The Words and Works of Jesus and His Followers
When a Christian sees the works of the Holy Spirit and hears the Word of God, he or she is comforted. Surely this was the experience of Jesus’ disciples when they walked with Him. The implications of His leaving them greatly troubled them (Jn 13:33–38). Jesus assured them, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me (Jn 14:1).”
Today, the believer in Jesus has the indwelling Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11), who is the permanent resident of the born again soul. Having been baptized with the presence of the abiding Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:45), the revelation of God manifests. The Bible, the written Word of God, comes to life, even as it gives life to the now regenerate hearer (Jn 6:63).
The life of God in the soul of man is the distinguishing feature between a believer and an unbeliever. For this reason, a believer is what he is — the Spirit lives in him. Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples whom He had chosen to be His followers (Jn 14:17; 15:16).
As Jesus’ disciples witnessed what Jesus said and did, He attributed His words and works to His Father in heaven. Both categories were glorious displays of deity. God was saying and doing marvelous things, as Jesus ministered to the people. The revelation of the living God was on display like the world had never seen before.
The mysterious, mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son remains a challenge for us to understand (much like the Trinity). Still, the mystery appears again for every Spirit indwelt believer in Christ. Christ is in every believer (Gal 2:20), and every believer is positioned in Christ (1 Cor 1:30). Thus, Christian union with Christ is reflective of Christ’s union with the Father.
Jesus’ command imperative, issued to His disciples, was to believe the union they had been witnesses to for three years (Jn 14:11). The winsome words and wonderful works of Jesus were to show His chosen disciples the glory of God the Father. The disciples wrestled with the reality of trusting Jesus. They had not had their Pentecost experience by that point.
The child of covenant parents is a prime example of this stage the disciples were in pre-Pentecost. They are regularly privy to the Word of God and also to the works of God performed in and through his or her believing parents. Having not yet received the Spirit of Christ, the child is challenged to believe the Words and works she has witnessed her whole life.
The promise of the sent Spirit is accompanied, as it was with Jesus’ disciples, with the anticipation of greater works to be done by the born again disciple (Jn 14:12). In truth, it is not the disciple being credited with these greater works, but it is the Holy Spirit performing the works in and through the Christian. These works were prepared beforehand by God (Eph 2:10) that when the regenerate walks by the power of the Spirit (Gal 5:25), it is the Spirit who is willing and doing God’s good pleasure (Phil 2:13). It is the Spirit who is causing the Christian to walk according to God’s statutes (Ezek 36:27).
When the Spirit of truth teaches the disciple of Jesus to walk in a manner of his calling, that is, in love and truth, it is in conformity to Christ. Jesus was often in prayer to the Father. Union meant the communion was intimate. Jesus did what was pleasing to the Father because He sought the counsel of His Father to know how He was being directed by the Father to do the will of the Father.
Christ is at work, today, and we are His people who pray in the Spirit (Jude 1:20), to the Father (Mt 6:9), through the mediation of the Son (1 Tim 2:5). Our prayers are aligned with the Word of God, which reveals the will of God. Therefore, when we pray, we ask for God’s revealed will to be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Jesus promised His disciples that after He was gone, He would still be working in their midst via His Spirit (Jn 14:17, 26; 15:26).
The program has not changed. God is still being glorified in the Son, only the scope is much greater because of the omnipresent Spirit (Jn 14:12). Jesus is the Head of His body, His church (Col 1:18). The Head directs the body to perform its various functions. With many baptized members comprising His body (1 Cor 12:13), Christ is everywhere working through His Spirit. Thus, the question must be asked, “What should we ask for in Jesus’ name?”
The answer is simply for the will of God to be done. We know God’s will, as it is revealed to us in God’s Word. Hence, we pray for the very things we see on the pages of Scripture that bring glory to God (Jn 14:13). For example, we know it is God’s will for Christ Jesus to be preached (1 Cor 2:2), especially His death, until He comes again (1 Cor 11:26). So, we pray for preachers to be bold in speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15). We pray that they would only boast in Jesus Christ (Rom 15:17; Gal 6:14).
Jesus’ name is His renown. Our trust in Him is the ongoing effect of His indwelling Spirit, who brings the Word and does the works that invariably bring glory to God. Christians are spurred to pray in Jesus’ name (Jn 14:14), by the Word of God they hear and read for themselves. The Spirit prompts and our intimate conversation with God is enlivened. We make our requests known to Him (Phil 4:5), who is working all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11) and working all things together for good for those of us who love Him and who are called according to His purposes (Rom 8:28), which includes His words and works.
Spokane Valley, Washington
April 12, 2021