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Godís Work

Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church

(1/12) Welcome. We wrapped up last year with our series on the Ten Commandments and last week we talked about God pursuing us and covenanting with us, his treasured possession. And this is awesome because itís not based upon our goodness but itís really a reflection of his goodness. Itís Godís Work, that he loves you, pursues you, and forgives you; sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to take away your sin, to make you a new person, and give you a covenant relationship with God and his covenant people.

Today we are going to pick up there and talk about Godís work in us, in that covenant relationship, as we gear up for a two-part series weíre going to start next week entitled "In His House." In this series we are going to discover that when we find Godís purpose and Godís place for us, it will open up a myriad of opportunities. Weíll learn to embrace Godís purpose and Godís place for us; and even though it may lead us to some difficult and unexpected places, we can know we're there for a reason.

So 12 weeks ago we began looking at the Ten Commandments and last week and this week weíre looking at how to move forward from Mt Sinai. To realize the fulfillment of the Law in Christ in key areas of our lives. And this is important, because it's easy when you look at the Law, to get bogged down. To feel like youíre stuck in neutral, or just spinning your wheels, to the point that you feel like you're going nowhere. You know, where you're not making any progress at all and I know how that is. I know how it feels to look back and groan inwardly realizing that I'm in the same place I was ten years ago. But I also know how it feels to look back over a year or a few months, and recognize all the changes that have taken place in my life. You know just to be able to praise God for all that he has done. To see the great chasm between me and the person I used to be or between me and the situation I used to be stuck in.

So this morning, I want us to keep the momentum going, and weíre going to talk about Godís WorkÖ for us, in us, and thru us. If you can find a Bible letís turn to 2 Corinthians 5:21 and weíll look at an important biblical principle to see what it means for us, how it applies to us, and how to begin each day in gear, revved up and ready to go.

You see, hereís the problem. God made us in his image and likeness, but we by nature and choice are sinners. And so, if weíre honest, weíll recognize that weíve sinned, rebelled against God, and weíre separated from God. Yet in the last day, there is coming a day, when weíll stand before our Creator, our Holy and just God, and heíll judge us. And so the big question is, "How can God declare us good and allow us into heaven?

Jesus was straight up with us, he laid out the rules, and he said, "Be perfectÖ as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). And thatís easy for him to say, but what about those of us who are in the imperfect category. What about me? What about you and I?

God himself is holy, good, and just; and yet you and I know that weíre guilty. We know the standard is perfectionÖ the rule is perfect obedience to the Law. And a good judge wonít let you off the hook right? A good judge wonít give you a "Get out of jail free" card. A good judge has to declare you guilty, because only that would be justice.

So, what are you going to do when you stand before God? Are you going to tell him all the good things youíve doneÖ hoping heís grading on a curve? Are you going to tell him how moral and spiritual you are because you know youíre better than that other guy? You know youíre looking pretty good following that guy.

Well here is the deal. You know what? You donít have to say anything before God other than "Iím here with Jesus". You see its Godís work for us. Thatís what I want to show you in 2 Corinthians. Did you find your place?

1. Itís Godís WorkÖ For Us!

Our right standing before God is not through anything that we do, not through the life we live, but through the death Jesus died. Itís Godís Work. Itís a gift that we receive when we trust in Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. And the Apostle Paul tells us about this amazing gift in 2 Corinthians. Hereís what he said in 2 Corinthians 5:21,

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

Hereís what the Bible teaches and what we believe. Our right standing before God is by grace alone. Itís a gift that heís given. Itís received by faith alone, trusting in Christ alone, as our great God and Savior. So our righteousness is not based upon anything that we do, but is totally dependent upon Jesus Christ and what he did through his death, burial, and resurrection.

So all of my sins and all of your sins (past, present, and future) went to Jesus. He bore my sin, he suffers, dies in my place, and pays the penalty for my sins. And as a result, he gives me his righteousness as a gift. So that in him we might becomeÖ that I might becomeÖ "The righteousness of God." Thatís the message of the GospelÖ this is what we believeÖ itís not my doing. Jesus died for my sins. Jesus lived the perfect life. And heís given me his righteousness. Thatís the only righteousness I have. Itís Godís Work.

You see, none of us are deserving of heaven. None of us are perfect. None of us earned it. None of us can stand before God and say, "I was baptized as a baby. I went to church my whole life. I gave, tried to do good deeds, helped the poor, even looked after widows and orphans." All of that is wonderful, but itís not enough to pay or to cover your debt of sin to God.

Romans 3:20-26 tells us, "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made knownÖThis righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and (therefore all) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did thisÖ to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."

Itís all Godís work for us and Paul writes that "through the Law we become conscious of sin." And what that means is that when you read the first five books of the Bible, youíll uncover more than 600 laws, and as you continue to read, the longer the list will get. You know itís all these things you are supposed to do or not do. So at some point, as you read the Bible, you going to realize, "Iíve got a problem. Iím a rebellious sinner, separated from God, and his wrath, his just judgment hangs over all of us."

