TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

II. Doing God’s Work

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Chapter 28  Part II

Doing God’s Work

In instructing us in how to do God’s work, serving him, the Bible urges us to do our best but emphasizes God’s role and the need to rely on him. The Bible also teaches us about: the manner in which we should serve God; serving God in a church context; and God’s extraordinary spiritual gifts to his people for serving him.

Do God’s Work – the Best You Can

Do the work assigned to you

[Paul, to believers:] God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do.   Ephesians 2:10  GNT

Paul appears to be speaking of God preparing particular work for each believer to do (cf. AMP). As such, believers need to look to God to guide them and enable them to do the work – and willingly do it.

Work hard at God’s work

[Paul, to the Roman believers:] Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who have worked hard for the Lord. Greet dear Persis, who has worked very hard for the Lord.   Romans 16:12  GW

Do quality work which bears “fruit” – “fruit” that will last

[Jesus, to his disciples:] You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last.   John 15:16a  CEV

Here “fruit” likely refers to spiritual outcomes of quality work for God.

Do the Work through God

Apart from God and Jesus Christ, we can accomplish nothing

[Jesus, to his disciples:] Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. 5“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.   John 15:4-5  NET

[Paul:] I planted the seeds, Apollos watered them, but God made them sprout and grow. 7What matters isn’t those who planted or watered, but God who made the plants grow.   1 Corinthians 3:6-7  CEV

God’s servants cannot themselves produce any true and lasting spiritual results or growth from the work that they do – only God can.

Pray to God for help in the work – and ask others to pray

[The early believers, praying:] Lord, listen to their threats! We are your servants. So make us brave enough to speak your message. 30Show your mighty power, as we heal people and work miracles and wonders in the name of your holy Servant Jesus. 31After they had prayed, the meeting place shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and bravely spoke God’s message.   Acts 4:29-31  CEV

[Paul, to the Ephesian believers:] Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak – that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.   Ephesians 6:19-20  NET

Do God’s work with his help

[Peter, to believers:] Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ.   1 Peter 4:11a  NET

The first statement is probably indicating that we should rely on God’s help in what we say in ministering to others – as is paralleled in the second statement regarding serving with God’s strength.

Serve God through the Holy Spirit

[Paul, to believers:] But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.   Romans 7:6  ESV

God’s people serve and obey him now by following the directing of the Holy Spirit, with the Spirit’s empowerment, rather than by focusing on “obeying the letter of the law” (NLT).

The Manner in Which to Serve God

Serve God in holiness and righteousness

[Zechariah, the priest:] This oath [of God] grants 74that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, may serve him without fear, 75in holiness and righteousness before him for as long as we live.   Luke 1:73b-75  NET

Serve God wholeheartedly

[Moses:] And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, …   Deuteronomy 10:12  ESV

Be strong and courageous

The Lord gave this command to Joshua, son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, because you will bring the Israelites into the land that I swore to give them, and I will be with you.”   Deuteronomy 31:23  GW

Working with Other Believers

Serve each other

[Paul, to believers:] Serve each other with love.   Galatians 5:13  NCV™

Do God’s work together

[Paul, to Syzygus:] And, my true partner, I ask you to help them. These women have worked together with me and with Clement and with the others in spreading the good news.   Philippians 4:3a  CEV

Encourage each other in doing God’s work

We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things.   Hebrews 10:24  GW

He [King Josiah] appointed the priests to fulfill their duties and encouraged them to carry out their service in the Lord’s temple.   2 Chronicles 35:2  NET

Spiritual Gifts

God equips people to serve him, notably by giving them spiritual gifts.

God gives each of his people a spiritual gift, through the Spirit

To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all. 8For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.   1 Corinthians 12:7-10  NET

Broadly speaking, “the message of wisdom” and “the message of knowledge” (v. 8) quite possibly are respectively “the ability to give wise advice” (NLT) or insight and “the gift of special knowledge” (NLT) – with probably the application and conveying of spiritual truths being particularly in view.

The term “faith” (v. 9) does not refer to saving faith, but to exceptional faith or trust in God. The gift of “prophecy” (v. 10) is the communication of a revelation from God, such as a foretelling of a future event or a revelation of God’s will regarding a certain matter.

The gift of “discernment of spirits” (v. 10) appears to be the ability to distinguish whether something, such as a prophecy or teaching, is prompted by the Holy Spirit or a demonic spirit. The gift of “tongues” (v. 10) is the ability to speak in an unlearned language. (Note that further gifts are mentioned in the following subsection.)

Use your spiritual gift to build up the church

It was he [Christ] who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God – a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.   Ephesians 4:11-13  NET

As parts of the body of Christ, believers are to use the gifts they have been given (v. 11) in ministry (v. 12a) so that Christ’s body may be built up and become mature (vv. 12b-13).

Pray for persecuted Christians