Read: Matthew 20:1-10
But, our instructor tells us, there are other arguments that enemies of the truth will bring.
They will try to trap you into agreeing that our works merit with God. And then they will quote some texts for you. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” (II Cor. 5:10). “See?” they will say, “We will receive something for doing good. The text says so.”
Here is another verse: “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Rev. 22:12). Jesus even calls what he will give us ‘a reward’.
Our teacher tells us that while it is indeed true that Scripture speaks of merit, the reward that we merit is not that we have earned something with God, but is rather of grace.
One of our other confessions puts it very beautifully. Article 24 of the Confession of Faith explains all this.
“Therefore we do good works, but not to merit by them (for what can we merit?), nay we are beholden (“in debt to”, Herman Hanko) to God for the good works we do, and not He to us, since it is He that worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Let us therefore attend to what is written: When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do. In the meantime, we do not deny that God rewards our good works, but it is through His grace that He crowns His gifts.
Moreover, though we do good works, we do not found our salvation upon them; for we can do no work but what is polluted by our flesh, and also punishable; and although we could perform such works, still, the remembrance of one sin is sufficient to make God reject them. Thus, then, we would always be in doubt, tossed to and from without any certainty, and our poor consciences continually vexed, if they relied not on the merits of the suffering and death of our Savior.”
There are three things the article says.
First, we cannot merit with God even though we do everything he requires of us. For, in that case, we have only done our duty, and nothing beyond our duty.
The Roman Catholics talk about “works of supererogation,” by which they mean works which we do which go beyond our duty, and merit sainthood. In fact, other people less able to perform these works, can draw to their account these works, for they are in a bank in heaven and can be drawn on by others. What nonsense!
Second, consider that beautiful expression that the reward of grace is “through His grace that He crowns His gifts.” That is, the works are His gift of grace, and so is their reward.
Third, if we had to rely on our good works, our consciences would always plague us. We rely on the merits of Christ and His merits alone.
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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