heart, meaning he keeps his thoughts of them in the very core of who he is. They are in his heart because of their partaking of grace alongside him. Partakers here is another form of the word koinonia or partnership that Paul used in verse 5. He is, therefore, rooting his affection toward them, like his thanksgiving for them, in their gospel-formed community. Not only did they continue to do the work of defending and confirming the gospel in evangelism, preaching, and their daily lives; they also continued to minister to Paul during his imprisonment. Ancient prison systems were far from being as humane as they are today. Often, if a prisoner was not given supplies by family or friends, the prisoner would be left to die, making room for a new prisoner. Over the first couple of centuries in church history, this was often exploited during times of persecution as a form of luring Christians into the open. Officials would arrest and imprison one Christian and then arrest more whenever others came to support and encourage them. Ministering to someone prisoned for the gospel would be done in great seriousness. For these reasons, great was Paul’s affection for the Philippians.
I would now like to focus our attention on Paul’s yearning and affectionate feeling or mindset toward the Philippians, and why it is so important. In his book, You Are What You Love, James K. A. Smith makes the argument that what want, desire, or yearn for is what you truly love. Such a thought may sound simple, but it has many weighty ramifications. For instance, he cites the idea’s presented in Tarkovsky’s 1979 film, Stalker, as an example. In the film, two men are being led by a third man to a place called the Room, where the desires of those who enter are made reality. Unfortunately, the Room grants desires of the heart, not of the mind. When the men arrive, they ultimately refuse to enter after learning of a man killed himself who entered the Room with the desire to bring his brother back to life but was given money instead. Why is it so significant that they didn’t enter the Room? As Smith explains:
What if they don’t want what they think? What if the desires they are conscious of—the one’s they’ve “chosen,” as it were—are not their innermost longings, their deepest wish? What if, in some sense, their deepest longings are humming under their consciousness unawares? What if, in effect, they are not who they think they are? (29)
To learn that we do not want what we think we want means learning that we are not who we think we are. Our wants, desires, and yearnings reveal our true loves. And Paul’s yearning for the Philippians reveals the truth of his love for them and for the God who saved them.
But how can we know that our affections are rooted in the gospel like Paul’s?
Or if we find ourselves with improper longings, how can we stir our affections toward God Himself and our brothers and sisters in the faith?
Smith argues that our affections are shaped by our habits, routines, and liturgies. He gives the example of how shopping in the mall can act as a sort of “cultural liturgy” that stirs up our love for consumerism. He then provides a few more examples:
We could repeat such “liturgical” readings of cultural practices for an entire array of everyday rituals. When you put on these liturgical lenses, you’ll see the stadium in a whole new way, as a temple nationalism and militarism. When you look at the university with liturgical eyes, you’ll start to realize that the “ideas” and “messages” of the university are often less significant than the rituals of frat parties and campus athletics. When we stop worrying about smartphones just in terms of content (what we’re looking at) and start to consider the rituals that tether us to them throughout the day, we’ll notice that the very form of the practice comes loaded with an egocentric vision that makes me the center of the universe. (46)
Our habits and routines act as religious programs that guide what our heart loves, which is why so much of the Christian life seeks to become a rhythm in our lives. In particular, the routines of private spiritual disciplines and corporate worship reshape our desires and loves toward the things of God.
We can see the fruit of private disciplines in last week’s text: Paul’s love for the Philippians is stirred and enlarged by his constant prayer of thanksgiving for the Philippians being made to God. Of course, like justification, we could argue that God alone must form a heart of affection within us, but prayer, like the other spiritual disciplines, is a tool of sanctification that God has graciously given to mold our hearts toward conformity with His.
This is also true of corporate worship. In many places today, weekly worship is attacked as being non-essential to the Christian walk. The argument is typically that faith is an individual matter, so as long as I read the Bible and pray, I can have a healthy relationship with Jesus all by myself. Right?
