Key Verse: John 5:19 “Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
Have you ever tried to assemble a certain toy for your child and ended up being completed frustrated? I sure did, many times. They don’t make the assembling of these toys user-friendly, do they? I feel completely inadequate at those times. I can’t assemble them by myself, unless I follow the directions that came with them. I am completely dependent to those installation manuals if I want to succeed in my task.
I was amazed to read that Jesus felt the same way about successfully living his purposeful life on this planet. He insisted that “the Son can do nothing by himself”.
How is this possible? Isn’t He the One who created the heavens and the earth? Didn’t the apostle Paul write the following about Him?
Col 1:16-18 “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
The Almighty Creator can do “nothing by himself”! “He can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
Wow! If Jesus cannot do anything by Himself and can only do “what He sees His Father doing”, how much more should we rely on God!
God is constantly at work around us and we are invited to join Him!
John 5:17 “Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”
Question 1: Could Jesus do anything by Himself? Why or why not?
Question 2: Who is always working around us? Are we invited to join Him in His work?
The amazing fact is that throughout the Bible, God constantly invited people to join Him in His work. There are only two miracles that required no participation from a human standpoint: the Creation and Jesus’ resurrection. All other God-sized miracles always involved human participation. Examples:
Moses and Aaron were invited to join God in the miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. (See the book of Exodus)
Elisha was involved in the miraculous healing of Naaman’s leprosy. (See 2 Kings 5: 1-14)
Nineveh was miraculously spared destruction when they repented hearing Jonah preach. (See the book of Jonah)
Jesus fed 5000 men and their families with the help of a boy’s five barley loaves and two fish (See John 6: 1-13)
A few men had to roll away the heavy stone from Lazarus’ tomb before Jesus resurrected him. (See John 11: 1-44)
The paralytic wasn’t healed by Jesus until his friends lowered him down from a roof. (See Mark 2: 3-12)
God is at work around us and we are invited to join Him!
How can we recognize God’s work around us?
Just like an ant has no idea about human activity until he is stepped on, by ourselves we are unable to discern God’s activities around us. Only through God’s Spirit can we discover how our Heavenly Father is actively involved in our surroundings.
John 16:13 “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth.”
Depending on Him is of utmost importance if we want to join God in His pursuits. If you don’t know Him yet and want to invite Him into your life, just pray from your heart to your Heavenly Father and invite His Spirit to be your guide in all things. Believe and you will receive.
James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”
What are some of the activities only God can do?
a. Drawing people to Him
John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”
If you encounter someone who has honest questions about God and His Word, you can be certain that God is at work on that person. Only our Heavenly Father can draw people to Himself. By ourselves we tend to pursue selfish and deceitful activities, as mentioned in Rom 3:10-11 “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”
A great example of this is when Philip was told by an angel to go “to the road-the desert road-that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (see Acts 8:26). When God asks us to go somewhere, it is always with the purpose of inviting us to join Him in His activities.
Philip immediately obeyed and started to watch where God was at work.
Acts 8:27-29 “So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet.”
He encountered an “Ethiopian eunuch”. What attracted Philip’s attention to this eunuch is that he was reading God’s Word. He immediately knew that God was at work.
Acts 8:29 “The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
God’s Holy Spirit confirmed to Philip that he was to join God in this endeavor. God’s Spirit is our guide in all things!
Acts 8:30-38 “Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?”
Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.”
Joining God at work under the direction of God’s Holy Spirit led to the greatest miracle any person can encounter: the Ethiopian gave his life over to God and became a Christian.
Philip had recognized God at work (only God can attract people to Him and His Word) and being led by God’s Spirit he knew beyond any doubt that he was invited to join Him in His work. We can be assured that when we see someone reading the Bible or asking spiritual questions that God is at work on that person. It doesn’t mean that this person will automatically become a Christian. He has a decision to make and God never forces Himself on anyone. However when we perceive God at work, we can be assured that He is always inviting us to join Him in His activity. We wouldn’t have been able to perceive Him at work without God’s Holy Spirit’s promptings in our heart. Depending on Him is the only way to successfully join Him in His endeavors.
Only those who love God and obey His voice will have the privilege to work at His side. John 14:15-18 “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth… You know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
If we have problems loving God and listening to Him, we only need to honestly ask for His help in this and He will come to our rescue. Matt 7:9-11 “Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
b. Revealing spiritual truths
John 14:26 “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
Only God’s Spirit can reveal and remind us of spiritual truths.
John 16:13 “He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
He reminds us of specific promises and Bible texts from His Word, the Bible. He makes us understand spiritual truths (e.g. left on our own devices we end up making big mistakes, while depending on God leads us to complete inner peace and victorious undertakings). He reveals things completely unknown to us that will help us in being a successful testifying Christian.
One time I had problems trying to help a lady via email. She had written to our ministry as she wanted to know more about God (God was definitively at work on her) but somehow she could not make a commitment to accept Him into her life. She was very cautious not to reveal her identity, nor to divulge her whereabouts.
One night God revealed to me what was hindering her to come to Christ and told me to ask her about a guy named George (not his real name). When I did, she was horrified that I knew about that guy and asked me where I lived. When she realized that there was no way that I personally could know her, she came to the conclusion that God really cared for her and loved her and had revealed to me her real problem. George was the son of a local pastor that was sexually abusing her whenever he wanted. She couldn’t go to the police as he was considered an “outstanding” citizen in his community and she felt she would be automatically discredited and become the laughing stock of her community.
God revealed to her that she couldn’t do this on her own. He freed her from George’s abuse and she eventually accepted Jesus as her Lord and master.
John 16:8-11 “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.
God is at work when someone feels convicted of guilty feelings. A judgment day is coming up (see 2 Cor 5:10) and the only way we can stand victoriously during that trial is by accepting Jesus’ righteousness as our own (see Philippians 3: 8-9).
We can be assured that what our Heavenly Father initiates, He will complete. Isa 46:11 “From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” (see also Isa. 14: 24, 27 and Phil 1:6)
Question 3: What are some activities only God can do?
Question 4: Why should a Christian join God at work when He recognizes God’s activity?
Question 5: Who should we depend on at all times?
Question 6: What should you do if someone comes up to you asking questions about God’s Word? Why?
Question 7: Who is at work when someone talks to you about guilt and leading a life of sin and what should your response be?