The Fruit & Root: Justifcation Fuels Good Works

[G]ood works are the logical and necessary result of justification.

One of the ways the Reformed confessions describe this rela- tionship is by using Jesus’ analogy of a tree’s roots and fruits. When our Lord spoke of false prophets, He said: “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt. 7:17–19).

The Belgic Confession of Faith uses this vivid illustration to speak of good works when it says: “These works, as they proceed from the good root of faith, are good and acceptable in the sight of God, forasmuch as they are all sanctified by His grace. Nevertheless they are of no account towards our justification, for it is by faith in Christ that we are justified, even before we do good works; other- wise they could not be good works, any more than the fruit of a tree can be good before the tree itself is good” (BC, Art. 24).

Hyde, Daniel R. Welcome to a Reformed Church: A Guide for Pilgrims. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Trust, 2010. (92)

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