************ Sermon on Ephesians 2:10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 30, 2000
"Created for Service"
"We are God's workmanship." That word "workmanship" always makes me think of wood-working and the Pine-Wood Derby. On behalf of my wife, Ruth I want to say a big thank-you to the counselors for helping the boys cut out their cars.
I say this because in the last church I served the fathers were expected to help their sons make their cars for the Pine-Wood Derby. Unfortunately, wood-working was not and is not and never will be one of my skills. If it was left up to me my sons would end up with wooden blocks on wheels. I might round off a few corners and slap on a coat of paint, but not much more than that. What I am trying to say is that my "workmanship" was not much to look at. Ruth, on the other hand, would get some of those fancy saws and painstakingly put together a roadster with sweeping curves and impressive looks. She would spend hours painting and decorating. At the pine-wood derby the fathers of the other boys would crowd around to look at what Ruth had put together. What I am trying to say is that her "workmanship" was quite impressive.
I have a couple of Pine-Wood derby cars here. Look at the workmanship. It is obvious that the person who did the work took pride in what he was doing.
Tonight we learn that each and every person also reflects someone's workmanship. Look at children and you often see the workmanship of their parents. If the father is greedy and grasping, if the mother is snippy and critical, then the poor child hardly stands a chance in his or her character development. If mother takes drugs and alcohol during pregnancy we see the workmanship in children who have Attention Deficit Disorder, stunted physical growth, and slow mental development.
Look at the workmanship of someone who is an alcoholic or drug addict. After years of self-neglect and self-abuse the person ends up with an inferiority complex, is full of doubt and fears, and is unable to hold down a regular job.
Tonight Paul would have us look at the workmanship of Satan and the workmanship of God. Those who are projects of the devil are self-centered, me-first, objects of wrath messed up by sin. Those who are shaped and completed by God are objects of righteousness created for service.
I Satan's Workmanship
A I want you to notice that the natural, sinful nature we are born with means we are the workmanship of Satan. He is described by Paul as "the ruler of the kingdom of the air" (vs 2) who is "at work in those who are disobedient" (vs 2). Satan is pictured as being busy sculpting and carving and cutting and molding.
Topic: ChristlikenessSatan, like Mr. Colp or like our Cadets, is a sculptor.
Title: God Chooses the Tools
Mr. Don Colp of Mission, B.C., is a sculptor, but his main tool is a chainsaw. Give him a block of wood, and in short order he can carve an animal with his chainsaw.
The Summer of 1990 my family and I took a vacation on Vancouver Island and saw him at work with his chainsaw carving bears and beavers out of a block of wood.
B What Satan makes is not nice to look at. Paul gives us a description of Satan's workmanship in the opening verses of our Scripture reading. It is clear that Satan's workmanship is wicked and evil and fallen just like Satan himself is wicked and evil and fallen.
The Bible tells us that those who Satan's workmanship are dead in their "transgressions and sins" (vs 1). The word for "transgressions" means "missing the mark." Think of an archer shooting at a target. He not only fails to get a bulls-eye but he even misses the target. God want us to hit the bulls-eye. He wants us to live a life of love – love for Him and love for one another. But those who are Satan's workmanship miss the mark. The word for "sins" means to "slip or fall from the way." Think of a performer at a circus walking the tightrope. Instead of making it all the way across the rope he slips and falls.
The result of our "transgression and sins" is that we are spiritually dead. Dead, that is, to God and fellowship with God. Dead to living as one of God's children. Dead to the spiritual virtues of righteousness and holiness. Dead to the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Those who are spiritually dead belong to Satan.
Topic: TemptationThose who are Satan's workmanship are dead in their transgressions and sins.
A young Christian who worked for a rich man was always telling his master that Satan was after him and that he had a constant battle with him, but that he always won over Satan. The master made fun of him, telling him that Satan never bothered him. How was that? The young Christian could not answer him.
One day, however, they went hunting together. The master shot at some wild ducks. Some he killed and some he just wounded. "Run," the master said, "and catch the wounded ones first before they run away."
The young Christian came back laughing. He had the answer to the big question. "You know, sire," he said, "why Satan does not tempt you? Because you are spiritually dead, just like those ducks. He goes after the live ones, ones like me."
C Those who are Satan's workmanship also "follow the ways of this world." The word for "follow" is the Greek word for "walk." Life is a walk, a journey, a pilgrimage, a taking of step after step in a certain direction. The Jews called their laws of conduct "Halachah" which is the Hebrew word for "Walking." God wants us to follow, to walk, the path of righteousness. Those, however, who are Satan's workmanship walk the path of sin and evil and darkness. Theirs is not the path that leads to life. Rather, theirs is the wide gate and broad road that leads to destruction (Mt 7:13).
D Those who are Satan's workmanship are "gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts" (vs 3). Man's desires and thoughts are dominated by self-centered passions. He wants to do the things of the flesh that God forbids in His Ten Commandments. Paul has in mind such things as: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like (Gal 5:16-21).
E Satan's workmanship is not nice to contemplate, is it? It means we are dead in our transgressions and sins. It means we walk the road of destruction and ruin. It means we gratify the desires of our sinful nature.
The net result of Satan's workmanship is this: we are "by nature objects of wrath." Every person sculpted by Satan lies under the awful judgment of God. Now, I want to tell you that Satan's statistics are impressive. So far he has scored a perfect 100%. You heard me right: 100% of all humankind have been sculpted by Satan (except for Jesus, of course). A basketball player who hits 60% of his shots in the basket is considered good. A baseball player who hits .400 is considered good. But none of these come close to scoring 100% like Satan does. What this means is that you and me and every person here and every person who has ever lived and every person who ever will live are Satan's workmanship. Every one of us deserves God's judgment and eternal hell-fire.
