Christian life

You are the Master's Piece

Qing Dynasty Porcelain.jpg
There are no ordinary people. You have never met a mere mortal.
— C. S. Lewis

Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.'

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)

 

One of the most expensive pottery pieces in the world happens to be an ornamental vase that sat upon a wobbly bookcase for who knows how long.  An expert who had an eye for fine art discovered this amazing work of art after the owner’s death.  The Qing Dynasty vase was insured for about $1300, but its true value was revealed at an auction when it sold for $84 million!  Read about the Qing Dynasty's ancient vase here or here.

When God created the universe he did so with great variety.  The Genesis account starts off with God crafting the canvas of the universe and all of its heavenly bodies.  He declared it was good. The focus becomes narrower as he fashions the sky with its flying creatures.  Then he forms the bodies of water with water type creatures.  Next came the land with plants, animals, and crawling critters.  God designed it so that every place had its thing and every life form was made after its kind. God declared that his creation was of special value.  As we look upon the diversity and beauty of creation we can say with the Psalmist that the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD (Psa. 33:5) and radiates the manifest beauty (Isa. 6:3) of the work of his hands.

That Chinese artist of ages past who crafted this dynasty porcelain used a composite of special clay and stone and patiently worked his craft to design the masterpiece. God, the supernatural potter (Isa. 64:8) molded a new and unique creature.  Like the plants and creatures that came from the earth, Man also came out of the land. Red clay, in fact, which is what Adam's name means.  However, the human becomes the pinnacle of God’s massive creation.

After the miraculous formation, God animates this exceptional vessel in a way different than he had with other living things. He breathes life into the body to join a soul that is modeled after God (Gen. 1:26-27; 1 Cor. 11:7; Jas. 3:9). The human becomes immortal because he derives life from the immortal God. The soul gives him the capacity to relate with God and fellow humans in intimate ways. The Lord also endows the soul with special characteristics that are God-like, such as knowledge, wisdom, holiness, goodness, authority, power, love, humor, and language. This extraordinary vessel reflects God’s nature.

The Potter fashions a living vessel and bestows it with several attributes that resemble him in amazing ways, makes a male and female version, and then declares it to be very good.  Good in that humans are the epitome of a highly valuable and perfect piece of art.

As an individual, you are invested with a far higher value than an 84 million-dollar vase. Being fashioned in God’s image stamps upon you inestimable value and sets you as the gold medal trophy of all God’s creation. Yet, there is more – you have uniqueness among the unique because there is no one exactly like you. That is how God values you, his masterpiece.

Being the Master's Piece filled with high-value wonder ought to give you pause. If you need more wow factor, take some time to do a web search on how amazing the human body is. You can start with this link, and then boggle your mind with some great facts about the brain on this YouTube presentation.

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This post is an excerpt from my book, ThanksLiving: How to Gain Perspective to Enrich Your Life.  This how-to devotional book is intended to help you develop a mindset of gratefulness by increasing your gratitude quotient. You can start today with these exercises:

  • Make this insight your mind's focus for five minutes.

  • Speak to God and give him thanks for making you special.

  • With pen in hand, write in a journal how being made in God's image impacts you or makes you feel.

One last thing, take a moment and subscribe to this blog for more posts like this and to be alerted to more articles like this.  Thank you!

- Dr. Don

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Is There a Problem With Grace? (Part 2)

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Is there a problem with grace? 

 While most Christians who know their Bible would agree that Christians are saved from sin, guilt, and God's anger through God's grace, it seems that most Christians do not understand how all of the Christian life is by grace.  Many appear to live life as if grace was only somewhat important or worse - as if grace was irrelevant. 

In the previous post, we saw that there is no problem with God’s grace as far as being rescued from the guilt, shame, and condemnation of sin.  Neither is there a problem with God’s grace when it comes to living holy and righteous lives as Christians.  The Bible teaches us that approaching God is by grace, knowing God is by grace, and also living for God is by grace.  In short, God’s grace is the nature of your Christian life. Let’s see how…                 

God’s grace comes to believers through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection

God extends to you his mercy and grace because of Jesus Christ’s perfect life, sacrificial death, miraculous resurrection, and amazing ascension into heaven (Eph. 2:4-10).  The Bible tells us that God “saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9).  Abundant and everlasting life with God is not earned but freely given (Titus 3:5).  

Check out these passages of Scripture: Isa. 53:1-12; Matthew 1:21; 18:11; 20:28; 26:28; Luke 19:10; John 6:37-40; 6:63-65; 10:14-16; 27-29; 17:1-2; 6-9; 24; Acts 9:1-16; 10:39-42; Rom. 9:11; 19-24; 11:1-23; Eph. 2:10; ; I Pet. 2:9-10.

