By Not Known
Small is sometimes beautiful. A newborn child, a tiny diamond or a one-line poem
all show us beauty in a miniature.
Small is not always best. It’s like that with the Christian message. For various
reasons, people sometimes strip the gospel of important elements. This is the
‘gospel minus‘, just as others sometimes create the ‘gospel plus‘.
Paul told the elders from Ephesus that his conscience was clear (Acts 20:17-38). He
had told them the whole will of God. This included reminding them about the need
for repentance and faith in Jesus (v21). He charged them to keep watch and be
shepherds (v28). He warned them about false teaching arising (vs29-30).
What is this ‘Whole will of God‘?
It is Jesus with the works. We catch some idea of what Paul means by the ‘whole
will‘ in his later letter to the Ephesians.
Ephesians is clear and strong that salvation is all from God. Salvation is God’s work
for us and in us through Jesus and as sealed by the Spirit. But the message doesn’t
stop there. We are saved by God through Christ in order to do the good works that
God has prepared (Eph 2: 10). Jesus’ works on the Cross must produce our works of
The rest of Ephesians spells out these good works that represent the ‘whole will‘
of God. We are to build unity with fellow believers. We are to grow to Christ-
likeness. We are to shine like bright lights in a dark world. We are to live Jesus in
marriage, family and the workplace. We are to be strong against evil in God’s
power. All this is the agenda that goes with faith in Jesus.
Let’s be always clear about the core of the gospel of Jesus. Let’s be equally clear
that our faith in him changes everything in life. It is a ‘no gospel‘ to have Jesus
without the works that come from him.
This is a lesson we need. The message of Jesus without the works is all too
comfortable and easy. It is salvation with no flow-through. Bonhoeffer rightly
called it ‘cheap grace‘. Let’s not cheapen grace. It was costly for our Lord and it is
costly for us. We have no choice but to hear and obey the ‘whole will of God‘. This
is Jesus with the works.