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Sunday, September 06, 2015

The Work of God

The phrase is ambiguous, like other similar phrases. Is "the love of God" our love for God or His love for us? It's the same with this one. When we refer to "the work of God", are we referring to "the work we do for God" or "the work that God does"? In view of the Labor Day weekend and, specifically, Sunday, the Lord's Day, I'd like to take a minute to look at the work that God does. I don't think He gets enough attention there.

The Bible actually begins with the work of God. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1) For two chapters, in fact, we read about God working -- creating, making, forming, commanding -- until we come to "the seventh day" (Gen 2:2-3). Some have suggested that this text indicates God is no longer working. It takes the briefest of moments to realize this simply isn't true. God told Israel in the desert, "Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you." (Exo 34:10) Today we see people who "were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." (Col 2:12) If God is not working today, no one is saved. Jesus said that He did the works of His Father (John 10:37-38). Jesus said, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." (John 5:17) Rest assured. God is still at work.

What are the works of God? In Job we read, "But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, wonders without number. He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields." (Job 5:8-10) Did you ever stop to think that rain is the work of God? Eliphaz here lists this among the "great and unsearchable things, wonders without number" that God does. Indeed, "In Him all things hold together." (Col 1:17) The first, most obvious work of God is the existence of every physical thing about you. He didn't merely make it; it exists by His active work.

Of course, when we speak of the work of God we tend to think of more spiritual things. Jesus spoke of the work of the Holy Spirit.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged." (John 16:7-11)
That's the work of God.

Jesus said He came "to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10) Seeking and saving ... that's the work of God.

John wrote, "If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) Cleansing from sin ... that's the work of God.

Here's one I'm sure didn't spring to your mind. In John 6 after Jesus had fed the 5,000 (John 6:1-14), the people pursued Him for what Jesus knew to be more bread. But they apparently just wanted to see more miracles.
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 whom He has sent." (John 6:28-29)
Interesting. They spoke of working "the works of God" and Jesus said that believing was God's work. So, which is it? Is believing the work we do for God, or is it the work that God does? To which I would answer, "Yes." Just as we sustain life and God sustains life, we believe because it is the work God is doing. Paul wrote, "God has allotted to each a measure of faith." (Rom 12:3) God's work, then, is giving you faith and your work on behalf of God is exercising that faith ... which God gave and God maintains as He maintains everything.

As we look to a celebration of work, it seems only fitting to begin with a celebration of God's work. As Creator and Sustainer of all things, He works even now. He gives rain and He gives life. The Spirit convicts of sin. God calls people to Himself. The blood of Christ cleanses from sin. Even our faith is a work of God. And that's just a smattering of the work of God. His is a labor to be celebrated.

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