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Bible verses about Work Of God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

The "feeding of the flock," the care of the church, is each individual's responsibility toward God in his worship of God. One could say it IS the worship of God. It involves every person directly every moment of every day. In doing so, we are truly involved in "the work of God," which is the creation of Himself in us—actively, directly, personally participating with Him in it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

The works of God are good because they reveal His attributes of wisdom and power (Psalm 104:24, 31). Look at how wonderfully organized, beautiful, and pleasant all of God's creation is, and we see only a small portion of His infinite handiwork. God's works are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4), awesome through the excellence of His power (Psalm 66:3), honorable and glorious (Psalm 111:3), and gracious (Psalm 145:17). His creation of the angels and man is good. David was inspired to write, "I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well" (Psalm 139:14).

Martin G. Collins
Fear the Lord's Goodness!


 

Numbers 18:21

Tithes were given to Levi to do the work of God: to cover living expenses, equipment, upkeep of the tabernacle and its accouterments, etc. Today, our first tithe goes to church headquarters to do the same thing—to do God's work.

John O. Reid (1930-2016)
Tithing: God's Financial System


 

Psalm 74:12

The work of God is much more extensive than merely preaching the gospel to the public. We have gotten into the habit of using that term "work of God" far too narrowly.

This particular verse indicates

1) God is working. He is actively, continuously, and personally involved in our lives.

2) His work is more widespread than first appears to the casual observer.

He will do whatever it takes. He is not an assembly-line worker doing the same things over and over again. He accommodates for the way things are going within the purpose that He is accomplishing.

Salvation is a term that the Bible uses quite broadly. It literally means "deliverance," but it can be used to include anything that God does in His efforts to bring mankind into His Kingdom. The "feeding of the flock" is His work too. As Jesus stated in John 5:17, "My Father has been working until now, and I work."

"Feeding the flock" is a part of His work, just as getting Israel out of Egypt under Moses was a work. The major emphasis, though, was different. Getting Israel into the Promised Land under Joshua was also the "work of God." But, again, the emphasis of the work of God changed. Organizing Israel into a nation under David was part of His work, but again there was a shifting of gears in "the work of God."

Rebuilding the Temple under Ezra was a "work of God" done through men, but the emphasis changed again. The rebuilding of the wall under Nehemiah a little later was also the "work of God." The building of the ark through Noah was the "work of God" at that time. The examples are almost endless, and so the conclusion is that the specific application of the "work of God" can vary from era to era.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Ecclesiastes 3:9-11

Men search for the answers to life's big questions. They are aware that there is a Creator God, as Romans 1 so clearly shows. We know from our own experiences that multitudes of the public believe that God exists, but how many of those know the purpose that God is working out? The closest they have been able to come is to believe people go off to heaven when they die. That is not the purpose God is working out. It is so much more majestic, so much more grand and glorious than that—there is no comparison between the truth and that which man has concocted!

In addition, people do not seem to understand the connection between God's purpose and our lives right now. What are we supposed to do with what we understand? They do not understand that God is on a character-building mission, and it requires our cooperation with Him. That is exactly what God through Solomon suggests here: that no one can find out the work that God does from the beginning. Why? Because they do not fear Him! The fear of God must be given; it must be instilled within a person—and it must be instilled by God!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fear of God


 

Jeremiah 7:3-10

These people had put their trust that they would be safe in the principle that they were "in the church." The Temple was right there; they could look at it. Since God dwelt there, they were close to God, they thought. But why does God mention these sins? Because they were guilty.

In the same manner, many in the church have unwittingly put their trust in the fact that they have God's Spirit—that He dwells in them—therefore no terrible thing could possibly befall them. However, this overlooks the fact that God's Spirit does not force us to make right choices. It leads, it guides, but it does not force. It does not make us obey. That is our choice.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)


 

Jeremiah 23:21-22

"I've had nothing to do with them," God says. "Yet they went on their own, presumptuously, to speak their own words in My name."

The work that God says needs to be done in the latter days is to turn the people from their sin, and back to God. It is a message of repentance, of returning and then strengthening the relationship that we have with God. In the latter days, you will understand it. Not only will you understand what needs to be done, but you will also understand why it needs to be done—and do it because what good is understanding if it is not done? Any other kind of work at this time appears to be either window dressing or contrary to the will of God—and presumptuous.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Presumptuousness


 

Jeremiah 29:6

In times of exile, Jeremiah tells us to get married and have children, and have our children get married and have children too! What does this mean? The key to this is in the final thought, "that you may be increased there, and not diminished." To apply this spiritually, it means we should try to increase our numbers— to grow.

