You Were Made for Ministry (Ephesians 2:1-10)
- Tuesday, September 01, 2009
This passage is to show that you were made for Good Works, or as we might say: You were made for ministry.
There are three affirmations we must take from this portion of God's Holy Word. To begin with, we need to affirm something very important in this passage that will clear up a lot of misunderstanding in the body of Christ.
I. Good Works Require God's Grace (vv. 1-9)
I once heard of a man who said that, like Smith Barney, he got his religion the old fashioned way—he earned it!
Well, of course, nothing could be further from the gospel truth, especially pressed home by Paul in the second chapter of Ephesians. Looking at the entire section of verses 1-9, we see how we are saved by grace. By a free, sovereign act of a loving God, through the life and death of Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit drawing us to Christ and through an act of faith in Him, we are saved by being translated out of a spiritual death into new life; and all of that is by God's grace.
This is the passage that gripped my soul so many years ago. I am here today because of the power of this passage; and I do not doubt that, like me, some of you have grown up in the church, heard the Word for many years but have missed this central and essential truth of the gospel. In fact, this is the gospel. We are saved not by works but by grace. May God clear your mind of man-centered religion and infuse you, supernaturally, with the wisdom of God to believe in Jesus Christ alone for eternal life.
As if to preclude the antinomianism of some who would use this passage to promote an intellectual religion that has no point, no practical application, the great apostle shows that we were saved by grace unto good works. He moves effortlessly from grace to salvation to works. And this is what we mean when we say that we are made for ministry: We were made for good works in Christ Jesus.
This is also what James says when he writes: "So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17, ESV).
Now some say that this is a contra-diction of Paul. Others say that this complements Paul, and so it does. But Paul himself in this passage makes the same statement so that even if we did not have James to complement and explain, there is enough here to teach us that faith produces good works.
The Westminster Confession is helpful to us at this point: In Chapter 16 of the Confession entitled "Of Good Works" the Westminster divines, with scriptural footnotes after each phrase, clearly show the place of good works in the Christian life: "Good works, done in obedience to God's commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith."
And it goes on to say that by them we manifest our thanksgiving to God for our salvation. Now. Can you have good works done by unbelievers? Again, the Confession of Faith deals mainly with questions about faith; but here we learn that while there are works that bring good and benefit mankind, they are not good works because their end is not the glory of God.2
Perhaps John Calvin put it best when he said, "It is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is not alone."3
Taken as a whole, and not out of context, the teaching clearly establishes the relationship of God's grace and God's intent that we should be engaged in good works. So let us have this pillar of truth firmly established and then let us move on to understand good works. Here we read in verse 10: "For we are His workmanship."
The Greek word for our rendering "workmanship" means: "to make, to practice, to produce, to create…"4 It is the Greek word poi/hma from which we get our word poem.5
The force of the passage is that regenerate human beings are masterpieces of a gracious God. Thinking about it from our use of the word, we could say that the life of a believer is poetry and designed to be poetry in motion.
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