I listen to teachers who tend to stress (and rightfully so, I believe) our inability to please God on the basis of our own righteousness. Christians are not justified by their works but by faith in the work of Christ on their behalf (Galatians 2:16). But does this mean that God is only pleased with Christ and never pleased with us? Are the works of believers always and only filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6)?
I heard a sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 this past Sunday that brought the question to mind. The sermon dealt with the resurrection of Christ but a side note on grace, taken from 15:10, reminded me that God graciously empowers the works of His own--and what God empowers, God is pleased with.
Hebrews 13:20-21 is even more plain; there, the writer prays this: "May the God of peace...equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ.” God is pleased with the Spirit-wrought works of His children. The person saved by the work of Christ alone is empowered by the Holy Spirit for good works which God prepared in advance for her/him to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Writing on this topic at The Gospel Coalition, Michael Kruger states: “What a refreshment to our souls to know that our Father in heaven actually delights in [our] labors! It is like salve on our blisters and a balm to our aching muscles to know that he is pleased with the faith-driven works of his children.” Friend, whatever your labor today, pray for the grace that is yours in Christ and rest in the pleasure of your Father (John 1:16)!
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