Personally, I have done my part the physical way: Beth and I have had three children in this church. Others have married someone out of the world, who have become converted members of God's church. This is not the normal way it should be done, but it happens every once in awhile. If God is working, if He is calling that person, He finds a way.

This piece of advice deals with "going to the world." The earlier commands relate to "feeding the flock." The third point, "increase as you are able," suggests increase by marrying, by having children, even by some form of proselytizing. But, always, the point is conversion. It is not to happen just to add numbers. We speak of God's flock, whose hallmark is quality, not quantity.

It is very hard both to feed the flock and go to the world. The indication here is first to get in good spiritual condition, and then, if possible, increase our numbers. Matthew 6:24 says we cannot serve God and mammon. It is dificult to do two things at once well, so we have to choose which is the most important. If Jeremiah 29:5-6 are any indication, the first and most important thing to do is to get oneself straight with God, and what resources are left over can go toward increasing one's numbers.

The first two points are most important right now, because God sent the church into exile because of sin. We must get rid of the sin first. Once we solve the problems, we will have the spiritual resources to increase our numbers. In Mark 10:28-30, to pull the principle there out of context, Peter says, "Master, we've left all to follow You." And He says, "Don't worry, Peter, for whatever you have lost I will return to you: mothers and brothers and sisters and fathers a hundredfold." So He will increase us. It is just a matter of when.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How to Survive Exile


 

Zechariah 4:6

This verse is often quoted when speaking of doing the work of God, and doing so follows a correct spiritual principle. When God does something, it is not done through physical strength. It is interesting that might literally means "arms," and power refers to physical activity. The work of God is not going to be done through feats of arms, military victories, or anything that requires physical fighting or contention. Nor can it be accomplished by any amount of physical activity.

As much work and effort as men put into it, they are not what will get God's work done properly. They will be helpful, certainly, because God works though men, and men must exert themselves in order to do God's will. Nevertheless, He says clearly here that all the credit goes to His Spirit. God Himself is at work! Our job is to submit, to do the things that must be done. We must do what the Spirit directs us to do, but God will receive the credit, not us. We could do none of these works by our own means.

God gives the ability. He gives the inspiration, the strength, and the endurance. He opens the doors. He supplies the manpower, the money, and the other resources to go through those doors. He supplies favor so that the doors can be opened. We merely walk through them.

We could say that God's work is an act of grace. It is a kind of oxymoron to say that work is done by grace, since we think of work and grace as two extremes, but they are not! What comes first? The grace comes first: God grants favor and gives gifts, then the work is done. So where is the glory? It appears in the grace. The effort comes afterward and accomplishes God's will.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The Two Witnesses (Part 4)


 

Malachi 1:6-7

Malachi contains a powerful theme that applies to the end-time church. God charges the priests (ministry) with giving Him disrespectful service and despising His name. The priests ask, "How?" God replies that they consider His altar contemptible, as their poor quality offerings plainly show (verse 7). God calls their actions evil!

The altar represents the service they performed as ministers in behalf of God for the people, and the "food" is the Word of God. So bad is their attitude, the priests call their responsibility to offer up the best to God "a weariness" and sneer at it (verses 12-13)! In a modern context, too much time and effort are required to prepare meaty and true sermons.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Who Is Doing the Work of God?


 

Matthew 12:5-6

Christ's comments in Mathew 12:5-6 allude to the instructions contained in Leviticus 24:5-9:

And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each cake. [This is the showbread (I Samuel 21), the subject under discussion in Matthew 12.] You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on the pure gold table before the LORD. And you shall put pure frankincense on each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an offering made by fire to the LORD. Every Sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant. And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in the holy place; for it is most holy to him from the offerings of the LORD made by fire, by a perpetual statute.

These five verses together with I Samuel 21 explain that, not only did the priests put the bread in the sanctuary, but they also baked it on the Sabbath. Thus, it was hot when they put it in the Holy Place on the Sabbath—right out of the oven. Was it lawful for a woman, in the ordinary course of her household responsibilities, to bake twelve loaves of bread on the Sabbath? It was not. This is the illustration that Jesus utilizes in Matthew 12.

"The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless." They not only did these things, they were also made sacrifices on that day, which consisted of a great deal of labor. Why, then, were they "blameless"? For the same reason that Jesus justified healing on the Sabbath (in John 5) and the same reason that the priests were blameless for circumcising on the Sabbath: They were doing the work of God, the work of salvation. They were fulfilling a purpose on the Sabbath that somebody had to do. This is the issue throughout John 5, 7, and 9.

