Christ is Best – A Review by Bob Thomas
Christianity – Not a Religion of Works, but a Religion that Works
‘By grace are you saved through faith,’ writes Paul, before hastening on to add that we are ‘not (saved) by works, so that no-one can boast’, but then affirming that ‘we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (Eph. 2:8-10).
We may be greatly taken by God’s grace – ‘amazing grace’, ‘marvellous grace’, ‘matchless grace’, ‘infinite grace’, ‘plenteous grace’, ‘grace to cover all my sin’ – but we should never lose sight of the fact that the faith which is bestowed by grace has been so given in order that it will issue in good works.
And how desperately this world today needs Christians whose lives will be marked by good works! A charming and challenging little booklet in the Pocket Puritans series has just been issued by the Banner of Truth Trust: Christ is Best1 by Richard Sibbes, as the following extract shows:2
AN ABUNDANCE OF GOOD COMES IN BY GRACIOUS PERSONS
- By their counsel and direction. ‘The lips of the righteous feed many’ (Prov. 10:21).
- By their reformation of abuses, by planting God’s ordinances and good orders, whereby God’s wrath is appeased. They stand in the gap, and stop evil. They reform it, and labour to establish that which is pleasing to God.
- By carrying the blessing of God with them. Wherever they are, God and his blessing go along with them.
- By doing a great deal of good through their pattern and example. They are the lights of the world (Phil. 2.15), that give aim to others in the darkness of this life.
- By binding God in prayer, as it were, that he shall not inflict his judgments. They do a great deal of good in this way. A praying force is as good as a fighting army.
- [By Modelling Grace.] Gracious men are public treasures . . . and public springs in the wilderness of this world, to refresh the souls of people; they are trees of righteousness, that stretch out their boughs for others to shelter under and to gather fruit from . . . Oh beloved, the lives of good men are very useful . . . They are God’s jewels, they are his treasure and his portion, therefore we ought to lament their death . . . and we ought to desire our own lives, as long as we might be useful to the church . . . When once we are in Christ, we live for others, not for ourselves . . . that a good minister is kept alive, out of the present enjoying of heaven, it is for the sake of the people’s sake that God has committed to him to instruct . . . If God had not a church in the world, a company of good people, heaven and earth would fall in pieces. It is for good persons only that the world continues. They are the pillars of the tottering world, they are the stakes in the fence, they are the foundation of the building, and if they were once taken out, all would come down.
The booklet, of just 66 small pages, deserves to be read in its entirety – and it might just lead us gently into a fuller appreciation of the Puritans, whose more voluminous writings have enriched the faith of many a Christian and added zest to many a sermon. Read it and be blessed!
Christ is Best
or St. Paul's Straight
Christianity – Not a Religion of Works, but a Religion that Works ‘By grace are you saved through faith,’ writes Paul, before hastening on to add that we are ‘not (saved) by works, so that no-one can boast’, but then affirming that ‘we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which […]
- Taken from pages 29-34, with some minor changes.
Bob Thomas is Editor of the online newspaper New Life Australia from the 15 August 2012 edition of which this review is taken. Notes added.
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