Sunday, July 17, 2022

We Are His Artwork - 2022 Family Bible Week Kick-Off

“We Are His Artwork”
Family Bible Week Kick-Off
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 17, 2022 :: Ephesians 2:10

What do you like to make? What do you enjoy making?

What do you enjoy creating?

As you can tell, our Family Bible Week this year is a celebration of creativity.

Mary Beth has transformed this place into an artist’s studio, but not just one kind of artwork, but all kinds of artwork.



What do you like to make? 

Painting.
Drawing. Like Jacob does.
Making music. Like Joe does!
Photography. Like Laura does.
Carving.
Woodworking. Like Josh does.
Metalworking.
Blacksmithing. Like Andrew does.
Composing.
Writing.
Knitting. Like Heather does.
Crocheting.
Legos.
Minecraft.
Cri-cut. Like Natalie does.
Choreography.
Dance. Like Brandy does.
Beads.
Pottery.
Architecture.
Graphic design. Like Jeff does.
Weaving.
Cinema.
Filmmaking. 
Cooking. Like Linda does.
Baking.
Origami.
Rebuilding a classic car like the Folmars do and the folks who come the Good New Cruise.
Hairstyling like Emigh does.
Nails like Macy does.

I could go on and on.

I may not have even gotten close to something you like to make.

It doesn’t have to be a recognized art form.

Maybe it’s computer code. 
Or databases.
Or spreadsheets.
Or websites.
Or powerpoints.

What do you like to make?

My particular craft is the sermon. I make sermons. I’m a wordsmith. I work with and shape words for the ear. Every week, I write a 15 page auditory message to creatively communicate scriptural truth for life change.

What do you like to make?

As human beings we are all makers. We are made in the image of a Maker God. We are created in the image of a Creator God. So we are all sub-creators ourselves. In some way, we are all makers.

I’m not saying that we’re all masters. We can’t all be masters of all the creative arts. But we’re all, in some way, makers. What do you like to make?

I also like to make a mess. My kids were running around the house yesterday cleaning up the place so that it was presentable for Heather Joy this evening.

What do you like to make?

Here’s another question:

What kind of art do you really appreciate?

What kind of artwork you enjoy receiving, taking in, watching, listening to?

Do you like to go to a museum and see a Van Gogh or a Jackson Pollack or a Andy Warhol or a Claude Monet? We did that last summer with Isaac. We went to MOMA in New York City. The Museum of Modern Art.

Do you like to go to Bud Garvey’s and see some classic cars restored?

Do you like to go to a poetry slam or an improv act or a band concert or a play or a a film? Did you go to the Art Festival in State College or at Way Fruit Farm?

What kind of artwork do you really get into?

It doesn’t have to be just one thing. There are all kinds of art in this world to appreciate.

Humans can make some pretty amazing stuff. Because God has put it into us to be creative. Because God Himself is amazingly creative.

And today’s passage of holy Scripture tells us about how His amazing grace has made us into His amazing artwork.

This passage is not about the artwork that we create (as amazing or non-amazing as it might be), but the amazing artwork that God has made out of you and me.

Here is the astonishing claim the Apostle Paul makes in Ephesians 2:10.

“We are God’s workmanship.”

We, you and I who belong to Jesus Christ, are God’s own workmanship.

Today, I have just two simple points of application for us to consider from this passage as we kick off Family Bible Week, and here’s the first one:

#1. WONDER AT BEING HIS WORKMANSHIP!

The main thing I want to do this morning is just soak in this idea that you and I are the workmanship of God. To wonder and marvel at that idea.

The Greek word translated “workmanship” in verse 10 is ποίημα.

Like the English letters p-o-i-a-m-a. ποίημα

And can you guess what English word comes down from that? P-o-e-m. Poem.

That’s beautiful isn’t it? We are God’s “poem?”

But this word means more than just making poems. It means making things in general. It means “handiwork” or “skillful work.” One translation has “creative project.” 

It means a work of art. You and I are God’s artwork. Isn’t that amazing?

Turn to the person next to you and say to them, “You are a masterpiece in the making.”

Is that a little awkward to say? Is it a little awkward to receive?

Try saying this one, “I am a masterpiece in the making.”

Look in the mirror first thing tomorrow morning and say to the person you see, “I am  masterpiece in the making.” I am God’s artwork.

Isn’t that breathtaking?!

Do you believe it?