Christ is greater than the Temple. He is the Head of God's spiritual Temple. He is its High Priest, and the disciples are His priests in training, His agents! Thus, their Sabbath ministry intensifies, even as Jesus' does. Were they justified, then, in eating on the Sabbath? Absolutely! They were justified because of the circumstances and the offices they were now holding in God's spiritual Temple!

So, the circumstances dictated a "profaning of the Sabbath" because of their involvement in the work of God. Loving service is greater than ritual fulfillment. What loving services were Jesus and His disciples performing on the Sabbath? They were teaching God's way. They were healing people. Now, what is mercy? Mercy is doing helpful acts: acts of love, aid, comfort, pity, and sympathy for other's distress. All these works help relieve a person of a burden.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 3)


 

Matthew 24:14

Matthew 24:14 is not a commission to anybody in particular—not to the first-century apostles nor to anyone else. It is simply a statement of fact by Jesus Christ, prophesying that the gospel will be preached in all the world as a witness and then will the end come.

Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20 are not synonymous. In the latter verses, though preaching as a witness is included within the scope of the commission, it actually places more emphasis upon the entire process of conversion, feeding, growing, and overcoming than merely witnessing, as in Matthew 24:14. The key word here is "process."

The word "teach" in Matthew 28:19 is the key to this understanding. Many Bibles have a marginal reference beside it: "make disciples." "Go you therefore into all the world and make disciples."

"Teach" is not wrong as long as we understand that it implies a process. All the teaching required to make a disciple cannot occur merely in making a witness. There are major differences between the two. At best, preaching the gospel to the world begins the process of teaching. Disciples are created through steady feeding, a believing response in those who hear combined with overcoming.

The second factor appears in verse 20: "Observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The key here is "all things." That cannot be done merely through a witness. As we are learning, observing all things is a lifelong project requiring the structure of a church. This is the reason why the church exists.

What is being emphasized in verses 19-20, though witnessing is included in it, is the feeding of the flock because it is the called, the elect—God's childrenwho are His greatest concern. These are the ones who are being prepared for the Kingdom of God. It takes a great deal of feeding and experiences with God for Christ to be formed in us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Matthew 24:14

The church believed in recent years that the ministry of Herbert Armstrong fulfilled this verse, but subsequent events force us to modify our understanding.

It is certain that the end did not come immediately upon the death of Herbert Armstrong. On the other hand, he indeed preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God around the world as it had not been proclaimed since the first century. Though he technically did not witness before every nation, the preaching and literature of the church of God blanketed the globe in a way never done before.

In the context of Matthew 24, however, the timing of this great work of preaching the gospel is wrong if it applies strictly to the ministry of Herbert Armstrong. In the paragraph running between verses 4 and 14, this statement appears at the end of the context, after the opening of the fifth seal (verse 9; see Revelation 6:9-11). Thus, verse 14 seems to indicate a ministry active during the Great Tribulation, the subject Jesus expands on in verses 15-28.

What ministry is active on a worldwide scale during the Great Tribulation? None other than the Two Witnesses! From the summary of that ministry in Revelation 11, we can easily see that God empowers them during the 3½ years of the Tribulation (verse 3). Their ministry is called a "testimony" (verse 7), the same Greek word translated as "witness" in Matthew 24:14. When the Beast finally kills them in Jerusalem, everyone on earth rejoices (Revelation 11:10), indicating that the witnesses' work is worldwide. And three and a half days after their deaths, Christ returns and the age ends (verses 11-13; Zechariah 14:3-5).

Mr. Armstrong would probably be the first to admit this. When he told the church near the end of his life that the preaching of the gospel had been done, he could not have been ignorant of the work of the Two Witnesses. It is clear he meant that he had finished the work God raised him to do. That work revived the truth of God in many areas and prepared the way for the ministry of the Two Witnesses. However, we should see his ministry only as a type or precursor to the even greater work that will be done during the Great Tribulation.

Matthew 24:14 is indeed a definite sign of the end. It applies specifically to the very last days before Christ's second coming when God will give the world a final warning through the mouth of two witnesses (see II Corinthians 13:1; Deuteronomy 17:6).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Are These the Last Days? (Part 1)


 

Matthew 24:14

This verse is frequently interpreted as a command—or at least used to justify a certain course of action—but the plain fact is that it is a prophecy. It is a statement of a definitive future event, rather than an instruction.

Consider for a moment what this prophecy does not say. There is no mention, either in the verse or in its context, of who will have done this preaching. It does not say whether one individual will preach it or two individuals, one organization, seven organizations, or an angel. This verse just says it will be done.

Matthew 24:14 also does not tell us the time involved in preaching the gospel, except to say that it happens before the end. It does not indicate whether it is preached over the course of several decades, or whether it takes 42 months, or whether there is a singular announcement that all the world hears at the same time through some form of mass media.

