top of page
  • Paul Reich

The Life-Changing Power of God’s Word (Part 9)

God’s Word is the primary tool in His divine workshop to furnish you with everything you need to be adequate and equipped for every good work.

 

Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay

 

Among the many trade skills Dad had, he was first and foremost a journeyman carpenter specializing in finish work. As mentioned in earlier blogs, he also enjoyed turning plumb bobs, making wooden toys, and creating a variety of other finely crafted projects from exotic woods. To do this, he had a fully furnished workshop at home. The central piece of equipment in Dad’s shop was a Shopsmith Woodworking System. Mom gave it to Dad as a Christmas gift the week before they were married on New Year’s Eve 1954. The Shopsmith is a versatile stationary power tool, serving as a table saw, a wood lathe, a drill press, a horizontal boring machine, and a disc sander all in one. Utilizing the same motor, it can quickly switch between these various functions.


From a similar era to Dad’s, this photo is a Shopsmith that was for sale online. It is shown here with an upgraded motor (center left) which slides on the rails to power any attached tools. The table saw is shown center right without extension tables and lowered below its functional height. A bandsaw is attached on the left and a scroll saw on the right. Below on the floor is a jointer.


Modern versions of the Shopsmith have added even other functions to the base machine that weren’t available 70 years ago when Dad got his system. However, the Shopsmith system is expandable and over the years Dad upgraded the motor and added other tool attachments and accessories including a band saw and a scroll saw with an extra powerbase, so he didn’t have to be continually switching between functions. Many other attachments are available including a thickness planer, a jointer, and a router table, all attachable to the base system and powered by the same motor. The advantage of the Shopsmith system, especially for a small shop, is its versatility. Yet for convenience, it is nice to have other stand-alone tools and not need to switch between functions. So, to fully furnish his shop and increase convenience, over the years Dad added other separate stand-alone tools including a drill press, a sanding station, a miter saw, a router table, a thickness planer, air tools, and a wide range of smaller power tools and hand tools.


The Shopsmith is particularly meaningful to me because before Dad died I was selected to inherit the Shopsmith and all its attachments. I was chosen because woodworking is not an interest for one of my brothers and my two other brothers both already have well-furnished shops. Following in Dad’s steps, they are both extremely talented woodworking hobbyists, though their main vocations have been in other fields. Not nearly as accomplished as my dad or brothers, I have dabbled in woodworking and a variety of construction and renovation projects over the years, so it was decided that I was the best candidate to inherit and make use of the Shopsmith system. Already having a decent table saw, I will primarily make use of the lathe, the bandsaw, and the scroll saw, which open to me a whole new range of woodworking creativity.


The above photos show different angles on a customized cabinet that my older brother, Mark, made for his son-in-law who is a computer programmer. The thin drawers are designed to hold specialized keyboards and programming skins used in his work.


My experience in renovations has shown me the value of having the right tools for the job. A hammer is not designed to put in a screw, nor is a screwdriver designed to put in a nail. Even screwdrivers come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate the various screw heads that are commonly used. Though some tools are versatile, most have been designed for specific jobs. Consequently, having the right tools gives the ability to accomplish specialized purposes or to accomplish general purposes more accurately and efficiently. For example, any saw can cut wood, but hand saws, table saws, circular saws, reciprocating saws, chain saws, and jig saws have all been designed for specific cutting needs.


In any trade, having the right tools is essential. Each trade requires a minimal set of core tools to accomplish most of the work in that field. On top of this, tradesmen continuously add more specialized tools to increase quality and productivity. But being a good tradesmen is much more than having good tools. As important as tools are, one must also develop the understanding and skills to properly use those tools to produce expert results effectively and efficiently. A fully furnished toolbox with the corresponding knowledge and skills is what makes an experienced tradesman so valuable. Many people have purchased the required drywall knives, trowels and a mud pan or hawk to patch a wall, or to tape and mud a newly framed and sheeted room in the basement, but it is an acquired skill to efficiently apply drywall mud and achieve a quality finish with the fewest coats and minimal sanding.


