Summary: This is part four in the Carpenter's Workshop Christmas series. The Master Carpenter is preparing for himself a gift - the Church, the Bride - to be presented to him at His Second Coming. This message addresses us as noble vessels.
Just one week before Christmas. Imagine all the workshops – some like this one – running full steam, working hard to finish their Christmas gifts. Woodchips and sawdust cover the floor, reminding us that each project took time and care to transform a piece of wood into something to be enjoyed and treasured by the recipient.
In a similar way, the Master Carpenter is busy working on His project – us, the Church, preparing himself a gift for his return. A gift that will be enjoyed and treasured throughout eternity.
This morning, I’d like to talk about useful gifts because I don’t want to give the impression that the gift Jesus is making is one that will simply sit on the shelf for display. No, the Master Carpenter is creating a gift that will not only be a showcase of His skilled craftsmanship, it will be a gift that He puts into service for His purposes.
[2 Timothy 2:20-21] In a large house there are vessels not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
Before we dig into this passage and its context, I want to take a little trip into the Old Testament. Remember when the Israelites had left Egypt and were in the wilderness? God gave them instructions for building the tabernacles and everything in it. Here are a few of the verses…
[Exodus 26:1] Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman.
[Exodus 28:6] Make the ephod (the high priest’s vestment) of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen – the work of a skilled craftsman.
[Exodus 39:2-3] They made the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. They hammered out thin sheets of gold and cut strands to be worked into the blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen – the work of a skilled craftsman.
[Exodus 28:15] Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions – the work of a skilled craftsman. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen.
There are two things I’d like to point out from these verses:
God knows what He wants. He doesn’t just tell Moses to pick out colors that look good. Our Sovereign God gives the particulars of His plan and expects them to be carried out.
God requires skilled craftsman to do the work. He’s not looking for just any volunteer. He requires people equipped to carry out His plans.
When it comes to His work in the Church, the Master Carpenter knows what He wants. He has a plan and He expects that plan to be carried out to the letter.
He also requires skilled craftsman to do the work. Too often churches beg for warm bodies to fill a slot. The Master Carpenter is doing His work in us, so we can be useful in carrying out His plans.
As Paul puts it to Timothy: so we “will be vessels for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.”
The large house Paul is writing about is the Church of Christ. So within the Church there are vessels – people – people of honor and people of dishonor. How can this be? I believe Jesus gives the explanation…
[Matthew 13:47-50] "Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In any given church on any given Sunday, there are the redeemed, those born again, new creations in Christ and there are the hypocrites, those having a form of godliness but denying its power, self-righteous, those to whom Jesus will say, “I never knew you.” Just as the good fish were separated from the bad, so on judgment day, the sheep will be separated from the goats, the noble vessels from the ignoble.
Do you want to be a noble vessel, useful to the Master?
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.