This verse also says nothing about how this preaching will be accomplished. There is no mention of television stations, radio programs, websites, Internet streams, or any other technology. The verse simply says that it will be done. Only God knows exactly how it will be fulfilled.

David C. Grabbe
'This Gospel of the Kingdom Shall Be Preached'


 

Mark 12:41-44

Many people were putting great sums of money into the treasury. Christ does not condemn them for giving so much, but He makes an insightful observation on the human condition. These people gave much because they had much from which they could give. Note that He is not even saying that they gave their donations in a wrong attitude. Their effort, however, was probably not very great, especially since they were not experiencing financial hardship.

Nevertheless, He makes the point that the widow gave all that she had. Whether from the perspective of the size of her gift, the attitude behind it, or even how insignificant the amount might seem, the widow took her responsibility very seriously. Actually, she was putting her life on the line! It takes tremendous effort to trust God's promises to provide for one's needs.

We should compare this to our situation in the church. We were once part of a work that we could readily see as being viable, sizeable, and economically sound. We could see just how much we were accomplishing from the size of our holy day offerings and number of television and radio stations the church's program played on. Yet, if we look at what has occurred, we quickly realize how money alone did not solve our problems. All the money and effort we expended, while not totally for naught, did not produce the spiritual results God is looking for. God is the One who determines the success of His people, not us or our money or our efforts. Our part is to strive to follow His lead.

How many people consider a smaller group to be a viable product of God's efforts? Can we see that, even though we may be a "widow's mite" size group, the approach and the results are what really matter to God? God is working with us individually to help us grow in grace, knowledge, and truth. A large group with a visible, potent work is not necessary for that goal. In fact, it may be subtly detrimental. It may be good to see ourselves as a group like Gideon's army, which needed a great deal of help from God to succeed.

If this is the case, we need to have the Luke 12:48 approach: "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more." Undoubtedly, God has given us much, more than we ever deserved. What we must ask ourselves is, "What are we doing with it, and what is our attitude in doing it?"

Staff
Small, But Significant


 

John 4:3-6

At this point in His ministry, Jesus was gaining attention, and to avoid arousing even more attention and directly clashing with the Pharisees, He moved His work north into Galilee. The shortest route there was through Samaria, the land of the Samaritans. Verse 4 says He needed to go that way. He had a choice of two roads to get to Galilee. One went around Samaria, the other through it. The latter was obviously the shorter route. Most Jews took the longer route to avoid having to deal with the Samaritans. The Greek indicates that Jesus was led to choose the shorter route: He had to go that way.

By the time the group reached Jacob's well, Jesus was exhausted. Most of the modern versions fail to give the force of His tiredness because it takes a great number of English words to parallel it. They may say He sat down, "just as He was." It indicates He wearily flopped down, as if it was more than just being tired from traveling. We can easily think of Jesus as the all-conquering and mighty Messiah who swept aside every obstacle in His path as if they did not exist. John, however, shows us a Jesus who had to struggle against His humanity.

It is good for us to remember that the Word became flesh (John 1:14). Hebrews 4:15 says He was tested in all things as we are. Yet, even when He was bone weary, He did not allow his weariness to justify sin or failure to carry out His God-assigned obligations in serving and setting an example for mankind. Experiencing the kinds of obstacles we must overcome fully prepared Him to function as our High Priest. When Jesus speaks, we need to be confident that He has every right to speak, not merely because He is God but also because He has experienced the limitations and weaknesses of humanity. Jesus' manhood was not something that was merely apparent but a real participation in humanity's frailties. His work was just as fatiguing to Him as it would be to us.

This story of the woman at the well begins with a bone-weary, physically worn out Jesus. The disciples leave Him to go into the city to buy some food. When they return, they find Him in an entirely different state: His hunger is gone, His exhaustion ended, and He is full of fresh vigor, ready to go on doing His work.

Their first thought is that someone else had supplied Him with food and reinvigorated Him, but this is not the case at all. Jesus' reply is that something entirely different reenergized Him. Commentators commonly conclude that Jesus said doing God's work stimulated him. It is true that involvement in work produces further stimulation. From our own experience, we know that a job we dread doing seems to erect a barrier that keeps us from even starting, leading to procrastination. Finally, we drag ourselves into beginning, but once we get going, the work produces its own energy in us, our attitude changes, and we really get into the job.

Yet, that is not quite what Christ said. McClaren's Commentary on this verse makes an interesting observation, one worth mentioning because it more accurately reflects what He said:

Notice that the language of the original is so constructed as to give prominence to the idea that the aim of the Christ's life was the doing of the Father's will; and that it is the aim rather than the actual performance and realization of the aim which is pointed at by our Lord.

