June 12 – LD 24, Day 2: Cannot Our Works Save?

Read: Psalm 53, Psalm 14

The first objection to which our teacher calls attention, is a question that seems to be asked by someone who is surprised by the fact that justification is not based on works. “Why can’t our works be the whole basis for our justification? Or, at least a partial basis? What’s wrong with our good works?”

It is question that comes from a person who is rather proud of his goodness and is convinced that these works are surely good enough for God to acknowledge their worth. Obviously, the man is proud.

But, wait a moment. Do we not often do the same? Is it not true that when God sends us some great affliction, and we writhe beneath the heavy chastisement of God, that we often say, “Why me? Why does God do this to me?” And what we mean to say is: “I do not deserve this, for I have not done anything that makes me worthy of such affliction.”

That kind of thinking is the same as being of the opinion that our works ought to be the ground for God doing good to us. What makes people think better of themselves than is true?

The only explanation for this is pride. Pride caused Eve to speak with the serpent in Paradise, and to obey the serpent when he suggested that eating of the forbidden tree would make her as God, knowing good and evil. Pride is the devil behind all our boasting. Pride keeps us from admitting our sin and worthlessness.

Pride asks the question: “But why cannot our works be the whole, or part of our righteousness before God?”

The two most difficult words in any language to say, because of our pride, are: “I’m sorry.”

We have a wise teacher to instruct us in the truth. He understands all too well why we like to raise objections to justification by faith alone, without the works of the law. He will point us, first of all to our pride.

And then he will tell us what the Bible says about us and our works.

All our instruction up to this point is clearly what is taught in the Bible. The Bible also teaches us what to think of our good works. And knowing what the Bible says about our good works, we will never, never think of them as the reason why God ought to justify and save us on the grounds of what we do.

And when we stop to think about it all, we will shudder at the thought that our good works must save us. We will cringe with horror that we could ever entertain such an idea.

We will fall on our faces before God, confess our sins, and thank God for Christ.

Last modified on 21 June 2015

Additional Info

  • Date: 12-June
Hanko, Herman

Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)

Ordained: October 1955

Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965

Emeritus: 2001

Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko

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