Is this how you see yourself? Is this how you talk to yourself about yourself?

Is this how you see your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? The other people in this room. The folks outside.

Because this is a corporate thing, too. Paul says, “WE are his workmanship.”

All of us. Each of us. And all of us together. We are God’s artwork.

I know it doesn’t always feel like it. 

My guess is that if unfinished inanimate artwork had feelings, it would often not feel like artwork yet either. But it certainly is.

We are God’s ποίημα.

And that means that we have value.

Last month, in WORLD Magazine, I read a story about a woman who was shopping at a Goodwill thrift store in Autin, Texas and she bought stone statue, a marble bust for $35.00 and took it home.

Now, she was art collector, and she thought that it might be worth something. And in fact, she was able to prove that it was as Roman original from the first century. Made about the time that Paul was writing Ephesians!

Eventually she got it put on display at the San Antonio Museum of Art!

I’m sure it’s worth thousands and thousands of dollars.

But Goodwill had a sticker on it for $35.

It’s easy for you and me to think that we are worth some thrift-store sticker price.

But we are Whose artwork?

What name do you have signed in the corner by the frame–so to speak–of your life?

Yahweh.
The LORD.
God!

And His Son Jesus Christ.

“We are His workmanship.”

You are worth so much more than $35.00. You are not junk. You are a priceless piece of artwork.

Paul says (v.10), we are “created in Christ Jesus.”

Now, that could be referring to the original creation. Being a creation of God in the first place. Which we all are.

We are creatures. We are made. We didn’t make ourselves. We didn’t create ourselves. And every human on the planet is creatively unique. Every one has their own DNA. Their own beauty. Their own dignity. Even those who are yet unborn.

Every one of us is an original piece of God’s artwork.

And the Bible says that Jesus was involved in all of that initial creation.

The Apostle John tells us that “Through [Jesus] all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (Jn. 1:3 NIVO)

Paul tells us elsewhere that “all things were created by [Jesus] and for [Jesus].” (Col. 1:16 NIVO)

But I don’t think that’s what Paul is emphasizing here.

That’s not what he’s been talking about in this part of Ephesians.

There is a different creation being talked about here. It’s a new creation. It’s a re-creation.

It’s God bringing about something new in our lives.

It’s our salvation!

Did you notice that our verse begins with the word “for?” 

Verse 10, “FOR we are his workmanship.”

There is a logic here. Verse 10 is the powerful conclusion of a train of thought that Paul has been chugging along since verse 1.

Let’s go back and see what he says there. He’s actually going to tell you the wonderful story of your life. If you belong to Jesus today, here is your story. Marvel at this. Ephesians 2:1.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” 

This is a dark story, isn’t it? It starts with a death, and the death is yours and mine. Paul says that we were dead. Not physically, but spiritually.

That’s bad news because that means that you and I cannot fix our problem for ourselves. We were dead, and in our dead-life we were following Satan, and were, by nature, objects of God’s just wrath.

That’s really bad news, and if the story stopped there, we would all be in trouble.

But this story has a hero, and it is not us! Look at verse 4.

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Stop there for a second.

The hero of this story is God. And He has done something that nobody else could. He a has raised us from the dead–spiritually! He’s “made us alive with Christ” (someone Whom He had raised physically from the dead!).  And He’s put us spiritually up in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

You and I are there right now, spiritually! We are in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

How mindblowing this is! How breathtaking!

And why?! To show off!!! 

Look at verse 7 again. Why? “...in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”

We are artwork for Him to display in His heavenly art gallery!

You know that whenever you make something, you want to show somebody? Put it on the fridge. Take it to fair. Toss it up on Instagram or Tictok.

The more proud you are of it, the more you want to show it off.

Please bring in your artwork this week to display there in the entrance art gallery.

But you and I are the artwork in display in God’s gallery!

He’s saying, “Look what I have done! Look what I am doing! 

Look at my workmanship. Look at my grace at work. Look at my ποίημα.”

Because make no doubt about it: it was work.

To make artwork takes work, right? All you makers out there. Is being creative easy?

I’m sure it get easier at least in some ways. But I’ve making sermons now for going on 3 decades, and it’s hard work. I don’t wonder now most weeks if I’ll actually have a sermon for you. But every once in a while, it just doesn’t want to come.

Some week, I thought I might have get up here and say, “Sorry. I don’t have a sermon for you today. We had supply chain issues...And I was the missing link!”

