“But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now [He has never ceased working], and I too am working.” (John 5:17) God rested on the seventh day after He created the world and mankind (Genesis 1-2) but after the Fall (Genesis 3) He rolled up His sleeves and started working on recreating us (salvation/redemption/spiritual growth). “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” (2 Corinthians 5:17) And ultimately God will totally recreate this sin-soaked universe (2 Peter 3:10) and create a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1). And He says to us, through the apostle Paul, “Work with Me.” “So then, my dear ones, just as you have always obeyed [my instructions with enthusiasm], not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence, continue to work out your salvation [that is, cultivate it, bring it to full effect, actively pursue spiritual maturity] with awe-inspired fear and trembling [using serious caution and critical self-evaluation to avoid anything that might offend God or discredit the name of Christ]. For it is [not your strength, but it is] God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13) And He tells us clearly what His ultimate purpose and pleasure is – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:28-29) The Triune God is, humanly speaking, hard at work for our greatest joy, our highest good, and His pleasure and glory as He works 24 hours a day 7 days a week, year after year to make us more and more like His beautiful Son, Jesus Christ. As written in Hebrews, Jesus is working to bring “many sons to glory” or to spiritual greatness. (Hebrews 2:10)
When will God rest from His work? “So there remains a Sabbath rest (sabbatismos) for the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9) This is the only time in Scripture this word is used and it means when God and mankind will rest together, face to face, in the new heaven and new earth. When Jesus came the first time John 1:14 says He dwelt (skēnoō) among us and this Greek word means to encamp with us or tabernacle with us as God did in the Tabernacle and Temple in the Old Testament. But God won’t fully and finally rest till He completes His work of re-creation and redemption of both the physical universe and the souls of men and women who put their trust in Christ. “I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. All of creation waits with eager longing for God to reveal his children. For creation was condemned to lose its purpose, not of its own will, but because God willed it to be so. Yet there was the hope that creation itself would one day be set free from its slavery to decay and would share the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts also groan within ourselves as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free.” (Romans 8:18-23) “See! The tabernacle of God is among men, and He will live among them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be death; there will no longer be sorrow and anguish, or crying, or pain; for the former order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4)
Recently the worship team at our church introduced us to a new song, called Way Maker, and the Lord used it to give me this revelation of God the Worker always working for our good to make us more and more like Christ. The lyrics describe God at work, “moving in our midst, working in this place, touching every heart, turning lives around” and “Even when we don’t see it, You never stop, You never stop working.” And the names of God also describe His activity and work: “Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, Light in the darkness.” (Songwriters: Osinachi Okoro Way Maker lyrics © Tunecore Inc) The lyrics differ among different renditions but the lyrics and rendition we like best are in the You Tube video included here and we encourage you to watch it.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” God alone can transmute all things (sins against us, and even His redemption of our sins) to work together for our good. But as the verse says our part is to love God (even when He allows painful trials) and to want His purpose – to make us more like Jesus. That’s the spiritual judo we have to do when the bad things come. As Joseph said to his brothers who hated and rejected him and sold him into slavery, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (See Genesis 50:20) He did spiritual judo by believing in the overarching goodness of His God and instead of being bitter and hateful (he could have executed all his brothers in his new position of power) He forgave them which saved his whole family from famine and death and ultimately lead to the forming of the nation of Israel.
“Work with Me, God says to all of us, for your greatest joy and highest good and My honor and glory by desiring to be like My Son; Work with Me as I both bless you and discipline you to that end.” And as Job, one of God’s greatest, said in the midst of the most severe trial that ever came upon a man (except for Jesus) “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15) But the ultimate example for trusting and glorifying God in the midst of suffering is the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Not just when He submitted to the cross, but His entire life was lived in submission to His Father. “ For it was fitting for Him (God the Father), for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation (Jesus) through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:10) “In the days of His (Jesus) flesh He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death (i.e., be resurrected), and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:7-8) Jesus was never imperfect morally nor ever disobeyed but He was perfected through suffering and learned increasing obedience as a Man to show us and enable us (by His indwelling Spirit) to live the life as a human being that always pleased and glorified God. He always lived and calls us to live (See Galatians 2:20) the “Not My will but Yours be done” kind of life and thus He had more joy than anyone. Speaking of Jesus the writer of Hebrews says, “You love what is right and hate what is wrong. That is why God, your God, has chosen you and has given you the joy of an honor far greater than he gave to your companions.” (Hebrews1:9)
And isn’t it good to know that our Lord is also working 24/7 in the lives of our loved ones and friends. We can thank Him for that and join with Him in prayer for their good (salvation and growth in Christlikeness) and do our part as He leads us to serve them.
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses
Thank You Lord that, “You never stop, You never stop working” to make us more and more like Your Son, Jesus Christ.
Until He comes again,
Len and Kristen