Anyone who has taken the time to gain a new skill understands there are significant gaps between the desire to do something, gaining the understanding of how to do it, and then developing the proficiencies to actually do it. Between each of these is a learning curve requiring the acquisition of specialty knowledge and the mastery of specific skills. Tradesmen, artists, athletes, musicians, chefs, and professionals of all kinds know the value of having the right tools, but also the importance of having the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful in their fields of expertise.


A custom cribbage board made by my younger brother, Greg. The lid swivels to access the cards and pegs stored in the base. Small round magnets inset in the the lid and base keep the board closed when playing.

To be fully furnished requires having the essential tools, but also the knowledge and skills to get the job done. The same is true spiritually. We must be equipped with the right tools and grow in our knowledge and experience to be useful and effective in serving God. This is the purpose of God’s Word. Much like the Shopsmith in Dad’s workshop, God’s Word is the central tool in His workshop. It is not His only tool for shaping our lives, but it is perhaps His primary tool. As we have learned from the previous posts in this series, God’s Word is versatile and suitable to work in our lives in a variety of ways.


2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NET)

16 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,

17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.


The end purpose of the Scriptures' shaping influence is “that the person dedicated to God would be capable and equipped for every good work.” I particularly like the NET version on this verse because it captures the meaning behind the more literal rendering “man of God” used by most modern translations. While “man of God” is an accurate word-for-word translation, it leaves the reader wondering, “What is a man of God?” Rather than leaving it nebulous, the NET defines the “man of God” as a “person dedicated to God.” I believe this translation conveys the essence of Paul’s intent. The Scriptures are useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness to equip men and women who are dedicated to God – that is those who are devout in their faith, who are committed to follow Him, and who want to please and serve Him.


We learn from this passage that the Bible, as a core tool in God’s spiritual workshop, will enable us to “be capable and equipped for every good work.” The words “capable” and “equipped” come from the same Greek root. “Capable” is the Greek adjective artios, also commonly translated “complete,” “proficient,” “adequate,” or “qualified.” It means “fitted out” or “furnished” with every necessary component for a task or purpose. “Equipped” comes from ex-artizō, an intensive verb form from the same root. It emphasizes that God’s word thoroughly furnishes” and makes us extremely capable” for the works that God has for us. Paul is using these words together to emphasize that the Scriptures give us everything we need to be qualified and fully equipped to fulfill God’s purposes for our lives


God’s Word first works as a tool in God’s hand to accomplish His works in us, but then it also becomes a tool in our toolbox to be used by us to effectively minister to others. Like the Shopsmith in Dad’s workshop, it is versatile. Of course, God uses other “tools” to prepare us and furnish us for His service. Some of these include empowering by the Holy Spirit, the five leadership gifts given to equip the church (Ephesians 4:11-16), and a wide range of experiences that provide opportunity for us to grow in faith, deepen intimacy with God, and gain valuable wisdom to share with others. Yet, God’s Word is central to these other “tools” being effective. The Scriptures will work in and through our lives, teaching, correcting, reproving, and training in righteousness so that we “may be capable and equipped for every good work.”


The New Testament has much to say about "good works." The English translation “good works” or “good deeds” both come from a Greek phrase combining agathos, which emphasizes moral goodness and excellence, with ergon (compare ergonomics), commonly translated “works” or “deeds” and frequently emphasizes a moral obligation or duty. As we will see, either of these words may also be used independently in Scripture to refer to “good works.”


Though we are not saved by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), we are saved for good works. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). It’s mindboggling to think that God prepares both us and the work we are to do. Furthermore, that the good works we do today were prepared in advance by God.


James teaches that claiming to have faith but then not helping a brother or sister in need is useless. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). Spurgeon said it well, “Good works are not the root of faith, but they are its fruit.” Luther also understood this, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone” and further, “We do not become righteous by doing righteous deeds but, having been made righteous, we do righteous deeds.”

