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Holman Bible Dictionary [1]

 Judges 2:7 Psalm 8:6 Psalm 103:22 Psalm 104:24 Isaiah 64:8 Ephesians 2:10 Philippians 1:6 John 4:34 John 5:17 John 9:4 John 5:36 John 6:28-29 John 10:37-38 John 14:12 1 Corinthians 15:58 1 Corinthians 16:10

The works of people testify to their faith or lack of it. Those who do the works of the devil show that they are of the devil ( John 8:34-44;  2 Corinthians 11:14-15 ). Sinners are called to cast off the works of darkness ( Romans 13:12;  Ephesians 5:11 ), sometimes called wicked works ( Colossians 1:21 ) or the works of the flesh ( Galatians 5:19 ). Because sinners cannot save themselves, they must rely on the grace of God, not on their own works ( Ephesians 2:8-9;  Titus 3:4-7 ).

Paul warned against relying on the works of the law as a basis for acceptance by God ( Romans 9:32;  Galatians 2:16;  Galatians 3:2 ,Galatians 3:2, 3:5 ,Galatians 3:5, 3:10 ). Sinners are accepted as righteous before God on the basis of God's grace through faith in Christ, not on the basis of their own works ( Romans 3:27;  Romans 4:2-6 ). One evidence of saving faith, however, is the existence of good works in the lives of believers ( Matthew 5:16;  Acts 9:36;  Ephesians 2:10;  Colossians 1:10;  2 Thessalonians 2:17;  1 Timothy 2:10; 1Timothy 5:10, 1 Timothy 5:25;  Titus 2:7 ,Titus 2:7, 2:14;  Hebrews 10:24;  1 Peter 2:12 ).

Some people think that Paul and James contradict each other in their teachings about works.  James 2:14-26 says that people are justified by faith and works, not by faith alone. However, closer examination shows that James used the word “works” to refer to what Paul meant by “good works.” James and Paul were dealing with people who wanted to rely on works of the law for their salvation. James was dealing with people who professed to believe but whose lives did not show it. Paul, therefore, emphasized that sinners cannot make themselves acceptable to God by keeping the works of the law. Dealing with a different situation, James emphasized that true faith shows itself in good works, a point Paul that also made.

The Lord knows the works of His people. He commends His churches for their good works and rebukes them for the works that are not worthy of His people ( Revelation 2:2 ,Revelation 2:2, 2:5 ,Revelation 2:5, 2:9 ,Revelation 2:9, 2:13 ,Revelation 2:13, 2:19 ,Revelation 2:19, 2:23 ,Revelation 2:23, 2:26;  Revelation 3:1-2 ,Revelation 3:1-2, 3:8 ,Revelation 3:8, 3:15 ). God does not judge according to outward appearances but according to works ( 1 Peter 1:17;  Revelation 20:12-13;  Revelation 22:12 ). Although true believers are accepted into God's eternal kingdom by grace through faith, God will condemn those whose profession is proved false by their evil works ( Matthew 7:21-23 ). True believers are saved because their lives are built on the solid foundation of Christ Himself. They will be rewarded for good works but any unworthy works will not survive God's judgment ( 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ). See Faith; Salvation .

Robert J. Dean

Morrish Bible Dictionary [2]

These are activities, divine or human, which may proceed from good or evil. We read of 'dead works': acts of mere ceremony, and the religious efforts of the flesh (the flesh profiteth nothing).  Hebrews 6:1;  Hebrews 9:14 . These stand in contrast to 'works of faith,' which are the expression of life by the operation of the Holy Spirit.  Hebrews 11 . The works of the flesh are detailed in  Galatians 5:19-21 .

Man is justified by faith apart from the 'works of the law' ( Romans 3:20;  Galatians 2:16 ), but real faith will produce 'good works,' and these can be seen of men, though the faith itself be invisible.  James 2:14-26 .

The Lord Jesus when on earth declared that His works gave evidence that He was Son of God, and had been sent by the Father, and that the Father was in Him, and He in the Father.  John 9:4;  John 10:37,38;  John 14:11 .

When the Jews were persecuting Christ because He had healed a man on the Sabbath day, He said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."  John 5:17 . God had rested from His works of creation on the seventh day, but sin had come in, and in the O.T. allusions are frequent as to the activity of Jehovah for the spiritual blessing of man.

