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Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God (Hebrews 13:16)

We come to an end of this short series of emails looking at a small passage in the seventeenth century book “All Things for Good” by Thomas Watson. If you are interested, you may find it here. As he draws to a close, this great Puritan writer discusses the influence we might bring to bear upon others.

Christianity is not a private affair, but is lived out in the public sphere. As God has done good for us, so we do good for others and thereby win influence for the gospel. We are saved to do good works in the name of Christ. Note: saved to do good works, not saved by good works! We are to be a sweet ornament to wider society, and a spreader of God’s grace.

This is the ordinary life of the Christian, a life lived out in wider society and a life which reflects the grace of God. Jesus uses the imagery of salt when describing this: as salt preserves and brings flavour, so must we.

To Watson:

As Mary poured the ointment on Christ, so by good works we pour ointments on the head of the gospel, and make it give forth a fragrant smell. Good works, though they are not causes of salvation — yet they are evidences. When with our Saviour we go about doing good, and send abroad the refreshing influence of our liberality, we walk worthy of our high calling.

The Bishop of our Souls

For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25) - Sheep are not the brightest of beasts, and are prone to wander. Any small hole in a hedge poses a challenge, any gap is a call to escape. The thing with sheep is that they thoroughly enjoy wandering off, as if they were browsing the hedges for bargains. And such were we, but now the great shepherd of our souls has rounded us up and brought us to rich pastures. Now we graze under his protective eye. Yet this shepherd is more than simply an external guide, he is also the “overseer of your souls”. He it is who, though our consciences, prods us onto the right paths.

Why the Bible?

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105) - In the Scriptures we have a document which spans many centuries, and has stood the test of the passing millennia. The church through the ages has attested to its inspired nature, and is has proved to be the link between us now and the church throughout the ages. Given it is the “Word of the Lord” it has an eternal relevance, and can also serve to challenge our sometimes lazy presuppositions.

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