“Good works are not the root of faith, but they are its fruit.” Charles Spurgeon

The Bible tells us that the righteous not only “turn away from evil,” they also “do good” (1 Peter3:10-12). Jesus Himself was anointed by God “with the Holy Spirit and with power” and He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38 NASB). In like manner, Jesus calls us to “do good” to the poor (Mark 14:7); to those who hate and mistreat us (Luke 6:27-28); and to those who cannot repay us (Luke 6:33-36).


Building on the words of Jesus, the epistles also enjoin us to not neglect doing good, but rather persevere in doing good, not losing heart or growing weary in well-doing, for in due season we will reap the fruit of our good deeds, if we don’t faint (Hebrews Romans 2:7; Galatians 6:9-10; 2 Thessalonians 3:13). Furthermore, doing good is how we battle evil in our world. We are not to fight evil with evil, nor are we to be overcome by evil, but rather we “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Good here speaks of a wholistic uprightness in our character, conduct, and deeds.


Many believers are not aware of how much the New Testament encourages “good works.” The passages below should impress on you the importance of this topic in the New Testament.


Matthew 5:16 (NIV)

16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.


2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)

8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.


Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.


Colossians 1:10 (NIV)

10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,


In letters to Timothy and Titus – known as the pastoral epistles because of their extensive instruction on pastoral and church matters – Paul raises the importance of good works/deeds (ergon) nearly a dozen times.

  • He instructs women to adorn themselves with good works, appropriate for women who profess to worship God” (1 Timothy 2:10).

  • He describes a godly widow as one who has “a reputation for good works” (1 Timothy 5:10).

  • He instructs the wealthy “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share …” (1 Timothy 6:18).

  • He challenges believers to be vessels “useful to the Master, ready to do any good work.(2 Timothy 2:21).

  • He describes false believers who “profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed (Titus 1:16)

  • He urges young men “in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds” (Titus 2:6-8).

  • He teaches that Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14)

  • He instructs Titus to remind believers “to be ready for every good deed” (Titus 3:1-2)

  • He emphasizes that Christ saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” but then exhorts that “those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds” (Titus 3:5-8).

  • Then just before his closing greeting and blessing to Titus, he gives a final exhortation, “Our people must also learn to engage in good deeds to meet pressing needs, so that they will not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).

Hebrews 10:24 (NIV)

24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.


James 3:13 (NASB95)

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.


1 Peter 2:12 (NASB95)

12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.


Much can be learned about good works through studying the above passages in their contexts. Let me highlight just a few key lessons.

  • Doing good works demonstrates the reality of our faith and is one of the ways we shine the light of Christ in this dark world (Matthew 5:16; James 2:14-21).

  • Though it is true that we are to do good deeds in secret without seeking the attention and applause of others (Matthew 6:1-4), it is also true that good deeds are often observable. We are enjoined to put them on like clothing, have a reputation for doing good, and be examples to others in this regard (1 Timothy 2:10, 5:10; Titus 2:6-8; James 3:13).

  • The goal of good works is that those who benefit from them and those who observe them will not praise us, but rather they will "glorify your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16; 1 Peter 2:12; compare John 15:8).

  • Doing good works is one of the ways we bear fruit that pleases God (Colossians 1:10; Titus 3:1).

  • God equips us and provides us with all we need so that we can abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

  • Being vessels of honor useful to the Master and ready to do any good work requires that we cleanse ourselves of worldly talk, ungodliness, false doctrine, and foolish speculations. Furthermore, that we “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:14-26).

  • Leaders are responsible to model, teach, and encourage good works. Jesus did, Paul did, James did, and Peter did. Paul further instructs Timothy and Titus to do the same.

  • Believers are to encourage and motivate one another to love and to do good deeds (Hebrews 10:24). In fact, good works are not only to be done by individual believers but also by the church as members pool their talents, expertise, and resources to effectively minister to the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the homeless, and the abused.

More could be noted, but I will leave it to you to discover further insights and applications. To make doing good even more practical, the Bible gives examples of what good works may look like

  • In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus describes giving alms to the poor as a righteous deed.