His words, then, are better rendered, "My food is that I may do the will of Him that sent Me and finish His work." His reinvigoration derived from making the accomplishment of the Father's will His every impelling motive. In this case, it was not the actual doing of the work but the motive for doing it that was so energizing and stimulating.

The Revised English Bible translates this verse as, "But Jesus said, 'For Me it is meat and drink to do the will of Him who sent me until I have finished His work.'" "Until" properly indicates He was being sustained and energized from the motivation to see the work done. The apostle Paul expresses a similar motivation in I Corinthians 9:16, "For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!" These men felt driven to do the work God had appointed for them.

If our lives are going to be at all worthy, it will be because of two factors: What we aim for in life and recognizing who we are. The first may be simply described by saying, "You gotta have high hopes," and we can have no higher aim in life than to do the will of the Father. The second can be understood by grasping why psychologists keep trying to persuade parents to work to build their children's self-esteem. They have observed that, if children do not think they are anything or can do anything, are of no value and unloved, or have absolutely no skills, they will not do anything. They will spend their lives cowering in self-pity and spinning their wheels in ineffective, low-level activity.

Anything connected to doing the will of the Father supersedes all other ambitions in life. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Five): Who We Are


 

John 5:17

What work is the Father doing? He is "working salvation in the midst of the earth" (Psalm 74:12). God is always working toward the completion of His purpose - the salvation of mankind. Jesus works within the same process and pointedly makes an issue of this on the Sabbath days. God's work is creating sons in His image. Thus, healing, forgiving sin, and doing good are part of Christ's work as Savior and High Priest that He might be "firstborn among many brethren."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part Two): Christ's Attitude Toward the Sabbath


 

John 5:17-19

The charge does not accuse Him of healing but of breaking Sabbath regulations. In both cases, Jesus repudiates the charge by arguing 1) that the works of salvation are contemplated by the Sabbath commandment (see Deuteronomy 5:15, where redemption is the focus of the keeping of the Sabbath), and 2) that what Jesus did—being contemplated by the Sabbath law—is equivalent to God doing the same thing. It was this that really angered the Jews because they surmised that He not only had "broken the Sabbath" but in their eyes did something far worse: blaspheming God by making Himself equal with God.

It ought to be obvious that Christ did not regard the Sabbath as a time of idleness. He certainly looked at it far differently than the Jews did. He admitted that what He was doing here could be considered as work.

But what kind of work is it? Since He equated Himself with God, what He was saying is that He was doing the work of God. That is His justification. "My Father is working until now," and He did not break the Sabbath!

It is interesting that the word "answered" in verse 17 also appears in verse 19. It is the only place in the New Testament where this particular Greek word is translated "answered." It is a particularly strong word. What it means is that Jesus was heatedly defending Himself. It is showing that He considered their accusation to be "personal," as it were, and He reacts to it very strongly.

What comes out of His mouth is, "My Father has been working till now, and He works on the Sabbath!"

Then Jesus answered and said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do." (John 5:19)

Jesus is saying, "I am imitating what I have seen My Father do. Therefore, I am not breaking the Sabbath because God does this on the Sabbath!"

What we have to figure out is what kind of work does God do on the Sabbath? This is important to understanding the principle of the kind of work that is permitted on the Sabbath. What does God do that Jesus is copying?

God shows that He rested from His work. The kind of work that God is doing on the Sabbath does not involve the work of physically creating something. So we can eliminate that right away. Notice John 1:1-3:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made [past tense] through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

John is referring to the physical Creation. Those works were finished, as it were, from the foundation of the world. Jesus is not referring here to the work of earning a living. The work that God is involved in is something else entirely!

God does His work ceaselessly and effortlessly. Jesus is telling us what kind of work it is: the work of redeeming. It is the work of salvation. It is the work of healing people, particularly their minds.

In John 5:31-36, Jesus Christ says, in essence, "What I am doing proves that I am the Messiah." At that time, He had just healed someone, redeemed him from bondage to an illness, from uselessness. He just gave to him the liberty to have hope. He just delivered someone out of his discouragement. That kind of work is the work of salvation. God "is working salvation" (Psalm 74:12).

Also consider John 6:29: "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.'" God is working to produce in us faith in Jesus Christ because salvation is by grace through faith. Faith is the foundation from which everything in God's purpose grows. God is working to get us saved. He is able to do it, but we have a part in this salvation in that we have to make choices. The basis of our choices is whether or not we believe in Jesus Christ. If we believe Him, then we will make the right choices. It is essential, then, that our faith be increased.

