“Jesus answers, and says to them, This is the work of God, that ye believe to him, whom he sent.”
The question is: “What shall we do, that we work the works of God?” Just as in Jesus’ day when He walks the earth, people ask and argue this question every day. Some people debate while others actually denigrate others’ ideas of what it means to “work the works of God.”
“And now dwelleth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the most of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:13) Paul answers the question, “What shall we do, that we work the works of God” with a strong reminder that without charity, we are nothing.
I’ve actually heard people downplay the value of love, spouting that holiness is the key to God. Jesus, I believe, agrees except that He says that without love, holiness is of no value because without love, there is no holiness.
What causes a Christian to stumble? God’s Word says that love of God’s Law gives “much peace” and “no cause of stumbling.” Doesn’t it follow, then, that when a Christian stumbles – I presume, sins – the cause is a lack of love for God’s Law.
So, what is God’s Law? Jesus says the greatest commandment (i.e. God’s Law) is to love the Lord your God with all the strength of your heart, your soul, your mind. And the second greatest is like it – it calls on the Christian to love his or her neighbor in the same manner as self-love.
Of course, it’s not enough to understand God’s Law. We must incorporate this law of Love into our very selves. If we love, it follows we will have peace and will have no reason to stumble.
Paul reminds that sin is anything done outside of faith. Faith is being certain of things unseen. My faith rests squarely on the accomplished work of Jesus Christ, and on absolutely nothing else. His Love – His ability to fully love – is what I rely upon. Outside of His Love, I am nothing.
“Much peace is to them that love thy law; and no cause of stumbling is to them. (There is much peace for those who love thy Law; and they have no reason to slip, or to stumble.)”
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Essentially, Jesus Christ is Life. Not having Jesus is death. Yes, the situation is that black and white. It’s sort of like Reese’s line to Sarah Connor in the first Terminator movie, “If you want to live, come with me.”
Jesus says, “If you want to live, come with Me.” He finds people – individual people – and tells them this same thing: “Follow Me.”
“For [to] me to live is Christ, and to die is winning.”
Now most people know Paul isn’t saying, “I wanna die!” Rather, Paul is saying, “Life is Christ; death is winning.” If you examine Paul’s life, you can readily understand why living for Paul is “Christ.” Paul’s walk is filled with sufferings, thorns in the flesh, and hard hard work for the Lord. He writes frequently about “suffering” for Christ’s sake. No wonder Paul looks forward to dying for to him, death is the end of the struggle and the beginning of eternal glory.
Life is hard, but life is good. Death is harder, and eternal life is best. Why is eternal life best? Nope. Not because of gold streets or shiny baulbs. Eternal life is best because of being in God’s presence, face to face. Fully knowing Him as we are fully known. The end of tears, no fear, no pain.
“They [God’s people] 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—” (Hebrews 11: 27, NIV)
None of these sufferings matter in God’s presence. Paul likens death to winning a race, crossing the finish line, celebrating the victory, accepting the prize. That’s why he writes, “To die is winning.”
18 Flee ye fornication; all sin whatever sin a man doeth [all sin whatever a man shall do], is without the body; but he that doeth fornication, sinneth against his body.
19 Whether ye know not, that your members be the temple of the Holy Ghost, that is in you, whom ye have of God, and ye be not your own?
20 For ye be bought with great price. Glorify ye, and bear ye God in your body.
If you believe preachers in the pulpit, fornication ( that’s sexual intercourse outside of marriage ) is rampant. Almost everyone fornicates, again if you believe the men who stand up each Sunday and declare that sexual sins are the most difficult and the most frequent sins committed in and by the body of Christ ( uh, that’s the church ). Not hard to see why preachers preach this — it seems to be true.
Our culture no longer expects people to remain committed to one another. Marriage is now a convenience. No longer do two people promise to love and cherish one another until death even if they say these words. These words ( that’s “until death do us part” ) don’t mean the same thing as they meant for earlier generations. Instead, people decide to give up on their marriages because they are no longer convenient, no longer passionate, no longer easy, or because love has failed them.
But, God says “love never fails; love never gives up; love keeps no record of wrongs.” Remember?
The interesting part of these verses that Paul writes to the Corinthians, a church filled with Christian failures, is: “Bear you God in your body.” Ponder this command. You are purchased at great cost to God. You belong to Him, not to your self. You hold the Holy Ghost or Spirit within you. You actually carry God in your body.
Imagine God in your body. Imagine your body as a temple of the Lord God Almighty.
“I delighted in the way of thy witnessings; (as much) as in all riches. (I delighted in the way of thy teachings, or thy commands; as much as in great riches.)”
“I rejoice in the way revealed by Your decrees as much as in all riches.” (HCSB)
People recognize it’s fun to be wealthy, to have riches, to wallow in money. David wisely knows it’s best to “delight in the way of [God’s] witnessings” (His teachings, His commands, His decrees; i.e His Word).
God’s Word reveals the way. Wisdom is rejoicing in God’s ways, knowing always God’s ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.”
I gather sparrows are valuable in Jesus’ culture. Five of these little birds are worth 2 farthings. Even less valuable items gain God’s notice. The hairs on my head “are all numbered” says the Word of God. In other words, nothing escapes God’s notice. He sees, He knows everything about everything. Not only does He see and know, He also cares about everything. He cares about things which we human beings do not value or which we hold in low esteem.
Because God cares about “the little things,” we ought to rest assured He cares about the important things, i.e. about us. We “are of more value than many sparrows.” Since this truth ought to be obvious, why do we live in fear?
God’s Word tells us, “Fear not! You are not forgotten” by God.
“For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.”
You may hear certain Christians pronounce that God is Judge, God is Lawgiver, God is King; but they seem to forget that God is Savior. They conveniently forget that God’s plan is to save us. God’s intention is not to condemn, but to forgive. He comes to seek and to save what is lost. He sows seed in order to nurture it into growth, to ensure that growth is healthy and whole.
Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1, KJV)
Walking after the flesh is being under Law; walking after the Spirit is being under Grace. Grace is not, and never has been, an excuse for sin. Grace is God’s gift to a dead world.
“The Lord saith these things, The Lord is name of him that shall do, and form, and make ready that thing; (The Lord saith these things, he who made, and formed, and established the earth, yea, the Lord is his name;) Cry thou to me, and I shall hear thee, and I shall tell to thee great things, and steadfast (and I shall tell thee great and steadfast things), which thou knowest not.”
James tells us if we lack wisdom we should ask God who gives generously the knowledge and the understanding, i.e. the wisdom that we need for any situation. After all, God is the One “who made, and formed, and established the earth.” Being the Creator, God knows all. Because He knows all, He is all wise. Because He is all wise, who else should we ask for the wisdom we need? And why should we doubt His gift? He promises to “hear [us], and […] tell to [us] great things, and steadfast, which [we] knowest not.” The caveat, per James, is we must not doubt God’s promise. Our doubt gets in God’s way, like a roadblock. Yet, we have another option! We can pray, “Lord, help our unbelief.” Always, God makes a way for us. Always.