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Sermon #32 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: “Good Works”
Text: Ephesians 2:10
Subject: Good Works
Date: Sunday Evening — March 6, 2016
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Larry Brown
(Ephesians 2:1-10) “And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
“4 ¶ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised [us] up together, and made [us] sit together in heavenly [places] in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in [his] kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
We know that faith works by love and that all who are in Christ Jesus are admonished to be “careful to maintain good works.” James tells us that true, saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is faith that is demonstrated and shown by good works. And here, in Ephesians 2:10, God the Holy Spirit tells us that all who are born of God are — “His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Proposition: That means that all who are born of God do walk in good works. — If God ordained it, it shall be done. If God has ordained that all who are new creatures in Christ walk in good works, then all who are new creatures in Christ Jesus walk in good works.
Know Three Things
But, what are those good works? — A while back, after preaching a message on salvation by grace, a man came up to me and said, — “If what you are saying is true, then if a person believes on Jesus it’s okay for him to go out and sin all he wants to.” Needless to say, my blood began to boil! Yet, this is the response I always get from both Arminians and Calvinistic legalists to the message of God’s free-grace in Christ. When men cannot refute our doctrine and refuse to bow to the truth of God, they always attempt to cast upon it the hideous, slanderous charges of licentiousness and antinomianism, knowing full well that their accusations are false. I cannot stop the mouths of gainsayers, but I want you to know these three things:
1. Salvation is by grace alone. God’s grace in Christ is free, sovereign, unconditional, eternal, and unchangeable. Grace planned our salvation, provided us with a Redeemer who purchased our pardon with his blood, produced life in us by his Spirit, preserves us in life and faith, and shall present us faultless before the presence of God’s glory in eternity. — “By grace ye are saved!” Grace cannot be resisted and cannot be frustrated. It is always effectual. And God’s grace is not, in any way, determined by or dependent upon the will, works, and worth of the sinner. — Grace is free!
2. Good works have nothing, whatsoever, to do with the accomplishment, preservation, or consummation of our salvation in Christ. Neither our election, redemption, nor calling, sanctification, preservation, nor glorification are determined by our works. The moment you make room for works, you push grace out. If you attempt to win, improve, or maintain God’s favor by your works, you “are fallen from grace,” you have departed from the Gospel of the grace of God, and “Christ shall profit you nothing.” Any mixture of works with grace is not salvation, but damnation.
3. All who are saved by grace walk in good works. Though we are sinners still, though sin is mixed with and mars everything we think and do, so that our best works of righteousness are filthy rags, believers are men and women of good works, carefully striving to maintain those works on earth that glorify God our Savior. We are motivated by gratitude and love to do so, because we are “saved by grace.”
But, what are those good works? Does the Word of God tell us? Churches and religion of every kind and brand (Papist and Baptist, Buddhist and Methodist, Jewish and Mohammedan, Presbyterian and Pentecostal) have long lists of things they try to compel people to do or not do, and they call the doing or not doing of them “good works,” or even “works of righteousness.” —“Touch not, taste not, handle not!”
Many people think they are doing good works for God by living austere lives of strict separation from the world. They strictly obey certain, self-imposed rules, or the rules of religious customs and traditions, and think they are maintaining good works. Most people think that outward deeds of morality, outward obedience to the law of God, or outward performance of religious duties are good works. Religious people vainly imagine that good works are measured by the clothes they wear, what they eat or drink, or refuse to eat or drink, and whether or not they attend movies and watch television. Such works impress men; but they are not what the Bible calls “good works.” I know they are not what God is talking about when he speaks of good works in this Book. I know that because good works are works of faith. —— Only people who trust Christ can perform the “good works” spoken of in our text; and all who trust Christ perform those “good works.” — You don’t have to be a believer not to smoke, drink, cuss, and chew, and not to run with those who do!
So, I ask again, — What are those good works? Does the Word of God tell us? Can we open the Book of God and find in this Book certain, specific things, specific “good works” that every believer performs and walks in, “good works” that only a believer can perform and walk in? Indeed we can. I have searched this Book and have found in it five things, five “good works,” in which believers walk, five things which only a believer can do.
First, every heaven born soul, every saved sinner, everyone who trusts the Lord Jesus Christ lives in repentance. I have repented. I am repenting. And I shall repent.
