God’s work in this world
God is working in our lives
Preached in Worc on 10/21/07
There is a denominational pastor, preacher named Joel Olsten and he has a huge following and ministry. He makes millions of dollars and sells all kinds of books and audio CD’s. He was recently on a talk show being interviewed and he was answering all kinds of questions but the one thing that kept coming up he never really preaches Christ. He constantly preaches self help. That you can do anything, be self reliant, self sufficient.
The problem is the Bible doesn’t teach what Joel Olsten teaches. We are not able to be good people on our own; we can’t save ourselves by ourselves from sin, death, and Satan. We need God to work in our lives, and he does. You see in God we live and move and have our being.
This morning we are going to look at three ways God works in our lives.
God works for us in salvation
God works in us to change us.
God works through us to save this world.
1. God works for us in salvation
a. God works for us in salvation. God doesn’t work for us like he is in our employ, like and Employer employee relationship. But it’s God that does the work of saving. ESV Psalm 71:15 My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge. Psalm 3:8 says ESV Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah
b. Saving is God’s business. Someone might say why do I need to be saved? Or what do I need to be saved from?
Here is the problem, sin. Sin is the problem, sin has separated us from God and the danger we are in is an eternal danger. But what is sin?
c. Adam and Eve in the garden and sin–
i. To understand what sin is we need to go back to the Garden of Eden. Most here have heard or studied about the Garden of Eden and creation but we need to go back and think about it for a moment. God created the universe and the earth in perfection and then he created man and woman. Originally they lived in a perfect world and universe with everything they needed provided by God.
1. Health – they were healthy and didn’t get sick. They didn’t need cough syrup or to go to the doctors.
2. Home – they had a home which was rent free as someone once said. The garden was their home.
3. Job – they had purpose and meaning in life and had jobs, they were gardeners. They trended the garden and that would have been artistic and a rewarding job, not burdensome.
4. Fellowship – they had fellowship with each other, man to man relationship or human relationship but also they had a husband wife relationship and they had fellowship with God. They had everything they needed.
ii. Deceived into sinning –
1. One day Satan in the form of a serpent comes along and tempts Eve. He asks her a question about what God commanded. He said did God really say that you can’t eat from any of the trees in the garden? And then goes on to tell a flat-out lie. She tells Satan that if they eat the fruit they will die but Satan says you will not die. God is afraid of you becoming like him that’s why he doesn’t want you to eat the fruit. Eve is deceived by the serpent and she takes the fruit and eats it. And in that moment she sinned, sin is rebellion, disobedience to God; it is missing the mark of perfection. The word for sin in the original language came from archery terms. A person had a bow and an arrow and they had a target set up down the way and if they missed the target that was missing the mark. That’s what sin is; missing the mark of perfection.
iii. Sinning and knowing it-
1. Then Eve after sinning gives the fruit to her husband Adam who wasn’t deceived he ate that fruit knowing it was wrong which is even worse in my opinion. We read “ESV 1 Timothy 2:14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Adam followed in his wife’s footsteps knowing it was sinful. And from that point on sin entered the world and we have grown up in a world of sin and were taught to sin and teach others to sin.
2. Just like Eve we are sometimes deceived into sinning and other times we are like Adam and know we are going to sin we know that it is sin and jump headlong into sin anyway.
d. We were dead in sin (could not save ourselves) –
i. Paul tells us in “ESV Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We also know that “ESV Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death”. Physical and spiritual death.
ii. Law breaker –
1. We broke the law of God. Even if we only broke one of the commands of God we would be guilty of breaking them all. It only takes one sin to be eternally condemned but we have done much more than that.
2. Speed limit –
3. Think about it this way if you were on the highway and the speed limit was 55 and you went 60. Would be guilty of breaking the law? Yes, the law says 55 not 60 in fact if you were to go 56 miles an hour you would be a law breaker. What if you slowed down would you still be a law breaker? Yes, you broke the law and no matter what you do you are still a law breaker. Even if you were to pay a fine you would still be a law breaker. The payment we owe God for sin is death, physical and spiritual. And we can’t get out of it by doing good works or trying to live good lives. We by ourselves are hopeless.
iii. Titanic –
1. Most of you probably saw the move Titanic or at least have heard about how the historical event; unsinkable ship that sank. Well if you were on that ship when it sank and there were no life jackets or life boats and you were drowning how would you save yourself? What could you do? You couldn’t do anything to save yourself and we can’t save ourselves either. We were drowning in sin with no hope at all.
e. God made us alive in Christ –
i. But God loves us. He loves you. You might ask “why does he love me?” Because you’re you and there is no one like you. You are unique and made in his image. God had mercy on us. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. We deserve punishment and death. He had mercy on us because of his great love; God loved us so much that he had mercy on us and poured out his grace on us. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve. It’s the opposite side of mercy. Mercy is not getting what we deserve and Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. God provides an escape in Christ, he blesses us with life, that’s grace, and he forgives our sins, that’s grace. All because of God’s love.
ii. Not something we could do ourselves God sent his son to die for us on the cross to purchase us, redeem us back to God and bring us into that relationship that was lost in the garden. Paradise restored, a new creation and it’s all God’s work. Are we to obey the gospel? Yes, do we earn anything? No. God throws us a life preserver; we only accept it and hold on to it.
