October 2, 2013
John 6:26 -29
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Evangelicals vehemently defend the doctrine that gaining eternal life – and heaven someday – is a gift of grace, and not a reward for works. Rightly so! Paul also says it in several different scriptures – Titus 3:5 being a good representation: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us….” Check out other definitive statements on the subject in such references as Romans 3:20 through 28; 4:4 through 6; 10:3; 11:6; Ephesians 2:8 and 9; II Timothy 1:9.
Jesus makes an interesting statement in John 6:29 – one that is foundational to Paul’s later teaching. He was in Capernaum, and the Jewish people were seeking Him because the day before He had fed 5,000 men, plus women and children, with just “…five barley loaves, and two small fish…” (John 6:9). They wanted to “…take Him by force, to make Him king…” (John 6:15) because He had provided them with free food! Doesn’t that always seem to win votes!!! Here is the interaction from John 6:26-29:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but
because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which
perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of
Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.” Then
they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe
in Him whom He sent.”
Did you get that? There is a Work That Will Get You Into Heaven! You see, Jesus was answering these Jews according to their thinking. They thought that good works would give them favor with the Father and so reward them with eternal life. So Jesus answered them using their prime word – works! “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
The big difference here is between their works and God’s work! Yes, it was a work – a mighty work – that Jesus accomplished on the cross. He voluntarily took upon Himself all the sins of every person who has ever lived! It was a work no one else could accomplish because no one else was pure and holy enough before God to become an offering for others. Only Jesus Christ – it says in I Peter 2:22 – “…did no sin…” – ever! You see, if anyone else had tried to offer himself or herself as payment for sin, they – being sinners themselves – would only suffer for their own sins. And, as it is written in Psalm 49:7 and 8 (Good News Bible):
A person can never redeem himself; he cannot pay the price for his life,
because the payment for a human life is too great. What he could pay would
never be enough.
But God’s work through His Son was and is enough – for us all! And – if we insist on trying to please God by works – we have to continually try to work our way to heaven. After all, how can we know when it is all enough to win His favor? Works never will work!
But God’s work is different. It was sufficient for all time and all people! And it was finished before the world was even created! (See Revelation 13:8). The Triune God had it all planned out that Jesus would die on the cross to pay for humankind’s sin, and that He would raise from death victorious over sin, death, hell and the devil, ever-living to give salvation to all who come to Him in faith believing. And when God plans to do something, it is as good as done! Even if the actual doing of it was eons later!
So what is The Work That Will Get You Into Heaven? It is the accomplished work of God through Jesus Christ! Our part – our work – if you can call it a work! – is to “…believe in Him whom He [the Father] sent.” (John 6:29). It is putting your faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ! And by God’s grace, He gives you eternal life right now, and heaven someday!