A Marvelous Work
Intro: During our vacation 2 weeks ago we had the opportunity to visit the Creation Museum in Northern KY, just outside of Cincinnati.
If you are not familiar with this facility, it is nearly 2 years old now and the brain child of Ken Hamm and the Answers in Genesis ministry.
As the name suggests, the theme of this museum experience is Creation Science, or what has been called intelligent design over recent years.
It is an interesting presentation that begins with a comparison between the theory of evolution and creation science and then moves on into an explanation of the Biblical account of creation.
And if we are to take the Scriptures as the Word of God, and accept them as true…then the creation story is truly an amazing miracle.
We are told that God created something out of nothing…a feat that has never been repeated and is thoroughly impossible for man.
Probably because we fall into this same creation story as Scripture teaches us that God took the dust of the earth and breathed the breath of life into the Hebrew word “adam”…the name of the first man, as well as the word that can be translated as “mankind”.
I’ll be honest I’m blown away and fascinated by the creation story, and seeing it illustrated was amazing…but I don’t think it is God’s greatest miracle.
You see the Creation Museum illustrated the creation story for us, and then showed us the corruption that also took place there in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit…and opened the door for the chaos of Babel and the catastrophe of the flood.
But the Scriptures didn’t end there…and that is where that greater miracle than creation comes in.
The door was opened in Eden for the Christ who would come to redeem mankind and pay the price of our sins on the cross and in Him we find forgiveness.
The greatest miracle I believe to be greater than even creation is the redemption of men and women, boys and girls, the “whosoever” of John 3:16 by grace through faith.
Did he say salvation is a greater miracle than creation?
At creation God created something from nothing…but at salvation he changes the nature of man from sinner to saint.
He brings life into us though we were dead, and turns a goats into sheep.
I can’t help but believe that this is an incredible act that God performs in the life of the born again believer by His grace, and all it takes is a faith that leads to repentance.
And that faith and repentance should result in life change…a change from the inside out.
Transition: We began studying Ephesians 4 last week in a series I’m calling “Change from the Inside Out”.
Last week we mentioned that our salvation should result in our walk being different, we should be taking steps of faith that are defined by the work that God has done.
If you remember I said that God didn’t save us just so we can have fire insurance…He saved us to change us and to use us as agents of change in our community and our world.
It is truly a marvelous work that God performs…and that is what I want us to consider this morning.
Read Ephesians 4:7-16 and pray.
Salvation means a life that has been changed, and when we consider what kind of gift we truly receive from God…we should strive to live out that life change.
God truly does a Marvelous Work in our lives!
I want us to notice 3 keys to that marvelous work this morning and how it can and should change our lives.
First of all notice…
1. The Grace – Saved
Read vs. 7-9
Just curious, do we have any Charismatics here this morning?
I know…this is a Baptist church, and a First Baptist Church at that…of course not; right?
The Greek word for grace here is “Charis”…as in charismatic.
We often use that term to refer to our Pentecostal brethren…but the fact is we should all be Charismatic because it literally means “grace gifted”.
God offers us His grace, and it is by that grace we are saved.
Turn to Eph. 2:8-9.
I realize that these are verses that we all know, and many of us have memorized…but I feel that we need to revisit them this morning.
Also, listen to it in a couple of our modern translations:
In the God’s Word Translation it says, “God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it.”
And in the Contemporary English Version it reads, “You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you, and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about.”
Salvation is by God’s grace, meaning that not only are we experiencing His mercy by not getting what we deserve…we are experiencing His grace by getting something that we don’t deserve.
We deserve death and eternal separation from God as a result of our sins, but God’s mercy spares us from that and His grace saves us by offering us forgiveness and eternal life.
Not by anything you can do.
For the life of me I cannot figure out why so many are offended by this Gospel message.
I often hear, “How can you say that salvation is only by faith…that just isn’t right!”
And I have to agree, it isn’t right…but God offers it anyway.
What is right is that this God who is just would punish us for violating His moral law…but being not only just, but justifier He saves us in spite of us.
The right thing would have been for you and I to pay for our sins, but God instead chose to impart His righteousness upon us through Christ…by His grace and through faith.