2. God works in us to change us
a. Continual process by God –
i. I’m sorry to say God is not satisfied with saving us and leaving us the way we are. We were not only saved but God is changing us. We were made holy or sanctified in Christ when we believed and obeyed the Gospel. Sanctified means to be set aside for special purposes but sanctification is an on going process. When you first came to Christ did God make you perfect in that you don’t sin any more? No, we continue to sin, we struggle against sin but we still sin. In fact if you say you don’t sin John the Apostle says you’re a liar. Sanctification is also a process. We are being purified, changed. C.S. Lewis said “I cannot by direct moral effort, give myself new motives. After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything that really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God”.
b. Changed to the image of Christ –
i. But what is God doing in us? We are being changed into the image of Christ. Listen to these scriptures:
ii. “ESV Romans 8:29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
iii. ESV 2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
iv. ESV Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
v. We are being changed and transformed to be like Christ. God is working in us to change us. Does that mean that God over rules our free will? No we can if we want walk away from Christ but if we walk with Christ we are being changed by God, remember its God working in you to change you not something we do to ourselves, we’re to obey God that’s true but God does the transforming. How does God do this? Well he does it in different ways and in ways we don’t k now about or understand but one way he does it is through our struggles.
vi. When we pray for patience, how many here have received instant patience where you never lose your patience. God doesn’t magically change us and give us an attitude of patience that would be like a genie in a bottle. God answers by sending people into our lives that make us grow in patience, or situations that test our patience. Does God tempt us, or want us to fail? No, God is concerned with us being perfect and growing in these areas in fact Christ is said to have been perfected in trials or suffering.
vii. ” ESV Hebrews 2:10 ¶ For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.
viii. ESV Hebrews 5:8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,”
ix. Body builder (hurts at first but later able to do more) –
1. Think about it this way, there are people who pay money to go to a house of pain where they have to lift heavy weights and run for hours on a treadmill. They go to a gym to suffer and when you get home their tired and their body aches and someone might ask why are you doing that? It’s to grow strong, to be able to over time lift heavy objects without getting tired, and you feel better, and you don’t get tired as hast. God is doing the same thing to us. As we lean on him in trials and as we pray for strength and patience, we receive things that help us grow into the image of Christ. God does not tempt us or cause us to sin he trains us and wants us to grow. And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love him and are called by him and we are never given more than we can handle in one day although we can handle a lot more then we think we can and God knows how much we can handle.
c. And we are more like Christ today than we were when we first came to Christ, if you look back over the past year or two or ten depending on how long you have been a Christian you should see growth. God is working in us to change us.
3. God works through us to save the world
a. You know God is working for us and in us but he is also working through us to save this world. Not to save the seals, hump back whale, or the evergreen trees. We are to be good stewards of the earth but God is concerned with saving people.
i. I traveled to Colorado a while back to visit some brethren and one of the brothers told me about a story. There was some environmentalist whack O’s who wanted to save the trees. I guess they were cutting down lots of trees in this one area of Colorado to make new homes and these folks were angry and wanted to save these trees so what they did was to announce that if they didn’t stop cutting down these trees then they were going to poise the local water supply. Kill humans to save the trees. We don’t use that kind of warfare. We don’t save souls by blowing up abortion centers or by poisoning water supplies. We are called to save the world that is the people of the earth, souls. We have two main ways by which to save souls. 1. Is by telling people about Christ we speak Christ.
i. We have been given the privilege to preach Christ to the world. We read the great commission to go and preach the gospel. That’s how God working through us saves this world. We have the words of life.
ii. Moses complex
1. Some people have what I call the Moses complex. They say we I don’t speak well. Or they say well that’s not my gift. It’s true God gives some people the gift of evangelism and they don’t have a problem telling others about Christ. You know God has blessed some with the gift of giving. Does that mean if I don’t think I have the gift of giving that I don’t have to give of my money, time, or of myself? No that’s absurd. What about compassion. What if I don’t have the gift of compassion does that mean I don’t have to grow in compassion or that I don’t have to be compassionate? No of course not. The same is true for telling people about Christ. So what if you don’t speak well it’s God working through you to tell people about Christ. It’s not you anyways and the message isn’t about you either it’s about God in Christ saving this world.
iii. Jonah complex
1. Some people have what I call the Jonah complex. Remember Jonah was told by God to preach to the Ninavites but Jonah didn’t want to go because he didn’t want those people to repent and God to save them. Some of us don’t tell people about Christ because we don’t want our relatives or our neighbors or God forbid the lady that works with us who always annoys us. God’s will is going to be done no matter what and you don’t want to end up like Jonah in the belly of whale.
God is working through us to save this world by what we say but also by what we do.
c. We act like Christ people see Jesus
i. At our jobs when we work hard and do our job to the best of our ability we are showing people Christ.
ii. In our homes when we love our wives or husbands when we take care of our children we are showing people Christ.
iii. As we live lives devoted to Christ we shine or reflect Christ to the world
1. And People ask questions. Why don’t you steal from work like everyone else? Why don’t you sear or go out drinking like everyone else? Our lives are showing people Christ.
iv. We will never know how many people came to Christ through us. You might say well I never brought anyone to Christ. You might be the one to plant the seed, or water that seed. Maybe God in eternity will make us all aware how we were used by him to impact this world. And maybe he will show us the millions of people who were saved because we worked like Jesus or because we tried to tell someone about Christ and to us it didn’t come out quite right but that planted a seed that God made grow.
a. God is working for us in salvation. We are saved by Grace through faith not of works. God does the saving.
b. God is working in us to change us and make us like Christ.
c. God is working through us to save this world by our speaking about Christ and our living for and like Christ.
Go in the peace and knowledge that God is working in your life. God is for you and not against you.