By Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
(Sabbath Sermon, 05/05/2012)
He has just begun
And yet the completed work is already in view.
The Apostle Paul assured the brethren in Philippi: "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6 ESV).
God Almighty said something similar to Jacob in Genesis 28 in his ‘vision of the ladder’ during his overnight stay at Luz (renamed Bethel) on his way to his uncle Laban in Haran:
"And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of" (v.15).
Twenty years later, God had made good His promise, and Jacob himself testified: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which Thou hast shewed unto Thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands" (Gen. 32:10).
The LORD promised him not only material prosperity but also protection throughout. Hence the angels of God met him on his way back in confirmation of the unbroken divine protection he had enjoyed right from the time Elohim revealed Himself to him in the company of His angels that night at Bethel:
"And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
"And when Jacob saw them, he said, This is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim" (Gen. 32:1-2).
We read in Ps 34:7: "The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.
Jacob, of course, was no ordinary person in the sight of God; he was the incoming successor to God’s everlasting covenant with his grandfather Abraham, and God was obliged to bless and protect him.
You are a child of the covenant too. This is the blessed truth provided you belong to Christ: "And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:29 MKJV).
The pure blood of Jesus, the sinless Lamb of God, is the seal of God’s New Covenant with you: "In the same way He took the cup, after having dined, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is being poured out for you" (Luke 22:20 MKJV).
If it took the priceless, holy blood of "the only begotten Son” of God to ratify God’s covenant with you, you cannot be unimportant to God. You must be a gem to Him. Apostle Paul reasons with us in Rom. 8:32: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"
The relationship looks promising right from the outset. The heavenly Father has already begun "a good work in you" by offering you His Son "In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:7).
If He spared not His own Son but gave Him for you, what else will hold back His hand of favour in your life? Why should He hesitate to fulfill His good promises in your life? Judging by "the inexpressible Gift" (2 Cor. 9:15)He has already offered you in the Person of His Son, God’s commitment to your welfare and to completing His "good work" in you must be immense. It’s incalculable!
The Promise is Guaranteed by the Anointing
God’s "good work" begun in you through Jesus Christ, His Son, is guaranteed to reach its ultimate completion. This is one reason for the anointing from God.
The life of David, the anointed shepherd boy, speaks to this truth. He was a brave young man, daring, good looking, adventurous, and diligent. Besides, he was a talented poet and musician and a hardy soldier, who endured persecution after persecution and harassment on end. But the greatest single factor in his greatness and success was the divine anointing on him. It was the turning point in David’s life. The youngest and eighth of his father’s sons, David was God’s pick for the throne of Israel among all his grown siblings who seemed more ‘deserving’:
"And Samuel did that which the LORD spake, and came to Bethlehem. And the elders of the town trembled at his coming, and said, Comest thou peaceably?
"And he said, Peaceably: I am come to sacrifice unto the LORD: sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice. And he sanctified Jesse and his sons, and called them to the sacrifice.
"And it came to pass, when they were come, that he looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORD’S anointed is before Him.
"But the LORD said unto Samuel, ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart’.
"Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. And he said, ‘Neither hath the LORD chosen this’.
"Then Jesse made Shammah to pass by. And he said, ‘Neither hath the LORD chosen this’.
"Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, ‘The LORD hath not chosen these’.
"And Samuel said unto Jesse, ‘Are here all thy children?’ And he said,’ There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep’. And Samuel said unto Jesse, ‘Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither’.
"And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the LORD said, ‘Arise, anoint him: for this is he’.
"Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah" (1 Sam. 16:4-13).
The anointing meant David’s destiny of greatness was fixed. Let all hell come against it, David’s greatness cannot be stopped or reversed. The LORD said of David in relation to His anointing on him:
"I have found David My servant; with My holy oil have I anointed him:
"With whom My hand shall be established: Mine arm also shall strengthen him.
"The enemy shall not exact upon him; nor the son of wickedness afflict him.
"And I will beat down his foes before his face, and plague them that hate him.
"But My faithfulness and My mercy shall be with him: and in My name shall his horn be exalted" (Ps 89:20-24).
The anointing on David meant that he WAS blessed and he BECAME blessed. The Spirit of the LORD" came upon David from that day onward to ensure God’s word concerning Him was fulfilled.
The same applies to you—if God has anointed you with His Spirit. Paul reminded the Corinthians:
"As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been Yes and No.
"For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No, but in Him it is always Yes.
"For all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our Amen to God for His glory.
"And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us,
"and who has also put His seal on us and given us His Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee [of ‘all His promises’ to us]" (2 Cor. 1:18-22 ESV).
