The Grace of God Working with Me

Some of Jesus’ contemporaries indeed believed that God’s work, by definition, excluded any human involvement.  We want to put it, catagorically, however, that this is a false conception that cannot but be detrimental to the Church.  The Bible speaks with a disarming candor here:

-The disciples are seed (Matt 13:38) and at the same time laborers bringing in the harvest (Matt 9:37-38);
-they are members of the flock (Matt 10:16; Luke 12:32; John 10:1-16) but also shepherds (Matt 10:6;John 21:15-17);
-they are in need of absolution (Matt 19:23-27) but can also give absolution to others (Matt 16:19; 18:18; John 20:23).
-God has revealed to them the “secrets of the Kingdom”(Matt 13:11), yet they have to seek the Kingdom (Matt 5:20;6:33;Luke 13:24).
-They are God’s children (Matt 17:26) yet have to become that by loving their enemies (Matt 5:44-45).
-They have received eternal life (John 3:16-17;11:25-26) yet still have to go through the gate that leads to life (Matt 7:14)
-Because they have done what Jesus expected of the rich young ruler, they are “perfect” (Matt 19:21; cf. Mark 10:28), yet they have to keep watch and pray so that they will not fall into temptation (Matt 26:41).
-The believers must work out their salvation in fear and trembling, for (!) it is God who works in them (Phil 2:12-13).

Therefore Paul can, quite un-selfconsciously, call them “God’s fellow-workers” (1 Cor 3:9).  The key to these apparently complete paradoxies lies in the New Testament expession “in Christ:” “By God’s grace I am what I am, nor has His grace been given to me in vain; on the contrary, in my labors I have outdone them all– not I, indeed, but the grace of God working with me” (1 Cor 15:10)

–David J. Bosch
Witness to the World
(Perspectives manual p. 62)


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Filed under David J. Bosch, fellow workers with God, paradox, Paul, sovereignty

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