Sermon - created for good works 29-07-2012
Sermon - Created for Good Works
Many of you will remember the N* ‘Ministry of Works’, actual called the Ministry of Works & Development, known by some as the Ministry of Waste & Destruction. It was a wonderful N* government SOE which built N*’s infrastructure - roads, bridges, hydroelectric schemes etc. It was broken up into bits and sold off in the mid 80s. 30 years ago (1982) I graduated from Canterbury University as a Civil Engineer, although my wife and family would strongly dispute the ‘civil’ part. I applied for a job with the Ministry of Works, and was turned down. So as a fairly new Christian, I said to God, ‘I’ll work anywhere in a job you provide.’ So God called my bluff, by sending me to work in Bluff, at the Southland Harbour Board. All of that was an aside, but we’ll get back to it. Now, 30 years later, at the age of 51, still a Christian, although no longer an Engineer, and having spent the last 10 years working with the N* B****** m****** in B*********, I still ask myself:
What does God want me to do with my life? As the PowerPoint says: ‘Created for what?’ I’m running out of time. sometimes I feel anxious (Prozac helps). Over the last couple of years I’ve had an emerging revelation, about what God wants me (and probably others) to do. This idea or revelation has come in several ways. (1) Tuesday night homegroup in B********* - 2012 C***** my wife and I attend a homegroup of around 10 expats (younger than us). The group operates with an extremely low level of organisation. A few months ago while studying short
chapters of Paul’s writings (main criteria = short). The following verses jumped out at me.
1st week. 2 Thessalonians 3
v13: And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing
what is good
2nd week. 1 Timothy 6
v18: Command them to do good
, to be rich in good deeds
, and to be generous and willing to share.
3rd week. 2 Timothy 3
v16, 17: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training
in righteousness, so that all God’s people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work
4th week. Titus 3
v1: Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do
whatever is good
,. v8: And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in
God may be careful to devote themselves to doing
what is good
. These things are excellent and
profitable for everyone. v14: Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing
what is good
order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.
>>> What is the recurring theme here? Prize. The recurring theme is good works
Often Paul is presented as having a key focus on ‘salvation by faith through Christ’, with little
social concern. But, in these verses and many others, Paul instructs Christians to do good works
Preparing for this talk, I did a ‘Bible word search’ using www.biblegateway.com to check out
‘good work(s)’ and ‘do(ing) good’. Using ‘Today’s New International Version’ (TNIV 2005): • ‘Do(ing) good work(s)’- occurs 94 times. 41 in the OT, 53 in the NT.
Although the New Testament has a huge focus on ‘salvation by faith through Christ’, there is a
significant focus that - following Christ involves a life of good works
(2) The vocation for you (quote) - 2010
A question often arising from others is: Why do we want to live and work in B*********? There
are many answers. The ‘great commission’ (making disciples), the ‘great commandment’ (loving
people). and God’s bias for the poor. Sometimes we ask the question, ‘why not
Another answer has emerged from a quote (via Murray and Marj Robertson - Spreydon B****** -
“The vocation for you is the one in which your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
When you are doing what you are happiest doing, it must be something that not only makes you
happy but that the world needs to have done
” - Presbyterian theologian Frederick Buechner.
This is a vocational focus on good works
. It resonates with Biblical truth. Do something you
. Try to do something the world needs. The world has many needs (love, peace,
poverty alleviation). and plenty of things not needed (more cooking programs and sex on TV).
The term ‘vocation’ is about your whole life-work. not just a job or paid work.
(3) The purpose driven life - Rick Warren - 2012
In May 2012, I was reading a bit more of the ‘best selling nonfiction hardback book in history’.
Rick Warren’s ‘The Purpose Driven Life - What on earth am I here for
?’ - 2002. I was a late starter
on this book, and had to drop a few preconceived ideas to read it. Overall a good read.
Referring to ‘Purpose 4 - You were shaped for serving God’
, then the 1st chapter in that section,
‘Chapter 29: Accepting your assignment
.’ The very 1st line says:
“You were put on earth to make a contribution (JD: good works)
. You weren’t created just to
consume resources - to eat, breathe, and take up space. God designed you to make a difference with
your life. While many best-selling books offer advice on how to ‘get’ the most out of life, that’s not
the reason God made you. You were created to ‘add’ life on earth, not just take from it. God wants
you to give something back.”
As a Christian community development worker, I really identify with this. God wants us to
contribute to people, communities and the world, and not just suck the earth dry of every resource
to satisfy our insatiable appetite for personal consumption of material goods and all things digital.
For example Apple iPads. Do we really need them? I use another sort of tablet just fine. kids
tablet. Packed with features: drop down menus, apps, delete mode, sustainable / energy.
So the revelation of good works
came to me from 3 very different sources (B********* home
group, Vocation quote, Rick Warren’s book). Good works
- a missing theology?
