Sermon: God’s Workmanship; God’s Workers

Ephesians 2:10

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10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

‘Twas battered and scarred,

And the auctioneer thought it

hardly worth his while

To waste his time on the old violin,

but he held it up with a smile.

 

“What am I bid, good people”, he cried,

“Who starts the bidding for me?”

“One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?”

“Two dollars, who makes it three?”

“Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,”

 

But, No,

From the room far back a gray bearded man

Came forward and picked up the bow,

Then wiping the dust from the old violin

And tightening up the strings,

He played a melody, pure and sweet

As sweet as the angel sings.

 

The music ceased and the auctioneer

With a voice that was quiet and low,

Said “What now am I bid for this old violin?”

As he held it aloft with its’ bow.

 

“One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?”

“Two thousand, Who makes it three?”

“Three thousand once, three thousand twice,

Going and gone”, said he.

 

The audience cheered,

But some of them cried,

“We just don’t understand.”

“What changed its’ worth?”

Swift came the reply.

“The Touch of the Masters Hand.”

 

“And many a man with life out of tune

All battered and bruised with hardship

Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd

Much like that old violin

 

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,

A game and he travels on.

He is going once, he is going twice,

He is going and almost gone.

 

But the Master comes,

And the foolish crowd never can quite understand,

The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought

By the Touch of the Masters’ Hand. (by Myra Brooks Welch)

 

God is the Master of the human race, and his touch can transform a wrecked life into something special. We see the same in this text:

 

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, 

created in Christ Jesus unto good works, 

which God hath before ordained 

that we should walk in them. 


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Sermon: The First Provision Of The New Covenant: A Heart For Obedience

 

Hebrews 8:7-13

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7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 

 

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11 And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:7–13)

 

WHAT IS A COVENANT?

 

What is a covenant, that is, a covenant as found in the Bible? I looked at maybe two dozen definitions and found some common threads: a covenant is formal; it is written; it is a promise; it is an agreement. 

 

While those are helpful, they didn’t really impact me in a personal way. I mean, I do the same thing with my cell phone company. Is my relationship with God like a contract with a cell phone company? No, of course not, so we need to turn from definition to description. 

 

Here’s one that was helpful for me:


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Sermon: Saved By Grace Through Faith

 Ephesians 2:8-9

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8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)

 

These verses are Paul’s “John 3:16.” They are the “Gospel in a nutshell.” They tell us how to be saved and they tell us…

 

I. HOW WE ARE NOT SAVED

 

Ephesians 2:8b

and that not of yourselves: 

it is the gift of God: 

καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν· 

Θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·

Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, 

lest any man should boast. 

9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, 

ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται.

 

Typically, if you ask someone who believes in Heaven how they might get to Heaven they answer with something about being good, or showing kindness to people in your life. We can clearly see that these are “works.” 

 

Others will answer with something about a spiritual experience that they had once, or that they simply “feel” saved. Pastor James Boice once had a conversation with a young man who claimed he was a Christian:

 

As we talked, I discovered that he did not believe that Jesus Christ was fully divine. He said he was God’s Son, but only in the sense that we are all God’s sons. He did not believe in the resurrection. He did not believe that Jesus died for our sin or that the New Testament contains an accurate record of his life and ministry. He did not acknowledge Christ as Lord of his life. 

 

When I pointed out that these beliefs are involved in any true definition of a Christian, he answered that nevertheless he believed deep in his heart that he was a Christian. The thing he called faith was only a deeply held gut feeling. (James Montgomery Boice, Ephesians: An Expositional Commentary [Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library, 1988], 66–67)

 

While feeling saved or spiritual experiences are things that we don’t identify as works, they are from ourselves, and therefore are works. Feelings are as much works as good deeds.


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Sermon: You Are Free to Love Others

 

Galatians 5:13-15

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13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. (Galatians 5:13–15)

 

INTRODUCTION

 

In this country we have been and are free to speak; free to worship; free to pursue our happiness in whatever way we wish.