A marvelous work, because we didn’t do it but because God did it for us.
We have The Grace by which we are saved, but notice that this marvelous work also gives us…
2. The Gifts – Service
Read vs. 11-13.
We mentioned earlier that Charismatic means “grace gifted”, here we find a listing of the “charismaton”…or spiritual gifts.
Let’s define a little more, what is a spiritual gift:
• Spiritual gifts are special abilities…
• They are distributed by the Holy Spirit…
• They are given to every believer according to God’s design and
• They are given for the common good of the body of Christ
God has granted, by the power of the Holy Spirit, each born again believer certain abilities that we can find listed in passages of Scripture like Ephesians 4 and 1 Cor. 12.
In our passage we see just a few listed.
• Apostles: a messenger who is sent forth, a delegate to make a proclamation
• Prophet: a foreteller, an inspired speaker who proclaims God’s word
• Evangelists: a preacher of the Gospel
• And Preacher/Teachers: a shepherd/instructor over God’s people.
While this is just 4 of the many gifts, we get an idea of how God’s plan comes into effect.
He uses these individual gifts in individual believers in a united front within the local church for…verse 12.
God’s desire is for unity in the church so that we might be about His business.
He has called each and every born again believer who has come into First Baptist Church based on each of our gifts, our skills, and our experience.
He has shaped each of us for service within the local church…for building the kingdom of God.
And that is why we need to get beyond ourselves so that we can be about the business of God.
But we know that isn’t what happens.
One person gets upset with another person, so they decide that its not worth it to them and says “I’m just not going to put up with it…” thinking they are helping themselves.
OK…and while you help yourself in your eyes, you hinder God’s work because unity is broken and your needed gifts are not in service where they need to be.
And like I mentioned last week, too often people will walk out of a church and give up on the work of the Lord that He has saved them to do…for way less than what they would quit their job for.
And forget that what is on the line is the souls of men and women who are doomed for an eternity of separation from God…but it’s ok, right?
After all, we have to take care of ourselves.
Anything short of unity in the body of Christ is missing the mark…and by unity I don’t mean one person or another getting their way.
Unity means we ask ourselves “How will this help us build the kingdom of God.”
And if it doesn’t…and if it doesn’t unify us…then we have to ask ourselves it if is worth it.
And to not be using our gifts to build God’s kingdom is only hurting ourselves and the cause of Christ.
How has God gifted you?
Are you using your gifts to unify this body?
If not…why not?
He has saved you by His grace and gifted you for service as part of this marvelous work.
And that takes us to the third key this morning…
3. The Goal – Sanctified
Here is the definition of “sanctification” from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary, “The generic meaning of sanctification is "the state of proper functioning." To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer.”
Now notice vs. 13
The word in vs. 13 for “mature” is “telios”, meaning complete, and to some extent “perfect”.
God wants to sanctify us and mature us in the fullness of Christ as we grow in our relationship with Him.
That is His goal, and that should be our goal likewise.
And then if you look in vs. 14-16 we get a picture of what this sanctification should look like.
• Maturity, “burp the babies” from Tim Reed (Hickory Street) yesterday
• Doctrinally sound
• Speaks truth in love…emphasis on love (weave right words)
The picture here…life change.
You should not be the same as a result of the grace of God, especially in light of this goal of sanctification…and if you are not experiencing life change, you should ask yourself if you have experienced the grace of God we mentioned at the beginning.
Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
Have you come to a point in your life where you realized that you had no hope in and of yourself because of your sins…so you cried out to the Savior who died for you and asked God to save you and forgive you of your sins?
Is this grace evident in your life?
I can’t emphasize this enough…proof of salvation isn’t in a prayer we prayed at some point in our life, but is in the change that comes as a result of experiencing the greatest miracle since creation.
Is your life different?
If not, what are you going to do about it?
If you are not a born again believer…your fix is accepting the gift of grace, salvation.
If you are a born again believer, are you using the gifts that God has given you in service to the local church, unified in building God’s kingdom?
Are you working toward sanctification with that as your goal?
Are you living out a life changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ?