God’s Work

Jan Antonsson


The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway

October 27, 2017

Neosho, MO

“Jesus answered them,‘‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent’ (John 6:29, ESV).

My thanks go to John Gavazzoni and Jonathan Mitchell who are each a rich testimony of God’s work in us. During an on-line discussion on this topic, the thought came to me that God’s work is often overlooked by those of us who grew up in Fundamentalist doctrine, which rarely, in my experience, mentioned God’s work, but rather emphasized constantly the work we each needed to do in order to avoid hell and make it to heaven.  It was always about our eternal reward, not our present reality, which is to enjoy our relationship with God in the here and now!

Jonathan Mitchell’s translation of John 6:29, clearly makes the point about whose work it is:  “Jesus considered and answered, saying to them, “This is God’s work (the work whose source is God): that you folks would continuously trust and habitually believe into that One whom He sends forth with a mission (or: into the One Whom That One sent forth as an Emissary).” 

John Gavazzoni commented, “God sent His Son into the world, and then by elective grace, sequentially sends the Spirit of His Son into individual hearts in His and their “due time.” Once in (as in experientially present), He drags us into the depths of Himself where we share in His faith in Father’s faithfulness.  

  “He isn’t sent into our hearts because we believe, He’s sent into our hearts in order for us TO believe. As I put it in an article, He comes in, batteries included, i.e., He comes in inclusive of His faith to grant us participation in that “Faith OF Christ. End quote.

Beautiful words of life in Jonathan’s translation and John’s comments, but what do they mean for us today?  In Neosho, there’s one Mortuary which does most of the funerals.  The director is a spiritual man, well taught by the Fundamentalist church he attends.  On his funeral brochures, therefore, are always these words:  “John Q. Doe has entered into rest.”  Since the folly of man’s self effort is one of the main themes the Spirit has pressed me to write about over the 20 years of being on the Internet, when I first noticed these words on a brochure, I gritted my teeth and realized that what they really mean is, when you’re in the casket, you can rest.  Until then, you’ve got to work, long, hard and unceasingly to earn God’s pleasure.

But if God does the work, what does that leave for us to do?  Who teaches the Sunday School classes, witnesses to the unbelievers, visits the sick, and cares for the fatherless and the widows?  That question is a trap folks, asked by the Pharisee types who cannot bear to give up the credit they imagine they have earned by their good works, their avoidance of sin, and their obedience to God’s commandments.  The Spirit has pressed upon me that I dare not take credit for anything God has done for me and through me because as Paul affirmed, “For it is God who is making active within you both the willing and the working of that which is dearly desirable (Philippians 2:13, David Bentley Hart Translation).  

My writings are an example of His work.  He gives me the title, the graphic, and the beginning verse.  The rest flows out according to His good pleasure because I never really know the ending of the essay until I get there.  Of course, His help does not equate my writings with scripture, not even close.  Still, He gets all the credit, and all the glory if there’s any to be had.   Lenny’s writings came from the same source in a slightly different manner.  He walked around the circle driveway with a tiny hand held tape recorder into which he spoke the words which came to him.  As his scribe I typed them up and published them just the way he heard them, only adding scriptural references, which is my neurotic stuff, not Lenny’s.

I’m 76 years old and though both my parents are with the Lord, I am not an orphan because God is my Father.  However, since Lenny has graduated into the Spirit realm, I am a widow. Who takes care of me?  God does, everyday and in many ways I never dreamed possible. He shows me how to do things that need doing, answers my many requests for guidance, and if I’m physically incapable of doing them, He sends someone to help me.

The idea of entering into rest or not being able to do so is chillingly spelled out in Hebrews, Chapter four.  There, the writer equates entering into rest with our faith, our belief:  If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith. Remember that God said, ‘Exasperated, I vowed, “They’ll never get where they’re going, never be able to sit down and rest.” God made that vow, even though he’d finished his part before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3, The Message).  I’ve always found it fascinating that God’s work was finished from the foundation of the world, but by His grace we can live in that place as well:  “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10, ESV).  

Recall Paul’s assurance that, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, who in the Anointed has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, as he chose us in him before the foundation of the cosmos, that we might be holy and immaculate before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, David Bentley Hart Translation). This is a new translation for me, and somehow, thinking about God’s choosing of us in Christ before the cosmos came to be, packs a greater punch than, “before the foundation of the world” as other translations put it.

It does sound a bit conditional that we have to believe before we can enter into rest, but remember John’s words, “This is God’s work (the work whose source is God): that you folks would continuously trust and habitually believe into that One whom He sends forth with a mission” (John 6:29, Mitchell translation). 

Remember also Paul’s words about our being saved by grace through faith, which this translation makes abundantly clear: Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.  Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! (Ephesians 2:8-9, The Message).

Now I personally don’t believe we need to “let Him” do anything, nor do we have the power to stop His doing what needs doing, but my long time observation has been that if man can take any credit for his own good acts, he’s right there doing it loud and clear to anyone who will listen.

Isn’t it personally freeing to know that He has our lives, our future, and our neurotic stuff all in His hands, and it is His good pleasure to give us the kingdom with all the blessings that involves?  It really is for me.  Now that I’m old, and much too tired to attempt all the things I did in my youthful enthusiasm and foolishness, it is clear that if He weren’t doing for us and in us what needs to be done, what hope is there for any of us?

Isaiah declared so long ago, “Also henceforth I am he; there is none who can deliver from my hand;  I work, and who can turn it back? (Isaiah 43:13, ESV).  I find that verse thrilling, full of promise, and comforting because it takes me off that hook legalism put me on decades ago.  It lifts me up from the fiery, fearful trembling of Mount Sinai and sets my feet on Mount Zion. 

Father, fill us to the full with Yourself, as we rest in Your unconditional love, Your knowledge of the end from the beginning, Your grace and Your power to deliver us from ourselves. As we walk and talk with You, we join our voices in praise and adoration “with the voice of a great multitude, and the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.”  Amen. Jan Antonsson

Jan Austin Antonsson

17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail Address)

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