Have you ever heard a sermon on good works
? Have we got a missing theology, about good
? Perhaps evangelical c******* fear that a focus on good works
will lead to a ‘works based
salvation’ (trying to earn our way to heaven) rather than a ‘grace / faith based salvation’. And we
have a split. liberal Christians do good works
(social action), while evangelical Christians speak
the good news
. This split is un-Biblical. James encourages us to have a faith
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if people claim to have faith but have no deeds (JD: good works)
? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily
food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about
their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by
action (JD: good works
), is dead.
Paul also presents to us beautifully a faith
. (the main text).
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift
of God 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ
Jesus to do good works
, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
God created you. God made a way for you to be saved by grace through faith. God (in advance)
prepared good works
for you to do. You have a special assignment. No one else can do it. This is
the meaning of life - at least in part: . Created for good works
! Good Works
– what are they?
The Bible doesn’t give a definition of good works
. It’s assumed Bible readers will work out what good works
might be. Good works
for one person in 1 situation will look different to those of
another person in another situation. I suggest the following guidelines.
(1) Biblical guidelines
Refer to the guideline on the left, supported by the verses on the right.
Good works - Guideline
• Deut 6:5, Matt 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34.
2 Justice & welfare for the poor & vulnerable:
• Exod 22: 21-24, Deut 24: 17-18, Prov 29:
• 4 groups: (i) poor & needy, (ii) widows, (iii)
7, Isaiah 10: 1-3, Zech 7:9-10, Micah 6:8,
orphans, (iv) resident aliens (immigrants). Add
sickness etc - building inclusive community
• Peacemaking - limiting conflict, restoring
• Gen 1:26-28, Gen 2:19-20, Psalm 24:1-2.
development) - earth, resources, environment
• Matt 28:19-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 4:17-
• Make disciples - evangelism, c***** planting,
c***** nurture & all the above good works
Reaching the world with both: Good news
& good works
(2) Vocational (quote) - guideline
• Do something you enjoy. This will likely involve natural talents, learnt skills, empathy to
comfort and help others - based on life experience, hurts, sickness etc - all are used by God.
• But, do something the world needs (local, national, international).
The term ‘vocation’ is about your whole life-work. not just a job or paid work. Good Works
- what are the outcomes ?
I think there are 3 primary outcomes: • Obedience: to God.
• Righteousness: Right living. It is right to do them - show love and justice to people.
• M********: Done in the right way, they: (i) are a signpost pointing to God, the source of all good
, (ii) help create positive attitudes towards Christians (overcome barriers, hurts, wrong
ideas), (iii) increase receptivity to the good news
. Good news
& good works
- in tandem.
J***** - good works
I’ll now show you my attempt at good works
in B*********. First, a warning: Overseas m******
workers are not s**** C*********, we’re o******* C*********. responding to a specific need
elsewhere in the world. We enjoy our work most of the time. despite the low pay! We don’t like
to show-case our work (pride), and half the time we and our work are struggling.
So. we’ll look at a 5 minute video of the C******* T*** (T**** C******** D**********
C******) project. This project is operated by B****** A** (aid and development arm of the
B********* B****** c*****), and funded and supported by B***** (aid and development arm of
the N* B****** m******) and the N* A** P****** (N* G*** co-*******).
>> Play video. Peacemaking in B*********. Starts with black screen. Volume up! (5 min, 38s)
You’ve seen my and the B********* B****** c***** attempt at good works
. The project
husband and wife couples living in the villages, are ordinary Christian folk, with about age 15
education. The village context is $US 1~2 per day poverty, and low-level hostility towards
Christians and their good news
. Their ministry of good works
shows God’s love in practical ways
to their neighbours and community. Biblical ideals of love and reconciliation are being worked out
in practice. This is more fertile ground for planting seeds of the good news
of Jesus and his
kingdom, rather than religious animosity. We pray the good works
will be m******** - a signpost
pointing to God. If these husband and wife couples can do it over there, we can do it here.
What about. your good works
Rick Warren from his book ‘The Purpose Driven Life
’ has a few things to say about this. (p268).
“If you’re not involved in any service or ministry (JD: good works
) what excuse have you been
using? Abraham was old, Jacob was insecure, Leah was unattractive, Joseph was abused, Moses
stuttered, Gideon was poor, Samson was co-dependent, Rahab was immoral, David had an affair
and all kinds of family problems, Elijah was suicidal, Jeremiah was depressed, Jonah was reluctant,
Naomi was a widow, John the B****** was eccentric to say the least, Peter was impulsive and hot
tempered, Martha worried a lot, the Samaritan woman had several failed marriages, Zacchaeus was
unpopular, Thomas had doubts, Paul had poor health, and Timothy was timid. Quite a variety of
misfits, but God used each of them in his service. He will use us to, if we stop making excuses.”
30 years ago I missed out on an engineering job with the N* Ministry of Works. But, now I have
the best vocation in the world - I work for the ‘Ministry of Good Works
We are His workmanship, created for good works
Secure Version: Some location, organisation and activity names have been changed.
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