Loving God (7)
In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1.11, 12
A lesson from parenting
All parents know the importance of taking delight in the works of their children. Refrigerators, desktops, and walls in homes everywhere are decorated with paintings, hand-made cards, and pictures of children doing something not very special, except to those who love them.
This way of loving our children continues as long as they grow up in our homes. We cheer at their games, applaud at their recitals, snap pictures at their graduations, showoff their school pictures, and celebrate as many of their good works as we can.
Children know that we love them when we love their works and show that we do. And here is a lesson for us who desire to increase in love for God: We show God that we love Him, and we increase in love for God, when we love the works of God.
The works of God can be variously summarized. For our purposes, we will mention six: God’s work of creation, providence, redemption, restoration, consummation, and glorification. We love God by enjoying and studying these works; resting cheerfully in them; and celebrating them in prayer, worship, and witness. The more we love the works of God, the more our love for Him increases and becomes evident in every aspect of our lives.
Let’s take a closer look at God’s works and at how we may grow in loving Him by loving His works.
The works of God
Paul says that God “works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Look around you. Everything you see is an expression of one or more aspects of the works of God. His work of creation makes possible the existence of the universe and everything in it. Apart from the Word of God, “nothing was made that has been made” (Jn. 1.3, my translation), and nothing continues to be made that He does not bring to pass.
God’s original work of creation took six days. We refer to His ongoing work of keeping the world He loves as providence. Providence is the sovereign rule of God by which He upholds the cosmos and everything in it by His powerful Word, and makes all things find their meaning, purpose, and use in our Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 1.3; Col. 1.16, 17). The secular world obscures the work of God by attributing the workings of the cosmos to one or another impersonal physical law; but these “laws”, as Jonathan Edwards pointed out, are merely the descriptions of how God continuously, lovingly, consistently, and faithfully works to keep the universe in place for our good and His glory.
Redemption is that work God accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which all who believe in Jesus are delivered out of darkness into light, from guilt to forgiveness, and from death to eternal life and glory. God’s work of redemption in us continues from the new birth through a life-long process of sanctification, by which the Word and Spirit of God increasingly transform us into the image of Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.17; 2 Cor. 3.12-18). We are called to work out our salvation, and we must apply ourselves diligently to this work. But it is God, at work within us, who actually accomplishes the progress we make in becoming more like Jesus (Phil. 2.12, 13).
God’s work of restoration is that which He does in and through His people to bring the knowledge of His glory to light in every aspect of life – all our relationships, roles, responsibilities, culture, and even the most everyday and common activities of our lives (Hab. 2.14; Matt. 5.13-16; 1 Cor. 10.31). By this work, carried out in and through His Word and Spirit, God restores to Himself and for His glory the world that Jesus has redeemed and reconciled to the Father (2 Cor. 5.17-21). Jesus talked of this work of restoration, together with the work of redemption, as His “plundering” the world, wresting it from the rule of Satan and restoring it to the rule of God and His Kingdom.
God’s work of consummation occurs throughout the course of history, as He drives all events toward their conclusion, when all nations and people will be judged before the Lord, and this present, “last days” age will come to an end. Then the heavens and earth will be dissolved, the redeemed in Christ will be united in Him, and those who rejected the gracious offer of God will go to eternal aloneness and misery.
Then follows God’s great work of glorification, when, in the new heavens and new earth, in our new and glorified bodies (1 Cor. 15; Rev. 20, 21), we will dwell worshipfully and joyfully in the Presence of our God and Savior forever, without sorrow, tears, or death.
God accomplishes all these great works according to the counsel of His will. And since what we can know of His will is revealed to us in His Word, the Bible, the more we learn of God’s works, the more we will be able to love the works of God and the God Who does so many and such wondrous works.
Loving God’s works
The place to begin in loving God’s works is to learn more about them (Ps. 111.2). The Word of God provides explanations of each of God’s works so that, as we delight in the works of God and study them day by day, we will understand them better, appreciate the greatness and majesty of their variety and scope, and love our God Who works these wondrous works increasingly.
The more we realize the scope and power of God’s works, the more we will rest in them, not trying to save ourselves by any works, but resting in the finished work of Jesus; refusing to become anxious but giving thanks in everything (Phil. 4.6, 7); humbling ourselves and casting all our burdens on Him (1 Pet. 5.6, 7); bringing all our needs to the Father in prayer (Matt. 6.25-32); and basking in His peace and joy, as He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8.28).
The peace and joy that come from resting in God’s works will lead us to celebrate His works with praise and thanksgiving, in personal and corporate worship, in our times of mutual encouragement and witness. When the refrigerator of our soul is covered to overflowing with the works of God, our love for Him will grow and be visible, to the praise of His glorious grace.
If we love God, we will love His works. The more we work at loving His works, the more our love for Him will increase, and with it, the greater will be our peace and joy in Him.
For reflection or discussion
1. How do you experience the works of God each day?
2. What are some steps you could take to increase in love for God’s works?
3. How should you expect to benefit from growing in love for God’s works?
Next steps – Transformation: In prayer, consider all the works of God you can expect to encounter in the day ahead. Praise and thank Him for them. Pay careful attention, then praise and thank Him more abundantly at day’s end for those works you observed.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.