  • In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus describes a variety of good works for which we will give an account at the judgment – feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, demonstrating hospitality to the stranger, clothing the naked, nursing the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.

  • In the parable of The Good Samaritan, Jesus highlights the many ways the compassionate Samaritan helped the ambushed stranger – nursing him, transporting him, and paying for room and board, all at his own time, energy, and expense. Jesus then enjoins us, "go and do likewise” (Luke 10:30-37).

  • In Acts 9:36-41, Dorcas is described as a woman “full of good works and acts of charity” (ESV). To demonstrate this, the widows showed tunics and garments that Dorcas had made for them.

  • In 1 Timothy 6:18, Paul instructs the wealthy “to be rich in good works” through being “generous and ready to share.”

  • In Titus 3:14, Paul describes good works as meeting “pressing needs.” Furthermore, John writes, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:17–18 (NIV).

“God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does” Martin Luther

Doing good works primarily concentrates on meeting the genuine needs of others when we have the means to do so. This is not to say that every need requires us to respond. We must use discernment and seek God’s guidance in this regard. Feeding steaks to the prodigal son while he was working in the pigpen would have prevented him from coming to his senses and returning home. Enabling another's addiction or irresponsibility is not meeting his need. Yet, many in our world do have legitimate needs and we are called to meet those needs through individual acts of charity; through church benevolence, outreach, and mission programs; as well as through supporting reputable organizations specializing in humanitarian efforts.


Some churches are doing good works in powerful ways to impact their communities for Christ. For example, my youngest brother, Kevin, pastors a multisite congregation. In addition to other outreach and mission programs, for the past twelve years he has cancelled church for one to two Sundays each year. In place of coming to church, he mobilizes his members to engage in planned works of service throughout the community. Averaging 15 projects each year that focus on meeting personal or community needs, the congregation spends those Sundays mowing lawns, painting, cleaning, and doing other practical jobs for the elderly, the needy, and the city. They call the ministry "Outflow," subtitled, "The church has left the building." As a result, each year they have opportunity to talk and pray with people who are meaningfully touched by their expressions of kindness, some of them moved to tears.

To make it more personal, God has people for you to reach, encourage, and help with tangible demonstrations of Christ’s love. This will primarily be done within your network of relationships and for those whom the Lord brings across your path or to your awareness. There are people who need your encouragement, wise counsel, and prayers. Some just need a listening ear from a friend. Some on the fringe of society in your community need a kind word or to be treated with respect even if you disapprove of their lifestyle. God may lead you to help others in practical ways – preparing a meal for someone sick or grieving, doing home repairs for a widow or single mom, giving financial aid to someone in need, or helping in a moment of crisis. Many of us have experienced “angels” that helped with vehicle emergencies such as jump starting a car with a drained battery or pulling us out of the ditch on an icy-cold blizzardy day. The bottom line is through your words, attitudes, and actions, do good to others.

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can. John Wesley

Summary and Benediction


This brings me to the end of this series, “The Life-Changing Power of God’s Word.” Over the past months, we have covered much ground as we have explored how God’s word is beneficial “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness.” I pray that you have been encouraged and challenged by the journey and that you have found these posts valuable for your life and ministry.


As you consider the purpose of God’s word to make you “capable and equipped for every good work,” I pray that you will excel still more in your relationship with God and in your service for Him. To that end, I close this post and this series with a benediction from Hebrews 13:20-21.


Hebrews 13:20–21 (NASB)

20 Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord,

21 equip [katartizo] you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.



Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment


sharon
Jun 30, 2022

Paul, this post took me right back to my Dad's shop where I would sit at the end of his workbench watching him shape something beautiful. It is a sweet memory of my childhood and also a wonderful illustration. It is amazing to think that we are designed for good works, the works themselves were planned by God in advance, He equips us with His tools, which we then use to do the works He planned. Wow! All those scriptures really stirred me up. I'm looking forward to seeing what He designed for me to do tomorrow! You have spurred me on with your teaching (Heb. 10:24). Great job!

Like
bottom of page