Today is a day to shift gears a bit. I’ve been focusing much of my attention lately on the magnitude and consequence of sin as well as the need to rid ourselves of it. I believe this is an exercise that is sorely lacking in the typical church and certainly within the typical Christian. The simple fact is that our sin problem is getting bigger and bigger.
Here’s the other side of all this. Jesus came to deliver us from our sin. His goal wasn’t simply to help you stop smoking tobacco. No, his purpose was to deliver us from ourselves. Never mind the one sin that is driving you nuts; think about the overall situation you and every single person ever born is in. We are hopelessly, irrevocably separated from God – voluntarily! Romans 1 isn’t narrowing its focus on homosexuals; it is a wide broad net that includes every single person. Note how it all starts: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give him thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the unnatural God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.” (Romans 1:21-23) Although there is a church around every corner, most are worshiping a deity of their own imagination. We need look no further than the Hebrew nation in our bibles to see that religion does not please God. Why should the typical pagan today be any different just because s/he routinely goes to church?
Anyway, this problem is huge. Yet, Jesus came to extend salvation to the world. Incredibly, very few of us fools take him up on his offer. How do we accept salvation? Through faith alone. Not works. Works is a by-product. Faith is the ticket. This brings me to one of my favorite verses:
John 6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
What in the world does that mean? Let’s start with the word “the”. Jesus didn’t say A work, or PART of the work; he said THE work. Yes, we know that we are to love God and people, but he said “the” in this verse. That tells me that this stuff is very, very important. THE work of God is what follows. Nothing more, nothing less. We can’t add to this requirement nor can we take anything away. To try to do so is to make our words more valid than Jesus’. I’m not willing to do that, so I must settle myself on what he says.
What does he say? “That you believe,” to start. Now we know that James says, “Even the demons believe – and shudder!” (James 3:19), yet we know they are doomed. So, “believe” in John 6:29 must be more than simply knowing something to be true. The demons know this but are rebellious. I’m not going to try get into the study of the Greek behind all this. Common sense tells us that it is one thing to flap our lips and quite another to be truly committed. Reciting a creed means nothing unless there is true belief behind it. “Talk is cheap but put your money where your mouth is!” You know what I’m talking about.
“That you believe in him whom he has sent.” The “him” is Jesus and “he” is God the Father. Quite simply, believe this guy, Jesus, because God is the one who sent him. He is the real deal, the full enchilada. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)
To believe in Jesus, we need to know who he is. Hindus know who Jesus is. So, do Muslims. So, does the average person who carries the title “Christian.” But do they KNOW him? Do they know him enough that they believe in him? Of course not. Now, please don’t get me wrong. You can have doctorate degree after doctorate degree on the life and times of Jesus and still not know him. No, belief that leads to true knowledge is something quite different.
So, what is Jesus talking about in John 6:29? In my opinion, I think he is saying that the most important thing we can do as his followers is to know him better and better so that we may be sure of our faith. If we really believe all this stuff that he alone is our redemption, we would be eager to be with him, to sit by him so that we may hear every single word that comes out of his mouth. We know that he is in heaven right at this very moment (that comes with belief), so we can’t sit by him, but we CAN hear his words through the pages of our bibles. In this book is life and knowledge of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Given my perusal of the bible, I have drawn the conclusion that nothing is more important in our Christian walk than to know Jesus better through the book he wrote. Yes, the bible is an autobiography. It is the only sure communication between God and man. Yes, prayer and meditation are necessary, but that goes hand in hand with studying the Word of God. Without knowledge, prayer is very dangerous because we are communicating with a god we do not know. The bible teaches us who the one true and living God is.
Does that make sense? Work is our duty, but it is our greatest pleasure because all we are required to do is get to know Jesus better. Do you see what I mean? All the other stuff (like loving our neighbor and forgiving others, and everything else) will come naturally when we know Jesus. Belief comes only through the Word of God. (Romans 10:14-15)
Do yourself a huge favor and dig into your bible. Relish it. Dive in and out of it like a child playing in a pile of leaves. Enjoy your God and Jesus Christ!
Father, teach us. Amen.
Copyright © 2018 Scott Powers