You Were Made for Ministry (Ephesians 2:1-10)
- Tuesday, September 01, 2009
4. Jesus did good works, as the fully human One, in works of mercy. "And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons" (Mark 1:34).
We are His workmanship, made in His image, made for ministry, and we should reflect His image in mercy. Jesus used miracles to draw attention to His power and to illustrate His teaching, and so mercy illustrates the gospel.
I shall never forget one of the members of our new members' class who had a daughter who was in seminary and preparing to go to the Middle East as a missionary. One of her friends was killed in Iraq. She was there working at a water purification plant, seeking to provide clean water for the people of Baghdad. But of course, she was there to minister the gospel of Jesus Christ, to teach the truths of Ephesians 2:8,9. Those truths were powerfully demonstrated through her good works of a missionary seeking to bring clean water to thirsty people.
Jesus was more human than anyone who ever lived. His heart was filled with compassion for poor, hurting people; and so ours must be as well. The gospel must go forth in Word and in deed.
5. Jesus did good works, as the Lord of Lords, in works of atonement for sin. "When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, It is finished, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:30).
On the cross, grace and good works wed. There, in that saving cry of the King of glory, "It is finished," the good works for our salvation were complete.
Now we are His workmanship, made for ministry. And though we cannot in any fashion add to that great work, we must carry that work to others through evangelism, through a good old-fashioned phrase that we don't use much any more, "soul winning." Yet the Bible says, "The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise" (Prov. 11:30).
Once I received a call from one of our elderly members who had gone for care in another city. She called to give me an update on her travels. She told me that everywhere they go in this large metro-politan area, they go by taxicab. She said, "You know, Mike, these are all Middle Eastern folks. I wish I had Phil and Julie with me, our missionaries to Islamic peoples." But she continued, "Mike, I just tell them about Jesus and let them know that He will forgive their sins and give them eternal life if they will receive Him as Lord. And then I just leave it with Him."
There is a wise woman. And there is a woman who models the ministry of Christ. For she understands she is His workmanship.
Good works include sharing the gospel in whatever we do. Good works include, for the believer, bringing the gospel to bear in our families, our vocations, in all of our relationships. For this is the great and final work of our Savior.
Finally, we read in this great verse these words: "Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10b).
From this we affirm:
III. Good Works Realize Christ's Mission (10b: "which God prepared beforehand…")
Again, the great Princeton theologian, Charles Hodge, saw this section as leading from the transformation of the Ephesians in order for them to realize Christ's purposes for their lives: to carry on the mission of Jesus Christ in the world.
From the foundation of the world, God intended for you to fulfill His mission for the world through your intentional acts of mercy and kindness and love. What Paul is really saying is that God ordained the end and He also ordained the means.
Those in liberal churches have been suspicious of evangelicals who go to preach but do no physical ministry. Those in evangelical churches were suspicious of those who did physical ministry but didn't preach. The truth is that to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ is to do both. This is what James meant when he taught his congregation: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:15-17, NIV).
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