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Date:         Thu, 21 Sep 1995 09:15:52 +0200
Reply-To: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
Sender: Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel 
From: Teus Benschop 
Subject:      Catechism, 35
To: Multiple recipients of list CHR-EXP 

Q. Wherein does the conversion of man consist?
A. In a hearty repentance, and avoiding of sin, and in an earnest desire
after, and doing all good works.

The conversion of man consists of two parts. The first part is a turning
away  from  sin, and the second part is a turning to God.  This  can  be
clarified  using the example of one walking on the way. The natural  man
walks  on his own way, the way of sin. He walks away from God. But  when
he  is  converted, he stops his walking away, turns himself around,  and
walks  back  towards God. He did evil, but turned himself from  that  to
God. Those are the two parts, wherein the conversion of man consists:  a
turning away from sin, and a turning to God.
     A  hearty  repentance, that is not an outward repentance only.  One
may outwardly repent when he fears God's punishments. But as soon as his
fear  vanishes, he turns back to his former evil ways. That  was  but  a
temporal  repentance, not hearty. A hearty repentance is the  repentance
of  the  whole  man. He repents not only outwardly, but  also  with  his
heart.  The whole man repents. His heart is renewed by God, so  that  it
loathes  doing evil, and begins to love doing good. He begins  to  avoid
sin. That is, when he suspects that on some places sin lies in wait  for
him,  he  tries to avoid the occasion. When he knows that he is weak  in
some  circumstances, so as to fall in sin, he will avoid  coming  there.
For,  he knows that only avoiding the opportunity will prevent him  from
sinning  therein. Since he tries always to do God's will,  he  fears  to
come  in dangerous places. The truly repenting man has an earnest desire
after  good works. Maybe that he, being in this weak flesh, is not  able
to  do  all what he desires, yet, the desire is there, and he  does  all
what  he  can. He desires to do all good works, which he knows that  God
approves of. He does not belong to such, who only do "good" works in the
sight  of men, so that they will be praised, and looked at as holy.  No,
the  truly  repenting man and woman, they try to do God's  will  always,
either when they are in the sight of the people, and when they are  not.
They  know that they always are in God's sight. The hypocrites only  try
to  do  good, when they can get a name through that. They care  not  for
God, and His honour. Why not? Because they don't know God.
     So, in which things does the conversion of man consist? It consists
in  a  hearty  repentance,  and not in an outward  repentance  only.  It
consists  in avoiding of sin, and all opportunities thereof. It consists
also  in  an  earnest  desire after all good works,  and  in  the  doing
thereof, both in the people's and God's sight.

Q. What are good works?
A.  Only  those, which proceed from a true faith; are done according  to
the  law  of  God, and to his glory; and not those which are founded  on
human institutions, or on our own imaginations.

When it is said that the truly repenting man desires after, and does all
good  works, it is important to know _which_ works are considered  good.
For,  when  we heedlessly do some works, which we think to be good,  and
they  are  not good in God's eyes, what use does that have? In fact,  we
are not doing good works at all, though we think we do. Therefore, it is
important  to  know which works may be called good, and which  not.  The
question,  then,  is: What are good works? The answers says,  that  good
works  are  only those, which proceed from a true faith, and  which  are
done  according to the law of God, and which are to His glory. So, three
things are necessary to call a work good:
1. Proceeding from true faith;
2. Done according to the law of God;
3. Done to God's glory.
Any  other work, though it may be considered good in man's eyes,  is  in
fact not good at all. That is wherewith the answer continues. Good works
are  not  those, which are founded on human institution,  or  which  are
according to our own imaginations. Listen to Christ, who said:  "But  in
vain  they  do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments  of
men."  (Matthew  15:9)  The people in Jesus'  time  imagined  that  they
worshipped  God,  but  it  was  in  vain,  since  they  kept  but  human
commandments,  which are worthless in God's eyes. If you earnestly  keep
all  human  commandments, and forsake God's will, what value  does  that
have, I pray you? Nothing, of course.
     A  real  good  work  is firstly proceeding from  true  faith.  For,
"without faith it is impossible to please [him]", (Hebrews 11:6) that is
God.  Without  faith, we cannot please God. Since  any  good  work  will
please  God,  it appears that only those which proceed from  faith,  are
acceptable. When one is doubting if the work he is doing is a good work,
it  is clear that he has no firm faith, since he is doubting. Or, if one
is  doing  good  works,  (as  he imagines) without  faith,  he  deceives
himself. Let then the faith in God bring us to good works.
     A  good  work, secondly, is done according to God's law. Any  work,
however good it might be regarded by the people, when it is against  the
law, is not a good work. Only works done according to the law, that  is,
done according to God's will, can be good. In the law, we find the rule,
according  to  which we have to live. Only according that rule,  we  can
please God. And, as is already said, not without faith.
     A  good work, thirdly, is done not to our one glory, but to  God's.
When we always help our neighbour, and we take the honour for ourselves,
we  do not a good work. Yes, the work itself is good, of course, but  we
make  it  evil in God's eyes by robbing Him of the glory, and taking  it
away for ourselves. When all people praise us for our good behaviour and
deeds,  and we feel proud, then we rob God of His honour, and  make  our
works  evil.  Let then all praise be brought to God. A good  example  of
honouring  God  can be seen in Joseph, when he was in Egypt,  and  stood
before  Pharaoh. The king said that Joseph could interpret  dreams,  but
instantly,  Joseph answered that God was the Interpreter, not  he.  "And
Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that
can  interpret  it:  and  I have heard say of thee,  [that]  thou  canst
understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying,
It  is  not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."  (Genesis
41:15,16) Joseph took no honour for himself, but said that God did  all.
Also  Peter  teaches, that we have to live thus, that the people  praise
God,  when  they  see  our good works. "Having your conversation  honest
among  the  Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers,
they  may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God  in
the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)

Teus Benschop  --  t.benschop@pobox.ruu.nl
Listowner of chr-exp@nic.surfnet.nl
"A Christian explanation of the Scriptures to Israel"
Institute Practical Bible-education
Web:  http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/ipb-e/ipbe-home.html

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/cate: cat-035.txt