God's grace continues for believers in Christ 

God’s grace not only made a way for you to be reunited with him through Jesus Christ, his grace also keeps and leads you through this life into eternity.  Look at what Ephesians 1:4-6 says:  “... He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, in order that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love, he predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the kind intention of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” 

What’s even more awesome is that the Lord, whose grace began a good work in you, will, by his grace, bring it to completion at the Day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).

Grace is the essence of your Christian life!

1. Through humility, you can receive more grace for life (1 Pet. 5:5).

2. The means for you to live the Christian life is by grace (2 Thess. 1:12).

           Notice in Acts 13:43 how Paul and Barnabas pressed upon Jews and Gentiles who had come to faith in Jesus to keep on living in the grace of God.  It is no different today for the believer.  God’s Word of grace is able to build you up in the faith (Acts 20:32).  Baptism is a means of grace to put off your old sinful habits and put on Christ (Rom. 6:1-14).  The Lord has also given you his Supper in order to commune with Jesus, even spiritually “feeding” on him for nourishment and sustenance (Matt. 26:26-28; Lk 22:17-20; Jn. 6:35-58; 1 Cor. 10:16-21; 1 Cor. 11:17-34).  Prayer is yet another gracious means to live the Christian life.

3. God gives you the power to live the Christian life, and that is by grace (Gal. 2:20-21).

     As one who follows Jesus, we are urged to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).  We are strengthened with all power by God’s might, not by our (Col. 1:11-12).  Power for Christian living comes from the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit, not by our works of Law or personal ability.

   Years ago, while teaching through a series on the New Testament letter to the church in Ephesus, I was struck by one of the themes in Ephesians.  As a theme, grace is pervasive.  Yet, woven into that is also the truth of Jesus' resurrection.  Grace and the power of Jesus' resurrection make the Christian life a reality.  What we see in Ephesians is Jesus' resurrection power animates us to live his life in and through us.  Paul prays and God desires that we know this in the very depth of our souls (Eph. 1:15-23).  This kind of knowing is transformative and empowering.  So, we need to know:

  • The power of Christ's life through faith that unites us with Christ (Eph. 2:1, 4, 5).
  • The power of solidarity in the Faith that gives us union together by Christ (Eph. 2:11-4:6).
  • The power for growth in the Faith so that we become more like Christ (Eph. 4:7-16).
  • The power of light over darkness by faith so that we may live like Christ (Eph. 4:17-32).
  • The power of love through faith so that we would love like Christ (Eph. 5:1-6:9).
  • The power to conquer with faith so that we would be overcomers in Christ (Eph. 6:10-20).

Wow!  God gives believers in Jesus the grace of his super-power to live Christ's life now and all the way into eternity.  Not by our works, not by our own empowerment, not by rules and regulations, not by the Law, not by trying harder or doing more but by the grace and power of Jesus.

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As a steward of God’s grace (Eph. 3:2), Paul was able to help lay the foundation for Christ’s Church by the power of God’s grace (1 Cor. 3:10).  Who he was and what he was able to do was through the grace of God in him (1 Cor. 15:10). Timothy, and by inference, all ministers in Christ are to find strength in Christ’s grace (2 Tim. 2:1).

4. Your sufficiency in the Christian life is through grace (2 Cor. 9:8).

His grace is sufficient for all your needs (Phil 4:19), for all your strength (2 Cor. 12:9), and for the endurance required to live for Christ (Heb. 13:9; 1 Tim. 1:12-14).

5. Your suffering in the Christian life comes with grace (Heb. 4:16).

            For more, read: Rom. 8:26-28; 1 Tim. 2:1-6; Heb. 13:9; 1 Pet. 1:13; 5:10. 

6. The only way to persevere in the Christian life is through God’s grace (Phil. 4:13)

Need convincing?  Meditate on these passages:  Matt. 1:21; 7:21-23; John 6:32-39; 8:30-32; 10:27-29; 15:1-9; 17:1-2; 11; Rom.8:35-39; 11:29; II Cor. 1:20-23; Eph. 1:13; 4:30; Phil. 1:3-6; II Tim. 1:12; 2:19; 4:18; Heb. 5:5-9; I Pet. 1:1-5; 18ff; I John 2:17, 25-27; Jude 1; and Jude 24.

 

Wrap Up

This study only touches the surface of how it is we are made Christians and how we continue to live as Christians – it is all by the grace of God.  The indescribable grace of God in Jesus Christ is the very sphere in which live as Christians and is the central resource by which follow Jesus.

What about the Law and doing good works?  Good question, but hold that thought for another time.

By grace;

Dr. Don