So, the purpose of the manifestation of the works of God in Christ is to produce faith. If one has faith in God, then what will he do? He will apply God's Word, and that produces liberty in himself and in others. We can now begin to see the part that the Sabbath plays in this. It is essential to increasing our faith.

The work that God is doing is not the work of a physical creation but the work of a spiritual creation. He is creating sons in His image. Christ is Redeemer, Deliverer, Savior—and that is His work! What does He spend His time doing? He spends His time healing, forgiving sin, teaching the way of God, and doing good. That is His part in the work of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fourth Commandment (Part 3)


 

John 5:17

The implication is, "My Father has been working from the beginning, and He's continuing to work." What is Their work? It is creating, creation. God is the Potter, we are the clay. He is the One doing the shaping, the molding, the creating. "It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves." He is the One who is continuing the creation that He began and revealed in Genesis 1. He is still working on us! Continuing the pottery metaphor, the Holy Spirit, then, can be compared to the water that the potter uses to bring the clay to the right consistency to enable him to shape it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pentecost and the Holy Spirit


 

John 5:17

We do not use "hitherto" much anymore. It means that the Father began working at some unexpressed time in the past, and He is working still. He began working and has never stopped. His audience understood this because they say that God was working on the Sabbath.

If God has never stopped working, He works seven days a week, 365 day a year, decade after decade, century after century. He is working and has never stopped for the Sabbath. Then Jesus adds, ". . . and I work." The Jews did not like this at all because Jesus associated Himself with God, and He was declaring, "I work on the Sabbath too," basically throwing their accusation right back at them. But the very fact He said it incensed them because they knew immediately that, in order for this to be true, He had to be equated with God.

The Father and the Son began working on a project in the indefinite past. Once that project began, They worked without stopping - "hitherto" - even now. Remember, God is our model, and He works on the Sabbath. But the key is the type of work that He and His Son do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sabbathkeeping (Part 1)


 

John 6:29

God works to create in His children faith in Jesus Christ because He has decreed salvation is by grace through faith. Faith is absolutely essential, and so He works to create in us a strong trust His Son. This is done through "feeding the flock." Only a small portion of it is done in the initial conversion. We have to live by faith, not merely profess Jesus Christ. It is necessary that faith be built in us because our choices should be made on the basis of faith.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

John 6:44

It is the work of God to open our minds to enable us to respond in a godly way - that is, by faith - to the manifestation of Himself through His Word, the manifestation of Christ through His Word, the manifestation of God's works through His Word. He does this so that we can see the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, which means that God has given to each one of us the capacity to do what Moses did (Hebrews 11:26-27). Maybe not as well, not having to trust in exactly the same way or to the same degree, but nonetheless, we can follow the same principle.

So, even though we have a spiritual capacity by nature because of the spirit in man within us - all of mankind has this spiritual capacity - a true spiritual relationship can really be made only by those whom God calls. We have been given a gift of God that enables us to have the kind of faith that Moses and the apostle Paul had.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Faith (Part 3)


 

John 6:44

Not a single person can come to God for salvation unless God draws him through Jesus Christ. Saving faith is a very special faith, existing in an individual only because of a miraculous gift from God. It is not generated internally by logical human reason, common sense, or human experience. If faith were not a graciously and freely given gift of God, but rather our own internally generated response to hearing the gospel, God would be indebted to us. In other words, He would owe us because we, on our own, provided the faith to begin and continue in His way.

Notice the conversation Jesus had just moments before what is recorded in John 6:44:

"Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you. . . ." Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent." Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do?" (John 6:27-30)

Jesus clearly says that believing in the One God sent—Jesus Christ—is God's work! He clarifies this in verse 44, declaring that God is that specific belief's Originator and Source; otherwise, we would not have the faith of which He speaks. As usual, the Jews did not completely understand.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

John 8:31

This abiding or continuing in His Word requires that the disciple be continually fed, which, according to Ephesians 4:11-16, is why Christ gave the ministry as a gift to the church. The ministry's purpose is to help perfect the saints "to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Who Is Doing the Work of God?


 

Acts 1:6-8

Despite spending three-and-a-half years of intense training with Jesus, the apostles retained the common Jewish concept of the establishment of God's Kingdom. Paraphrased, Jesus said, "God is working it out. You need to focus your attention on another area at this time."

