You Are God's Masterpiece Created for Good Works
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scriptures: Ephesians 2:1-10
Sunday 11th June 2017
Today’s message is a single-part message that I shared with the workforce of the church recently. The Lord impressed it upon my heart to share this with the wider church family.
Here is Ephesians 2:1-10 from the Message translation: ‘It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah. Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.’
Here is verses 8-10 in the New Living Translation: ‘God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’
Our focus in this message is verses 8-10 above, but I will give a quick breakdown of the previous verses to give some context. Verses 1-3 gives us an appreciation of our past – the point from which God brought us from: It is possible to forget our past, inadvertently affecting our attitude and disposition in thanksgiving for what God has done for us. A classic example is the Israelites – their short memory played a major role in their ungrateful and incongruous attitude towards God, despite the incredible deliverance that He wrought for them, from their slave masters in Egypt (See Numbers 11:1-2, 14:2-4 for more). Hence, we must always be grateful as often as possible for what God has done in the past, and He is doing presently in our lives.
Verses 4-9 expatiates on what God did through Christ for us, with St. Paul elaborating on why and how He did it. The New Living translation speaks of God’s love and mercy for us – giving us life in spite of our dead sinful nature, the same way Christ was raised to life. Besides this, we are seated with Christ in Heavenly realms, all because of God’s amazing grace and kindness towards us. It is indeed by grace that we’ve been saved, through faith – it is all a gift from God. Our salvation is not a reward for what we have done!
So let’s turn our attention to verses 10, which is our focus today. It reads: ‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ The word ‘masterpiece’ or ‘handiwork’ could also refer to poetry or poem, a work of art. It could also refer to the glory of the work of God’s hands. In other words, each of us are unique creatures or creation of God’s hands – God’s signature.
Now here is a food for thought: It is important that each of us know who we are in Christ, and see ourselves as God sees us. It is in this revealed knowledge that we will be secure enough in God to fulfil the assignment He preordained our lives to accomplish. Hence, you are not ordinary; you are God’s best work – His masterpiece.
Irrespective of what may have happened to you in the past, what you may be presently dealing with, disappointments and pain, it is vital that you realise that you are valued in the eyes of God. St Paul spoke about our past – who we were and our present – who we are! In other words, he was making a distinction between our past and present, in between which is the grace factor. So, do not get stuck in the past, you are God’s masterpiece.
So then, your recreation as God’s masterpiece is for a purpose. You were crafted, designed and engineered, just the way you are, for a specific assignment that God preordained for you to accomplish. Hence, this should be your daily prayer: Lord, help me by your Spirit to accomplish the divine purpose that I was created for. Living without fulfilling your purpose is the saddest thing in life. Wise men and women think of their purpose and live for that reason.
Purpose precedes creation; your purpose is the reason for you. You are as valuable as your purpose – better still, your purpose was already established before you were born. Hence, you are here on earth today for a specific, unique purpose. God’s agenda and purpose for your life was concluded before the foundation of the earth was established.
When God gives a purpose to a person, He also gives a platform or the opportunity for fulfilling that purpose. If that opportunity is despised, then that purpose is forfeited. Wherever God has planted you, within a local congregation is a good place to make use of your gift and execute your God-given purpose. Find a team within your local congregation in which to serve to fulfil your God-given destiny.
Let’s examine critically these two truths: works vs good works: Here are verses 8-9 in the Amplified classic version: ‘For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favour) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfilment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]’ Our salvation is not because of our works. We cannot earn grace by works. The good works (or gifting) aligned to your purpose is not the basis for your salvation. You are saved by Grace! Your access into the Kingdom is not by the work of the law. It is by faith in the finished work of Christ.
However, as a citizen of the kingdom, God has preordained an assignment for each of us – good works prepared in advance that we should walk in them. Now, God is not sending us to accomplish a mission He has not already prepared. The truth that you are sent is proof that it is an accomplished mission. For God never sends His servants out without already concluding the assignment.
Here are two kinds of assignment we have been called to accomplish: The work of growing and the work of going.
(1) Growing: Here is 2 Peter 3:17-18, which reads: ‘You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. God desires that we grow in grace in Christ’s knowledge. This will entail spending quality time with God daily, making time to be planted and rooted within a local church, including attending other weekly services, such as the prayer meetings and bible studies.
(2) Going: Jesus introduced his disciples to good works. He left them with the great commission, as recorded in Mark 16:14-16. It reads: ‘Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned’. The work the disciples were sent to accomplish what had already been finished by God – so as yielded vessels we are to depend on God to guide us towards those He has prepared to receive the gospel.
Remember that you are His masterpiece, created for good works!
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