When the people ask Jesus what they may do to do the works of God, I bet they never imagined that the focus of God’s work in us is belief in Him. Jesus responded to their question by saying, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
This verse is full of truth in that it reveals that even our faith is a work of God’s grace in us. We like to think that our faith is something that we conjure up when were driven by our fickle emotions in hearing about Jesus. But true faith never comes about by emotions. It comes by the power and the hand of God. This is what He does in saving us. He tells us we are to believe in His Son, then works the faith in our hearts, so that we can believe.
I know many reject this truth because they want to cling onto their ability to believe in Christ for salvation. This is where we differ when it comes to the gospel. Those with Calvinist leanings, like myself, understand that even our faith is a gift of God’s grace toward us so that He gets all the glory for our salvation. If we accept this truth, then we can also take great comfort in the passage found in Hebrews 12:1-2.
Therefore… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2).
He is the author of our faith, in that His Spirit worked in us so that we would have eyes to see and ears to hear. He worked in us, giving us a heart to believe. He worked in us, so that when we heard the gospel, we would actually hear from Him (Romans 10:14). This is the work of God, that we believe in Him whom the Father has sent. All of our salvation is the work of God in our lives. He is the One who began a good work, and will see it to the day of salvation.
When we accept the premise above that even our faith is from Him, then we can find the assurance of salvation that so many of us struggle with because we also see that the One who began it, will see it to its completion. If our faith is dependent upon something that we have done, then we know rightly that we can lose our faith and our salvation is only as certain as our fickle emotions. Yet, if our faith is something He produced in us, then we can rest assured that He is the finisher of that faith as well.
Let’s not make the mistake of the people who asked God what they could do. When it comes to saving faith, nothing but believing in Him is the only answer. We cannot walk an aisle, say a prayer, give $10,000 to Joel Osteen, go to a Bible conference, or even be baptized. All we can do is believe, and then we must trust in the Spirit to work faith in us.
In other words, if we are truly saved, then we know it is because of God’s rich mercy toward us. Many, like the people in Christ’s time, want nothing to do with God’s mercy. They want more Law, even though the Law condemns us all the more, even though we are unable of keeping the Law, even though it signs our death warrants. This is one reason the people in Christ’s day were so furious with Him. They liked the Law, and their false-belief that they were actually keeping the Law. But the gospel stands to show us otherwise. The gospel stands to show us… we are in need of God’s mercy and His hand working in us.