The work of God was about to make a dramatic turn, occasioned by something that had never occurred before in the history of the earth. God would give His Spirit, visibly manifesting His power in many, and simultaneously launching His church and the preaching of the gospel! His Family was about to make its greatest numerical advancement to that time. It was a unique time in history. It has not happened in that manner since.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing the Bride


 

Acts 20:27

Paul said this when making his last goodbye to the Ephesian elders on his way to Jerusalem. Eventually, from there, he went to Rome to face the authorities there. He had spent many years in his journeys crisscrossing the area of what is today western Turkey, preaching the gospel to them, as well as to the world. In making this statement, he is saying, in effect, that a disciple is not made merely by preaching the gospel to him as a witness. There is a vast difference between the two. A disciple of Christ is created through preaching, personal study, prayer, meditation, fellowship, and experience in a relationship with the Father, the Son, and the church. Jesus clearly says in Matthew 28:20 that the disciples were to be taught "all things whatsoever I have commanded you."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 2)


 

Acts 20:28-32

Regarding God's work changing its emphasis according to need and God's will, Acts 20:28-32 is especially interesting. Predicting that conditions would not always remain the same, Paul warns that significant events would trouble the church after his death. He felt it was critical that they pay special attention to feeding the flock through the Word of God, and in doing so the people would build spiritual strength. Clearly, God's focus, the church's focus, shifts occasionally to meet the spiritual needs of the church and His will.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing the Bride


 

Romans 1:8

This congregation was already so well established that other people in the world (presumably around the Mediterranean Sea) had already heard of the faith of the converted people in Rome. It must have been outstanding for him to make a statement like this, yet nonetheless, he still wanted to go there and preach the gospel to them.

Does this not show us that it is the responsibility of the ministry, the pastors of the church, including the apostles, evangelists, and local elders, to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God continually to the church? Our faith, the body of truth, remember, is the source of our spiritual strength.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Romans 1:11-12

Do not be misled by the word established because it can suggest that they were not already established, which they were. The next verse explains what he means.

The apostle Paul is talking about "feeding the flock," preaching "the whole counsel of God" in infinite detail. The words of God—the gospel—when understood in its broadest sense, include the entirety of the Bible. It is not confined to making a witness so that people might have this held against them in a legal sense by God—as if God were saying, "I gave you My word, but you didn't respond to it."

God's primary concern is to prepare His children to share a relationship in fellowship with Him for all eternity—everybody living exactly the same way. The "gospel" requires an infinite expansion on the bare basics that bring us to conversion so we can see the application of God's way of life in every situation possible in our lives.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

Romans 1:15

Paul yearned to preach the gospel to already-converted people! He said this because, in a major way, the entire Bible is the gospel. The good news encompasses far more than the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ or His return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The Bible's instruction is about God's whole purpose and way of life for mankind until God the Father comes and New Jerusalem is established on earth as His headquarters.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Who Is Doing the Work of God?


 

Romans 1:15

All of Paul's letters, with the exception of the Pastoral Epistles and Philemon, were written to congregations of already-established, converted people. Rome was no exception. The church was already formed there. They had a congregation—a group of Christians who were already disciples—and Paul wanted to go to them.

Why? For them to be converted? No, to continue the process of conversion. And how was he going to do this? By preaching the gospel to them. He was going to preach the gospel to already-converted people.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 1)


 

1 Corinthians 15:57-58

"Victory" is from the same Greek root as the word translated "overcomes" so many times in Revelation 2 and 3. Overcoming is being victorious over the pull of human nature against God in the self, Satan, and this world that tries to keep us from entering God's Kingdom.

Paul also exhorts us to be "always abounding in the work of the Lord." His work is creating. Then, by using the words "your labor," the apostle draws our attention to our responsibilities. Our labor is whatever energies and sacrifices it takes to yield to the Lord so He can do His work. Scripture refers to God several times as the Potter, and we are the clay He is shaping. The difference between us and earthy clay is that the clay God is working is alive—having a mind and will of its own, it can choose to resist or yield.

Following initial repentance, finding the motivation to use our faith to yield to Him in labor, not just agreeing mentally, is perhaps most important of all. Real living faith motivates conduct in agreement with God's purpose. Clearly, God's purpose is that we grow or change to become as much like Him in this life as time allows.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Three): Hope


 

2 Corinthians 10:12-16

The first-century apostles divided the world into spheres, or areas, of responsibility and did not encroach into another's sphere. In doing so, they avoided throwing the church into needless confusion about whom members should look for authority.

We often hear people say, "I think I should go with So-and-so because he is doing this." Another says, "No, I think we should go with Mr. So-and-so because he believes this and is doing that." I Corinthians 1:12-13 says, "Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.' Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Who Is Doing the Work of God?


 

Galatians 6:9-10

In its broader context, Galatians 6:1-10 has spiritual matters more directly in mind than physical needs. This does not deny that there are times to help out physically, but the chapter begins with, "If one sees a brother in a fault. . . ." This the real foundation of the charge in verses 9 and 10. It is concerned primarily with spiritual matters, where the church's problems really lie. The church's problems are spiritual in nature.

In terms of the ministry, from the top of the administration on down, its emphasis must be on "feeding the flock." If there is a spiritual problem within the church, and we are charged first with taking care of the church, then it means that the administration of the church has to shift gears and take care of that spiritual problem first. It has first priority, not the preaching of the gospel to the world.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Galatians 6:9-10

We are to be doing good, and we are especially instructed to perform those acts for the members of the church. Remember, it takes a church to produce prepared, well-rounded sons of God. The church is the vehicle that God has given us to learn these things. God has put within the church all the factors, materials, and opportunities we need to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
It Takes a Church


 

Ephesians 1:18

Why does God enlighten us about this? Does He not enlighten us so that we will turn our lives in the direction of the hope of achieving it? Of course. What is the hope of His calling? To attain to the resurrection of the dead—to inherit the Kingdom of God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 5)


 

Ephesians 2:10

We have been resurrected to life, as it were, so that there will be a change in the kind of life we live due to God being at work in us. The Creator is at work; in fact, interestingly, workmanship can be translated "work of art." God is not merely giving a command and transforming us, but He is artistically molding and shaping us.

He takes into consideration all the nuances of our personalities, all of the differences of all those with whom He is working: Americans, Canadians, Australians, British, French, Dutch, Filippino, Mexican, Asians, Jews, and everybody else. He is working with us, not just to stamp us out as with a die, making the same impression on every piece, but He is instead approaching His work artistically. In art, infinite expressions are possible. The greatest Artist of all is at work within us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 4)


 

1 Timothy 5:8

To fail to take care of your own as we have opportunity is denying Christianity. It is denying the Christian faith, and we are then worse off than the unconverted. This is a pretty strong statement. A person who meets the criterion of this verse has disavowed Christianity; he is walking away from his responsibility to take care of his own first.

We can also apply the principle in this verse to the church. Combining this verse with Galatians 6:9-10, it is abundantly clear that God thinks that, even in the best of times, the brethren have first priority, not the world. If there was ever a time for doing good to the brethren, the time is now. In its broader context, Galatians 6:1-10 has spiritual matters more directly in mind than filling physical needs. This does not deny that there are times to help out physically, but the chapter begins with, "If one sees a brother in a fault. . . ." This is the real foundation of his charge in verses 9 and 10, spiritual matters, and that is exactly where the church's problems lie.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

2 Timothy 2:15

The King James translates that as "study." However, modern translation typically do not agree because the meaning and usage of this English word has changed. To us, study means "hit the books," "learn," "analyze, investigate, examine, scrutinize," or "earnestly contemplate." But the Greek word means something quite a bit different. It literally means to "make speed," "to hurry." It conveys the sense of "to make earnest effort; be prompt to labor." In almost all modern translations, "study" is rendered "be diligent," "work hard," or "do your best."

The primary question, then, is, "What can we do to show ourselves approved by God?" because God's charge is, "Hurry to do it! Be quick about it! Be diligent at it. Do your best."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

2 Timothy 3:16

This verse could be updated using synonyms for some of these words: "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for teaching, for conviction [something that we know for certain], for correction [or restoration, to get us turned around, healed in mind and spirit], for training in righteousness."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 1)


 

1 Peter 1:16-17

The spiritual reproductive process is not solely God's work in us, but we also play a major role in what is happening. The work of God in this world is the implantation of His Spirit in us which gives to us the barest elements of the Divine nature, and then He works on the growth and perfection of holiness in His people. We are part of a work of transformation, of conversion, to holiness.

It is here that prayer fits into the picture because Peter writes in verse 17, "and if you call on the Father." That is prayer. Prayer is an integral part of the obtaining, the achieving, the process of transformation—from the glory of man to the glory of God. Prayer fits right into the scheme of things.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is Prayer?


 

Revelation 2:25

There is no sense that they are going to die before He comes. His return is so imminent, He says, "Hold fast till I come." It is as if He is saying, "You only have a little while to hang on."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 2:25

One can hold fast only to what one has previously been given. They had been given something in the past. They had drifted away into a relationship with the world. Idolatry was present in their character. But Christ says, "Hold fast to that which remains"—something that had previously been given—so that they would not drift any further.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 3:3

If they were all going to die before He came, the last sentence would make no sense. They will be alive when He comes, because otherwise the threat carries no weight.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

Revelation 3:8

There is criticism or maybe it is simply a statement of fact. They are weak. They do have good characteristics, but they are weak. They have "a little strength."

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part 4)


 

 




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