Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
As we enter into a new year, it is good to ponder the question of what God requires of us. What would God have us do in 2016? How can we please and serve God and so become more fruitful, mature disciples?
The answer is both simple and surprising. The first and most important thing we need to do is believe the Gospel. This may seem so obvious that it need not be stated, but in fact it is very easy to forget. One of the major issues addressed in the New Testament letters was the temptation to “add” to simple faith in the Gospel. These additions took various forms: “law,” good works, ritual, “wisdom” or tradition, but they each had the effect of undermining faith in Jesus Christ as the sole source of salvation and life with God. To seek to “add” to grace has the effect of canceling grace.
As soon as we begin to trust in our wisdom, our service, or our effort to justify ourselves, we are no longer walking by faith in God, but by faith in ourselves. That is the antithesis of the Gospel. We are reconciled to God, we are forgiven and given the hope of eternal life, we are enabled to walk with God and serve God solely on the basis of God’s grace in Jesus Christ which we receive by faith alone! The apostle Paul reminded the Roman church that our standing before God is “by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.'” (Rm 1:17)
As many of us learned through the GOSPEL REVOLUTION this fall, our actions, lifestyle, and service ought to be affected—radically affected—by our relationship with God. Faith in Jesus Christ should change what we value, how we think, and the way we live as individuals and as a community of faith. We will continue to focus on this in our upcoming series, GOSPEL SHAPED LIVING.
As I have pondered God’s direction for the new year, I am convinced that there are things God wants me to do…and that there are things that he wants Calvary Church to do. I expect that I am not alone in this conviction. But I also know that the most important thing God desires is faith in the One he has sent — which is faith in the Gospel. And without faith in the grace and power of God, our efforts will not amount to anything. As we look to a new year, let us look to the One sent by the Father who alone can do great things in us and through us.
Grace and Peace,