February 1, 2023

February 1, 2023

Author: Pastor Gordon Cook
February 01, 2023

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Hebrews 13:20, 21

So here you have the majestic book of Hebrews, and he closes on this prayer for God working in us. That's a wonderful thought. Think about it, God is working in us. He is constantly working in our hearts and our minds and our wills, and he will never stop working. He will work, work, work until we die, until we are perfected. And we will be when we come to glory, or when we see Christ. But he never lets go of the hammer, the chisel, until we become perfect, and that only happens, again, when we die. So this is a lifelong work on behalf of God, a lifelong project.

Philippines 2:12, 13 is another place where you see this word work and here you have it used twice. There's a double use of the word work and a double dynamic. There's a divine work and there's a human work and that's what is emphasized here. “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence, but much more in my absence, work (there’s that word) out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works (there is that word again) in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

So Paul picks up that word work, uses it twice, but he refers to God's work and also to our working. There's a double working taking place. God is working, but we must also work. So it's not either or but it's a both end.

Now we're not saved by our work, we're not talking here about justification, that's Christ's work and only Christ's work. We don't work in terms of saving ourselves, that's justification. But when it comes to the matter of sanctification, there's a double employment here. God is working and we are working. We must work. And the only reason, ultimately, why we can work is because God is working. Our working is dependent upon God working. If God seems to work we couldn't work, so let's be clear about that.

But here's the question, how is God working in us? And how are we working? There is a lot of ways in which we could answer that question, but here is a way Paul answers the question in 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Paul uses that word again, work, and I think it gives us at least part of the answer in terms of how is God working in us, “By the Word of God, which is at work in you.” You see that? “By the Word of God, which is at work in you?”

So, how is God working in you? Well, by the work of His word, by the Word. Every time you come to church, every time you pick up your Bible when you read it prayerfully and with faith God is working in you. So when you sit under preaching week after week God is working. God is changing you, molding you, shaping you. He uses his Word to sanctify us. That's the point even that our Lord made. And when you think of God's word, it is likened to an instrument sharper than the two-edged sword. And that tells us that sometimes the ‘go out to work’ in us will be painful; the sword cuts, it doesn't always feel good. God is like a surgeon. He's cutting, he's using his word to cut deep into our hearts and our minds.

But again to better understand what God is doing by His Word, working in us, I think the best place to go would be 2 Timothy 3. We're very familiar with that text about the Bible.” All Scripture is God-breathed or inspired,” as most English translations read, but it's a God-breathed revelation. And we're told it's profitable.

How is God working in us by His word? What is he using his word to do? Here we're told several things: to teach us, to reprove us, to train us under righteousness. What's the end in view? “So that we would be completely equipped for every good work.” He picks up that word work again. So God is working in us, using His word to make us equipped for every good work.

So you could say Sunday after Sunday God is equipping us, for good works. The good work of faith, the good work of love, the good work of patience, and you could also say the good work of prayer. Prayers are good work, right? Prayer is a good work. Is there any better work than prayer?

When we pray it should be the work of faith and the work of love. Even as we pray that should be behind our prayers. But prayer is a hard work, one of the hardest labors of the Christian life. It involves the labor of faith, it involves the labor of love. I thought that would be a good thing to keep in mind when we come to pray, there is a working that we must engage in. But God is also working, and this is a good work. He enables us by the work in our hearts and in our minds, to perform the good work of prayer.

One of the clearest manifestations that God is working in us is if we're laboring in prayer. So I thought that would be good to keep in mind brethren, as we come to pray.