FOR WE ARE HIS WORKMANSHIP:
autou gar esmen (1PPAI) poiema:
(Deuteronomy 32:6; Psalms 100:3; 138:8; Isaiah 19:25; 29:23; 43:21;
44:21; 60:21; 61:3; Jeremiah 31:33; 32:39,40; John 3:3, 4, 5, 6,21;
1Corinthians 3:9; 2Corinthians 5:5,17; Philippians 1:6; Philippians
2:13; Hebrews 13:21)
(gar) renders the reason for the statement in the previous two
verses. Whenever you encounter a "for" at the beginning of passage always
pause to ponder and interrogate this frequently
term of explanation.
(there are over 7000 uses of for in the NAS and most are terms of
explanation! The fact that we are His workmanship serves to prove that
salvation is not a result of our works.
His - this
pronoun is placed first in the Greek sentence for emphasis = "His for we are
workmanship" is the literal word order. The point is that we are not
our masterpiece. We are a masterpiece only because we are His
masterpiece totally unrelated to any effort or merit of our own. The
possessive pronoun His begs the question -
"Are my daily choices reflecting the
truth that I am His workmanship, that I belong to Him, that I am not my
own any longer?"
- The position of the pronoun at the
beginning of the sentence renders it emphatic. His workmanship are we.
He has made us Christians. Our faith is not of ourselves. It is of God
that we are in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10 Commentary)
Nothing without Christ Jesus, you
see. The mark of the pierced hand is on everything: "We are his
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus."
We should be sure to boast if we
could. We are a boasting people. Man is a poor mass of flesh, and he is
largely given to the corruption of pride, He will boast if he can.
If there is any good thing in us, he put it there. It is not for us to
boast. It is for him to boast if he pleases.
God has decreed that He will have a holy people. This is His purpose,
His ordinance, to which He will always stand. He will make it good. He
will make sinful people holy, and disobedient people obedient to the
Pulpit Commentary - Another illustration and evidence of
grace We have to be fashioned anew by God before we can do anything
aright. Anything right in us is not the cause of grace, but its
fruit.... It is not good works first, and grace after; but grace first,
and good works after. (Ephesians 2 Commentary)
from poieo = to make with the suffix
–ma = the result of, source of our English word "poem") is the
result of work (suffix -ma = result of) and thus means something that is
composed or constructed, something that is made, that which is
manufactured, a product, the thing
made, a design produced by an artisan. Poiema meant any work of art --it could mean a statue, a
song, architecture, a poem or a painting. In
Septuagint (Lxx), poiema refers to God's work in creation (Ps
Believers are the
result of His Spirit's work on those dead in their trespasses and sins,
those who now are His "poetic masterpiece". Ponder this truth for
This word is used
one other time in the NT to describe God's other "poetic masterpiece",
the creation, Paul recording that...
For since the creation of the world
His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been
clearly seen, being understood through what has been made (all
one word = poiema),
so that they are without excuse. (Ro 1:20-note)
Creation was grand; new creation is grander. To bring a world out of
nothing was great; to restore a world from chaos is greater. At the
first creation, God saw all that He had made, and it was good. At the
new creation, He experiences even a deeper emotion of joy.
concludes that "Men cannot charge God with hiding Himself from them and
thus excuse their irreligion and their immorality."
Creation is God's poiema -
Work of Art - What does He do to make Himself evident? He made the
world. He created - like a potter, or a sculptor or a poet, except He
created out of nothing. In verse 20, when it says that God is
"understood through what has been made," the words "what has been made"
stand for one Greek word (which you will all recognize), the word
poiema. It's the word from which we get "poem." The universe
and everything in it is God's work of art. What's the point of
this word? The point is that in a poem there is manifest design
and intention and wisdom and power. The wind might create a letter in
the sand, but not a poem. That's the point. God acted. God planned. God
designed. God crafted. He created and made. And in doing that, Paul says
in Ro 1:19, God made Himself evident to all mankind. The universe is a
poem about God. (Displays
of God Remove the Excuse for Failed Worship)
used 27 times in the
- Judges 13:12; 1Sa 8:8; 19:4; Ezra 9:13; Neh 6:14; Ps 64:9; 92:4; Ps
143:5; Ecclesiastes 1:14; 2:4, 11, 17; 3:11, 17, 22; 4:3, 4; 5:6; 7:13;
8:9, 14, 17; 9:7, 10; 11:5; 12:14; Is 29:16
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Thy doings; I muse on the
work (Lxx = poiema) of Thy hands.
