Heidelbasics: Brief Weekly Reflections on the Heidelberg Catechism by Rev. David Fagrey, Pastor of Grace Reformed Church of Rapid City, SD
86. Since, then, we are redeemed from our misery by grace through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we do good works?
Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Spirit after His own image, that with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for His blessing, and that He be glorified through us; then also, that we ourselves may be assured of our faith by the fruits thereof; and by our godly walk win also others to Christ.
Having now considered the greatness of our sin and misery (Q&A 3-11), and how we believers have been redeemed from our sin and misery (Q&A 12-85), we will now learn how we are to show ourselves thankful for our redemption (Q&A 86-129).
We have already learned from Q&A 64 that “it is impossible that those who are implanted into Christ by true faith, should not bring forth fruits of thankfulness.”
Good works are the fruit of redemption (Matt. 7:18; Mark 4:20; Eph. 2:10; Titus 2:14).
There are five reasons why we must do good works:
- To show that Christ, having redeemed us (from the eternal penalty of sin) by His blood, is also sanctifying and renewing us by His Holy Spirit (Col. 3:9-10) so that we become more like Him, “who went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). “He who says he abides in Christ ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).
- That with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for our redemption. “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).
- That God may be glorified through us. “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23). “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me” (Psalm 50:15); “you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20; cf. Rom. 12:1).
- That we may be assured of our faith, as we see the fruits of faith in our hearts and lives (Matt. 7:17; Gal. 5:6, 21-22; 2 Pet. 1:10). The first fruit of true faith is a confession of sins to God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Luke 18:13).
- That by our godly walk we may bring others to Christ. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16; cf. 1 Peter 3:1; Prov. 11:30).
87. Can they, then, not be saved who do not turn to God from their unthankful, unrepentant life?
By no means, for, as Scripture says, no unchaste person, idolater, adulterer, thief, covetous man, drunkard, slanderer, robber, or the like shall inherit the kingdom of God [1 Cor. 6:9-10].
Because the unbeliever lives an unthankful and unrepentant life (Rom. 1:21), they do not do good works at all (Gen. 6:5; Rom. 3:12). Unlike the believer, they do not ask God to forgive their sins and to help them do good works. They are deceived if they think grace means it is not necessary to forsake their sins and obey God out of thankfulness. “Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).