(Originally published January 2006 — and updated for today’s post.)
There are two things I think every believing Christian deeply wants to hear. The first from Christ “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And the second must be “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing brethren, your election by God.” 1Thes. 1:2
As human beings what is our primary job? Why has He placed us here? The Westminster Confession of Faith, shorter catechism says the “chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” I think theology on a whole revolves around this point. Because of sin, we are separated from this relationship with God. Unregenerated, we can not glorify, please, worship, or enjoy the Father. Our relationship with Him has been defiled and we are justly condemned. Faith in Jesus Christ for our salvation rectifies the problem so that we can worship God in spirit and truth. The Tessalonians did just this. In the midst of persecution, harassment, fear, and the rigors of every day life they found joy in the worship of God and pleasure in obedience through faith Jesus Christ. They were able to look past the trouble to God, through Jesus Christ, working and living for and in Him.
How are we to glorify God and enjoy Him forever? Our brothers and sisters in Thessalonica, by means of the Holy Spirit, gave us a great example, even in the midst of adversity. They turned away from their former idolatry, rejecting the sins and blasphemy of their culture in which they lived, to God. They eagerly awaited Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. They had faith in the deliverance from God’s wrath that is coming, by Jesus. They listened to the gospel preached as the Word of God, not merely of men, which was made effectual in their lives. They sought to glorify and please God, not themselves or others. In other words “work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” is the means by which we can glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
We are to do the same. Only, I would add that we do so by seeking to produce fruits of righteousness. These fruits cannot be produced on our own. We need the Holy Spirit working in our lives in order to do so. Jesus assured us that He would not leave us alone, and would give us a helper in order to produce these fruits. John 14:16-17 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– the Spirit of Truth.
We need the Helper abiding with us continually, especially if we are going to bear fruit as Jesus calls us to do. Remember, Jesus does not just save us. He saves us with a purpose in mind, that we would be holy and blameless before the Father, and that we would bear much fruit. I love Christ’s words to us: He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. As one writer I know wrote: “we can do a lot of things, but if we are not in Christ, we are doing nothing.” I love Christ’s words because they are such a sweet reminder of how dependent we are upon Him. Apart from Him, and His Helper and all the benefits of His salvation in us, we can do nothing. Since He did not save us to do nothing, then let us do what He has called us to do, bear much fruit so that the Father is glorified.
Two things have been in my “request” portion of my prayers lately. The first is that I bear much fruit for the Father’s glory. The way I figure it, is that He has called me to do just that, so I continually ask that His Spirit works in and through me for the glory of the Father. Admittedly, I am somewhat surprised by how much fruit we are seeing in the ministry here at GPC in Jackson. When I first arrived back in November 2009, the church leadership was looking to shut the doors and join our sister church across town. Since that time, the elders have seen that we are still viable and that the Lord is not through with us yet. I would like to take credit. But that would be foolish. However, I am grateful the Lord has used me and my gifts to help this congregation. I hope and pray that He will continue to use me to bear much fruit here for many years to come.
The second aspect of my prayer is to remain faithful to the calling He has placed on my life. Again, the important aspect is the abiding, both of His Holy Spirit in me, and me in Him. This comes with a lot of humility. If it is God working in me and through me for His glory, where is there room for pride in doing what He has not only called me to do, but given me the ability to do. This goes completely against our sin nature, which is all about “me.” But for those who taste the sweetness of this reality, there is an aspect of this relationship and the humility that goes with it that the world fails to see, that of joy.
Only the believer can experience true joy, for we know that not only have we been redeemed from a fallen and wicked world, but that He redeems us to use us for His glory. This should delight our hearts. Is there anything sweeter than knowing that God is being glorified through us? Since God has chosen us, we should give thanks to Him for all that He is doing and will do through us.