We could very easily simply refer back to verse 6 showing that true assurance of salvation can only come through partnering with other believers in the gospel, but let’s dismantle this mentality from another passage:
Hebrews 10:24–25 | And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
The author of Hebrews is commanding us to stir up each other into love and good works (quite like what God will one day complete in us). This selfless focus on others is the Christian mentality because it is Christ’s mentality (Philippians 2:5). Regularly meeting together for corporate worship must be our habit for continuing to encourage one another. Just as daily prayer fosters our love of God to whom we pray and for the people for whom we pray, so corporate worship guides our love for our fellow members of Christ’s Body.
The shift of focus upon self as the consumer of worship is one of the gravest evils of the seeker-sensitive movement. Now, don’t get me wrong. Worship should absolutely be done with excellence, and we should make every effort to call sinners to repentance and minimize any unintentional and distracting awkwardness. Yes, and amen! But weekly worship is not at all about what we want; rather, it is, first, about adoring God together and, second, about encouraging God’s saints.
Notice also how the author of Hebrews urges us to do this all the more as you see the Day drawing near. He is, of course, referring to the day of Jesus Christ. As we see the final judgment of all mankind approaching, let us not neglect meeting together to encourage one another to continue partnering the gospel. As we ingrain these habits of grace, we will continue to draw near to Christ and to each other, growing in sanctification and our certainty that God will finish His good work in us on the Day of Jesus Christ.
Can you relate to Paul’s yearning affection for the Philippians to your affection for fellow believers in your life?
How do spiritual disciplines and corporate worship grow our affections for God and His people?
What do your own daily and weekly habits and routines reveal about your yearnings and affections?
2 thoughts on “God Will Finish His Work | Philippians 1:6-8”
Very interesting article, especially the emphasis upon the church, the Body of Christ. Thank you for that. It also contains much more than a conventional defense of “once saved always saved”, which I would like to address now, before posting another comment on good deeds.
(By the way, Jesus does say in Mark 16:16 ““16 Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved;”)
Rom 8:28 “28 We are well aware that God works with those who love him, those who have been called in accordance with his purpose, and turns everything to their good.”
“God works with those who love him,”. God knows from eternity who will respond to Him, and He works with those.
“Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).”
The Bible gives does give evidence that the new birth “can be taken away.”
Rom 8:38-39 does not mean that one cannot lose one’s salvation. That is not what Romans 8:38-39 says. What Rom 8:38-39 says is that: Neither “death”, “life”, “angels” “demons”, “the present” “the future”, “any powers”, “neither height nor depth”, “nor anything else in all creation”, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
That is what it says. All these things are external to us.
Paul clearly teaches that a person can choose to turn away from God himself. No one or thing can take someone from God, but a person can choose to move away from God.
Once saved always saved is absolutely unscriptural. Those who believe it have strayed far from the teachings of Christ. It has become a slogan which cannot be scrutinised or questioned without people being “offended” and unable to examine and consider the weight of the biblical evidence against it.
Gal 5: 1, 4 “1 Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery.
4 …. then you have separated yourself from Christ, you have fallen away from grace.”
1 Tim 5:15 “15 there are already some who have turned aside to follow Satan.”
Heb 3:14 “14 because we have been granted a share with Christ only if we keep the grasp of our first confidence firm to the end.”
Heb 6: 4-6 “4 As for those people who were once brought into the light, and tasted the gift from heaven, and received a share of the Holy Spirit,
5 and tasted the goodness of God’s message and the powers of the world to come
6 and yet in spite of this have fallen away — it is impossible for them to be brought to the freshness of repentance a second time, since they are crucifying the Son of God again for themselves, and making a public exhibition of him.”
2 Pet 2:15, 20 “15 They have left the right path and wandered off to follow the path of Balaam son of Bosor, ….. 20 and anyone who has escaped the pollution of the world by coming to know our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and who then allows himself to be entangled and mastered by it a second time, ends up by being worse than he was before.”
1 Sam 11:6, 18 : 12
11: 6 “6 And the spirit of Yahweh seized on Saul when he heard these words,
18: 12 “12 Saul feared David, since Yahweh was with him and had withdrawn from Saul.”
Ezek 18: 24, 18:24 “24 ‘But if the upright abandons uprightness and does wrong by copying all the loathsome practices of the wicked, is he to live? All his upright actions will be forgotten from then on; for the infidelity of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, he will most certainly die.”
