“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:28-29

Like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked Him, “What good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16), the people asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”

And people ask the same question today: “What must I do to get into heaven?”

The problem was and still is that there is nothing we can do to measure up to the requirements of God’s law because God’s holy law requires perfect obedience in thoughts, desires, words, and deeds. The Bible tells us: “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord” (Lev. 18:5); and “Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them” (Deut. 27:26).

The Bible also teaches us that “there is not a just man on earth who does good and does not sin” (Eccl. 7:20) and that “the soul who sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20).

How did Jesus answer those who came to Him? “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

What does God demand of you? In the words of Paul and Silas to the Philippian jailer when he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”(Acts 16:30): “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

That is what God desired of those who followed after Jesus when He fed them with the five loaves and the two fish. That is what God desires of you. He doesn’t demand that we keep the whole law of God perfectly so that we might be saved — we’ve all failed miserably at that already and stand condemned by His law. He desires that we place our faith and trust in the One He sent into the world to die in our stead and redeem us from sins’ guilt and punishment. He desires that we trust in Jesus, His only-begotten Son in human flesh, for pardon, forgiveness, and eternal life!

The familiar words of John 3:16 say it so well: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

And, when we do trust in Jesus, God’s Son, who died on the cross for us and rose again, even that work is the result of God’s gracious working in us through His Word. As we read in Ephesians 2:8-9, “By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. …”

O gracious Father, grant that we not trust in our own keeping of Your commandments but hear Your Word and place our faith in the One whom You sent into this world to keep the commandments in our stead and atone for all our sins. We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, Your Son, and our Savior. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]



“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands: “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”‘“ Revelation 2:1-7

It appears, at least outwardly, that the church of Ephesus was doing everything right. They were doing the work of the Lord even though they were suffering persecution for it. They did not compromise the truth they had been taught from God’s Word but used that Word to rebuke sin and evil, to test the teaching of those claiming to be apostles of Jesus Christ but were not. They even hated the deeds of those who apparently used the grace of God as a license to indulge in their fleshly desires and participate in the evil and idolatrous practices of the Ephesians. They continued in the truth, endured suffering for the name of Jesus, and had not grown weary and compromised.

But what is the condition of a church that does the right things for the wrong reason? A church that holds fast to the truth taught in the Bible about Jesus and the way of salvation but then fails to grasp the love of God given in Christ Jesus and to love God and others in return? Doing the right things but not doing them out of love for God and thankfulness for His mercy toward us in Christ Jesus is legalism and often degenerates even further into disregard for God’s Word and unfaithfulness.

St. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:1-3).

This was the problem with the church at Ephesus. They were doing all the right things but not out of love for Messiah Jesus and all who trust in Him. They were sharing the Gospel but not out of genuine love for their neighbor. And so, Jesus wrote to them: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.”

Jesus, who is present and walks among His churches, knows the heart and sees our weaknesses and failures. He looks beyond the outward actions and examines our very hearts and minds. He knows not only what we do but why we do it.

Notice that repentance is called for by Jesus — individual repentance and also church repentance. Losing our love for Jesus and for all the souls He died to save is a serious matter. Without repentance and a return to genuine love for Christ and others, the Ephesian church would no longer be acknowledged by Jesus as His church. Its lampstand would be removed from its place.

What of our obedience to God’s Word and our persistence in the truth? Does it flow from genuine love for God and the desire to serve Him who loved us and gave His Son to die in our stead and redeem us? If not, we, too, need to repent. If our faithfulness to Christ is not motivated by love, it becomes nothing more than legalism and an attempt to be righteous in God’s eyes by our own obedience rather than through faith in Christ.

If we have an ear to hear and grasp what Jesus is telling us, let’s hear and heed Jesus’ words and repent, looking to Jesus and His cross for mercy and forgiveness and then seeking to amend our thinking and living to be like Him, walking in His love.

[Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]



Last week, I pointed out the fact that Biblical Christianity stands or falls with the truthfulness of the Genesis creation account, and I’d like to build on that a bit more and show you that acceptance of the Genesis creation account is also crucial to the maintenance of society and the establishment of moral values and norms.

The fact is that our nation’s laws, as well as those of most Western nations, are based largely on the moral values taught in the Bible, going back to the God who created all things, including the first man and woman, and who gave us the Ten Commandments, as well as a variety of applications of those commandments in the form of civil statutes set up for the people of Israel, and who one day will be our judge.

What I am saying is that a society loses the basis for its moral values and laws when it rejects Biblical truths like “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1); and “God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Gen. 1:26). Add to that the foundation of the Ten Commandments: “And God spoke all these words, saying: ‘I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage …’” (Exo. 20:1-2).

As a child in grade school, there were those occasional playground scrapes. But one thing we all remembered in those unsanctioned wrestling matches, whether we ended up on the top or the bottom in the scramble, were the words God spoke after the flood, giving civil rulers the power to execute those who committed murder: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man” (Gen. 9:6). We might have wrestled and fought, but we were careful not to cause serious injury or death because we didn’t want to face the punishment.

I feel for the public school teachers today who face termination if they make mention of God and His Word. In science classes, they are mandated to teach chance existence, evolution, and the survival of the fittest, but on school grounds, they tell students not to bully the less fit. They teach students that the world and life on it is no more than a freak product of chance, but then try to tell students that each person is special and important and has a role to play.

Do we think that our young people don’t see through the inconsistency of such teaching? Should we be surprised that drug and alcohol abuse is rampant and that suicide rates continue to rise? If there is no God and there are no legitimate moral laws and values commanded by God, if we are nothing but a product of chance and there is no judgment following this life, who is to say what is right and wrong? And, what is the point of life, anyway? Why not take hallucinogenic drugs? Why not have free sex? Or why not even rape and kill?

Ever since the fall of Genesis 3, there has been much evil in this world. Genesis 4 records the first murder. There will be no utopia in this world. Things will not be fixed until Jesus returns and the final judgment occurs. But taking God and His Word out of the picture opens the floodgates for evil to reign.

We’ve certainly seen it in history. Take away God’s creation of man in His own image, and you take away man’s value and worth as a created being of God. This thinking led to the murder of millions of Jews by the Nazis and to the killing of even more millions of children through abortion. Now again, we are beginning to see the sexual abuse of children covered up and defended by people in high places who see children as a commodity to be used for their own corrupt pleasures.

If God does not exist, if His commandments are not binding and there will be no final judgment, if we are a product of chance and only the fittest survive, who is to say what is right and what is wrong? Those with the most power will determine the moral standards, but only until someone with more power and influence comes along.

And isn’t this the reason for our current political power struggles? Some wish to hold on to traditional values based on the Bible, including a lifetime marriage commitment between a man and a woman, counting children a blessing of God and not a curse, valuing and preserving human life, as well as the rest of God’s creation, and not counting it as something which can be used and abused, or even terminated.

Others see life as a chance existence and draw their meaning for life from fulfilling their own dreams and ambitions, even when that means using and abusing others or destroying the lives of others who happen to get in their way. And, when anyone speaks out against such godless views, they are silenced in one way or another.

To reject the Genesis account of creation essentially puts society into the “Might is Right” alternative. Instead of being guided by the absolute morals and values taught in the Bible, we are left to establish our own morals and values and fight for the power to make them “right,” at least for a time.

It’s no wonder modern society is in a state of turmoil and confusion!



“Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.’” John 6:26-27 (Read John 6:1-27)

After Jesus fed the multitudes with five barley loaves and two small fish, the people sought Him. Not finding Him where He had fed them, they crossed over the Sea of Galilee and came to Capernaum, where they found Him and questioned Him as to how He had come there since He did not leave in the boat with His disciples.

