Prepared For Every Good Work
If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master….ready for every good work.(2 Timothy 2:21)
Paul gives us four steps in the path in which a man can become a vessel unto honor in the great household of God
These are: cleansing (an intense desire to be cleansed from every sin lies at the root of fitness for every true service); being sanctified ( the refilling and being possessed of the spirit of holiness, through whom the soul becomes God-possessed, and so partakes of His holiness; the meetness for the Master to use as He will; and the spirit of preparedness for every good work.
We are vessels for our Lord to use. In every work we do, it is to be Christ using us and working through us. The sense of being a servant, dependent on the Master’s guidance, working under the Master’s eye- instruments used by Him and His mighty power- lies at the root of effectual service. It maintains that unbroken dependence, that quiet faith, through which the Lord can do His work. It keeps up that blessed consciousness of the work being His, which leads worker to become the humbler the more he is used. His one desire is to be meet for the Master’s use.
It is not enough that we desire or attempt to do good works. We need training and care to be prepared. The word prepared means not only equipment, fitness, but also the disposition, the alacrity which keeps a man on the outlook and makes him earnestly desire and joyfully avail himself of every opportunity of doing his Master’s work. As he lives in touch with his Lord Jesus, and holds himself as a cleansed and sanctified vessel, ready for Him to use, and he sees how good works are what he was redeemed for, and what his fellowship with his Lord is to be proved in, they become the one thing he is to live for. He is prepared unto every good work.
Acts 10:38 describes the life of Christ on earth this way:
You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
This model of the Christ-life has been given to us by no other than Christ Himself. The apostle Paul will further give us these instructions:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1
Now if we are to follow the example of Christ then we must also participate with Him in His work. Some may say that it is impossible for us to do the works of Christ since He was the unique Son of God and Son of Man. Furthermore, we have also decided that the gifts of the Holy Spirit and their dispensation has long passed with the passing of the apostles. As such, we then reason that our participation in the works of God is merely doing good deeds that anyone in the world can do, Christian or sinner. Christ, however, has called us to His work and for this reason we have been given the privilege to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in exactly the same manner as the 120 believers in the upper room. Perhaps the reason we are not doing the true works of Christ is that we have failed to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so.
There was an occasion that Christ spoke to the disciples and us concerning this matter of doing the works of God. Listen to what He says:
11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Our question then is : Was there evidence that mere humans could do these works?
Again we find evidence that it was so with the Acts church and not just by the apostles but by other believers as well.
Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.
Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed.
Of course that the apostles did the works of Christ is in evidence as well.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
We as the people of God must distinguish between the works of God and the good work done by humans. Both are necessary, both are important, and both are a reflection of our relationship with God. The works of God being done by believers ought to be as natural as the good work done by good people. This brings us to the question of how we can do the work of God. Thankfully we aren’t the only ones with that question for the disciples had the same question.
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
This question and answer gives purpose and meaning to the works of God. The intended outcome is not to just meet a need or provide a blessing, but to make known Christ in such a way that those who see and experience the power of the works of God might believe in Christ.
We know that Christ Himself did might works while here on earth and we might assume that He did so because He was God but that is not what He said.
I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.
This brings us full circle to Acts 10 where we read that “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth who went about doing good…” We find that at His baptism in water that Christ also was baptized in the Spirit and from there He began His earthly ministry. We also find that the disciples were first baptized in the Spirit in the upper room before they did the works of God. We must conclude then, that it is by the Spirit’s indwelling and through His power that Christ and the apostles did the works of God and if we desire to do those works, we too, must be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
We have been redeemed not just to get us to heaven but to also witness here on earth of the glory and grace of God. We know that far too often an intellectual persuasion is insufficient and so we ought to seek to do the works of God as evidence of what we speak is truth. At least this seemed to be the approach of Christ and the Acts church.
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.
And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.
May God give us grace to rise up to do the works of God, may He fill us with His Spirit, and may we witness to the truth of the Gospel with undeniable evidence of transformed lives. May a renewing, an awakening, a revival occur within the church and the hearts of the people of God. May we cease our negative view of the world and instead see the great opportunity God has placed before us to do the good work. May we be filled with boldness and faith to believe that what is “impossible with man is possible with God” to those that believe.
Dr. John Thompson