But most of the time, to make artwork takes hard work.

And God wants to get all of the credit.

So, we get verses 8 and 9 to explain who really did the work. Look at that. Verse 8.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.”

I hope you have those verses memorized.

Do you see how important it is to Him that God gets the glory? 

How are we saved? Are we saved by our good works? No way!

We are not saved by being good people. Which is good, because we are not.
We are not saved by going to church. Which is good, because we could never go to church enough to pay for our sins.
We are not saved by doing good works at all. Which is good because we could never do enough good works to right the scales.

We are saved by grace alone. We are saved by gift.

Through faith! We do receive this gift. We put our faith in and trust in it. But even that is not from us. Even our faith is a gift of God.

So that we cannot boast. And that God can. Isn’t that amazing?

It’s called amazing grace for a reason!

Just marvel at it.

We are not saved by our works.
We are not saved by our works.
We are not saved by our works.

But by Jesus’ work on the Cross.

“Not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.”

Do you see now what that “creation” is?

That is the creation of spiritual life where there was only spiritual death.
That is the creation of light where there was only darkness.
That is the creation of salvation where there was only condemnation.
That is the creation of beauty where there was only ashes.

No wonder Paul says that we are a masterpiece!

He looks at us, and He says, {Chef’s Kiss} “ποίημα!”

And He signs His name in the corner of our lives. 

“Created in Christ Jesus.”

Isn’t that amazing?

I want you to feel that. 

I want you to see yourself in that.

He’s not talking about how pretty we all are. He’s talking about the beauty of what He has done and is doing and will do with our salvation and our lives.

We are His artwork.

Find your joy in that, and nothing can knock you down.

See yourself that way, and shame will not have the last word.

Walk through life knowing that you are a part of God’s masterpiece.

And you will hold your head up high.

You won’t get a big head. Because it wasn’t you that did it.

You cannot boast in your salvation.

The only thing that you and I brought to our salvation was our sin. Our sinful need of it.

But no matter. We are God’s workmanship. Wonder at that.

Unless, of course, you are not yet part of His ποίημα. It is by grace gift you have been saved, through faith. Have you received this gift of salvation? Jesus Christ did all of the work. He went to the Cross to pay for our transgressions and sins and came back to life to raise us to life. Have you received His gift? I hope so. If not, don’t wait any longer.

Now, does the fact that we are not saved by works mean that we don’t have to do any works? That there are no works for us to do?

No! I’m so glad that verse 10 follows right on the heals of verses 8 and 9.

Because it’s really clear here that we are not saved BY GOOD WORKS, but we are saved FOR GOOD WORKS.

In fact, it’s part of the whole point! Look at verse 10 again.

“For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Your works will never save you, but because you’re saved, you’re supposed to do good works.

God has got them ready for you to walk in.

And that’s point number two and last.

#2. WALK IN THE WORKS HE PREPARED FOR YOU.

Wonder at simply being His creative workmanship.
And walk in the works that He has prepared for you to do.

The Greek here can literally be translated “to walk” in these works. It’s the same word from verse 2 where the NIV has “lived.”  We used to walk in the ways of the dead world. But now we walk in the works of a new life. And God’s got it all planned out for us.

We just have to step out and follow Him.

You know that Mary Beth and Cindy have been working for weeks to get the crafts ready for the kids each night this week? There’s a whole room of the art supplies that are prepped and ready to go.

The kids are going to do the crafts. But Mary Beth and Cindy have prepared them ahead of time for the kids to do.

And, in the same way, God has prepared a bunch of good work for you and me to walk out.

Now those good works could take a lot of forms.

It could be serving at Family Bible Week. And many of you will be doing that.

Or it could be doing your work at your work as worship of Jesus. And many of you are doing that week in and week out.

It might be giving to the Family Bible Week Missions Project. That would be a good work. Wouldn’t it be great if we could send at least 7 sewing machines and at least 7 sewing kits to the refugees in Malawi?

I think God has prepared that good work for us to do. 

There are three words you’re going to hear a lot this week:

CREATED. DESIGNED. EMPOWERED.

That’s what we’re going to talk about in each class all week long.

It’s really just working out our salvation on a daily basis, living as the artwork that we truly are.

Because we are not stale and lifeless artifacts. We are not just statues. We are not confined to paper or even film.

We are living artwork, made in the image of a Maker God saved by His amazing grace to live for the glory of our Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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