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The Meaning of Life
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Today I want to being by saying something that may seem trite, but I'm
going to say it anyway because it is a foundational truth. Here it
is: life is worth living. I know, I know, it doesn't sound like a
really profound statement, especially to those who take it for granted,
but not for people like Kirk Jones. Jones struggles with depression
and tried to end it all last October by jumping over Niagara Falls with
nothing but the clothes on his back.
Jones says going over the falls was like, "Being in a giant tunnel,
going straight down surrounded by water." He says he "hit hard."The rushing
water then turned him upside down and pushed him far enough out to climb
onto a rock. In a note written to a fellow patient Jones said life had
much to offer. He wrote, "When you are feeling down, just remember the
power of Niagara."
In an ABC news interview, Jones said, "I can tell you now after hitting
the falls I feel that life is worth living. An expert on Suicidal
behavior, Dr. Richard Seiden, says "A lot of times, people, when they've
been spared, get this feeling that somehow it's been intended, that they
have a mission or something. "He says if Jones had had second thoughts,
he would not be the first survivor to experience a change of heart."(http://www.freshministry.org/illustrations.html)
The discovery that life is worth living isn't restricted to those who
fail at suicide, those who've fought against terminal illness often say
the same thing. In his book, Every Second Counts, Lance Armstrong
writes, "Mortal illness, like most personal catastrophes, comes on suddenly.
There's no great sense of foreboding, no premonition, you just wake up
one morning and something's wrong in your lungs, or your liver, or your
bones. But near-death cleared the decks, and what came after was a bring,
sparkling awareness; time is limited, so I better wake up every morning
fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day
right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose."
Did you notice that Armstrong's observation is more than life is worth
living, it is that life is worth living well. His goal is to "string
his days together into a life of action, and purpose." Beyond the survival
instinct, there is something intrinsic in life itself that makes us want
to live life well to accomplish some great purpose. After understanding
that life is worth living, the trick is to know what our purposes are,
so we can fulfill them. Our text says, "For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them."
Discovering our purpose begins with knowing our creator this verse says,
"we are His workmanship." The creation narrative in Genesis tells
us it was God who created us it says, "Then the Lord God formed man
of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;
and man became a living being." (Genesis 2:7 NASB) God is our
creator. Knowing He made us is one thing, knowing that He knew what
he was doing is another. The Psalmist wrote, "I praise you because
I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,
I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14 NIV) Most of us are critical of the
way we look or wish we were smarter or more talented than we are.
But if we are not careful, our self-criticism will become criticism of
God. He knew what He was doing when He created us and He knows the
reason why He created us.
If you want to know the purpose for your life, doesn't it make sense
to ask your creator? If I didn't know how to use my washing machine,
I wouldn't read the operating manual for my refrigerator to see how to
operate it. And if my refrigerator broke down, I would call a lawnmower
repair shop for advice on how to fix it. After I know who created me, then
I know that the best place to discover my purpose is to ask Him.
We are His workmanship, the verse says, created in Christ Jesus. His
workmanship here doesn't just refer to creation, it also refers to salvation.
The context of verse 10 is verses 8-9 which say, "For by grace are ye saved
through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not
of works, lest any man should boast." ( Ephes. 2:8-9 KJV) In
the context of this verse, His workmanship refers to our salvation the
subject of the verses that precede it. In other words, not only did
God create us, but He also recreated us. 2 Cor. 5:17 says, "Therefore
if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away;
behold, new things have come." (NASB)
So God is the one who created us in the first place, and remade us after
we sinned. Isaiah said, "But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father, We
are the clay, and Thou our potter; And all of us are the work of Thy hand."
(Isaiah 64:8 NASB) He compares the work of the Creator God to the work
of an artist making a pot, acknowledging that we "are the work of His hand."
Jeremiah takes the same image further by saying what the artist does with
his marred work, he wrote, "But the vessel that he was making
of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another
vessel, as it pleased the potter to make." Jeremiah 18:4 (NASB) In Christ
Jesus, we've been remade.
Did God have a purpose for you when He made you? Did He have a
reason for remaking you after you sinned? Yes, of course He did.
Our text goes on to say that we were created, "for good works, which God
This portion of the verse gives us some clues into understanding our
purpose. First, note that the works are good works. God intends
for you to make a positive impact in this world you are to do good works.
Your purpose in life isn't to accumulate wealth or become famous; it is
to do good works. But these aren't random acts of goodness, they
are specific in nature they are works that God prepared beforehand. Some
of these works apply to everyone. I don't have to ask God if He wants
me to love my wife or provide for my children. These things are clearly
taught in scripture and are self-evident to most people. Over the
next forty days we will be exploring what the Bible says about our purpose
for life. In his book, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren shows
that God created us to fulfill 5 purposes. As we explore these purposes
that apply to all people, perhaps you will also discover some specific
things God wants you to do.
That's what lies ahead of us, but before we begin this journey together,
let me point out the last thing that this verse says, "that we should walk
in them." God did not create you and re make you and prepare good works
for you just so you will know what His purpose for you is. He did
all of this so that you would walk in His purpose. So before we begin
this journey together, I want to call you to commitment.
First, I ask you to commit to walk beside me for the next 40 days.
Let's do this together. At the beginning of this "year of opportunity,"
I said it was important for us to all be in the same boat, facing the same
way and rowing together. Most of you have gotten in the boat and
are rowing; others of you are on the shore evaluating how well the oarsman
are doing. We will not reach our potential and fulfill our opportunity
without you. Come on in, let's do this together. Even if you
are going to be out of town for some of the time, you can still
the sermons you miss on the Internet to read them or listen to them.
Or you can get a tape from Ross and you can read along with the rest of
the church through the daily readings.
Second, I ask you to have an open heart as we do this together.
Be open to the movement of the Spirit in your life as He communicates His
will to you.
Third, I ask you to commit right now to do whatever God reveals to you
through this study and your private prayer time. In other words,
I'm asking you to commit to walk in the good works that God has prepared
for you to walk in.
He knows our purpose. He wants us to know our purpose, and He
wants us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created to do.