John 6:28 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
Every person of faith is told we should read the Bible, pray, love, serve and meet together. We’ve prioritized those more tangible expressions of our faith as requirements God has given that will lead us to Jesus. Many of us could truthfully confess at times we’ve experienced those foundations of faith as the burden of works, the “shoulds.” Even the faith that is a gift of God does not make us immune to the flaws of a human nature that wants an answer to the wrong question; “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
It’s entirely possible the purpose of the struggle we have with those foundational parts of our faith is to help us recognize we are unable to do the work God requires. The right question for us to ask is: WHO must do “the works God requires?” And the answer is right there for us…”The work of God is this: to believe in [Jesus] the one he has sent.”
Truth; John 15:3 You have already been cleansed [or pruned] by the word that I have spoken to you. [NRSV]
Inspiration: Remember the Apostle Peter? Remember how he protested when Jesus wanted to wash his feet? Jesus’s response to Peter sounds just like John 15:3 to me – ”you’ve already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.
Reality: OK, this is a test! Get a pencil and paper and write down the first five true things you remember Jesus has spoken personally into your heart. Write them in the order you remember them without any concern about a timeline. It doesn’t have to be a complete list and they don’t have to be written as verbatim scripture but they do have to be real to you. AND THIS IS KEY: don’t go back and edit them in any way as you read them again. [you know it’s me I’m talking to]. The important thing is they ARE written in the order you remember them.
[ •Test IS the root word of test meaning “to bear witness.” Do not confuse this root test with the same word which means examination. It is true that when you take an examination you are a witness for your own knowledge and, unless you cheat, you are showing what you do or don’t know. However, here the word means a solemn telling of the truth of what you know, bearing witness for truth’s sake.
You may have already had the experience of writing or giving your testimony. You know how difficult it is to distill the most important things Jesus has done for you from the many really good things that have happened in your life without turning it into an “I was and now I am” testimony. I believe the results of your test are listed in the priority of their impact on you specifically. Can you believe the things you just wrote down are an accurate recounting of Jesus and the Holy Spirit verifying “you have already been cleansed”? If you can, that belief can make your list the perfect outline that moves what you wrote from that examination kind of “test” to the root of a new “testimony.” A testimony that bears witness for truth’s sake to the I AM. My wish would be that you would use your results and write your own new kind of testimony.
This is my own “unedited” list. My new testimony is only to show you an example of how effectively it can work.
1. I have been crucified with Christ. I have scars but they’re part of the testimony of my healing.
2. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
3. Jesus will complete the work he’s begun in me
4. The greatest of these is love
5. Lord help my heart, soul, mind an strength
Nobody wants to admit their inability to deal with life or being wounded. Even healing can leave scars. I want my scars to be changed from something that needs to be hidden to evidence of blessing. I want to be like Jesus. I want Him to be the power that allows me to believe and live as if I have “already been cleansed. ” I want to view those scars as the revelation of a changed heart not a sign of condemnation. I want to believe my soul has caught a glimpse of promised immortality, my mind has been challenged by the Word of God and I really do have the strength to live by the words Jesus has spoken into my heart – I AM “the word that I have spoken to you.”
cRomans 8:38 For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God’s love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, 39 or where we are—high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean—nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. TLB
“Nothing can ever separate us from his [Christ’s] love.” Nothing! “That’s a big promise, isn’t it? Of course I believe it. Do I live like I believe it? This is one of those big promises it’s easier to “believe” than to integrate into the patterns of real life. An odd turn of mind happened as I pondered these two verses. What if they require my submission in order to believe and accept their assurance? I was surprised by that thought. That’s what made “nothing” something to think about.
Some time ago I discovered a one-word prayer to remind myself to face up to the reality God is organizing the fine points of my life according to his plan, not mine. There are times my greatest need is to pray that one word…”Whatever.” Praying “Whatever” is sometimes only resigned acceptance but sometimes it’s the one-word relief of accepting things that are too big to comprehend. That’s submission. Pray “Whatever” when you can’t figure out God’s plan but you’re convinced he has one.
That one word “nothing” in these verses is so all-encompassing it’s hard to comprehend too. I’m going to add another one-word prayer of submission…”Nothing.” Submission is more complicated than I know how to live but I know offering God these two unlikely words of surrender and acceptance are a good place to begin. Remember “Nothing” is really everything. That makes “Nothing” a good one-word prayer to remind you of the vast scope and permanence of God’s love for you “demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us. Pray it!
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for…13 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.
Oswald Chambers said “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him.” The mystery of living by faith is how easy it is to forget that. Sometimes circumstances seem more real than faith
Hebrews 11 is called the “By Faith” chapter. The real life stories of those notable “ancients,” elsewhere in the Bible, tell us the human side of their lives as well. They were not perfect. Their circumstances were very real. Faith was just as mysterious, and the evidence just as elusive, for them as it is for us today and yet they were commended for it. Why?
Twenty one times Hebrews 11 gives us the simple answer to what makes “living by faith” a reality that works even today for our lives. It’s all summed up in that one small preposition, “By.” That little word is the agent of change that makes possible a faith that impacts what we’re able do. Remembering our most intimate moments with God is what makes living “by faith” something that’s more real than circumstances. That’s commendable.
“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.”
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government
will be on his shoulders. And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.