Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29)

“Love Him totally who gave Himself totally for your love.”
-Claire of Assisi

Our verses for today illustrate the willingness of the crowd to know and to do their duty regarding the requirements of God. They were totally convinced the “food that endures” that Jesus had spoken of (verse 27) would be theirs at the completion of such works. They presented both a serious and humble question in response to Jesus’ words; willing to do the work, they now sought to know what the work was.

“There are such difficulties in the way of our salvation as could never be overcome but by that grace of God which is almighty. ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.’ His grace can work on the soul, so as to alter the bent and bias of it, and give it a contrary leaning.”
-Matthew Henry

I can so relate to their inquiry! We live in such a works oriented culture, do we not? Ever pushing ourselves to do more and more–get up earlier, stay up later–push, push, push, work, work, work, do, do, do. We even come back from our vacations needing rest! Sometimes I wonder what underlying factors propel our motivation toward this frenzied lifestyle–pride, insecurity, a continual desire for more, greed, power, selfishness, a desire to blend, a desire to stand out–you fill in the blank. I know what it definitely is not–it is not God’s requirement for our salvation. Scripture tells us:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faithand this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godnot by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

“It is impossible to get from preoccupation with behavior to the gospel. The gospel is not a message about doing things. It is a message about being a new creature. It speaks to people as broken, fallen sinners who are in need of a new heart. God has given His Son to make us new creatures. God does open-heart surgery, not a face-lift. He produces change from inside out. He rejects the man who fasts twice a week and accepts the sinner who cries for mercy.”
-Ted Tripp

Our works will never be good enough because flawed people do flawed works. Simply put, we lack. This is why we need a Savior; we simply cannot save ourselves no matter how hard we try.

“The Spirit of God first imparts love.”-D. L. Moody

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

Jesus gives the people an answer quite contrary to their works oriented thinking.

“The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Do we believe in the One He has sent?It is God who does the work of faith; the one thing necessary for us is that we believe or trust in the One He has sent. Jesus, sent from the Father, full of grace and truth, came to seek and to save that which was lost–which is everyone:

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10)

“He alone loves the Creator perfectly who manifests a pure love for his neighbor.”
-Venerable Bede

Take It to Heart

While grace is lavishly and freely poured out to those who believe, it came as a great cost to God. The cross of Christ was the price of grace. Sometimes I think we, as modern day believers, have the gift of grace down so well we are trampling upon it. Grace is not a license for licentious living, rather it is the ultimate response given in the law of love by our Lord. It calls every believer to a higher calling through His power. This love is found in the hearts of those who believe, transformed by the power of the precious indwelling Holy Spirit.

“The Spirit of God first imparts love.” -D. L. Moody

We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:13-19)

“It is not a question of our equipment but of our poverty, not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us.” (Oswald Chambers)