The apostle Paul, in writing to Titus, insists strongly on good works, that Christianity might not be unfruitful.

Every one will have to give an account of himself to God,  Romans 14:12; and the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works.  Revelation 20:12,13 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [3]

( Ἔργα ), "works , or deeds, of the law," is equivalent to the works which the law requires, or the entire performance of those works which the Moral law, whether written or unwritten, i.e., law in general, whether applicable to Gentile or Jew, demands ( Romans 2:15;  Romans 3:20;  Romans 9:12;  Romans 9:32;  Romans 10:6;  Romans 11:3;  Galatians 2:16;  Galatians 3:2;  Galatians 3:5;  Galatians 3:10;  Ephesians 2:9). On the ground of works, i.e., of perfect obedience and therefore of merit, none can be justified, because "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." If, then, any are justified at all, it must be of Grace; but this grace, although freely bestowed and without any just claims on the part of the sinner, is still Not Unconditionally bestowed. Faith in him who died to save sinners is requisite to prepare one for the reception of pardon; and he who is justified in this way, as a consequence of his faith, is still justified in a Manner altogether gratuitous. The reader will mark the difference between the phrase "works of the law," in the above passages, and the expression "work of faith" or "good works" ( 1 Thessalonians 1:3;  2 Thessalonians 1:11;  2 Corinthians 9:8;  Ephesians 2:10;  Colossians 1:10;  1 Timothy 5:10;  1 Timothy 5:25;  1 Timothy 6:18;  2 Timothy 3:17;  Titus 1:6;  Titus 2:7;  Titus 2:14;  Titus 3:1;  Titus 3:8;  Titus 3:14).

In the writings of Paul, Works Of The Law always designates the idea Of Perfect obedience, i.e., doing all which the law requires. But Works Of Faith Or Good Works are the fruits of sanctification by the Spirit of God; the good works which Christians perform, and which are sincere, are therefore acceptable to God under a dispensation of grace, although they do not fulfil all the demands of the law. On the ground of the first, Paul earnestly contends, at length, in his epistles to the Romans and Galatians, that no one can be justified. The latter he everywhere treats as indispensable to the Christian character. So also the apostle James, when disputing with those who make pretensions to Christian faith, and mere pretensions, maintains that no man has any good claim to the faith of a Christian who does not at the same time exhibit good works; in other words, he avers that a mere speculative faith is not a real Christian faith ( James 2:14-26). In a word, Paul has taught us that Justifica tion is not on the ground of merit, but of grace: James has taught us that a faith which will entitle one to hope for justification must be accompanied with evangelical obedience. Both are true and faithful teachers; the doctrines of both are equally the doctrines of the gospel. Good works, in the gospel sense of these words, are an essential condition of our acceptance with God; but on the ground of perfect obedience to the divine law, no one ever was or ever will be accepted. (See Justification).

In an evangelical sense, good works are those actions which spring from pure principles, and are conformable to truth, justice, and propriety; whether natural, civil, relative, moral, or religious. The phrase is often used of acts of charity. The qualities of a good work, in the Scriptural sense of the term, are,

(1) That it be according to the will of God; (2) that it spring from love to God ( 1 Timothy 1:5); (3) that it be done in faith ( Romans 14:23); (4) that it be done to the glory of God ( 1 Corinthians 10:31;  Philippians 1:11).

The causes of good works are,

(1) God himself ( Hebrews 13:21); (2) union with Christ ( Ephesians 2:10); (3) through faith ( Hebrews 11:4;  Hebrews 11:6); (4) by the word and spirit ( Isaiah 3:3;  Luke 8:15;  2 Timothy 3:16).

As to the nature and properties of good works in this world,

(1) They are imperfect ( Ecclesiastes 7:20;  Revelation 3:2; (2) not meritorious ( Luke 17:10;  Titus 3:5); (3) yet found only in the regenerate ( Matthew 7:17). The necessary uses of good works,

(1) They show our gratitude ( Psalms 116:12-13); (2) are an ornament to our profession ( Titus 2:10); (3) evidence our regeneration ( Job 15:5); (4) are profitable to others ( Titus 3:8). See Gill, Body Of Div. volume 3, book 4.