Eccl 3:11 He has made (Lxx verb =
poieo) everything appropriate (KJV = beautiful) in its time. He has also
set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the
work which God has done (Lxx = poiema) from the beginning
even to the end. (Eternity
in the Heart by Alexander Maclaren)
God's workmanship and from other passages we know that we are works
Psalm 138:8 The LORD will
accomplish what concerns me. Thy lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting.
Do not forsake the works (Lxx = ergon) of Thy hands.
Spurgeon Comments: All my
interests are safe in Jehovah’s hands. God is concerned in all that
concerns his servants. He will see to it that none of their precious
things fail of completion." (Reference)
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in
you will perfect (complete) it until the day of Christ Jesus.
the idea is, that as a poem
owes its conception to the singer’s intellect and fancy, so a believer
in Christ owes his character and standing to God. We are indebted to the
Greeks for the word, and for its beautiful meaning. A poem with them
was, first, anything made; but as beauty and harmony are elements in all
truly original or created works, the word “poem” came to be applied more
and more exclusively to the expression of truth and beauty in rhythmical
“We are His poem!” Each Christian age
has been a canto of it; each Christian life and death a word. Its
strains have been pealing down the centuries, and “though set to a tune
which admits of such endless variations that it is often difficult to
detect the original melody amid the clash of the chords that conceal it,
it will eventually be resolved, through many a swift modulation and
startling cadence, back to the perfect key.”1 [Note: H. G. Miller, St.
Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians, 93.]
Biographers of Wordsworth have marked
the exact period when his genius reached its height, and after that the
glory came only at intervals, and the real poems were rare. And because
a true poem is so rare a thing, it has always been appraised as the
highest form of literature. Many great books come—and go; but a true
poem is as fresh after long centuries as when it was first written.
“Poesy never waxeth old,” and knows no decay. It knows no decay because
it is permeated with the spirit of beauty; because it is the enduring
monument of a combination of fine gifts, whose final result is a thing
of beauty and a joy for ever. That is what a poem is, and St. Paul says
that we are the expression of the mind of God, as the In Memoriam is the
expression of the full mind and heart of Tennyson. We are God’s Poems.2
[Note: W. J. Dawson, The Divine Challenge, 111.]
The poem depends entirely upon the
poet for its creation. It is the unveiling of the deepest and most
intimate secrecies of his heart. His own image is projected over every
page, and it is the poignant personal element in poetry that makes it so
beautiful, and gives it its enduring charm. Men, then, are God’s poems.
The intimacies of God’s heart are expressed in man—God’s highest
thoughts, God’s deepest emotions. The prayer of Moses was that the
beauty of God might rest upon him. When a man is finished at last in the
likeness of Christ, God’s sense of beauty is satisfied in him, God’s art
has found its finest expression and the beauty of God does rest upon
him. The true Christian is God’s poem in a world of prose, God’s beauty
in a world of gloom, God’s fine and finished art (Ed: Better
stated works in progress!) in a world where men forget beauty, and are
careless of moral symmetry and spiritual grace.
I remember once seeing a little
fountain playing in the room of a house in which I was staying. I went
near to examine it and heard the click and whirr of machinery! The
fountain was the product of a mechanical contrivance; it went by
clockwork. It was wound up and played for a little while and then sank
into stagnancy again. How different from the spring! One plays in
feverish spasms; the other flows in restful persistence. “Not of works”:
that is the manufactured fountain. “We are his workmanship”: that is the
life of the spring. The Christian life is quietly natural; it is the
creation of the ceaseless energy of God.2 [Note: J. H. Jowett, in The
Examiner, Nov. 19, 1903, p. 508.]
Now, if every Christian is a true
poem of God, and if the Church is the supreme Divine epic “created” in
our world, who is the Hero of the composition? Our text answers that the
Hero is the Lord Jesus Christ. The poem is full of Him. God’s people are
“created in Christ Jesus for good works.” This Hero is both Divine and
human. He is the Son of God and the Flower of men, and also the one
Mediator between God and us. God has purchased the Church, and every
individual member of it, with His own blood. The Church is Christ’s
body, “the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” His Spirit dwells in
the heart of every believer. His glory fills the entire Society of His
people. Every poem of which He is the Hero shall spread His name and His
fame throughout the universe to all eternity.1 [Note: C. Jerdan, Manna
for Young Pilgrims, 105.] (Ephesians
2:10 God's Workmanship)
Edwards wrote that the
spiritual life which is reached in
the work of conversion, is a far greater and more glorious effect than
mere being and life.
stupendous creation is spiritually dead man made alive! Created in His
image, yet born in sin, to be re-created in the image of His Son. Dear
saint, don't ever forget that you are the subject of Christ’s two
creations, and as the result of His second Creation we are His ultimate
workmanship, His masterwork!
Tada who became quadriplegic after a tragic accident, alludes to
herself as a "poiema" in her book "A Place of Healing"...
