For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Have you ever noticed that the first thing we see God doing in the Bible is work? That’s right, the God of heaven begins His revealing of Himself to us by telling us that He works. Bursting onto the pages of scripture is a God creating and forming and making things. Beauty, light, and life itself comes forth from His magnificent activity. At the end of that first week God declared it good…..yep, He’s talking about the result of His WORK.
Speaking of these early days, God also gave the first man Adam a job before He gave him a wife! God creates Adam, breathes life into his nostrils, and puts him to work. Remember, this job of Adam’s precedes the fall in the garden. The world was a perfect and sinless place and it included work. I say all of this to remind you of an important truth; work is good.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture where we often bemoan work and see it simply as a necessary evil. We dream of the day when we can retire and relax in our proverbial hammocks until our happy hearts stop beating. We secretly hope we can win a lottery and finally walk away from the toil and slog of our jobs. The problem with this mindset is that it is not one that reflects the mark of our Creator.
God made us to work. Work is an amazing gift from a loving Father to His creation. It’s time we started looking at our jobs and responsibilities as opportunities to reflect God’s image rather than a simple means to an end. If you see your work as only a way to pay the bills and nothing more then you will be miserable for a considerable portion of your life. Thankfully, the Bible gives us a different view.
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that part of the redeeming work of Jesus in our lives is the redemption of our work. In Him, we are saved from having to work for our salvation but we are not saved from work! In fact, we are saved to work! The joy of unconditional love in the Father leads us to see all of life differently including our activity, effort, and responsibility. We can now stop looking at parts of life as mundane and other parts as sacred. Now, in Jesus, it is all sacred. This brings purpose and joy to everyone from the farmer to the lawyer. The stay at home mom realizes that every diaper matters while the doctor begins to view each patient through the lens of eternity. Everything a Christian does is sacred because he or she is a child of God. I hope this helps you today. In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, “do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you”.
Now, get back to work!
The Book of Ephesians, which we are studying this summer at 3Circle Church, is a power packed 6 chapter book. Chapter one, which is essentially the Apostle Paul’s greeting in what was a letter to the church of Ephesus, is no ordinary greeting. Before he gave the Ephesians instruction he gave them encouragement. Paul wanted to strengthen their confidence in all that God had accomplished for them through Jesus. Much of the greeting is a reminder of the stunning implications of the Gospel for believers.
First, Paul calls the Ephesians saints. SAINTS!! What a powerful word. In some religious tribes, becoming a saint is something you must earn with a lifetime of good deeds. The Gospel informs broken sinners that sainthood is an identity GIVEN to unworthy sinners who place their faith in Jesus. The members of the church of Ephesus were not perfect. This will become obvious as the need for instruction is clear throughout the Epistle. Nevertheless, Paul calls them saints. You see, as a believer, saint becomes your constant identity even though sin is an occasional activity. You sin because you are an imperfect human but you are a saint because you belong to a perfect Savior.
Paul informs the church in this greeting that they have been blessed IN CHRIST with every spiritual blessing. The phrase “in Christ” is seen often in Paul’s writings. This speaks of the amazing union of the believer with Jesus through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. How can Jesus be in me and I in Him when He’s in heaven and I’m on earth? The wonderful answer is the Holy Spirit who indwells all true believers. The Trinity is three in one. Jesus and the Spirit are completely unified, so when you have the Spirit you have the Son!
Finally, Paul speaks of the blessing of predestination. Unfortunately this word and concept have become a grease fire of debate and controversy in the Church. What we’ve made controversial God intended to be comforting. I truly believe the problem is that we are finite creatures getting to know our infinite God. There are truths in the Scriptures that are hard for me to understand and reconcile. The Trinity would be an example. But even though the infinite truth of the Trinity literally takes my mind to the limit, I still fully believe. This is true of the issue of the parallel truths of God’s sovereignty and human choice. The Bible teaches both of these truths, yet they seem irreconcilable to finite creatures. Let me assure you that what seems irreconcilable to us is completely reconcilable to our infinite God! What do we do then? Believe the Bible!
I believe that God is in complete control and knows everything. I also believe simultaneously that God has given me freedom and choices that have real impact. I also REJOICE in the truth that my salvation was no accident…..I was CHOSEN!! Don’t miss the joy of this truth in the middle of all of the debate. God chose you to be His child. What a magnificent truth. And just think my friends, we’ve only covered the greeting of the letter!!
Summertime is finally here. By God’s grace, I live in a great area to have a great summer. Beaches, rivers, creeks and bays are literally all around me. If you’re like me, you will alternate between fishing, boating, and hanging out on the beach with your kids. While I’m all for enjoying the natural wonders of summer on the coast, I want to invite you to join me on a different type of summer journey. I’m talking about a journey to a church in an ancient Roman city known as Ephesus.
At 3Circle Church, we will be spending the next few hot and humid months walking through the New Testament book of Ephesians. This power packed 6 chapter letter was written to the church of Ephesus by the Apostle Paul. The book covers a lot of ground in a few chapters, and I believe those willing to drill down into this Epistle will find treasure that will change their lives. The great British preacher Charles Spurgeon, considered this to be his favorite book of the Bible. I personally have gone back to Ephesians over and over as a Christian, and a minister, for both encouragement and instruction.
CS Lewis said modern people often fall into an erroneous trap of “chronological snobbery,” meaning we incorrectly think that people from past ages were all extremely primitive and have nothing in common with us in our modernity. This is not true, however, because people have always been people created in God’s image. The book of Ephesians in particular makes this point as the city of Ephesus was a booming metropolis of over 250,000 people with all of the latest advancements and culture of the day.
The church to which this letter was written faced the same identity crisis that many of us face. They needed to be reminded of the grace of God and the stunning implications of the Gospel for themselves and their lost city. They longed for healthy marriages like we do and this letter gave them helpful instructions. Finally, like us, the Ephesus Church faced daily attacks in the spiritual realm that often left them discouraged, confused, and fearful. Paul spends a chapter of this letter equipping this church for the battle.
It is because of these reasons, and many more, that I’m so excited to lead our church through this book for Summer 2015. If you don’t have a church home and you are in the Gulf Coast region, please join us for this series. If you live in a different area you can take this journey with us online.
In preparation for this first Sunday, please read Ephesians chapter one. As a preview, I’d like you to take special notice of how Paul greeted the church of Ephesus in the first two verses of the letter. This is going to be a life changing summer at 3Circle as we unleash the power of Ephesians.