In the gospel of Mark we read about a great contrast of Jesus resting in His Father’s will and the disciples fighting to save their lives all in the same place and at the same time…
And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him just as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the rear of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awoke him, and said unto him, Teacher, care you not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mar 4:36-39 KJ2000)
What and insult the fearful mind of man is to God. “Don’t you care that we perish?” The Son of God was in perfect peace and rest even as a great storm bashed away at the little boat they were in. He knew the end from the beginning. Didn’t He hear the Father say, “Go to the other side of the lake”? After all we know that He only spoke the words He heard His Father saying.
I think that the second to the last paragraph in my last blog article “The Process of Faith…” has pulled a lot of us off coarse and I apologize for that. The heart of the questions that have come up regarding it seems to be this, “Is it of works or is it grace?
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (by grace you are saved;) And has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4-7 KJ2000)
Wait a minute! I thought we were saved by faith? But here Paul writes that we are saved by grace! You see, God is the Prime Mover in our salvation and desires to be such in our lives as well. It is because of His mercy and grace that any of us are saved, not because we have worked hard enough to earn it. He even gives us the faith we need to believe in His Son!
So where do works come into the Heavenly picture? He has made us ALIVE with and IN Christ! The works are not our own, but of Christ in whom we dwell. As Paul said in Acts, “In HIM we live and move and have our being… for we are also His offspring.” We who are born from above live in Christ, move only in Christ for IN Him we have our very beings. If we are still living in and of ourselves all that we do, no matter how “good” the works we do might be, they will never satisfy the Father for only those works which are inspired by and come out from the Father and the Son have any eternal weight of glory in them. Yes, we have been saved by grace and the faith of Jesus which the Father has put in our hearts, but as we see in this passage, we are then MADE TO SIT in heavenly places IN Christ… that same Christ who was dying on the cross and cried out “It is FINISHED!” If we are not resting in the Father’s grace and Jesus’ completed work on the cross, we can NOT walk by faith.
Jesus said, “My Father works still and I work.” This is the only work that counts in the Father’s kingdom and for His kingdom purposes. To the natural man, the Adam nature within, grace is an insult. The old nature of Adam has been snake bit for that serpent of old said to Eve, “For God knows that the day you eat of this tree, you will be like God knowing both good and evil.” Oh, how the fallen adamic nature within wants to be “like God.” How we love our “good works.” It is all about the source of the works we do that makes the difference. Jesus said, “Every plant, which my heavenly Father has not planted, shall be rooted up.” He did not say that it would never take root, but that it would be rooted up. So, our efforts to be “like God” in our state of rebellion (not abiding in Christ and His rest) leads us into doing all kinds of “good works.” But guess what, just as we have to be born from above by the Father, so all works that are done and are to remain, these also must be born from above as well.
God worked six days and then He rested on the seventh. Man was created at the end of the sixth day. Man’s first day began with creation’s seventh day, God’s rest. So in Hebrews we read, “For we who have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, they [the Children of Israel in the wilderness] shall not enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Heb 4:3 KJ2000). God is timeless and He is not like us who are bound by our clocks and calendars. To Him a thousand years are like one day and a day is as a thousand years. His works were foreordained from the foundation of the world. He put the whole thing in motion and invited us who are His sons and daughters to enter into not only His rest, but also those works that He has foreordained to happen down through the ages. Hebrews goes on to say,
There remains therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also has ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. (Heb 4:9-11 KJ2000)
In HIS rest we cease from our own labors and truly begin to walk by faith. Now that we are saved, do we become totally inactive? No, we become obedient to HIS workings as we are activated by the Holy Spirit, following His leading and being empowered by His grace to do those works that He has foreordained from the foundation of the world that we should walk in them. All of our imaginings are to no avail when it comes to doing the works of God. Peter wrote, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1Pe 1:19-20 KJ2000). Do you see what I mean by timelessness in God? Christ was crucified in the mind and plan of God from the foundation of the world, but it was not made evident to man until 2000 years ago, thousands of year after the initial six day of creation. So it is with all His works that He seeks to manifest in and through us! To be in His rest is to be in-tune with His will.
We who are Christ’s have rested from our own works, the works of fallen Adam who tries so hard to be “like God” and a god unto ourselves. Oh, how the religious mind of man is deceived! How he fails to enter into God’s rest and move only by God’s grace. We watch church program after church program that leaders thrust upon their congregations and what comes of them? Another failed attempt to prefect in the flesh what God has started out in the Spirit (see Galatians 3:3). Paul says it so plainly,
For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:8-10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
Here in these two verses we see “not of works,” “His workmanship” and “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” Which way is it, Paul? Is it not of works or is it unto good works? A Pharisee came to Jesus and said ,”Good master…” Jesus answered back, “Who do you call good?” Only one is good and He is our Father in heaven.” Our Christian lives are not about us or our goodness! Any doing that happens in us is not of our works! In us dwells no good thing, unless that indwelling is the life of the Father which was put in us at salvation. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights…” (Jam 1:17 KJ2000). So we must understand that the Father has created us IN His Son, Christ Jesus, and it is from abiding in Him, the True Vine as HIS workmanship that we bring forth good fruit (See John ch. 15). Do we imagine a “good thing” to do or set out to do something because we read about it in the Bible? NO! We abide in the Son IN whom we have been created and then the Father’s works which were ordained form the foundation of the world are ours to walk in. Without entering into HIS rest, we will never know those works, much less walk in obedience to the Father as Jesus did. Our frenzied minds which seek to cover our spiritual nakedness with religious garments of fig leaves must be crucified. We MUST have the mind of Christ or we will never know the Father’s works much less do them.
So, is it of grace or of works? Both… His grace and HIS works. We can not generate His grace and we can not generate HIS works. Father is our All in all.
For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:14-19 KJ2000)