Believe! This Is the Work of God

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.
(John 6:27–29, ESV)

No matter how precisely God describes it, we humans insist on corrupting the simple Gospel. Salvation is a gift from God—period! And the only work that the Father recognizes as a legitimate work is believing in Jesus Christ. If you are among those who believe that you must perform some services, partake in some sacraments or make some sacrifices to please God, let Jesus speak. When the disciples asked, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28) Jesus answered, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” The sentence is simple, and the answer is plain. Belief is the work.

I realize that believing doesn't feel like work — not as we're accustomed to thinking about it. We usually think of work in terms of performing a physical or emotional labor that involves some kind of sacrifice, like working in a soup kitchen. But that would be our idea of work. Instead, we must yield to God's idea of work, because opposing the clear counsel of the Bible is opposing God himself—and you will never please God by doing matter how hard we work at it. We must make the same transition that the disciples made. They understood how to perform good works within the Old Testament's system of alms and sacrifices, but they did not understand that those activities were (eminently and imminently) symbolic — and that the object of that symbolism was now with them in the person of Jesus, the Christ. They needed a lesson in how symbolism works, and so do we: when that to which the symbol pointed has come, then there is no more need for the symbol. And Jesus fulfilled every requirement of the law. (Matthew 5:17)

Jesus used the miracle of the manna in the wilderness to illustrate the great change that had come with his incarnation. Where God had once given the Jews manna in the wilderness, which was sustenance for their redemptive journey, he now gave them the Bread of Life — which was their sustenance forever. Both the manna and the man were pure gifts from God, and partaking of them was neither a labor nor a sacrifice. Believing that Jesus is the Christ satisfies all of God's requirements for salvation, and it honors God's particular way of working among us — teaching us with symbols, eras and fulfillments.

Belief can take some work though, as illustrated by the father who brought his son to Jesus for a healing. The father cried out, "...I believe; help my unbelief'” (Mark 9:24, ESV). Although this distressed man exercised belief in Jesus' power to heal, he was honest with his feelings. He did not believe fully, so he asked for help with his belief. We can, too—and we should. We want to grow in faith, rather than to be defined by a stationary moment of belief. Any experience that requires growth or advancement requires work, even belief. And God can help.

Finally, our belief is a gift from God. He draws us with the Holy Spirit—and God wants us to respond to that wooing, because once we connect with God, his Spirit testifies to the person of Jesus Christ, that he is God, and that his saving work on the cross covers all our sins—past, present and future. Belief on Jesus — that he is the Savior, the Christ — is the one work which God will accept for entrance into heaven.

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