The Work of God

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Today we are looking at John 6:28-29. This passage is in the middle of Jesus’ interaction with the crowds he had miraculously fed on the other side of the Sea of Galilee from only 5 small barley loaves and two fish.
He fed them, and then returned to Capernaum supernaturally walking on the water to meet his disciples, and then supernaturally arriving at the shore near Capernaum.
These miracles were signs. Signs make a point. The point of these miracles was that Jesus was God come in the flesh to give eternal life to those who would receive him.
The people followed the next day and found Jesus. But, they had not gotten the point of the signs. So Jesus begins trying to explain it to them, using the imagery of the sign—the food which He miraculously supplied them the day before.
This the the interaction they had. We will begin reading in verse 25.
John 6:25–29 NIV
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Jesus said to the crowds...
John 6:27 NIV
Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
The people’s whole focus was on the temporal things of this world. They were looking to have their bellies filled, and their sicknesses healed.
Unfortunately, they were so focused on those things that they were missing Jesus, God, the Creator, the One who came to give Eternal life.
Jesus does provide for us in this temporal life. However, the point is that He wants provide more than just the temporal. He came to supply what truly satisfies! He came to give Eternal life: Righteousness and a Relationship with Him.
So, he encouraged these people to stop working for, or expending all of their efforts for the temporal, and to work for, or expend their efforts for the food which would lead to eternal! This special food could only be given to them by the Son of Man.
(The Son of Man is a title Jesus used for himself, because that is a title Daniel used for the One God promised to come to save His people, back in Daniel 7:13.)
God had given his approval, or the role of giving out this special food that would give eternal life, to Jesus, the Son of Man.
Since Jesus told them to work for this special food that endures to eternal life, which God approved Jesus to give to them, their next question was...
John 6:28 NIV
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
If we have to work for this special food that God has given Jesus to provide, what work does God require from us to get it?
To this question Jesus replied,
John 6:29 NIV
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

The work of God is this: believe in the one he has sent

In other words, the work that God requires from you to gain this food that leads to eternal life is believing in the one he sent; believe in Jesus.
Believe that He is God come in the flesh to save us from our sin, and give us eternal life!
We have seen this over and over as we have been going through this book, the Good news of Jesus that John wrote.
We saw it in the following verses:
John 1:7 NIV
He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
John 1:12 NIV
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
John 2:23 NIV
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.
John 3:14–15 NIV
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
John 3:16 NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:18 NIV
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:36 NIV
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.
John 4:41–42 NIV
And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:53 NIV
Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.
John 5:24 NIV
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.
John 5:37–40 NIV
And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.

Believe to receive eternal life

The people were asking Jesus, what do we have to do to get this eternal life?
Over and over the emphasis in the scripture is to believe in Jesus to receive eternal life.
We are born as people who disobey God. We are sinful. We are unrighteous. This is why we do not have eternal life from birth.
We know we are sinful, or disobedient to God. To make up for this, many people attempt to be good, or righteous on their own by following God’s laws, or at least the ones they like from the Old Testament. This would work except for the fact we cannot follow the law perfectly. We are not righteous.
Jesus came to correct that. He came to pay the penalty for our sin, to free us from the power of sin, and to make us righteous.
God puts it this way in Romans 3:20-24:
Romans 3:20–24 NIV
Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
God does not expect us to work for our salvation by obeying some set of rules, or following certain practices.
God wants to give the gift of eternal life to anyone who will receive it by faith—that is by believing Jesus is the God who loves us and died for our sins and rose again to give us life!
What is this life, this eternal life that He gives? It is giving us righteousness when he takes away our sinfulness. It is relationship with God when He takes away our enmity with God.

Believe to receive righteousness

What robs us of life? Our sin, our guilt and and our shame rob us of eternal life. Our sin is a willful disobedience to God. And, we are guilty.
However, God declares us to be righteous the moment we believe! That is so freeing! We are no longer condemned! We spoke about that in John 5:24! We have eternal life. We are not condemned! We have crossed over from death to life!
This is the best news ever!
And what is more, He not only declares us to be righteous, He restores us into a relationship with Him!
Romans 5:1 NIV
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Believe to receive a relationship with God

Since we have been justified through faith. That word justified means God has judiciously declared us righteous! He is the judge. He declares us not guilty! But more than just not guilty, he declares us completely righteous in His eyes! Wow!
And because we are now righteous, we are no longer separated from Him. We are no longer His enemies. There is no more enmity! We are at peace with God!
And more than just being at peace with Him, He declares us to be His children! We also saw that in John 1:12!
Believe to receive Eternal Life:
Righteousness of Christ
Relationship with God
Do you believe this? I do! And the bible is clear, that everyone who believes in Jesus, has eternal life!
Everyone who believes in Jesus is declared righteous.
Everyone who believes in Jesus is made a child of God.
I believe this is the emphasis of the text we are looking at today.
This is our salvation that grants us hope for today, and a bright hope for all eternity with Him!
This really is the good news! This is the best news!
I believe that most of you, if not all of you, know and believe this to be true. This should change our lives, and for all of us I think it has.
But as I was studying this passage over the past weeks, what was challenging me about this is that thought of work.
Is it just that we believe in Jesus and then we just continue through life the same as before knowing that we have eternity with Him ahead?
Life is full of work, isn’t it? We expel our efforts and energy for something all the time. We work.
But like we were talking about last week, what are we working for?
We do not work for our birth into this eternal life. The new birth that Jesus talks about over and over is by faith. It is a gift of God, not by any effort, practice or ritual on our part. We receive this new birth, this birth into eternal life by faith.
But what then? I believe the scriptures are clear that if we believe this, it should change our lives. By that, I mean it should change our living, shouldn’t it?
I want to challenge us today that while we read this passage and rejoice that God has provided salvation for us, and has made it so easy to obtain by making it by faith, we need to consider what this leads to. We need to consider what the outcome of this belief should be.

