Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Working the Work of God

In John 6, after Jesus had fed the multitudes, the next day the crowd came after Him on foot and in boats, all the way across the sea of Galilee. Jesus rebuked them for following after Him only to have their stomachs filled. Picking up in verse 27 and starting with Jesus, let's look at the interchange that took place at that point. "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father has set His seal." Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him who He has sent."

The question posed to Jesus was legitimate for the religious environment at that time. Israel was under the influence of the Pharisees who had reduced the Law to a system of works. They had their religious works honed finer than a gnat's eyelash, and were very zealous in the protection and promotion of their system of works righteousness. The whole system was based on works, many of which were mutations of the Law, which led them to a state of spiritual bankruptcy where they were like white washed tombs, clean and pristine on the outside, but full of death and decay on the inside. This is why Christ told the crowd in the Sermon on the Mount that their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees, as it is not the external accomplishment of a set of religious duties, but doing the will of God from the heart that constitutes the work of God. This is what Christ expressed when he told them that the work of God was to believe in the One whom God had sent, Christ Himself.  

What then does it mean to believe in the One whom God has sent? Saving faith has two components, and both are centered in Christ. First there is the belief in the person of Christ, that He is all that the Bible says that He is; and the Bible tells us that He is fully both God and man, the Savior, and the only way to God (in fact, these were things that Christ actually said about Himself).  

The other component or element of saving faith is to believe on the finished work of Christ. This entails believing (accepting and not rejecting) that Christ lived a perfect and sinless life in our stead before God by always doing the will of God, not in a perfunctory way, but from the heart. Read through the gospel of John and see how this is laid out for us to see, and is culminated in John 14:31. This pure sinless life qualified Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins in our stead, a sinless man suffering the eternal wrath of God for all the sins of those who would place their faith in Him as the Savior, and believe in the completeness of His sacrifice for those sins. This means that we trust Christ's work and not our own.

You cannot work your way to God, no matter how sincere you are nor how hard you try. The only acceptable work before God is what Christ accomplished by living the life he lived and by the death that He died. We must accept who He is and trust in what He has done. This is what is behind the exclusivity of the Christian faith. There is only One who lived the sinless life, there is only One who qualified to be the one time for all time sacrifice for sins, and that is the God-man Jesus Christ. Christ is the One whom God sent to be the Savior for all mankind, for all of those who would turn to Him and Him alone to be their Savior.

This is the work of God, my friends, to believe in the One whom God has sent, for on Him God has set His seal of approval for the works He accomplished on behalf of all that will come to Him in repentance and faith. Don't delay any longer, cease from trying to work your own way into heaven and accept the work that Christ has done on your behalf.

Monday, May 04, 2015

A Prayer for the Day

Lord, cause me to walk blamelessly before You,
by the power of Your Spirit and the knowledge of Your Word.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ignorance of the Scriptures

Ignorance of the Scriptures has given rise to thousands of evils.
From this seed the great corruption of heresies has blossomed;
from this spring have flowed careless living and wasted labors.
Just as anyone deprived of the light of this world cannot walk 
straight, so those who do not see the rays of the divine Scriptures
walk in thick darkness. They regularly and inevitably fall into many sins.

John Chrysostom 
Early Church Father

As it was then, so it is now. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

A Daily Perspective

It matters not, the praise of men.
It matters only, the pleasing of Him.
(Galatians 1:10)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Thought for the Day

You cannot be guided by circumstances when
you are refusing to be guided by God's word.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How to Keep Life's Circumstances in Perspective

First, realize that God is absolutely Sovereign over all of your life’s circumstances…both good and bad.  Psalm 103:19 says “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” (NASB)  The theological term for His sovereignty over our life’s affairs is Divine Providence.  This means that whatever life throws at us has to come through the omnipotent knowledge and permission of God; and the course and direction of our life is ultimately determined by the Lord.

This is practically illustrated in the following verses:

 Proverbs 16:9 The mind of man plans His way, but the Lord directs his steps.  This verse shows us that we are part of the process, but that in the midst of our thinking, planning, strategizing and praying, God is the ultimate determiner.

Proverbs 20:24 Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way.  We never know/understand where our steps will lead, because the Lord has ordained (planned and purposed) them, and they are beyond our foreknowledge; but not His.

Jeremiah 10:23 I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps.  This verse show us the futility of thinking that we are ever in total control of our life and its destiny.  The unseen providence of God is taking us where we would never have imagined or chosen had we known all that was before us.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in His way.  Here we see that the Lord delights (takes pleasure) in the way He has established (planned, purposed, and carried out) for us.  His ultimate goal for us is to be completely conformed to the image of His Son in preparation for eternity.  His plan for us is not a plan for this world only, but, actually uses this world to prepare us for the eternal world to come; and our final and complete conformity to the likeness of Christ, who, as the God-man, is the complete man.  (Philippians 1:6 & 2:13, Colossians 1:28, Ephesians 4:11-15, I John 3:2, Romans 8:29)

Romans 8:28 For we know that God cause all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  This is because that God’s plan for us is for our eternal good.  Our time here is short, and even though we are preoccupied with it, God is preoccupied with our place in eternity.

Secondly, what should our response be?

Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.  In our circumstances we must trust the Lord, His leading and its outcome and know that our understanding of the whys and wherefores will come in due time.

Psalm 37:3-5 Trust in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it.  This section begins and ends with trusting the Lord; and this trusting is accompanied by doing good (being godly in our circumstances), dwelling in land (staying where He has brought us and not trying to seek our own way of escape), cultivating faithfulness (building our faithfulness to Him by being obedient to Him in our circumstances), delighting ourselves in Him (this is a by-product of the joy that comes from our faithfulness and trusting), committing our way to Him (in all our way acknowledging Him…Lord I am going to follow you no matter what).

Finally, a biblical example.

Read Genesis 12 and consider the call of God to Abraham.  God called, Abraham followed, and God led him right into the middle of a famine.  Was the Lord surprised?…NO!  He knew where He was leading and what would be there, but God had a purpose, a greater and eternal purpose for Abraham; and through all of this He taught Abraham to trust Him, to be faithful to Him; and as a result, Abraham became the father of faith for all who would come to Christ thereafter.

Remember, in God's enconomy there are no accidents or happenstances.  Whatever comes your way has been Divinely ordained for your good, your ultimate and eternal good, and for the glory of the One who has called you to Himself and blessed you with an eternal salvation that trascends your short time here on this earth. All that transpires is part of His eternal plan for you…even to your children. Thank Him for His eternal plan and its working out in both good and hard providence.  For His eye is on you, His thoughts toward you are as numerous as His wonders, and what He began in You He will complete for all eternity.  Bless His holy name!