it is God who works in you, both to will and to work
"...for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure." Philippians 2:13
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
"I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.: John 15:16
As Christians, we recognize Jesus as our King, and therefore, obedience and good works play a significant role in our faith. Good works are often seen as a necessary response to God's grace and salvation, as well as a way to demonstrate faith and love towards God and others. However, the Bible clearly indicates that believers are not the sole agents (or even initiators) of their good works, but rather it is ultimately God who works in them to will and to do.
This concept is known as compatibilism, and it is illustrated by three key texts in the Bible: Philippians 2:13, Ephesians 2:10, and John 15:16. These texts all emphasize the role of God in the lives of believers and in the good works that they carry out.
Philippians 2:13 teaches that it is God who works in believers to both will and to work for His good pleasure. This means that believers do have responsibility to obey God, but it is ultimately God who works in them to enable them to obey and carry out good works. Therefore, even the very desire to do good works is effectually stirred up within believers by God.
Ephesians 2:10 Believers are not only saved by grace through faith, but also created in Christ Jesus to carry out good works that God has prepared in advance for them, as emphasized in this text. These good works are not the basis of salvation, which comes solely through faith, but rather the fruit of it. Therefore, believers are saved unto good works, which are a vital aspect of their Christian life, and reflect God's handiwork in their lives.
Finally, John 15:16 emphasizes that Jesus chose and appointed His disciples to go and bear fruit that would abide. This verse highlights the fact that the fruit that believers bear is ultimately the result of God's work in their lives.
These three texts emphasize the fact that while believers make voluntary choices, it is ultimately God who works in them to will and to do. This includes not only the carrying out of good works, but also the desire and motivation to do so. Thus, the good works that believers carry out and the fruit they bear are a certain outcome of God's work in their lives, and His ultimate plan for the world and believers will ensure the fulfillment of His will.
As believers, it is important to understand that we are not the sole agents for our own good works. Rather, we are completely dependent on God for our salvation and for our ability to carry out good works. This should lead us to a deep sense of humility and gratitude towards God, as well as a desire to constantly seek His guidance and direction in our lives. It should also motivate us to carry out good works with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving, knowing that it is ultimately God who is working in us to will and to do.