Belief is the means of salvation, and the impetusfor life!

Impetus means that belief is the driving force for life.
When you believe something, it leads to action based upon that belief.
If we really believe this wonderful news that Jesus saved us—that Jesus has given us eternal life: declaring us righteous and adopting us a children of God, it should lead to something! It should change the way we go about life!
There are so many scriptures to which we could turn, and I have put a few into the homework for this week.
The challenge I see from the fact that the work God requires of us is faith, is that belief, or Faith leads to action!
A passage in James with which you may be familiar puts it this way:
James 2:14–17 NIV
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Faith leads to action!

We read John 5:28-29 and we are in full agreement that we are saved by faith alone. God does not require us to perform certain actions, or live up to a certain righteous law or standard in order to be saved. We know that we are saved by grace through faith. We rejoice in that because we know there is not other way we could possibly be saved.
But does it end there? Do we walk out of here rejoicing that we believe and are saved? Do we forget what we are saved to?
We are saved to life with Him as our Lord and Savior! There should be some action as a result of this salvation!
Ephesians is one of our favorite passages dealing with salvation being by faith. Let’s look at it.
Ephesians 2:8–10 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Faith leads to Good Works

Faith leads to good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. That means that before the creation of the world, when God set out His whole plan, including how you and I would be saved, He also included in that plan how He wanted to use you and me. He planned what He wanted us to do!
The question is what are we doing with this wonderful salvation?
Is our faith the driving force behind our lives and what we do? Or, is it something that I know gives me eternity, but I just live moment by moment the way everyone else does?
Does my faith lead to good works that He prepared for me to do, or do I just do what I want to do, when I want to do it?
I was challenged as I read Hebrews 11 over the past couple weeks.
Look at it with me again, and let’s pay attention to what faith leads to...
Hebrews 11 NIV
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones. By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel. By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
By faith these men and women acted! Their faith was not dead. Their faith was the driving force behind their lives and their actions. Their faith led them to action!
God has entrusted you and me with this wonderful news that He will give eternal life: righteousness and relationship to anyone who will receive Jesus by faith.
We are righteous!!! Are we living in that righteousness which Jesus bought for us with his own life and blood?
We are in a relationship with the God of the Universe! He is our Father and our Lord. Are we living in the relationship loving Him and obeying Him? Are we using what He has given us, to do what He wants us to do?
In my study of obedience and faith, it led me to Matthew 25:14-30.
Matthew 25:14–30 NIV
“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
Jesus will come and settle accounts. Will we be ones to whom He says, “Well done my good and faithful servant?”
I don’t know about you, but I want to hear that!
Let’s go out this week, and let our faith lead us to action!
Let’s act on this faith in Jesus and His salvation!
Read Romans 1:5. Paul said that through Jesus he received grace and the work of apostle so that he could call Gentiles to “the obedience of faith.” I find that phrase interesting. What is obedience? To whom are we obedient each day? We all obey someone or something all the time. It could be our will, our desires, or someone else’s will or desires. Think through yesterday or today. To whom were you obedient?
Read Romans 6. This chapter is all about obedience. Did you notice there are only two masters? What are the two options? Who are the two masters? What is the benefit of each master? Now that you considered what the passage says, make it personal. What are examples from your life of following sin as your master? What did you get from following sin? What are examples of following God as your master? What did you gain?
Read James 2:14-26. If people around you were to look at your life, would they see your belief in Jesus as the basis for your actions? Why or why not? How could you live out your faith in your home? How could you live out your faith at school or at work? How do you talk about others? How do you treat others? Does your speech and your conduct show your faith in God? Praise the Lord for the good examples. But none of us are perfect. What would you change?
Read Philippians 2:12-18. Do you see the connection between faith and obedience here? We are saved by faith, and we are called to obey, to keep obeying and carrying out our salvation from sin to obedience to God. Reread Philippians 2:14-16. Is there any grumbling, arguing or thoughts, words and actions which are impure, or for which you could receive ‘blame’? How would seeing what we do in our home as service to God change what and how we do? How would seeing what we do at school or work as service to God change what and how we do? We need to confess our impurities, and let our faith that Jesus died to free us from grumbling and arguing lead us to strive to be obedient to God who calls us to do everything without grumbling or arguing, as service for Him.
Read Romans 7:4-6. What does it mean that we belong to Him? Our culture prides itself in freedom. I am free! You don’t own me! You don’t control me! Ever hear that? Ever think that? We have been set free from the sin that bound us. But does that mean that we are totally free? Actually, when we act in total freedom to do what we want, when we want, how we want, isn’t that just the same old bondage to the sin within us? We are deceived into thinking that is freedom when it is bondage to sin. We do not belong to sin anymore. We do belong to Him. We are His. We are to do what He wants, when He wants, how He wants. What fruit does He want for you? Try Galatians 5:22-24. Who is in your life? How does He want you to love them? He wants us to find joy in Him, and serving Him. How does He want us to be patient, kind, good, gentle? If you believe you are his, and He wants you to bear fruit, plan specific ways to do that to different people in your home, and at work or at school.
Read Ephesians 4:1-3. What is the calling? Maybe Ephesians 1:3-5, 12? How do we walk worthy of this calling to be holy, blameless, sons of God? How do we walk worthy of the calling to be for the praise of his glory? How can you do that today? Think through your day. What would being humble and gentle look like? Be specific. Write the script of the scenes of your life, and how humbleness and gentleness will be portrayed. How will you keep unity and peace? If we believe that is the calling, we need to let our faith lead us to action!
Romans 7:4 NIV
So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God.
Romans 7:6 NIV
But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
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