(God) has a plan and purpose for my
time on earth. He is the master artist or sculptor, and He is the One
Who chooses the tools He will use to perfect His workmanship. What of
suffering, then? What of illness? What of disability? Am I to tell Him
which tools He can use and which tools He can’t use in the lifelong task
of perfecting me and molding me into the beautiful image of Jesus? Do I
really know better than Him, so that I can state without equivocation
that it’s always His will to heal me of every physical affliction? If I
am His poem, do I have the right to say, “No, Lord. You need to trim
line number two and brighten up lines three and five. They’re just a
little bit dark.” Do I, the poem, the thing being written, know more
than the poet?
Michelangelo was once asked what he
was doing as he chipped away at a shapeless rock. He replied, “I’m
liberating an angel from this stone.” That’s what God is doing with us.
We are in the hands of the great Maker, the ultimate sculptor who
created the universe out of nothing, and he has never yet thrown away a
rock on which he has begun a masterwork. His tools are Jesus Christ and
the Holy Spirit, his Word, and the preaching of the Word. Very often he
uses difficulties and difficult people, like David’s Shimei, to sculpt
our character. Other times it is a great saint with which God carves his
impression upon us. (Kent
Hughes: Preaching the Word: Ephesians)
Poiema emphasizes God as the
Master Designer, the universe as His creation (Ro. 1:20), and the
redeemed believer as His new creation (Eph. 2:10). Before conversion our
lives had no rhyme or reason. Conversion brought us balance, symmetry,
and order. We are God’s poem, His work of art. (Hayford's Bible
God is saying, “You are My poetry.
You’re special to Me. I’m not giving up on you"....He is making you
something not only useful but beautiful...something that is poetic."
Arno C Gaebelein...
It is a beautiful thought in itself
to think of those who are saved by grace, and united to Christ as “the
poem of God.” But the word “Poiema” may also be rendered “Masterpiece”
Only once more is the same word found in the original language of the
New Testament Scriptures. In Rom. 1:20 it is used in connection with the
physical creation. God has produced two great masterworks in which He
manifests His power. He called the universe into existence out of
nothing. What He, as the omnipotent One can do, is seen in the creation
of the heavens and the earth and in the sustenance of His creation. His
eternal power and Godhead are revealed in creation (Rom. 1:19–20). But
the creation of the universe out of nothing is not the greatest
masterpiece of God. God has done something greater. He has produced a
work, which reveals Him in a far higher degree. That greater masterpiece
is the redemption of sinners. God took only six days to bring order out
of the chaos of the disturbed original creation and to call into
existence the present earth and heavens, but He spent forty days with
Moses in directing him to build the tabernacle, because the work of
redemption is more glorious than the work of creation. (Ephesians 2:1-10
Sam Gordon in his book "The
Genius of Grace The Message of Ephesians" writes
Each of our lives is the papyrus on
which the Master is producing a work of art that will fill the
everlasting ages with his praise.
• We are meant to be visual aids to a gawking world.
• We are live exhibits under the glare of staring eyes.
• We are an advertisement of all that the grace of God can do in the
lives of ordinary people.
The story is often told of the rowdy, disruptive young boy in a Sunday
school class who continually frustrated his teacher. One morning the
teacher asked him: ‘Why do you act like that? Don’t you know who made
you?’ To which the boy replied: ‘God did, but he ain’t through with me
Sure, we may be rough uncut diamonds, but he is still working on us and
he has not finished with any one of us yet. When He does, that will be
eternal ecstasy. And when we think of what we were and look at
what we now are, we should get thrilled and excited with what we
shall be. In moments like these, I often ponder on the words of the
Seth Sykes chorus:
Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul,
Thank you, Lord, for making me whole,
Thank you, Lord, for giving to me,
Thy great salvation, so rich and free.
Have you ever pondered the
wonderful truth that your life is the Father's poem, authored by the
Lamb and enabled by the Spirit? Think of your life as "canvas" on which
the Master is producing a work of art which will bring Him eternal
praise and glory!
Listen to Michael Card's song as you ponder the works prepared before
time began which you are to live out the rest of your days on earth...
The Poem Of Your Life
by Michael Card - Play Song
Life is a song we
must sing with our days
A poem with meaning more than words can say
A painting with colors no rainbow can tell
A lyric that rhymes either heaven or hell!