Š I repent of my sin, what I am.
Š I repent of my sins, the evil I do.
Š I repent of my righteousness.
Repentance is, with the believer, a state of being, causing us to come to Christ, confess our sins, and seek his grace continually. — None but a believer will repent; and all true believers do repent. Let’s see if I can make good on that.
(Zechariah 12:10) “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for [his] only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.”
(Psalms 32:1-7) “Blessed [is he whose] transgression [is] forgiven, [whose] sin [is] covered. 2 Blessed [is] the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit [there is] no guile. 3 When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. 4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. 5 I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah. 6 For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. 7 ¶ Thou [art] my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.”
(Psalms 51:1-17) “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin [is] ever before me. 4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done [this] evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, [and] be clear when thou judgest. 5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden [part] thou shalt make me to know wisdom.”
“7 ¶ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; [that] the bones [which] thou hast broken may rejoice. 9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me [with thy] free spirit. 13 [Then] will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.”
“14 ¶ Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: [and] my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. 15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. 16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
(1 John 1:9) “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Second, every believer walks in love, not a sham pretense, showy talk of love, but genuine love for God and his people. Saving faith is “faith which worketh by love.” Believers love the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 16:22; 1 John 4:19). Believers love God, love his Word, love his law, and love his ways. It is easy to say, “I love the Lord,” and to sing, “O How I Love Jesus,” but the only way love for Christ can be seen is in love for his people; and all believers love one another.
(1 John 3:16-19) “Hereby perceive we the love [of God], because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down [our] lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.”
And this brotherly love is manifest by very specific deeds.
Š Love provides for its object.
Š Love protects.
Š Love covers weaknesses, flaws, and sins. — “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).
Š Love forgives, forbears, and excuses.
(Ephesians 4:32-5:2) “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
“5:1 ¶ Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; 2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
Third, faith in Christ teaches the believer to practice submission. Faith is submission to Christ as my Lord, the continual submission of myself to him. Faith in Christ is walking in the Spirit. And walking in the Spirit is walking in submission to God my Savior.
Š Submitting my will to his will.
Š Submission to his Word, his Doctrine, his Ordinances.
And this submission to Christ as my Lord shows itself in a very practical way.
Š Believing children submit to their parents.
Š Believing wives submit to their husbands.
Š Believing men submit to God ordained authority.
Š Believers submit to God’s servants (Hebrews 13:7, 17).
Š Submission, for believers, is a way of life.
(Ephesians 5:18-21) “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 ¶ Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
(Philippians 2:1-8) “If [there be] therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, [being] of one accord, of one mind. 3 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Fourth, believers, people who trust Christ alone as their Lord and Savior, persevere to the end. All believers do; and only believers do. — “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
(Job 17:9) “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.”
(1 John 2:19) “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
(Hebrews 10:38-39) “Now the just shall live by faith: but if [any man] draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
(Jeremiah 32:37-41) “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: 39 And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: 40 And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. 41 Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul.”
What are those good works which all true believers perform and walk in all the days of their lives?
Š Perseverance —— and
Fifth, all believers, all who are born of God and taught of God worship him in Spirit and in truth.
(Romans 10:13) “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
(Philippians 3:3) “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.”
(John 4:23-24) “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth.”
All who are born of God, all believers…
Š Live before God in repentance.
Š Walk in love.
Š Submit to God and to one another.
Š Persevere in the faith, continue in the grace of God.
Š Worship God.
Now, if you will turn to Mark 14, I will show you one example of all five of these things in something our Savior calls “a good work,” and I will wrap this up.
(Mark 14:1-9) “After two days was [the feast of] the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put [him] to death. 2 But they said, Not on the feast [day], lest there be an uproar of the people. 3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured [it] on his head. 4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. 6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. 8 She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. 9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, [this] also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”
Then our Lord said, “She hath done a good work.” — How marvelous and great is this praise coming from the lips of the Son of God! We read of no other work done by a human being on this earth called by the Son of God “a good work.”
Š A Work of Faith
Š A Work of Gratitude
Š A Work of Love
Š A Work for Christ Alone
Š A Work She Could Do — “She hath done what she could!”
Illustration: The Preacher and the Business Man