In our last post on this theme we began developing some thoughts on the works of Jesus and the means by which He did those works. He was given the Holy Spirit. It was through the power of the Spirit that He was able to live acceptably before God in this world and by which He was enabled to do the works He did.
Believers in Him are given the Spirit by which we are empowered to live acceptably before God and by which we are enabled to do the “good works” expected of us in this world. The principle is the same as seen in Ezekiel 37:14…
“And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
The bones in the valley of the prophetic vision were “the whole house of Israel.” They were dead, dried, bleached bones because of their unbelief and disobedience to God. They were in bondage and without hope, but through the word of the Lord they would be revived and would receive life and strength to fulfill their mission in the world.
When people today hear the word of the Lord – the gospel – it brings life. Through faith and repentance we receive life and strength to carry out God’s mission for us in this world. We need not languish in the valley of death, but can receive the life-giving Spirit by which we are enabled to fulfill our mission in this world. When we turn to the Lord (repent) we receive the “gift of the Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Rom. 8:11 “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
1Cor. 2:12 “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.”
In Ephesians 3:16-19 Paul prays to God for the Ephesian saints …
“…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Given the assurances that we have the Spirit and that through the Spirit we are enabled to both know and do the will of God, this should give Christians great encouragement. Couple that with the knowledge that we are to be like Christ, this opens up tremendous possibilities for us.
Think with me for a few moments about this. Think about the things Jesus did while he was upon the earth. Don’t exclude the miracles he performed. Oh, I am not arguing that we should perform miracles. I am convinced that we could – if it were God’s will that we do so – but I am suggesting that the things Jesus did and the motivation behind his actions form a pattern of life we are to follow.
There is not one thing Jesus did that was not in conformity with God’s original directive for man. Man was given the mandate to “work and keep” the garden. This desire for the beauty and harmony of the Edenic home is so innate that we try to reproduce something of the garden in our homes and in our cities. We plant flower gardens, adorn our lawns with shrubs and ornamental plantings. We keep our houses and highways neat and tidy as well as keeping the grass on our lawns and parks carefully mown and trimmed.
Obviously this mandate included the cultivation and care of the earth in such a way as to bring it to its greatest productiveness. There is also the responsibility to one’s fellow man that begins in family and extends to the community and ultimately to the whole world. Jesus modeled the ideal behavior in regard to all these areas of life in all that he did.
In our last post we mentioned that Jesus exhibited concern for people. He did so by miraculously using the things of nature we rely on to show that concern. He turned water into wine. He miraculously multiplied fish and bread to feed hungry people. He healed sick, lame and blind people instantly. Because he performed miracles and we can’t, we have assumed that there was nothing we could learn from his deeds other than that they confirmed his deity. But I suggest that there are other lessons we can learn that have application to our lives. I believe we can do Jesus’ works with him. How we do so reveals our humanity.
Think about turning water into wine. Jesus did it instantly, but if one where to be interested in producing the “best wine” today he would become a viticulturist. As such he would deal with the science, production, and study of grapes. He would learn about soils, climate, selection of grape varieties best adapted to one’s area as well as pest management, pruning, the optimum time for harvesting and the science of fermentation and preservation of the finished product. After years of experience one might be able to produce a “wine to gladden the heart of man” (Psalm 104:14-15). Even when he does so he will be working with God who is given the credit for food, oil and wine in this Psalm. He will be using the raw materials of creation and by skill and labor produce a product that is pleasing and beneficial (when used in moderation).
Jesus also fed multitudes of people by multiplying bread and fish. Farmers have long been involved in the business of multiplying grain for bread while fishermen and aquaculturists (fish farmers) multiply fish. Each does so by investing time in learning their field of undertaking and by expenditure of money for equipment and labor in producing their finished product. When they do it with the desire to feed people they are working the works of Jesus. It just takes time, knowledge, labor and investment to do so.
To take this one step further, think of the charitable organizations that operate to meet the needs of people who are unable to provide for their basic necessities. Many of these organizations are staffed with people who donate their time and abilities for the benefit of the needy and disabled. They are not in it for money, fame or glory. They are caring individuals who exhibit the spirit of Jesus as they distribute loaves and fishes, soup and saltines, beans and cornbread or meat and potatoes.
Jesus miraculously and instantaneously healed sick, blind, lame and paralyzed people. Doctors and nurses today go to school for years and then serve under the supervision of skilled professionals before they are granted the license to practice medicine. They use the latest scientific discoveries, equipment, medicines and techniques to heal and restore people to health. When they do it because of a desire to alleviate suffering and to restore health to sick people they are doing the works of Jesus.
Jesus cast out demons – instantly and miraculously. Without getting into a discussion of the nature of demon possession, may I suggest that there are people today who are doing basically the same thing he did except for the miraculous part. There are multitudes of people who are “possessed” by the demons of alcoholism, drugs, pornography, sex, materialism, hedonistic pleasure and a whole host of other “evil spirits” from hell. People who operate deliverance programs where people addicted to a host of evils can find help and be restored to wholeness are working the work of Jesus. People who work in the field of mental health often deliver people from their personal demons of phobias and psychoses.
We need to recognize them for what they do and be thankful for them. It takes special people to do so many of the things that are done today to deal in a small way with the ravages of sin upon the poor and unfortunate of this world. Without doubt, some are specially “gifted” in doing the things they do. Is it by the Spirit? Who is to say that it is not?
We should note here that not all those who receive the ministrations of these programs and gifted people are intentional leeches on society. They may have fallen for the lies of the devil and his henchmen and are unable to extricate themselves from the pits of addiction and poverty. They may have had the misfortune of being born “on the wrong side of the tracks.” May God increase the number of people who are willing to give of themselves for the benefit of mankind. They are doing works in imitation of Jesus.
And shame on so many who profess to be Christians who condemn and criticize people who give themselves to doing good for others. All the good works to be done in the world aren’t religious works.a
Co-authored with Bill Van Dyke, Ph.D, Give Me Liberty: Restoring the Spirit of Jubilee examines the mission of Christ as viewed from the fulfillment of Jubilee and how legalism robs the church community of the joy Jubilee brings.
A Better Way is an exploration and critique of the traditional method of determining Bible authority and suggestions for a better approach to understanding the Bible.