************ Sermon on Ephesians 2:10 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 21, 2007
"Shaped for Service"
I God's Workmanship - Part 1
A Our text talks about "God's workmanship". This makes me think of Friday afternoons in grade school. I hated Friday afternoons in grade school. Do you know what we did on Friday afternoons? Friday afternoon was art time. Ruth is the artistic person in our family. Not me. Never me. I was so jealous of the boy who sat by me. He would draw a few lines on the page and there would be a horse. He would paint a few strokes and a beautiful flower would appear. But no matter how long I worked, nothing you could ever recognize would end up on the page.
With video games and electronic toys do any of you boys ever play with Play-Doh? Do you even know what Play-Doh is? Play-Doh is a kind of modeling clay. One Friday afternoon we were told to make something with clay. That boy who sat beside me made a barn, cows and horses, a chicken or two, a fence. I ended up making a pathetic log cabin.
B Way back in the beginning God worked with clay. Listen carefully as I read from Genesis:
(Gen 2:7) the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.God formed Adam from dust. Literally, in the beginning, God was the potter and Adam was the clay. God molded and formed and worked the clay, the dust of the ground, until Adam was formed.
What God did with Adam He also did with all other creatures. Listen again to what Genesis says:
(Gen 2:19) Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air.God made man and all other creatures out of clay.
C Unlike my pathetic attempts, God got it right and perfect the first time. You know what Scripture says: "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Gen 1:31). God made perfect creatures and birds and people. No flaws in His workmanship. No smashing of clay figurines because they were not good enough. No second or third attempts on His part.
I love how Psalm 139 talks about God's workmanship. Listen to what the psalmist says:
(Ps 139:13-14) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.In talking about God's work the Psalmist uses words like "fearful" and "wonderful". We are God's workmanship – perfect in every way.
I don't know how many of you have ever looked at EBay. It is the world's biggest garage sale. You can find lots of good things for sale on Ebay. But you can also find what I consider to be absolute junk. But you know what they say – one man's junk is another man's treasure. For instance, someone burned a piece of toast and the burnt portion looked like the figure of Christ. Someone actually paid $15 for this. I came across a fake security camera/motion detector that moves and blinks. You can have it for $3.68, plus shipping and handling.There have been times in my life when I have felt like an item on EBay. Have you ever felt like that? Maybe there is a time in your life when you feel like you do not really matter, that you are insignificant. You are not insignificant. In fact, you are priceless – you are God's workmanship.
We are God's perfect workmanship. Created in the image of God. Having a knowledge of God and spiritual things. Righteous in heart and mind. Pure in our emotions. Holy in all our ways.
D Notice what our text adds to this: "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus ..." God is the potter. He molds us and makes us. But He does so through Jesus. Even in the beginning He did His molding work in Christ. Listen to what John says:
(John 1:1-3) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning. (3) Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.Jesus is the Word. He was with God in the beginning. God made all things through Him. This includes stars, planets, moons, animals, birds, fish, and people. Since the beginning of time we have been God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.
E Notice what our text adds to this: "we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works". We live for the glory and praise of God. In fact, that is why we were molded and formed – to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. We were not created for ourselves and our own pleasure. We were created for God and His glory. Our purpose here on earth is to serve Him.
II Satan's Workmanship
A "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works". Something happened. Something terrible.
Go back to the image of the potter and the clay. The potter has made wonderful figures. But some bully or thug has come by and has smashed them, distorted them, broken them, and twisted them.
What happened? We know. We know the story of Satan in the Garden of Eden. We know the story of Adam and Eve falling for Satan's lies. We know the story of Adam and Eve rebelling against God and losing the perfection they were created with.
I have pictures to show you (SHOW PICTURES OF HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME). Isn't this awful? God's beautiful and perfect workmanship is no longer so beautiful and perfect.
B Our Scripture reading gives us the same picture, but in words. When mankind fell into sin we "followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air" (Eph 2:2). Paul is talking about Satan. Satan, says Paul, "is now at work in those who are disobedient" (Eph 2:2).
God is the potter and we are the clay. But now we find out that because of sin Satan also is working on us, molding us, shaping us, forming us.
What Satan makes is not nice to look at (HOLD UP PICTURES). 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 are 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.
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 God's workmanship have been created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Those who are Satan's workmanship also have a goal. Their goal: "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.
III God's Workmanship - Part 2
A The Good News of the Gospel is that God does not allow Satan to have the last word. I want you to notice that God continues to be 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. God takes the figures of clay that have been twisted and distorted by Satan and He reshapes them and remolds them so they can be beautiful and perfect again – as they were in the beginning.
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 or remakes 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). They have been recreated in Christ Jesus. 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.
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