Christian Service: Working the Works of God


Sermon Text: 2 Corinthians 5:16-6:2
Sermon Series: “Christian Service” (#2)

Main Points:
I. The work of the Father is His service to His creation
II. The work of the Son is His service to the Father’s elect
III. The work of the Holy Spirit is His service to Christians in His Church
IV. Christian’s service is the continuation of the works of the Trinity

In Jn. 9, we’re told that the Lord Jesus saw a blind man and healed him. Reading such a miracle story is not surprising because Jesus healed many sick and disabled people and raised some dead ones. What He said in this story surprised me greatly and I pray it does the same to you. Listen to Him our Lord as recorded in Jn. 9:4, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.” He means, ‘we must work the works of God while we can.’

Here, Jesus announces two important facts, that is, firstly, not only He but also His followers must work, and, secondly, the work He and His disciples must do is ‘the works of God.’ Jesus means that all His followers – starting from the 12 Apostles and all Christians including you and me – must work the ‘works of God,’ must carry out the will of God, must do what pleases God.

This is exactly what He has always and constantly meant in His teaching. For example, He said in Jn. 6:38 that He came down from heaven ‘not to do His own will but the will of the Father.’ And this will of the Father is to save the world through His Son as Jn. 3:17 testifies. Having told us that He came to do His Father’s will, He clearly explains that the same is the task to which all His followers are assigned. Listen to Him in Jn. 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father,” and hear what He says in Jn. 20:21, “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” Based on this, you can now see the full extent of the famous verses in Mt. 28 which often referred to as the ‘Great Commission’ of Jesus that begins with these words, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go there fore and make disciples of all nations ….”

In a word, you and I are assigned to do the works of God, continuing the works of Jesus Christ in our life. No wonder why the Apostle Paul reminds us of our real identity, that is, ‘ambassadors for Christ.’

This is a big picture of ‘Christian service’ which is the main topic for the messages for last Sunday and today. And this will be the theme for the following Lord’s Days in January. For today, I’d like you to think together with me about the ‘works’ of God, praying that, by understanding the ‘works’ of God, we may realise why we must serve one another in this Church and serve our neighbours in the world. Only then can we serve with joy and to the glory of God we worship.

To be able to see how we do the works of God, we start from contemplating what God does – I mean, the Triune God – and we begin with the work God the Father does.

Simply put, He set up the overarching plan for the whole world. It covers the beginning and the end of all, including creation of the world and sustaining all beings and things in it, for redeeming His elect, and for restoring the whole world through His final judgment. This is the work of God the Father.

But, hold for a moment and think about what this means. And please try to answer this question: ‘Did God have to set a plan for the world, and create and sustain and redeem it?’ I mean, ‘Did God the Father need to do all these things? Was He obliged by anyone or anything for all these?’ No, He was obliged to no one; He did not need to do any of these. He was and is and will always be self-sufficient in every way – in relationship, possession, holiness and power. He lacks nothing; in all respects, He is rich and complete.

So, what He planned and did and carries out is a ‘service,’ that is, ‘something for others,’ because it is the Father’s ‘willing sacrifice with time and energy for the benefit of His creatures, preferring them over Himself.’

What God the Father did and still does is a pure ‘service’ to His creation generally, and to us His chosen ones especially. He serves us, not like the way a servant does to his master, but in a truly amazing way of grace, that is, the Master of all beings serves His creatures. This is astonishing; contemplating the extent of His work of service overwhelms us!

Along with the Father, God the Son works and serves. He said that He came to do the will of His Father. And what is the Father’s will? To save the world through the Son, as Jn. 3:17 says. Having come into the world, Jesus lived a perfect life to meet all the requirements of God’s righteous law, thus, to satisfy the Father and, at the same time, to be the righteousness of all who believe in Him so that we may be forgiven and justified before God. Theological terms that describe this double satisfaction Jesus the Son achieved are ‘propitiation’ and ‘expiation’ – ‘propitiation’ for appeasing the Father’s anger against sinners and ‘expiation’ for atoning or removing the guilt of sinners.

In this way, the Son gave His life as ‘a ransom for many.’ Becoming the pure and perfect sacrifice for the Father’s elect, thus, reconciling them to the Father is His ‘service’ because He willingly sacrificed His all for the benefit of us, the Father’s elect, preferring us over Himself! What a shockingly fascinating service He has done for us and the Father!

