Sabbath Meditation #40 – What is the Father’s Work?
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work” (Ex. 20:9).
“In his defense Jesus said to them, ‘My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.’” (John 5:17)
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
In John 5:1-15, Jesus encountered a man who was crippled for thirty-eight years. He commanded the man to stand up and take his mat. The man obeyed and at that moment he was healed!
The Jewish leaders accused the man and Jesus of breaking the Sabbath. As reviewed in last week’s article, the Jewish leaders invented many rules which were not found in the Bible. One of them forbade people from carrying a mat in a public place. No such instruction is found in the Bible (CLICK HERE to read this article).
To begin His defense, Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17). What did Jesus mean when He discussed the Father’s work? What work did the Father engage in?
Some Bible verses will bring clarity to this subject:
“Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:29).
“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3).
“Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food…” (Romans 14:20)
“There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (I Cor. 12:6).
“God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth” (2 Thess. 2:13).
“…having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead…” (Col. 2:12).
Consider for a moment what these verses call the Work of God: believing in the one God sent; miraculous restoration/healing (which is the context of John 5:1-17); God’s work of salvation in a person; the gifts of the Spirit; the sanctifying work of the Spirit; and God raising us up from death through baptism.
None of the things mentioned in these verses are earned through human labor and work. If we receive miraculous healing, what natural labor was involved? If the gifts of the Spirit are used at a gathering of believers, what work was done? There is no physical labor or work involved in these activities that violates His commandments.
God’s Spirit has intrinsic qualities that influence this world when introduced into a situation. We access this work of God by faith. His Spirit causes the change in us, which will result in transformation (2 Cor. 3:18). Having said all of that, faith without works is dead (James 2). The man in John 5 still had to carry His mat. His action was a response to God’s work. He did not violate a commandment of God by doing so. He also did not earn the healing He received.
As the Apostle Paul wrote: “So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?” (Gal. 3:5). Later in the same book, he wrote: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). There are no laws against the fruits of the Spirit. Why? The Spirit of God leads and guides us so that these characteristics manifest in our lives.
When we reach out to God in prayer for help, healing, manifestation of His gifts, teaching, and so forth, we are asking for Him to intervene. God’s work is to respond to the request by introducing His Spirit into the situation; He meets our need according to His riches (Philippians 4:19). His transformative Spirit meets our faith (Gal. 3:14, 5:5).
During the first six days of the week, we engage in our work. We may have opportunities to engage in God’s work along the way. On Sabbath, our work is put aside, and we have a greater focus on God’s work. These are those things that only He can do for us and others by faith. However, He uses us to do them. He is Spirit and works through that Spirit to manifest Himself to us (John 4:24).
The works of God are blessings from Him which we certainly do not earn. What a reminder for us on the Sabbath, the day where we do not work.
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org
All Bible verses, unless otherwise noted, come from the New International Version (NIV). Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.