I Have Finished The Work
God gave Jesus the mission of going into the world to work (cf. John 3:16). He came into the world in order to work to redeem humanity. As Jesus nears His final hours on earth, He proclaims that He has finished the work that God gave him to do: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). What is this work that Jesus finished? To what does this refer?
The work of God involved the planning, revealing and purpose of the means by which man could be redeemed from sin (Eph. 1:10-11). Jesus became the instrument through which that would be accomplished. It is well to keep this passage in mind, because one of the things that cause people trouble is to read verses in isolation. We are to be “to the praise of the glory of his grace” (Eph. 1:6, 12). When man was alienated from God, God made him to be accepted in the beloved, that is, in Christ, through the provisions and arrangements God made. The next verse shows that redemption is through His blood (Eph. 1:7). In Philippians 2:6-11, Christ was coming in humiliation, living among men, being obedient to the death of the cross, and God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name. Mark the phrase, “to the glory of God the Father” (2:11; cf. Phil. 2:13; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Cor. 3:5).
If one is ever going to understand what the Bible teaches about the matter of work, here is the background of it. When man sinned, he brought about a situation that called upon God to engage in a new activity. If God remained inactive when Adam and Eve sinned, the world would have been forever hopeless. Yet, because the loving heart of God would not allow him to rest while His own creation was caught up in the bondage of sin and alienated from His fellowship, God set about to go to work again. God working out redemption makes it possible for man to be saved. When it talks about God working in us, it has to do with this plan and system of redemption, the impact, effect and motivation that comes to us through the provisions that God made. This is the reason that Ephesians 2:8-10 reads as it does. God is the author and the one that works to provide grace. He provided Christ, the plan of redemption and everything relating to it.
If God remained inactive and rested when Adam and Eve sinned, can we imagine how long and how much they and all descendants would have to work trying to restore and undo what had been done? What would have been the result? It would have been total failure. Thus, God went to work and became active.
The rest of God will not be complete until man is finally brought back into that same situation that existed in the first chapters of Genesis where they were in full fellowship with God in the absence of sin and its problems. He will not rest until sin is gone, the devil and all those who live for him are separated, and the redeemed are sent to that eternal reward as they were in the very beginning. Then, there will be the sweet rest that God knew in Genesis 2:2.
Therefore, when the Bible talks about the work of God, it talks about redemption. This is the reason that the Bible talks about a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This is what the church is—a new creation, a new man. Because God worked, she came into existence. Finally, one day, all of that work will be completed and finished. He will banish all sin. The redeemed will be able to live with God and enjoy what Adam and Eve did before sin entered. The gracious heart of God will find satisfaction again as his redeemed will be in his presence and enjoy His fellowship undisturbed in every way. This is the work of God-work in the redemption of humanity!