He who has begun "a good work in you" has "established" you by anointing you with His Spirit to guarantee the completion of the work. It’s a done deal, signified by the "seal" of God on you. The Holy Spirit in you is the deposit—the first installment or part payment—of the glory to come. Thus the "good work" the Spirit has already begun in us—in healing us, protecting us, and guiding us, etc—is a constant reminder that something bigger, greater and unprecedented is ahead of us. The deposit will not go waste.
God has by no means finished with us. He will complete the “good work” begun in us; the Holy Spirit in us is the undeniable proof. The anointing of the Spirit has "established" and "sealed" us for the greater blessing which God has promised us, and nothing can undo it.
So remain undaunted even if the enemy unleashes all his forces against you. Your resoluteness in the face of all the spiritual attacks and physical harassment is your personal testimony that you believe you have been “established” and “anointed” by the Almighty for great things, and that you will prevail in all circumstances in order that the purposes of God for your life might be fulfilled. To fear and to cower before the enemy is a sign that you either don’t appreciate the unfailing, great power God has unleashed into your life with His anointing or you aren’t anointed at all. But be sure that the anointing power of is on you as a true child of God who is led by His Spirit (Rom. 8:14; 1 Cor. 12:13). The enemy will not oppress you!
Be a Vessel for Honourable Use
Although the Lord has anointed us with His Spirit as the seal of His yet-to-be-accomplished completed work in us, there is a caveat to observe: We must be fit for "the master’s use" at every turn.
We read in 2 Tim. 2:20-21:
"But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.
"If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work".
The faithful Lord will bring the "good work" begun in us to a perfect finish, but we will only be useful to Him if we rid ourselves of the dishonourable things that make us unfit for His use. Only then will we make ourselves honourable, set apart as holy for His holy use.
So then, while He’s ready and committed to complete His "good work" in us, we make ourselves disqualified if we fail to "purge" ourselves of activities that are dishonourable in the sight of our Master. Otherwise, we will be vessels "to dishonour", although we remain in God’s "great house", His Church.
So, what are some of the dishonourable things we must rid ourselves of to qualify for "the Master’s use"?
It goes like a typical ‘vice list’, but these are the very things which make believers "dishonourable" because they defile them:
"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
"Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
"For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
"Be not ye therefore partakers with them" (Eph. 5:3-7).
Verse 12 actually puts the "dishonourable" label on the vices named, calling them "a shame": "it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret".
The question is, do you ‘secretly’ do some of these dishonourable things on the ‘vice list’ while appearing saintly to the public? Are you in a secret amorous relationship? Do you pass crude jokes behind your brother’s back? Do you secretly covet things belonging to your sister? Do you secretly dabble in some of the abominable things forbidden by God?
The word says, give no occasion for any of the dishonourable things to be mentioned in reference to you as a saint of God, much less actually do them. It does not befit your status; it’s inappropriate and scandalous!
A life of dishonour is at cross purposes with Christ’s intentions for you. It’s the exact opposite of the purpose for which Christ gave Himself for the Church. The Apostle Paul uses the analogy of marriage to illuminate this purpose:
"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it;
"That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
"That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:25-27).
Just as every loving husband has noble intentions towards his wife, so Christ has as His object in loving the Church (demonstrated through the offering of Himself) a Church full of glory because she’s without "spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" but is "holy and without blemish".
It’s among such believers—collectively and individually—that Christ works to complete the "good work" He has already begun in them. God is faithful; He is absolutely to be trusted to fulfill all His promises to you for the purpose of completing His "good work". But can you be trusted to do your part? Can you count on yourself?
If I were you, I would not be presumptuous. The power does not lie with man to stay pure. The answer is the Spirit–the same Spirit that assures us of the perfection of God’s good work in us. Paul instructed Timothy:
"Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
"Guard the good Deposit given through the Holy Spirit indwelling in us" (2 Tim. 1:13-14 MKJV).
"The good Deposit" to "guard" or protect or preserve through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit is "the pattern of sound words" to "hold fast". If you preserve it in your life through the indwelling Spirit as recommended, there’s no chance of disappointment. Rather, it’s a double assurance by the same Spirit: Just as the Spirit won’t fail to preserve the "good deposit" of the sound doctrine in your life, He won’t fail to guarantee the fulfilment of all God’s promises to you. God will definitely complete His good work in you.
But do get the Spirit on board. Rely on the Spirit to stay pure so the Master will find you fit for His continuing work in you till He brings everything to completion ultimately on the day of His return when He comes to “be glorified in His saints” (2 Thess. 1:10). In the meantime, don’t relax in prayer; by so doing you will keep the Spirit’s fire ever burning (Eph. 5:17, 19). Amen!