God’s Workmanship

The Faberge Egg is considered one the most exquisite objects of art in the world. The story began when Czar Alexander III decided to give his wife the Empress Maria Fedorovna an Easter Egg in 1885, possibly to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their betrothal. Carl Faberge is the master artist who created these eggs and they are a symbol of luxury and beauty and royalty.         

The Sistine Chapel ceiling in Rome took Michelangelo four years to complete this masterpiece. Along with his monumental state of David, these two works are the epitome of Renaissance art and sculpture. The Parthenon in Greece. The Taj Mahal in India. The pyramids in Egypt. The Coliseum in Rome. Big Ben in London. The palace of Versailles in France. The Statue of Liberty. The Great Wall of China.

These amazing structures represent the most famous buildings in the world. These are icons of artistry, creativity, and years of design and building. Venice, Italy, is known for exquisite and expensive glassmaking. Ireland is known for Waterford crystal which is supposed to be the most exquisite in the world.

Why do I draw your attention to works of art, sculpture, and architecture? None of these would be famous, expensive, or exquisite with a master designer who labored with great talent and care to create something spectacular. Behind all works of art, there is the master artist. Behind all buildings, there is an architect. Behind all sculptures, there is a sculptor. Behind all pottery there is a master potter.

And behind all of our salvation in being a new creation in Christ, there is the ultimate artist, designer, sculptor, painter, and builder—God Himself.

Paul gives this wonderful description in Ephesians 2:10 of how God has made us for Himself: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Paul says that we are God’s workmanship.

This is an amazing word. We are the masterpiece or the masterwork of the living God. This word really means the masterwork of a great artist and can encompass any work of great art—it could be a sculpture, or a building, or a tower, or a bridge, or an intricate piece of pottery. It was often used of a craftsman making a crown of beauty. It carries the image that God is the master builder or the master artist who has created a masterpiece of exquisite beauty and design.

There is a dignity to being a Christian.  God in His infinite mercy as the Creator has made us Christians. He is the Potter and we are the clay and He has fashioned us into this great work of art for His pleasure. Isaiah 64:8 says, “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

What should our response be to the dignity and privilege of being described as God’s workmanship—His masterpiece? It shouldn’t bring pride, but humility and joy. There is a great joy in knowing that we were once dead and children of wrath and sons of disobedience enslaved to sin and now God has created us into His workmanship. The beauty of the gospel is that we were nothing before salvation except dead, rebellious sinners, and now God has made us or created us into His workmanship.

I think many of our problems as Christians would be solved if we began to think of ourselves as God’s workmanship and objects of His love and acceptance. Let me ask you a question: Do you view God as this disapproving Father in heaven who is just waiting for you to mess up and He has this look of consternation on His face. Or do you see this Creative Father who has taken you out of the depths of depravity and sin and fashioned you into a new creation where you are now the object of His love and affection and His workmanship?

Paul uses this “creation” language. Just as God spoke the universe into existence by the power of His word, He spoke the gospel into your heart and made you alive in Christ. Here’s what’s staggering. In the physical creation, God created the universe out of nothing. There was nothing there in the first place and God created and spoke and everything came into being. But yet in our salvation, God didn’t create out of nothing. He created out of deadness, rebellion and sin. He took those who were rebellious and created in them a new life.

2 Corinthians 4:6 reads, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

It’s so important to remember that becoming a Christian is not self-help or moral improvement or some type of self-reliance where we make some changes to our habits and follow a list of do’s and don’ts and try to be so religious.

It’s not moral improvement or self-help, but a new nature. It is a new creation. It is by grace you’ve been saved and God alone has done it. God re-created you into His workmanship. You were dead. You were rebellious. You were an object of His wrath and He in His infinite mercy and great love as the Great Artist fashioned us into new creations in Christ to be His workmanship—His masterpiece.

What does this imply? It means that God is at work on you. God is shaping you. God is not done with you yet. God is the master Potter and He is fashioning you and molding you and cleaning up the rough edges and ultimately His goal is to transform you to be more like His Son Jesus. Paul writes in Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

 

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Living Water

I’m always fascinated every time we visit India just how strong the women are when they carry 50 pound pots of water on their heads as they travel back and forth to get water from the village well.  These bore wells don’t provide good drinking water and many of the children are really sick. Our missionary partners began selling water filters for a very cheap price to these villages and it has made a world of difference in their health.

There’s nothing worse than seeing a woman pump a well and this slimy dirty water coming out as she fills this huge metal pot and then puts it on her head as she walks miles back to her home to give this to her family as drinking water.

One of the most basic needs of human life is to have our thirst quenched. And we live in a culture where we can get Gatorade, PowerAde, flavored water, sparkling water, Culligan water. We are in no shortage of water.

In John 4, Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman at the well in the heat of the day. In that culture of the ancient near east water was a hot commodity in those desert climates. John 4:13–14 reads, “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ ”

Think of the imagery here. Have you ever seen a stagnant pool of water with gnats and flies and the stench? Picture in your mind a gross, stagnant mosquito infested cesspool of filth that only brings disease and impurity. That is the picture of the human heart without Christ. Our hearts are cesspools of wickedness. Our hearts are stagnant, dead, cold and sin-infested that lead to spiritual disease and impurity. We cannot stop this. We cannot fix this. This is a reality for every person who has ever been born. Our hearts are cesspools of wickedness.

Jeremiah 2:13 states “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. So what do we need to overcome this sin? We need the satisfying gift of eternal life that only Jesus can give us.  Psalm 36:9 read, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Isaiah 12:3 echoes this truth: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

What are you spending time, money, and energy on to satisfy your deepest longings?

What did this woman spend time satisfying herself with? Relationship after relationship with men and it only left her dry, parched, lonely, and ashamed. She was never truly satisfied. She was a sinner whose heart was darkened by a stagnant cesspool of wickedness. She needed the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit to invade her heart and create living waters that alone can satisfy and give her eternal life. Only Jesus can satisfy the cravings of a sinner with His satisfying gift of eternal life.

Listen to how the book of Revelation describes eternal life in heaven: Revelation 7:16–17 “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

You and I desperately need this living water of eternal life. We need to come to Jesus and receive this free gift. The prophet Isaiah gave an imagery of God as a water salesman in the ancient deserts of Israel offering the gift of water: Isaiah 55:1–3 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.”

In this passage, we see a lonely, desperate immoral woman who seeks her self-esteem and identity in men. Jesus has gently confronted this woman’s heart and exposed her sin. In essence, she has come face to face with the fact that her own heart is a stagnant cesspool of wickedness that needs cleansed and forgiven through the living water that only Jesus can provide.

Have you received this gift of eternal life? Has your dead, lifeless, stagnant corrupt heart been renewed with streams of living water welling up inside to eternal life? Are you satisfied, I mean truly satisfied, with Jesus? Does He alone quench you thirst? Does He alone give joy to your soul? Are you finding in Jesus your ultimate passion, desire, fulfillment and purpose? Turn from your sin and then turn in faith to Christ today to receive the satisfying gift of eternal life.

Jesus transformed this woman at the well from a lonely, guilty, immoral sinner who found satisfaction in men into a worshipper who encountered the great I AM—Jesus the Messiah. The great I AM Jesus stand ready to receive you today just like this woman. Would you too experience this wonderful transformation and find your ultimate satisfaction in the living waters of Christ and His salvation?