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Page 313


When studying the diagrams on the previous page, observe the following two crucial differences:

1. While both explanations teach the necessity of good works in the life of the believer, the false view places man's works as a "first necessity" before God's granting of salvation to him. This makes man, rather than God, the cause of his salvation. The scriptural view places good works as a necessary result of God's saving work.

2. The false view ascribes an unscriptural motive to the performing of good works - one of merit and self-seeking - to earn personal salvation. The scriptural view maintains a motive of loving thankfulness and obedience in return unto God.


    Ellen, an invalid girl, was celebrating her fourteenth birthday at home. She was the daughter of very rich parents who were seldom home with her. Instead, she was cared for by a well-paid nurse.

    At this time, Ellen's mother was on a pleasure trip to Italy, from where she sent her daughter a rare and beautiful Italian vase as a birthday present.

    After receiving a parcel from Italy in the mail, Ellen's nurse brought it to her and said, "Ellen, look! A package from Italy! Your mother sent it to arrive right on your birthday!"

    After opening the box and examining the beautiful vase, Ellen replied, "Put it away. I do not want books, flowers, vases, or expensive gifts. Mother, I want you!"

    How does this example illustrate that the motive of love is deeper than only desiring to receive precious benefits or avoid evil consequences?

    Re-examine the diagrams on the previous page. Which most clearly presents a motive of true love to God - not of desiring benefits or avoiding consequences - when performing good works? Why is this difference in motivation important?

Which is more honoring to God, the teaching of good works as meriting salvation, or of good works as the result of salvation? Which is more humbling for man? Why?





What objection to the teaching of good works as a result of salvation is raised and answered by Question and Answer 64 of the Heidelberg Catechism? Why is the motivation stressed in this answer important?


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