II God's Workmanship
A I want you to notice that God is also pictured as being busy sculpting and carving and cutting and molding. Of the 100% of all humankind who have been sculpted by Satan there are some who have been reshaped by God. Instead of Satan's workmanship they are now God's workmanship. God, like Mr. Colp or like our Cadets, is a sculptor.
Perhaps there are some here this evening who are still Satan's workmanship – dead in transgressions and sins, walking the road of destruction and ruin, and gratifying the desires of the sinful nature. God is telling you this evening He wants to reshape you as His workmanship. God is calling you this evening to repent of your sin and to believe in Jesus.
B What Satan makes is not nice to look at. But what God makes is an absolute delight. Paul gives us a description of God's workmanship in the middle verses of our Scripture reading. It is clear that God's workmanship is good and holy and righteous just like God Himself is good and holy and righteous.
The Bible tells us that God works with His love (vs 4), His mercy (vs 4), and His grace (vs 5) upon those who are His workmanship. The result is that those who are God's workmanship are "made ... alive with Christ" (vs 5). Because of Satan's workmanship they were dead. But because of God's workmanship they are now alive: alive to God and fellowship with God. Alive to living as one of God's children. Alive to the spiritual virtues of righteousness and holiness. Alive to the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
C Those who are God's workmanship also are "raised ... up with Christ and seated ... with him in the heavenly realms" (vs 6). Here Paul teaches the intimate connection between Christ and believer. In a very real way those who are God's workmanship are joined to and with Christ. Therefore, they died when Christ died and they arose when Christ arose (Col 3:1-3). Their citizenship, their home, their treasure, and their goal are all now in heaven (Phil 3:20).
D Those who are God's workmanship are also created in Christ Jesus "to do good works" (vs 10).
I mentioned earlier that those who are Satan's workmanship walk in the ways of the world. Those who are God's workmanship, by way of contrast, walk in the ways of God. Their whole life is a walk with God. Their whole life is dedicated to doing the good God would have them do.
Here we see the purpose, the goal, of God's workmanship. Why does God give us His love, mercy, and grace? What is His goal, His purpose? "That's easy," you may say. "God's purpose is to save me from death and hell, to make me right with Him, to free me from my bondage to sin." But that is not God's ultimate plan. That's too negative. God has a very positive goal in mind when He, by grace through faith, makes us His workmanship.
Urban renewal begins with the tearing down of slum dwellings; but the purpose of the job is the erection of new homes. Fields are plowed and cultivated not merely to kill the weeds or break up the dirt; the harvest of the new crop is the goal of the farmer. And so when we speak of God's workmanship, it is not enough to talk of the misery that was removed, the bondage that has been thrown off, the wrongness that has been made right; we must say something about the newness that has come. God did not do all His saving work merely to snatch us from the fire; He wants to change us and our children so that all can see we are His workmanship.
What is the purpose of God's saving work? Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works ..." The purpose of God's workmanship is good works.
God's workmanship saves and transforms selfish, self-centered, sinful human being into new people created in Christ to produce good works. God's workmanship removes all the workmanship of Satan. This happened at the cross and the grave of Christ. But the power and beauty of His workmanship is really seen in His creation of a new humanity in Christ eager to do good and loving deeds.
The aim of God's workmanship is people created in Christ to do good works. Christ's humiliation and exaltation – the manger, rejection, betrayal, the cross, the grave, the throne – all of this is to result in people created in Christ to do good works. This was not all done just because God hates sin so much but rather because He loves good works so much – for they honor and glorify His Name. It takes a lot of hard work on the gardener's part to remove the weeds. He does not work so hard because he hates the weeds so much. All the effort is expended because he loves the crop so much. So it is with God. God loves a crop of good works. That is His design, His purpose, His plan for each one of His children saved by grace through faith (cf Eph 2:10).
Created in Christ for good works – that's the goal of God's workmanship.
E We are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Yet, for too many people this is nothing but good intentions. They say to themselves, "I should visit so and so ... I should help with this ... I should send a card or call on the phone or ..." But it never gets past this stage. I'm afraid that for people like this the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Topic: ChristianityThis article reminds me of the tremendous gap that often exists in many churches between preaching and practice! Many know what they believe and what they should do but their lives don't show it! Belief means squat if doesn't bear fruit in actions. Those who are God's workmanship – instead of Satan's – must show it in their lives.
Subtopic: Characteristics of
Title: Live What You Believe
I clipped this interesting item from the newspaper: "A bus driver became annoyed with his job because he had to wait 7 minutes after every run near an open field which 'litterbugs' had made into an unofficial dump. He often thought that somebody should do something about that unsightly mess. One day he himself decided to get out and pick up some of the tin cans and other debris which were lying all around. This improved things so much that he soon was eager to complete his route and spend all his free moments in cleaning up the area. When spring came, he was so enthusiastic about this project that he decided to sow some flower seeds. By the end of the summer many were riding to the end of the line just to see what the motorman had accomplished by doing what he and others had only talked about before."
F Paul tells us that these good works fit into the plan of God. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, "which God prepared in advance for us to do." This means that God has a plan for your life and my life. He has a plan to use us in His church and kingdom.
God is a master craftsman. He is at work in you and in me making us into magnificent trophies. His purpose is NOT for us to be put on display. His purpose is NOT for others to oooh and aaah about His gracious work. Rather, His purpose is for us to be used in His church and kingdom. This past week I came across something that speaks to this:
Topic: GrowthI need to ask if you have discovered God's plan for your life? More importantly, however, are you doing, are you living, God's plan for your life? Do you do the good works which show you are God's workmanship?
What God chooses, He cleanses.
What God cleanses, He molds.
What God molds, He fills.
What God fills, He uses.
-- J. Sidlow Baxter
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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