Jesus cut right to the heart of the issue when He pointed out to the people, “Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

As Jesus told them, they sought Him out and came to Him, not because they recognized from His miracles and now believed He was the Messiah, God’s Son who had come into this world to redeem them from sin and death, but because they ate of the loaves and were filled.

Jesus told them not to labor for temporal food that perishes but for spiritual food that nourishes the soul and endures unto everlasting life. Rather than seeking Jesus because He miraculously fed the crowds, Jesus told them they should be coming to Him for spiritual food — for the forgiveness of their sins and for the blessings of eternal life, which He came to provide them by offering up Himself as a sacrifice to God for the sins of the world.

Jesus’ words still ring true today. Why do people call on pastors and churches? Why do you come to the church of Jesus? Is it to hear the Word of God and learn of the salvation Jesus won for all by His innocent sufferings and death? Is it to repent of selfish and sinful ways and look to the crucified and risen Christ for pardon, forgiveness, and life eternal?

Ask any pastor, and they will tell you why their church phone lines ring and why people seek them out. Is it that people might learn the truth of God’s Word and hear of Jesus and what He accomplished for us when He died on the cross and rose again? Is it for spiritual food to nourish their starving souls? No, it is almost always for temporal food or money to pay bills or for free clothing.

Should churches aid those with such temporal needs? Certainly, in the measure God enables them to do so. Our Lord Jesus healed the sick and fed the multitudes even though He desired that people come to Him for their spiritual needs.

But churches should also speak the words of Jesus to those who come seeking only earthly food and temporal goods. They should urge those who come to seek the food that will nourish their starving souls and give them eternal life. Churches should speak the warning words of Jesus: “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”

Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for providing me with food, clothing, and all my earthly needs. But, above all, thank You for providing for me in my greatest need by Your death on the cross for my sins and Your glorious resurrection. Move me to look to You in faith for pardon, forgiveness, and everlasting life in Your eternal kingdom. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]



“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1 (Read Genesis 1)

The opening words of the Bible, those found in Genesis 1:1, proclaim a foundational truth upon which all of Christianity stands or falls: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

If these words are not true, then the rest of the Bible’s claims about man’s accountability to God, God’s impending judgment upon man’s sin, Christ’s redemption, God’s forgiveness, and eternal life with Him in heaven are meaningless.

Those who reject the Bible’s teaching regarding God’s creation have rejected all that the Bible teaches because it is all interwoven and a part of the same truth. Those who do not believe in the God who was there in the beginning and who created the heavens and the earth and everything in them cannot legitimately lay claim to be followers of Christ or to be Christian.

However, in the same way an artist’s work testifies to the artist’s existence and skills, the existence and wondrous design of all things testify to the existence and infinite wisdom of an almighty God who created all.

The Bible itself declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4).

Everywhere in this world, regardless of people’s race or language, the testimony of all creation cries out and announces to everyone that there is an all-wise, all-powerful God who created all things. The majesty, grandeur, and intricacy of all around us say loudly and clearly for all to hear, “There is a God who made us and all things to whom we must give account!”

This same God has revealed Himself to all of mankind in His Word, the Bible. From the very first words of the Scriptures, we see that God already existed in the beginning, when He created the heavens and the earth. We see that not only the Father but the Spirit was in the beginning, for “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2).

The apostle John writes of Jesus, God the Son: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3).

The one true God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — was there in the beginning and created all things. This same eternal God provided for the salvation of all mankind when the Son became man and paid the due price for our sins by suffering and dying on the cross and rising again from the dead on the third day.

He will still be when this world comes to a close, and He will be our judge. Those who believe on His name, trusting in Him for forgiveness and life everlasting will be saved; but those who do not trust in Him stand condemned already for not believing in the name of God the Son, their Redeemer and Savior (cf. John 3:13-18, 36).

O almighty and eternal God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – thank You for revealing Your majesty to us through your glorious creation and for revealing Yourself and the salvation You have provided for us through Your life-giving Word, the Bible. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]