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Good works do have a place
October 18, 2010
Rev. Eric Nelson, St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church, Lester Prairie

Justification is the central teaching of the Lutheran Reformation.

To be justified before God means that the Law can no longer accuse us. We are no longer burdened by its demands. They have been fulfilled by the perfect life our Lord sacrificed on the cross for us. That is why His tomb was empty on the first Easter morning.

What do we do now? The central doctrine of the Lutheran church states that we do not need to work and strive to be justified before God. We have been made right with Him because of Christ. The broken relationship with God has been restored. We stand forgiven.

However, this does not mean good works have no place in the Christian faith. Good works do have a place. This leads to another important doctrine (or teaching) of Dr. Luther – the doctrine of vocation. It is in our vocations that good works are done.

What is your vocation? Consider your calling in life. Are you a father or mother? Are you a son or daughter? Are you a husband or wife? Are you a worker or a student? These are your vocations.

Vocation is more than just how you make a living. Your vocation includes any station in life you occupy in which you can help others. These stations – whether it is husband or wife, son or daughter, worker or student – have duties and responsibilities we do in order to serve God.

A father serves God when he provides for his family. A mother serves God when she takes care of the children. Children serve God when they obey their parents. A doctor serves God when he gives help to the sick and suffering. Leaders of nations serve God when they protect their people and uphold justice. Through the works of these various vocations, God provides and cares for his creation.

Therefore, do not think that what you do is insignificant. God does not just work through the pastor or the church worker. God can work through you, as well. You can represent God in the vocations you occupy. This is where you can offer sacrifices to him.

These sacrifices we offer are not bloody sacrifices. Instead of offering up a bull, ram, or goat, we offer ourselves. In other words, we serve our neighbor through the good works we offer in our various vocations. By these works we fulfill the great commandment given by our Lord to love one another.

This means that good works do have a place for a Christian. Our good works are not offered to God in order to make us right with Him. God has already made us right with Him because of His Son.

Our good works are the spiritual sacrifices we offer in our various vocations. This is what we are created to do in Christ Jesus. By such works, we reveal to the world the genuine love and lasting peace that can only come from our Lord.