Word of the Month

The works of God

February 2006

The Lord was once asked: "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" (John 6: 28). We can imagine that there were many expectations associated with the response the Lord Jesus would give. Perhaps one or the other sought self-affirmation and thought: "It is certainly the work of God if I help my neighbour," or "If I do good deeds, isn't that the work of God?" It is certainly not wrong to help our neighbours and do good deeds! But there is something else that is more important. Jesus Christ answered this question by saying: "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent" (John 6: 29).

Let us take a look at a few examples from Holy Scripture. Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt (cf. Exodus 5-14). What was the most important thing for the people to do? Naturally, they had to follow Moses and believe him! It was not a question of doing good deeds or being a good person. The important thing was to follow Moses. Whoever did that was able to come out of captivity and start on his way toward the Promised Land. The Israelites believed in the one whom the Lord had sent them.

Let us think back to the prophet Jonah. He called upon the people in the city of Nineveh to repent. Because they believed him and adjusted themselves accordingly, the people of Nineveh were blessed in that they were able to avert the predicted punishment (cf. Jonah 3: 5-10). Thus it is always - as was the case with Moses and Jonah - a matter of believing in the one whom God sends and believing the timely word of God. The Lord Jesus came as the Redeemer and Deliverer. Whoever believes in Him and His words, and accepts the body and blood of the Lord, will live for all eternity. In this context, the most important thing is not whether we are good people or whether we have committed more or less sins than others. The most important thing is whether or not we believe what the Lord reveals!

Now let us come to our time. What is the most important thing today? There are many who do good deeds and help others. That is a good thing, and we are happy whenever we can help others or meet helpful people. But that is not the most important thing. Today too, the most important thing is to believe in those whom God sends. If we do this, we can draw the blessing of God upon us and be prepared for eternal fellowship with the triune God.

Whom has Jesus Christ sent today? The Lord said: "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20: 21). He also said: "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word" (John 17: 20). He said all this to His apostles. Therefore the important thing for us today is also to accept the apostles of the Lord and believe their words. Those who do so will feel the presence and grace of God. Those who do so will be led into glory by the Lord.

Let us believe those whom the Lord sends today, namely His apostles. That is the work of God! I would also like to clarify what it means to believe the apostles of Jesus Christ. We can either believe very intensively or very superficially. The Lord expects a deep faith of us. That is the kind of faith that causes us to follow. Such a faith gives us unlimited trust in the messengers of Jesus. Such a faith makes us patient. And such a faith also brings us a firm hope. Our hope is: our Lord is coming!

(From a divine service by the chief apostle)