We know that this is not all – His work includes what He does now as the only Mediator between us and God. He intercedes for us in heaven and He will come to us once again to judge.

Not only the Father and the Son, but also the Holy Spirit, the Third Person in the Godhead, works. And His work is a service too especially to Christians in Christ’s Church. What does He do? He begins God’s redemption in individual’s life by planting faith in their heart. Then, He carefully nurtures that faith to bring each of them to confession of sins and submission of their life to Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s work continues after that. He leads us Christians to become mature in faith and holier in our walk every day. He reveals God’s will to us and empowers us to be conformed to the image of Jesus by being obedient to His commands. He intercedes for us; He unifies us in Christ’s church by bringing us closer to one another in love. This is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Once again, let me repeat this question, ‘Does the Holy Spirit do all these works because He is a kind of servant to us Christians? Is He in any way obliged by anyone to carry all these works for us?’ The answer is again, ‘No!’ Instead, He is the Third Person in the Godhead. He is exactly same as the Father and the Son as He comes from both the Father and the Son. Although we don’t fully understand how it all works within the Holy Trinity, but the Holy Spirit is same in every respect as the Father and the Son. He is God. And He serves us who are in Christ because His works are a willing sacrifice to benefit us, preferring us over Himself!

These works of the Triune God are what you and I and all who truly believe in Jesus are doing at present! You and I are doing the works of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In what way are we doing the works of the Triune God? In the form of serving one another in the name of Jesus Christ.

This is what our text passage from 2 Cor. 5 and 6 explain. Let’s follow what this passage teaches, beginning from 5:17-19. V. 17 talks about what we have become through faith in Jesus, that is, a ‘new creation.’ We’ve become a completely different being in Jesus. We used to be each other’s enemies, as Eph. 2:14 reminds us. But now we’re one in the Lord, fellow members of God’s house.

Then, v. 18 describes what this is all about: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the MINISTRY of reconciliation.” God through Jesus reconciled us to Himself, and now this work of reconciliation is given to us to carry out. V. 19 explains this ‘ministry of reconciliation’ further in these words: “in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself … and entrusting to us the MESSAGE of reconciliation.”

V. 20 is a shocking statement of what we’ve truly become – it says, “Therefore, we are AMBASSADORS for CHRIST, GOD MAKING HIS APPEAL THROUGH US.” 6:1 simply confirms this by saying, “working together with Him [that is, God].” Do you sense the weight of what you’ve just heard? You and I alongside all true worshippers of God are ‘ambassadors’ for Jesus Christ! You and I are the direct and open channel of Jesus on earth! Every word and work of an ambassador is the word and work of the nation he/she represents. Thus, in our case, we not only REPRESENT Jesus the King and Lord on earth, but also DELIVER His word and CARRY OUT His work in this world! All is to reconcile sinners to the Father, thus, to one another in Christ’s Church. By reconciling, we’re doing the works of both the Father and the Holy Spirit.

No wonder why the Apostle Peter urges in 1 Pet. 4:11, saying, “whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies.” This is the message we hear from Gal. 5 that we should ‘walk and live by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit.’

Grasping this is an exciting thing! Seeing how true this is as you serve God and serve fellow Christians is thrilling! Seeing your brothers and sisters in Christ’s church grow in faith and stand firm as mature Christians is a surpassing delight. That’s because such is the works of the Triune God and you’re invited to work together with God! God does His works through your hands and mine, through your lips and mine, through our tears and laughter! So, we speak to one another as God speaks; we serve one another as God serves us in His love! What an awesome, mind-blowing, marvellous blessing of God upon us all Christians!

So, my dear brothers and sisters, fellow ambassadors for Christ, let us remember that we’re carrying out the very works of the Triune God here on earth and especially in the Lord’s Church. Let us greet each other with the greetings of Jesus Christ. Let us encourage and strengthen one another in the name of the Lord Jesus. If anyone among us is sad, let us cheer him up with the hope of Jesus. If anyone is joyful, thank God, deeply rejoicing with her. If anyone is new, give a hand to that person as if the Lord extends His welcome invitation. See what other needs there are to serve in the Lord’s Church as well as with our unbelieving neighbours.

Most of all, let us remember that such is our worship, our spiritual sacrifice to the Lord, because our service extended to others is to count others more significant than ourselves which is the life and way of Jesus the Lord. ***

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