Humans did not evolve into an industrial species. God placed them in a job from the very beginning. Gen 2:15 – Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. In a sense we were created to work.
- Consider that thought in the context of our spiritual work. Eph 2:8-10 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
- This morning we considered the importance of doing good works in the process of letting our light shine in a dark world.
- Paul here says God prepared for Christians to walk in good works. This walking involves more than sporadic activity. We need to develop a lifestyle of working. We were created to do it. How does God prepare the works for us and us for the works?
A. He prepares us for good works by redeeming us from sin. Redemption makes us new. It is the concept of a new spiritual creation that dominates Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Colossians. Redemption is a re- creation. It involves a change in possession. God purchases us through Christ. In Acts 20:28 Paul says Jesus “purchased the church with his own blood.”
- 1 Peter 1:17-19 – 7 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
1. Paul says in Eph. 2 that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works”. Notice how Paul also links these two concepts in Titus 2:14 “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Paul indicates that Christ’s sacrifice not only purifies us, but creates in us a new attitude – a zeal to do good.
2. God’s willingness to utilize people in His work involved preparation. Not everyone could minister. This preparation has always been connected with the process of sanctification (setting apart). This setting apart process in the OT involved a cleansing. Ex 40:12-15 – Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and wash them with water. 13 You shall put the holy garments on Aaron, and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest. 14 And you shall bring his sons and clothe them with tunics. 15 You shall anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may minister to Me as priests…
3. God called Israel to be a “peculiar people” – Deut 14:2– for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. This peculiarity is not simply strangeness, but rather a change in possession, and thus activity.
- Adam Clark says… Signifies such a peculiar property as a man has in what he has purchased with his own money. Jesus gave his life for the world, and thus has purchased men unto himself; and, having purchased the slaves from their thraldom, he is represented as stripping them of their sordid vestments, cleansing and purifying them unto himself that they may become his own servants, and bringing them out of their dishonourable and oppressive servitude, in which they had no proper motive to diligence and could have no affection for the despot under whose authority they were employed. Thus redeemed, they now become his willing servants, and are zealous of good works-affectionately attached to that noble employment which is assigned to them by that Master whom it is an inexpressible honour to serve.
B. He prepares us for Good Works through the inspired scriptures. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Without the revelation of scripture, we could not know what work God desires of us. God uses His word to prepare us for our work in 2 ways:
- Through the instruction of scripture – knowledge is essential to the work he calls us to. He must identify the work, and give us the pattern for its completion.
a. Throughout the OT description of the building of the tabernacle the Lord speaks of the pattern that was given on the mountain. Ex 26:30 – And you shall raise up the tabernacle according to its pattern which you were shown on the mountain. Later, as Stephen recounts Israel’s history he also mentions the pattern. Acts 7:44 – “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He appointed, instructing Moses to make it according to the pattern that he had seen,
b. God continues to prepare his people to do good works by defining the works themselves. We must do all things according to the pattern found in the NT.
- Not only does God identify the work he expects, but through the word he disciplines us so that we can be equipped to do it. God’s discipline is a necessary ingredient to being prepared to do good works. John 15:1-2 – I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Have you ever been pruned?
3. Barnes says… God purifies all true Christians so that they may be more useful. He takes away that which hindered their usefulness; teaches them; quickens them; revives them; makes them more pure in motive and in life. This he does by the regular influences of his Spirit in sanctifying them, purifying their motives, teaching them the beauty of holiness, and inducing them to devote themselves more to him. He does it by taking away what opposes their usefulness, however much they may be attached to it, or however painful to part with it; as a vine-dresser will often feel himself compelled to lop off a branch that is large, apparently thrifty, and handsome, but which bears no fruit, and which shades or injures those which do. …He removes the objects which bind their affections, and which render them inactive. He takes away the things around man, as he did the valued gourds of Jonah (Jonah 4:5-11), so that he may feel his dependence, and live more to the honor of God, and bring forth more proof of humble and active piety.
C. God Prepares us through the Family Relationship of the Church. Notice that immediately after the conversions in Acts 2 ,the impact of their relationship to each other identified their work.
- Acts 2:44-47 “Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.” God puts us together in a family (some who never have had a physical family) in order to prepare us to do the work He desires.) Notice how Hebrews connects the work with the relationship in Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. If you neglect assembly you cannot be prepared for good works.
D. God Prepares Us By Teaching Us to Give. Notice Paul’s admonition in 2 Cor. 9:1-8 (Read) Paul tells the Corinthians that if they learn to sow bountifully and give cheerfully, God will supply all sufficiency in all things – an abundance for every good work.
- Every good work that God calls us to begins in a willingness to give. Not just money, but time, energy – to give of ourselves. Husbands, Fathers, Mothers, Wives, Brethren, all these relationships involve giving.
E. God Prepares Us through Suffering.
1. Consider Moses – a man chosen by God to do a work. Yet it seems that his perception of how that work would be done differed from God’s. Acts 7:22-25 – “And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds. Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.” Moses had to flee for his own life, and only after 40 years of exile was he ready for the job. Moses became the meek man that God needed to do this job. God prepared the work and the man.
Conclusion: What a marvelous transformation grace brings. From death to life – From my own lusts to God’s good works. From the things of the earth to Heavenly places. Have you been saved by Grace?