The Bulletin
of the
Church of Christ at New Georgia

Tim Johnson, editor

September 18, 2011

 
In This Issue:
Not Our- But His Workmaship
by Bill Hall

Return to the Lord
by Richard Thetford

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Not Our - But His Workmanship

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2: 10).

When one is baptized he becomes a new creation, but he is not the creation of any man. He is the workmanship of God.

He is not the workmanship of the person who converted him, not primarily, anyway. Man can teach, influence, persuade, and baptize; but only God can cleanse, forgive, raise a person to sit with Christ in the heavenly places, and give him life. He is God's creation – God's workmanship. Just as surely as no man could create an "Adam," just that surely can no man create a new creature in Christ.

Neither is one self-made. In Christ, one does not lift himself "by his own bootstraps." Christianity is not a "do-it-yourself" religion – not in the fullest sense. One does not effect his own salvation through his own merit. Rather, in obedience to the gospel and faithfulness as a Christian, he places himself as clay in God's hand, to become the work of the divine Potter, who molds, shapes, and perfects him that he might be fashioned in the image of His Son.

He is the workmanship of God because his salvation is "by grace ... through fait," "the gift of God " (Ephesians 2:8-9). If one's salvation were of meritorious works, he would not be the workmanship of God. This is the primary thrust of the passage.

The workmanship of God exists as a monument to the greatness of a potter; as a beautiful painting is a monument to an artist, so a mature and perfected Christian is a monument to the marvelous power of God. Such a person is a product of God's grace and exists for "the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; 3:14-19). That God could take a Peter, a John, a Saul of Tarsus, an Aquila, a Priscilla, a John Mark, and mold him or her into the lovely vessel each became is a manifestation of His greatness. That He could do the same for people this writer has known and observed equally manifests His greatness. That He can and will do the same for me if I will but submit myself to His care in humble obedience, trust, and prayer is the greatest marvel of all. "I am so glad that Jesus loves me ... Jesus loves even me" (P.P. Bliss).

The workmanship of God must be handled with care. Such a person is special, precious, priceless to God. As one is cautious in handling a family heirloom or rare piece of pottery fashioned by the hands of a master, so he must be cautious in his handling of that creation which is the work of God. "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food, " Paul warned the Romans (Romans 14:20). That person toward whose tender conscience you are showing little regard or whose soul you are placing in jeopardy is the work of God. Love that person. Appreciate him. Be tender toward him. Recognize his value. Handle with care!

The workmanship of God must never be content until it is brought to perfection. "Finish then thy new creation," Charles Wesley wrote in his familiar hymn, ''Love Divine." In keeping with this, Paul could express his confidence in the Philippian Christians, "That He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6-7). Only those who remain in the Potter's hands until brought to completion and perfection become vessels of honor. All others become marred and fit only for destruction (2 Timothy 2:19-21).

Let no man, then, boast of himself. Self-righteousness has no place in the heart of a Christian. If any man boast, "let him glory in the LORD" (1 Corinthians 1:31) and "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14). We are His workmanship.

- Bill Hall
Via Two Men


 

Return to the Lord

 "O Israel, return to the Lord your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; Take words with you, And return to the Lord. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips" (Hosea 14:1-2).

Robert Robinson had been converted out of a very worldly life of sin, and at the age of twenty-three wrote the hymn, “O Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Sadly, Robinson wandered far from the faith and, like the Prodigal Son, journeyed into the distant country of carnality. Until one day – when he was traveling by stagecoach and sitting beside a young woman engrossed in her book. She ran across a verse she thought was beautiful and asked him what he thought of it. Bursting into tears, Robinson said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.” (Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, p. 52)

The story is told of a lamb that passed a pig pen each day on the way with its mother to the pasture. Watching the pigs wallow in the mud seemed like fun, and on an especially hot day the lamb asked his mother if he could jump the fence and wallow in the cool mud. She replied, “No.” The lamb then asked the usual question, “Why?” The mother just said, “Sheep don’t wallow.” This didn’t satisfy the lamb. He felt that she had “put him down.” So, as soon as his mother was out of sight, he ran to the pig pen and jumped the fence. He was soon feeling the cool mud on his feet, legs, and stomach, as he wallowed deeper and deeper in the mud. After awhile, he decided he had better go back to his mother, but found that he couldn’t move. He was stuck from the weight of the mud which had gotten into his wool. His pleasure had now become his prison, He cried out and was rescued by the kind shepherd. When cleaned and returned to the fold, the mother told him, “Remember, sheep don’t wallow.”

Sin is like that. It looks so nice, and we think we can escape whenever we wish, but it just isn’t so. Our pleasures soon become our prisons. We must remember, “Christians don’t wallow.” The apostle Peter wrote, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:20-22).

-Richard Thetford
Via Walking in the Light Blogspot, September 12, 2011