What is the “work of God”?
What is the “work of God”?
By David Cox
Let us be clear about what the work of God is. There is only one thing that can be at the heart of God’s plan, work, and will, and that has to be the salvation of men’s souls. Why? Defend this from the Bible, David. Okay.
First of all, God is not limited or under constraint, but God makes and imposes “the rules of the game.” If God was to have wanted salvation to come by means of killing an animal, by works, by baptism, or by any of a thousand ways false religions say you get saved, God could have done it any of those ways. But God chose what He chose.
Now, looking at the overall scheme of things, we note that God in his great wisdom made a way of salvation which necessitates the death of his son, Jesus Christ. Why? First of all we note that nothing else in Christianity needs the death of Jesus. So this is the most important thing there is, salvation. Secondly we note that God expressed Himself in a Trinity. By doing this, God teaches us that God is love. This is a fundamental expression or definition of God. Love cannot exist with one alone. This is sinful and self centered. What is necessary for love to exist in purity is three “things”: (1) the person who does the loving (God the Father), (2) the object of this loving (God the Son), and (3) and the evidence of this love (God the Holy Spirit). In this we see the trinity, and in this we see the definition of love being worked out.
The greatest pain of perhaps all life (apart from hell) is the lose of child by his father. God designed this element in salvation so that we can understand how important salvation is to God, and likewise how important salvation is to us, or at least should be.
THE WORK OF GOD
The work of God is simply this:
(1) Christians take the good news of the gospel (salvation) to the unsaved of the world where they live, work, and play.
(2) Those that accept that salvation are organized into a local church where they identify with the redeemed in their area, are taught, disciplined, grow spiritually, and offer spiritual sacrifices and service to their God.
(3) These trained new believers go out into the world to evangelize the lost where they are found.
Everything else in the ministry or work of God is subservient to this principle activity. Nothing is more important, nothing carries a higher priority, nor should occupy our activities, interest, nor economic considerations more than this work of God.
We enter into sin when we elevate a good thing to take the place of the primary task that we should be doing. There are churches and individuals which dedicate their lives to other “aspects” of the ministry which rob the emphasis and priority of the most important things.
For example the social needs of people is important, but they should not take priority over the salvation and spiritual aspects mentioned above. We tend to focus on what we want to, and not what God wants us to focus on.
Perhaps a word in defense of this issue of salvation being the principle part of the work of God is in order. First of all, we need to get a clear picture of God. Who is over God that that person would impose rules on God? There is nobody in that position. There is nobody over God, there is nobody beside God, and there are only people under God in power and authority.
So God makes the rules of the game. If God wanted to, God could make an animal sacrifice the only thing necessary for salvation, or baptism, or church membership. But God in His infinite wisdom refused all of these and thousands of others, and decided that only faith in Jesus His Son would save a soul. Who forced God to this decision? Nobody. Because God decides these things in His own will.
Why would God the Son have to die? This is the issue, it cost God personally. Salvation is so important that it costs God personally. Because of this God arranged everything as it is.
God is love. God therefore has to be a Trinity. To have valid love (not invalid self-love which is egotism and a sin), you have to have more than one person. So you have to have the person who loves, the person who is loved, and moreover you have to an evidence of that love. The Bible presents God the Father as the person who loves, God the Son as the Beloved, and the Holy Spirit is that less tangible, less visible, but none-the-less real evidence of that love.
So God the Father paid the greatest price there is in giving us salvation, the death of his own Son. Among humans, perhaps the greatest hurt we can experience is that of a parent watching their child die before them. This is something that every parent would rather take his child’s place and die in his place than see this happen. Yet this is the exact situation God arranged without outside compulsion in order to give us salvation.
The Bible is full of a lot of things we should or should not do. But none of them compare to the price that God Himself had to pay to provide us with salvation, the death of His own Son. This has to take the priority over all in our thinking.
WHAT IS NOT THE WORK OF GOD
A balance is essential in this life, and in this area there is no exception. We can spend time, money and energy on the non-essential things of life, and it may not be a sin. It becomes a sin when we either (1) ignore almost totally the most important things, or (2) we spend disproportion amounts of time, energy, and money on the non-essential secondary things of life. This is the same in the work of God.
It is not necessarily wrong to read a good book that is not the Bible. But when we devote hours and hours to reading these things, and we do not spend significant amounts of time reading the Bible, these things have dominated and suppressed the importance and priority of thing we should devote most of our time to, the Bible. Perhaps a person is a teacher of secular literature in a college. He has to read a lot of secular books. Ok. But the Bible and the study of the Bible should also occupy a great amount of his free time because of his relationship with Christ.
Today in Christianity, we have elevated everything that every Christian does to “be a ministry”. By elevating everything else we have despised and suppressed and lightly esteemed the most essential, the preaching of the Gospel, the establishing of Christians into mature members of a local church doing the work of God. By exalting or raising the priority of something that should not have that priority, we exclude or de-emphasize the important.
Those who are involved in the work of God should understand and it should be seen in their lives and especially in their ministries that God’s work is that of bringing the unsaved into salvation, preparing and capacitating them in the local church so that they are mature adult Christians doing the work of God themselves.
There is a place for things such as the social and physical needs of God’s people, such as the widows in Acts 6, and the Old Testament recurring theme of God’s people taking care of widows and orphans (James 1:27). But these things were always a minor part of a larger work of God. The local church had people who took care of these ministries keeping them within the local church. We see nothing that would indicate they ever broke off from the local church and was independent.