When you want to get to know someone, you cannot rely on the five senses to tell you who a person really is. The real person lies somewhere beneath. What a person says and what he does tells so much more about the real person underneath. The same principle can be applied to God. Since He is Spirit (John 4:24), we cannot see or hear Him with our senses, but we can get to know Him by what He says and what He does. What He says, the Word of God gives us real insight into how He thinks and what are His motives. In Revelation 15:3, “And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!’” What He does confirms everything we need to know about who He is.
“1 Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; 2 Sing the glory of His name; make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works! Because of the greatness of Your power Your enemies will give feigned obedience to You. 4 All the earth will worship You, and will sing praises to You; they will sing praises to Your name.’ Selah. 5 Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men. 6 He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot; there let us rejoice in Him! 7 He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations; let not the rebellious exalt themselves.”
A story is told about a young boy on an airplane who happened to be sitting next to a seminary professor. The boy was a diligent Sunday school student, and he was in the middle of reading a take-home newsletter. The professor, noticing the boy’s choice of literature, decided to engage the boy in conversation. He said, “Son, if you can tell me one thing that God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a minute and replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something that God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!”
The greatness of God is most clearly demonstrated by His works and the way He carries out His will. When He promises that “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), we can believe it. He has not only the ability to do it, but also the desire. In Ecclesiastes 7:13, “Consider the work of God, for who is able to straighten what He has bent?” We can be confident not only that God will do it, but also that no one can undo it. In Genesis 2:2, “By the seventh day, God completed His work which He had done” and then He rested. God wants us to find our rest in the fact that He has rested from His work (Hebrews 4:10). But how?
Working the works of God
Jesus taught His disciples in John 6:28-29, “’Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?’ 29 Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’” This means that our faith in Jesus connects us to His work. When Jesus left behind the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, He was equipping His disciples to fulfill the work that He began. By faith, “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them”. The work of God becomes our work and we learn how to walk in His works on the basis of faith. Romans 4:4-5 says, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4
“2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;”
Paul commends the church at Thessaloniki because their works were motivated by their faith, their labor came from agape love and their steadfastness was the result of their hope in the Lord. These are the three most precious motives any believer can have (1Corinthians 13:13). They bring him into full compliance with the will of God since they are eternal realties. If God is to work through man, it is because man has embraced His heart for every matter. 1 John 4:12 says, “No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.” The manifestation of His love is evident in the way the believer treats his fellow man.
“1 Nebuchadnezzar the king to all the peoples, nations, and men of every language that live in all the earth: ‘May your peace abound! 2 ‘It has seemed good to me to declare the signs and wonders which the Most High God has done for me. 3 ‘How great are His signs and how mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and His dominion is from generation to generation.’”
Even the most powerful non-believers can recognize the wonderous works of the Most High God on behalf of His creation. These are the clearest evidences of His dominion “from generation to generation.”