NEW - YOUR PART IN GOD'S
Posted Sunday June 7, 2015
By John Aldworth
Eph. 2:8-10: For by grace ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Psalm 119:25: My soul cleaveth unto the dust; quicken Thou me according to thy word.
Psalm 119:37: Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity and quicken Thou me in thy way.
Sometimes in the Christian life we find ourselves fumbling, if not dropping the ball. Reading the Bible becomes a chore rather than a joy, fellowshipping with others a duty rather than a delight. Somehow the things of the world, our work, our daily life become more real, even though we find them irksome rather than truly satisfying.
The psalmist said very honestly that his soul ‘cleaveth unto the dust’. Put more plainly his soul, the essence of himself, loved the things of the ground, the tangible, non-spiritual physical things in life. Spiritually speaking, he was dabbling in the dirt,
What had gone wrong? Fact is he had forgotten why he was saved, the hope of a wonderful tomorrow for which God was preparing him had grown dim. He tried to compensate for the lack of joy such a prospect brings by throwing himself more into the things of this life but felt his sense of God’s reality and presence dying in him as he did so.
In Psalm 119: 28 he writes: ‘My soul melteth for heaviness (sadness, grief). Strengthen Thou me according to thy word’.
Fact is we all go through experiences like this. There are times God seems far away when his truth no longer seems exciting, times when we’re not eager to learn more about God and his purpose for our lives because other things have become important.
In a nutshell, we’ve lost sight of the very reason for which God saved us through the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of his Son Jesus. It is summed up in Eph. 2:10:
For we are his workmanship in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
You see we have been saved for a purpose. Not our purpose, God’s purpose. In fact our inheritance (our hope of being resurrected to live in the Lord’s heavenly kingdom) is only obtained by our being ‘predestinated to the purpose of Him that worketh all things after the counsel of his own will’ (Eph. 1:11).
Did you notice that? His will, not ours. Once we get back into God’s will the Lord pushes all the buttons, makes all the lights go on. We become excited about what He is doing in our lives, not what we’re doing apart from Him.
Without really experiencing the truth that God is doing everything through us and for us by his grace life rapidly turns to drudgery. So what makes the lights go on, you ask? Why, his quickening. That is what the Psalmist was praying for. And if you are not experiencing his quickening as an active force in your life, may I suggest you get alone with God as soon as you can and ask Him to quicken you afresh.
You see, it is God’s job to make you alive, not yours. That’s why in Eph. 2:10 we are told ‘we are his workmanship’. When we are quickened we are made alive with the life of Christ Himself. To keep us quickened the Father has already put us in Christ; that’s why all the wonderful promises in Ephesians and Colossians become real when we know that we are ‘in Christ’. Where does it say God put us in Christ? Why in Col. 2:12.13 where it says we both ‘buried with Him in baptism’ and ‘quickened together with Him’.
We need to let God speak the truth of all this afresh to us every day. You see Psalmist knew that God had to speak to Him to quicken him, make him alive again. That’s why he wrote, ‘Quicken Thou me according to thy word’. In fact the phrase ‘according to thy word’, or precepts or statutes, runs like a river throughout the whole psalm. The psalmist will not just read but ‘meditate in thy statutes’.
Learn from the lips of Jesus Himself how this works. Having told the Israelites listening to Him that He was their ‘living bread’ and that they should ‘eat his flesh and drink his blood’ (John 6:51-56). In verse 63 He explains what this means:
It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.
You don’t receive the Lord’s life by eating a wine soaked wafer as Catholics maintain, nor does it come by ‘taking communion’. We are made alive by God speaking to us through his word.
And the word, in the case of the hope for God’s bright new tomorrow and the part we shall play in it is found in the special revelation the Lord gave Paul. That is marked out in Eph. 2: 8-10. This is where you and I find ourselves plugged into God’s purposes for that soon coming Day of Christ delineated by the Apostle Paul in Phil. 1:6, 10, 2:16 and 2 Tim. 4:1.
The psalmist said ‘I will never forget thy precepts, for with them Thou hast quickened me’ (Psalm 119:93). As Jesus said, it is the word that quickens. Why? Because the words God speaks are spirit and life. Some Christians seem to believe that the Spirit alone is life and fail to give the Word of God (which is Jesus Christ Himself, John 1:1) the pre-eminence it deserves. They need to learn afresh that faith (that is belief in God which brings life and the spiritual experience of it) comes by hearing ‘and hearing by the Word of God’ (Rom. 10:17). What then are the specific precepts God has advanced towards us through the later ‘Mystery” revelation given the Apostle Paul?
There are many such precepts, of course, in Paul’s prison epistles. Among them Titus 2:13, which says that we should be …
Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
It is this appearing of the Lord in glory in heaven that ushers in his heavenly kingdom (Titus 2:13, 2 Tim. 4:18). Because it is his heavenly kingdom, it clearly is not his earthly kingdom in which Jesus Christ will rule and reign on earth for a 1,000 years. Thus the Lord’s heavenly kingdom, into which we have already been translated (Col.1:13), is not ‘the Lord’s day’. Rather it is his, that is, Christ’s day.
In Eph. 2:10 where we are told that:
… we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works that He hath before ordained that we should walk in them’.
Let’s break the verse down. Workmanship is a beautiful word to be put alongside the fact that we are God’s new creation. It is this reality he is working in us and through us every day. Good works are not only those we do now in this life. Certainly, we should live ‘soberly, righteously and godly in this life’, holding forth the word of life to others, but beyond that God is shaping us, equipping us, preparing us for the good works we will do in God’s tomorrow, the pre-millennial; heavenly kingdom of his dear Son.
We find, as the psalmist did, as the Apostle Paul did, that we undergo many afflictions in life. They either turn us toward God and his word, or away from Him. But through them God is doing a work in our lives. He is making us into the person He wants us to be in the life to come. Through troubles He is building into us abilities and qualities of character that will be vital to the service we will give Him in the day of Christ.
As Paul said, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable’ (1 Cor. 15: 19).
Grace is wonderful. It saves, blesses and keeps us in this life. But let’s keep our eyes on God’s tomorrow and not be deflected by ‘vanity’. For it is only in the Day of Christ, at his appearing, that we will find out just who God has purposed us to be and the result of his work in us in this life will be finally put on show. For when He appears in glory, we shall appear with Him (Col. 3:4).