Ezek 33:13 “13 (f)Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die.”
Col 1:21-23 “21 You were once estranged and of hostile intent through your evil behaviour;
22 now he has reconciled you, by his death and in that mortal body, to bring you before himself holy, faultless and irreproachable-
23 as long as you persevere and stand firm on the solid base of the faith, never letting yourselves drift away from the hope promised by the gospel,”
Rev 2: 4-5 “4 Nevertheless, I have this complaint to make: you have less love now than formerly.
5 Think where you were before you fell; repent, and behave as you did at first, or else, if you will not repent, I shall come to you and take your lamp-stand from its place.”
Rev 3: “14 ‘Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea and say, “Here is the message of the Amen, the trustworthy, the true witness, the Principle of God’s creation:15 I know about your activities: how you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other,16 but since you are neither hot nor cold, but only lukewarm, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Rom 11 :22 “22 Remember God’s severity as well as his goodness: his severity to those who fell, and his goodness to you as long as you persevere in it; if not, you too will be cut off.”
1 Tim 5:8, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his own family, he has disowned the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
John 15:5-6 “5 I am the vine, you are the branches.
6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a branch — and withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt.”
To “not remain” in Jesus means that we were in Jesus in the first place, and therefore, can separate ourselves from Him.
As to the nature of good deeds, consider the following. Granted always that we are saved by grace alone, by faith working through love.
The Nature of Good Works.
John 14:10 “10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I say to you I do not speak of my own accord: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his works.
Acts 26:20 “20 On the contrary I started preaching, first to the people of Damascus, then to those of Jerusalem and all Judaean territory, and also to the gentiles, urging them to repent and turn to God, proving their change of heart by their deeds.”
1 John 2:3-4 “3 In this way we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
4 Whoever says, ‘I know him’ without keeping his commandments, is a liar, and truth has no place in him.’”
Jesus says in Matt 7:22 “22 When the day comes many will say to me, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?
23 Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!”
The point Jesus is making here is that someone who is cut off from Him by doing evil is not going to be helped if they “prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?” Someone who is cut off from God by the evil he does is incapable of doing something truly good and pleasing to God, because his heart has turned away from God. Therefore “driving out demons”, “prophesying”, “working miracles” are not good deeds for him in the first place, because he is an unrepentant sinner.
That tells us a few things. Those who prophecy in Jesus’ name do not necessarily go to heaven. Those who drive out demons in Jesus’ name do not necessarily go to heaven, those who work out miracles in Jesus’ name do not necessarily go to heaven. That is if they do evil. Paul lists a few of these evils, adultery, slander, sodomy, etc, those who practice these things Paul tells us, will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor 6:9-10 “9* Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, * 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Some Christians do evil deeds, or fail to do good deeds, which is also evil. Matt 25:41-43, 46 “Go away from me, with your curse upon you, to the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.42 For I was hungry and you never gave me food, I was thirsty and you never gave me anything to drink,
43 I was a stranger and you never made me welcome, lacking clothes and you never clothed me, sick and in prison and you never visited me.”
“46* And they will go away into eternal punishment,”
Paul tells us that we are saved by faith working through love. Gal 5:6 “6* For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is of any avail, but faith working through love.” Good works are prompted by love. They are not things that we do in our own strength, but God works through us to enable us to do the good works. We are his “co-workers” (1 Cor 3:9 “ 9* For we are God’s co-workers; * you are God’s field, God’s building.”
He has prepared good works for us if we co-operate with His grace. It is impossible for anyone to do a good work pleasing to God if God is not working through that person, otherwise it is done out of duty or philanthropy, but not out of love.
Paul tells us that we can have faith even to move mountains, but that if we have no love, we have nothing. Love is the engine of good works, without love they are empty dead shells. God’s grace, which you respond to, gives you your faith. God’s grace, which you respond to, produces good works. In neither case are you doing something in your own strength.
Phil 2:13 “13 It is God who, for his own generous purpose, puts into you both the will and the action.”
That is what is meant by good works, doing the works that God has prepared for you, through His grace, not in your own strength.
Luke 11:41 “41 Instead, give alms from what you have and, look, everything will be clean for you.”
2 Peter 1:4-7 “4 Through these, the greatest and priceless promises have been lavished on us, that through them you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world through disordered passion. 5 With this in view, do your utmost to support your faith with goodness, goodness with understanding, 6 understanding with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with devotion, 7 devotion with kindness to the brothers, and kindness to the brothers with love.”
Eph 2:10 “10 We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus for the good works which God has already designated to make up our way of life.”
Rev 19:8 “8 His bride (the church) is ready, and she has been able to dress herself in dazzling white linen, because her linen is made of the good deeds of the saints.’”
John 14:11 “11 You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works.”
Col 1:24 “24 It makes me happy to be suffering for you now, and in my own body to make up all the hardships that still have to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church,”
Col 1:29 “29 And it is for this reason that I labour, striving with his energy which works in me mightily.”
John 3:1-2 “ … Nicodemus … said ‘Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one could perform the signs that you do unless God were with him.’”
John 5:19 “Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, by himself the Son can do nothing; he can do only what he sees the Father doing: and whatever the Father does the Son does too.”
John 5:30 “30 By myself I can do nothing;”
John 14:12 “12 In all truth I tell you, whoever believes in me will perform the same works as I do myself,”
John 14:14 “14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”
John 15:5 “5 I am the vine, you are the branches.
John 15:16 “16 You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.”
John 15:2, 6 “2 Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away…. 6 These branches are collected and thrown on the fire and are burnt.”
John 15:6 “17 My command to you is to love one another.”
Prayer is a good work.
“Prayer (Gk. euchesthai, Lat. precari, Fr. prier, to plead, to beg, to ask earnestly), an act of the virtue of religion which consists in asking proper gifts or graces from God. In a more general sense it is the application of the mind to Divine things, not merely to acquire a knowledge of them but to make use of such knowledge as a means of union with God. This may be done by acts of praise and thanksgiving, but petition is the principal act of prayer. The words used to express it in Scripture are: to call upon (Gen.4:26); to intercede (Job. 22:10); to meditate (Is. 53:10); to consult (1 Kings. 28:6); to beseech (Ex.32:11); and, very commonly, to cry out to. The Fathers speak of it as the elevation of the mind to God with a view to asking proper things from Him (St. John Damascene, “De fide”, III, xxiv, in P.G., XCIV, 1090); communing and conversing with God (St. Gregory of Nyssa, “De oratione dom.”, in P.G., XLIV, 1125); talking with God (St. John Chrysostorn, “Horn. xxx in Gen.”, n. 5, in P.G., LIII, 280). It is therefore the expression of our desires to God whether for ourselves or others. This expression is not intended to instruct or direct God what to do, but to appeal to His goodness for the things we need; and the appeal is necessary, not because He is ignorant of our needs or sentiments, but to give definite form to our desires, to concentrate our whole attention on what we have to recommend to Him, to help us appreciate our close personal relation with Him. The expression need not be external or vocal; internal or mental is sufficient.
By prayer we acknowledge God’s power and goodness, our own neediness and dependence. It is therefore an act of the virtue of religion implying the deepest reverence for God and habituating us to look to Him for everything, not merely because the thing asked be good in itself, or advantageous to us, but chiefly because we wish it as a gift of God, and not otherwise, no matter how good or desirable it may seem to us. Prayer presupposes faith in God and hope in His goodness. By both, God, to whom we pray, moves us to prayer.” (Para. On prayer: Catholic Answers).
Repentance is a good work
Repentance is a good work. Good works are necessary for salvation. Salvation is not possible without repentance.
Acts 2:38 “38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
1 John1:8 “8 If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth has no place in us;”
Forgiveness is a good work
Matt 6:15 “15 but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”. Salvation is not possible if we are unforgiving.
Because David is forgiving and forgives Saul, God forgives David. If God had not forgiven David, Heaven would have been closed to him.
Council of Trent; Decree Concerning Justification.
HOW THE GRATUITOUS JUSTIFICATION OF THE SINNER BY FAITH IS TO BE UNDERSTOOD
But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely, (Rom 3:24 “24* they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus,” ; Romans 5:1 “1* Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we * have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”) these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6 “6 And without faith it is impossible to please him. For whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”) and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification.” For, if by grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace. (Rom 11:6 “6* But if
it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.).”
Matt 28:19-20 “19* Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20* teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
Which commandments? These are summed up in Matt 22: “37* And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39* And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.”
How do we love our neighbour? By good deeds.
1 John 4:20 “19* We love, because he first loved us. 20* If any one says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot * love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.”
James 2 on Faith and Good Deeds.
14 How does it help, my brothers, when someone who has never done a single good act claims to have faith? Will that faith bring salvation?
15 If one of the brothers or one of the sisters is in need of clothes and has not enough food to live on,
16 and one of you says to them, ‘I wish you well; keep yourself warm and eat plenty,’ without giving them these bare necessities of life, then what good is that?
17 In the same way faith, if good deeds do not go with it, is quite dead.
18 But someone may say: So you have faith and I have good deeds? Show me this faith of yours without deeds, then! It is by my deeds that I will show you my faith.
19 You believe in the one God — that is creditable enough, but even the demons have the same belief, and they tremble with fear.
20 Fool! Would you not like to know that faith without deeds is useless?
21 Was not Abraham our father justified by his deed, because he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 So you can see that his faith was working together with his deeds; his faith became perfect by what he did.
23 In this way the scripture was fulfilled: Abraham put his faith in God, and this was considered as making him upright; and he received the name ‘friend of God’.
24 You see now that it is by deeds, and not only by faith alone, that someone is justified.
25 There is another example of the same kind: Rahab the prostitute, was she not justified by her deeds because she welcomed the messengers and showed them a different way to leave?
26 As a body without a spirit is dead, so is faith without deeds.
James repeats his teaching on Faith and Good deeds seven times in 13 verses.
Romans 2:6-7 “For God will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well doing (good works) seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life” – note “by patience in well doing….. he will give eternal life.” Eternal life.
1 Cor 13:13 “13 As it is, these remain: faith, hope and love, the three of them; and the greatest of these is love.”
Rev 3:15 “15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.”
Rev 20:12 “the dead were judged from what was written in the books, as their deeds deserved.”
Things that build up the Body of Christ.
Worshipping and praising God.
Prayer of praise, thanksgiving and petition.
Reading and meditation on the Word of God.
Proclaiming the Gospel.
Teaching the Word of God.
Love of neighbor.
Forgiving our neighbor.
Feeding the hungry.
Clothing the poor.
Visiting the sick and those in prison.
Reading and meditation on the lives of the saints.
All of these are Good Works. The first effect of a good work is to increase the faith and charity of the one who practices it, as it flows from God’s grace. This in itself builds up the Body of Christ, as the good of one member of the Body of Christ results in the good of the whole Body of Christ, just as the hurt felt by one member of the Body of Christ results in the hurt of the whole Body of Christ.
1 Cor 12:12-27
“12 For as with the human body which is a unity although it has many parts — all the parts of the body, though many, still making up one single body — so it is with Christ.
13 We were baptised into one body in a single Spirit, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as free men, and we were all given the same Spirit to drink.
14 And indeed the body consists not of one member but of many.
15 If the foot were to say, ‘I am not a hand and so I do not belong to the body,’ it does not belong to the body any the less for that.
16 Or if the ear were to say, ‘I am not an eye, and so I do not belong to the body,’ that would not stop its belonging to the body.
17 If the whole body were just an eye, how would there be any hearing? If the whole body were hearing, how would there be any smelling?
18 As it is, God has put all the separate parts into the body as he chose.
19 If they were all the same part, how could it be a body?
20 As it is, the parts are many but the body is one.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ and nor can the head say to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’
22 What is more, it is precisely the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest which are the indispensable ones.
23 It is the parts of the body which we consider least dignified that we surround with the greatest dignity; and our less presentable parts are given greater presentability
24 which our presentable parts do not need. God has composed the body so that greater dignity is given to the parts which were without it,
25 and so that there may not be disagreements inside the body but each part may be equally concerned for all the others.
26 If one part is hurt, all the parts share its pain. And if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy.
27 Now Christ’s body is yourselves, each of you with a part to play in the whole.”