So what Paul describes in Romans 3:26, is Godís work for us. He is "just and the one who justifiesÖ" And so Jesus comes as God, lives a perfect life, goes to the cross, dies in my place for my sins, endures the wrath of God, and punishment that I deserve. And so as I hear, I believe and trust in Jesus, I receive grace from him, forgiveness, the fullness of life, and the righteousness of God. That is Godís work for us, now letís look at Godís work in us.

2. Godís WorkÖ In Us!

God works out our salvation for us, but he also does something amazing in us. You see, we were made in the image and likeness of God; to love, to serve, and to live the life that God the Father intends for us. But by nature and choice, from Adam and Eve on, weíre all sinners going after our own agendas, choosing to go our own ways, following after all kinds of sinful schemes. So the question is, how will God get us back on the path?

Iíll give you two references in the Old Testament that describe Godís work in us. First is Jeremiah 24:7, he says this, "I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart."

So, Jesus comes and takes away our sin and give us a new heart. He changes our attitudes, our desires, and our lives so that we want him, return to him, and know him. Our hearts are changed because it is a new heart that really loves him and wants a relationship with him.

Ezekiel 36:26-27, says it this way, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws."

Godís work is in our heart, but itís not just the physical organ, itís the center and the essence of who you are; and therefore its the root cause of every other issue in your life. And because weíre sinners, as God says through Ezekiel, we have a heart of stone; one thatís rebellious, obstinate, foolish, and disobedient. So God takes out the heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh. Not a perfect heart, but a new heart, a heart that wants to learn, to change, and to obey. Itís a heart that wants to be with Jesus, be like Jesus, and be for Jesus. So God changes us from the inside out and once the heart changes the life changes.

Now in the New Testament, Jesus describes it as being born again, or experiencing a second birth. In John 3, thereís a Bible teacher named Nicodemus who comes to Jesus. And he asked Jesus, "What is it that I need to know?" Jesus tells him, "You must be born again" (John 3:7; NLT).

Now Nicodemus doesnít get it so he asks, "How can an old man go back into his mother's womb and be born again?" You know, how could I do that?"

But Jesus says, "No, you were born physically, but now you need to be born again spiritually. Youíre first birth was from your mom and your second birth needs to be from God the Holy Spirit" (John 3:6-7).

He tells Nicodemus, youíre physically alive, but spiritually dead (Colossians 2:13). You need to be born again, because you need a spiritual birth, and itís that new birth that causes the new heart and a totally new life.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 says, "Don't you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, 10 or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat peopleónone of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. 11 Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God" (NLT).

The Bible says, "Some of you were once like that." Thatís how you used to be. But Jesus cleaned you up, he is changing you on the inside, and he made you right with God the Father. Thatís Godís work in us. Itís a brand new life, with a brand new heart, so that the same Spirit who empowered Jesus can empower you to live a godly life.

3. Godís WorkÖ Thru Us

And that leads us to Godís work through us. He does something for us, in us, and through us. And this is where as followers of Christ, the faith and the transformation, becomes obvious and evident by what we do.

James talks about this and says, "What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don't show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?" (James 2:14; NLT).

Now this is Jesusí brother, James, and what heís saying is, "If youíve really met my brother, then youíd really be different. In other words he wouldíve changed your heart like he changed mine. Then youíd be doing the things that he wants you to do, youíd be changed on the inside. Your heart, your mind, your desiresÖ it all changes. You live differentlyÖ you have a different outlookÖ and you have a new purpose.

Paul addresses this in Ephesians 2:10 where he says, "He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago" (NLT).

We are Godís workmanship. Heís working through usÖ He re-created us in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us. Weíre not saved by good works but for good works. Weíre saved by Jesus to do good things, weíre saved for a purpose, that God would work through us.

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus gives an illustration of a tree and he says, that thereís really just two kinds of people. Just two. There is the non-Christian and the Christian. And he says, "If youíre really a Christian, youíll bear fruit." You know like doing good things. Youíre going to read your Bible and pray. Youíre going to hate sin. Youíre going to want to worship God, to be connected with other Christians, to help the poor, and care for those in need. And so what Jesus says is, "A good tree bears good fruit, and a bad tree bears bad fruit" (Matthew 7:17). And so the problem that James was writing about (James 2:14) was that there were a lot of people saying, "Weíre a third kind of tree. Weíre the Christian tree with no fruit." And so he quotes the Lord Jesus and says, "There is no Christian tree without fruit. It doesnít exist. If youíre connected to Jesus youíre going to bear all kinds of fruit."

So, what James is saying is donít be certain that youíre a Christian just because you were baptized as a baby, came forward at an altar call at youth camp, or because you prayed the sinnerís prayer at some point in the past, donít assume youíre a Christian unless youíre bearing fruit. James says, "Letís look at your life." If by faith youíre really connected to Jesus by his work for you, his work in you, and his work through you; youíll be a good tree that bears good fruit. Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit..." (John 15:5).

This morning, I want us to get serious and look at our lives. Do you love Jesus? Do you hate the sin he died for? Do you want to read your Bible and know him better? Do you want to pray? Do you want to be more like Jesus? Spend more time with other people who are into Jesus? Has he changed your heart, your mind, and your desires?

Whatís the fruit in your life? If Jesus has done something for you; if Jesus has done something in you; then Jesus will do great things through you.

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