“A tree is known by its fruit.” Mt 12:33 NKJV
In a letter to George Whitefield, a leader of the Great Awakening, Benjamin Franklin wrote: “I can only show my gratitude for those mercies from God, by a readiness to help his other children and my brethren. For I do not think that thanks and compliments, though repeated weekly, can discharge our real obligations to each other, and much less those to our Creator. You will see in this my notion of good works, that I am far from expecting to merit heaven by them. By heaven we understand a state of happiness, infinite in degree, and eternal in duration. I can do nothing to deserve such rewards…The faith you mention has certainly its use in the world. I do not desire to see it diminished, nor would I endeavor to lessen it in any man. But I wish it were more productive of good works than I have generally seen it; I mean real good works; works of kindness, charity, mercy, and public spirit; not holiday-keeping, sermon-reading or hearing; performing church ceremonies, or making long prayers filled with flatteries and compliments…The worship of God is a duty; the hearing and reading of sermons may be useful; but if men rest in hearing and praying, as too many do, it is as if a tree should value itself for being watered and putting forth leaves, though it never produce any fruit.” In aiming to declare that salvation is by grace and not works, never forget that saving faith always produces good works! Faith is the root of salvation. But deeds of generosity and kindness are the fruit of salvation—and “a tree is known by its fruit.”
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