You Were Made for Ministry (Ephesians 2:1-10)
- Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Here we affirm:
II. Good Works Reflect Christ's Ministry (10a: "His workmanship")
The reason we are to be about good works begins with the fact that we have been made in the image of God. We are "His workmanship," and the very fact that we exist shows that God is not just about philosophical interests but interested in red-blooded men and women. If we are a "piece of work" belonging to God, then we should naturally reflect Him in our own lives; and to reflect Christ is to be about good works.
The early church father John Chrysostom wrote: "Mercy imitates God and disappoints Satan."6
Let's consider how Jesus Christ is a God of "mercy" and "good works" and how if we are His workmanship, we should reflect those good works:
1. Jesus came to do good works. "For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45).
We are His workmanship, made in His image; and so we are most like Him when we serve others and give our lives away for the sake of the gospel. Now most of us can understand giving our lives away to God, but Paul shows us that we give our lives away to God as we give our lives away to others: "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10).
To give your life away to someone who will never thank you, who will even mistreat you, is more like Jesus. That is being His workmanship.
2. Jesus did good works, as the eternal God, in works of creation. "For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him" (Colossians 1:16).
We are His workmanship, made in His image; and so we are most like Him when we are creative and productive. Good works thus involve fulfilling the cultural mandate of Genesis: "And God blessed them. And God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Genesis 1:28).
One thing that John Calvin taught us in the Reformation is that work is holy. Ministry is not only volunteering at church on Sundays but also giving your best for your fellow man in the marketplace. Whether you are a homemaker, a teacher, a businessman, a student in elementary school or high school or college, the way we approach our work reveals our hearts.
One day one of my elders, in a former congregation, told me that he got up out of bed and said, "Now what if I didn't have anything to do today!" And he thanked the Lord for work. May we all thank God for the opportunity to plant, to harvest, to labor for the good of others, whatever our profession, for we are in the image of the Creator, our Lord Jesus.
3. Jesus did good works, as the perfect Man, in works of obedience. "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52).
To be His workmanship means to do good works of obedience. Jesus Christ was obedient to His parents, obedient to the Law; and we see Jesus attending synagogue and participating even in festivals that were more cultural than biblical, for instance in the feast of dedication7 or Chanukah. And of course our Lord was obedient to His Father. He came to do His Father's will. And we, too, though saved by grace, should be motivated by that grace to obedience. Do you see the difference? We are constrained by love not duty. It is a duty of the heart that brings our lives into conformity with God's will.
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