 

There are boundaries of course; our freedoms mustn’t restrict someone else’s freedom—therefore murder, stealing, cheating, and so forth, are clearly wrong. 

 

Our freedom is hemmed in by relationships. We debate and refine the boundaries in grayer areas, but after more than two centuries as a nation most of us still go to sleep at night satisfied with our freedom.

 

In Galatians we find this same theme of freedom in a spiritual sense. Legalism is like a dictatorship: it tells people what they must do to please God and also the ones who are making the rules. In the case of the Galatian Christians, the main regulation was circumcision, but you can fill in the blank with thousands of things that people have tried to insist were essential to getting saved or being godly.


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Sermon: But God

Ephesians 2:4-7

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4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4–7)

 

BUT GOD, RICH IN MERCY AND WITH GREAT LOVE…

 

In verses 1-3, Paul outlined the dismal state of humanity.

 

1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience [every unsaved person]: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation [conduct] in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath [condemned to suffer God’s wrath, even from our birth], even as others. (Ephesians 2:1–3)

 

Paul’s intention was that we would read those verses and recognize the hopelessness of unsaved humanity. As a people we are unable to save ourselves from bondage to sin, Satan, and God’s condemnation.

 

Then in verse four, we read two beautiful words: “But God”

 

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Sermon: The Description Of The Spiritually Dead

Ephesians 2:1-3

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1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Ephesians 2:1–3)

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE SPIRITUALLY DEAD?

 

Ephesians 2:1 And you <hath he quickened>, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 

1 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασι, 

καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις,

 

There are at least three ways to view human nature. One is to say that humans are basically good, albeit with flaws. 

 

Second, you could say that humans are morally sick, but there is much that they could do to help themselves. 

 

Biblically, however, the view is that human beings are spiritually dead—dead in trespasses and sins.

 

What does it mean to be dead? A dead body, human or animal, is completely unresponsive to stimuli. You can shake it, poke it, drop it, or whatever, and it will not respond. Death is the complete inability to communicate with the living.

 

Spiritual death, then, is a complete inability to communicate with God. There is a complete separation from God. The spiritually dead person cannot reach God through anything that they can think of doing for themselves.

 

Our spiritual death is because of “trespasses and sins.” These words refer to “deviating from the right path” and “missing the mark” (Wuest). 

 

It’s like driving a car off into the ditch, high centering it on a rock. There’s nothing that you can do, your car is dead in the ditch. You need a tow truck.

 

Because of our sins, we are spiritually dead. We are “dead in trespasses and sins.” What does that look like? We know that a car is in the ditch because we can see that it’s not on the road and it is in a place that it’s not supposed to be.

 

In the same way, you can see if a person might be spiritually dead by how they live.

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Sermon: The Character Of A Spiritual Leader

1 Timothy 3:1-7

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1 This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1–7)

 

INTRODUCTION: A NEED FOR SPIRITUAL LEADERS

 

On Father’s day, we discussed the need for fathers to be Spiritual Leaders in their families, churches, and communities. That was a Call for Spiritual Leaders.

 

But to be a spiritual leader, it requires more than just being called, it requires a person to have a certain kind character. The Bible has much to teach us about the Character of Spiritual Leaders. 

 

And it’s important that we get our idea of character from the Bible, because our culture today is twisting the idea of moral character on it’s head. 

 

Immoral things are called moral. Moral beliefs are called immoral, evil, and outdated. Those who do this should be warned:

 

20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; That put darkness for light, and light for darkness; That put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

 

One glaring example of this in our time is the issue of same-sex marriage. If you read the news you will find the idea that same-sex marriage is moral, and to be against same-sex marriage is immoral.

 

Another is that abortion is moral because it protects the reproductive rights of women. 

 

The rush to bury the morals of the Bible and erect a human-centered society (a modern Tower of Babel) gains speed and ground with each passing year. 

 

Our culture needs spiritual leaders, leaders who are willing to stand for the principles and the morals that God has outlined for humanity in his Word.


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