We are living
letters that doubt desecrates
We're the notes of the song of the chorus of faith
God shapes every second of our little lives
And minds every minute as the universe waits by
The pain and the longing
The joy and the moments of light
Are the rhythm and rhyme
The free verse of the poem of life
So look in the mirror and pray for the grace
To tear off the mask, see the art of your face
Open your ear lids to hear the sweet song
Of each moment that passes and pray to prolong
Your time in the ball of the dance of your days
Your canvas of colors of moments ablaze
With all that is holy
With the joy and the strife
With the rhythm and rhyme of the poem of your life
With the rhythm and rhyme of the poem of your life
GOD'S WORKS OF ART!
Beloved, if you are
(note) by grace
through faith (Eph 2:8, 9-note),
do you know what God says about you in Ephesians 2:10? You are God’s “WORKMANSHIP,
created IN CHRIST JESUS for good works, which God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them.” The Greek word for “WORKMANSHIP”
is POIEMA which gives us our English words POEM and
POETRY. As a new creation IN CHRIST (2Cor 5:17-note),
have you ever thought of your new (now supernatural) life as a work of
“divine poetry”, God's "literary masterpiece?"
The idea of poiema is that our new
life in Christ is like poem which expresses “form and pattern along with
beauty. Like the underside of grandmother’s cross-stitch, the everyday
of our lives may look to be knotted and hopelessly tangled. But when we
turn the fabric over, we see design and beauty that was there all along
but that we never foresaw.” (Gage) Perhaps you don’t feel much like a
work of divine poetry, but regardless of how you feel, the truth about
you as God’s workmanship, is that you are God's "COMPOSITION" His “MASTERPIECE”
(NLT), His “HANDIWORK” (NAB), His “WORK OF ART” (NJB), in
fact, a work of art that is one of a kind! You are “custom designed”,
“tailor-made,” by the Master’s hand.
C H Spurgeon says it this way
You have seen a painter with his
palette on his finger and he has ugly little daubs of paint on the
palette. What can he do with those spots? Go in and see the picture.
What splendid painting! In an even wiser way does Jesus act toward us.
He takes us, poor smudges of paint, and He makes the blessed pictures of
His grace out of us. It is neither the brush nor the paint He uses, but
it is the skill of His own hand which does it all.” PTL!
Indeed, the redeemed should sing out
like David “I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made. Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very
well.” (Ps 139:14) As Spurgeon says “If we are marvelously wrought upon
even before we are born, what shall we say of the Lord's dealings with
us after we quit His secret workshop, and He directs our pathway through
the pilgrimage of life? What shall we not say of that new birth which is
even more mysterious than the first, and exhibits even more the love and
wisdom of the Lord.” It is notable that the only other NT use of the
Greek word POIEMA is in Romans 1:20 where Paul writes “For since the
creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and
divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through WHAT HAS
BEEN MADE (POIEMA) so that they are without excuse.”
As Henry Morris says “God has
written TWO POETIC MASTERPIECES, as it were, one in the physical
creation, one in the lives of men and women redeemed and saved by His
grace (Eph 2:8). Both give eloquent testimony to the eternal power and
Godhead of the Creator-Redeemer.” Two great “divine poems” - the created
world and re-created men and women in that world. Even as the “heavens
are telling of the glory of God and their expanse is declaring the work
of His hands” (Ps 19:1-note),
we too as God’s MASTER CREATIONS should never be ashamed to let men see
His WORKMANSHIP in us by our Spirit enabled obedience to Jesus' command
to “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they see your
GOOD WORKS, and glorify (give a proper opinion of) your Father Who is in
heaven.” (Mt 5:16-note)
As new creatures in Christ, we need to remember that we were created for
God’s glory, and created for good deeds, because it is by our good deeds
that our Father gets all the glory (cf Ps 115:1-note).
Indeed, the chief end of each of our lives is “To glorify God and to
enjoy Him forever.” In summary, Eph 2:10 teaches that we are saved not
BY good works but FOR good (supernatural)
works and in the mystery of His amazing grace He even rewards us for
those Spirit enabled works! (cf 2Cor 5:10-note;
Dr W H Houghton,
pastored the Calvary Baptist Church in NYC and later served as president
of Moody Bible Institute. When Dr. Houghton became pastor of the Baptist
Tabernacle in Atlanta, a man in that city hired a private detective to
follow Dr. Houghton and report on his conduct. After a few weeks, the
detective was able to report to the man that Dr. Houghton’s life matched
his preaching. As a result of Houghton's faithful life as God's "Poiema",
that man became a Christian.
In Ps 143:5 David prays
I remember the days of old. I
meditate on all Your doings. I muse (meditate) on the WORK (LXX
= POIEMA) of Your
Have you meditated on the truth
that now IN CHRIST, you are “the WORK (poiema) of” His hands?
It is good to meditate on what
God has made and rest in the confidence that regardless of what has
transpired in your life to make you doubt your worth in Christ, you need
to remember that you "are of untold worth" (Kent Hughes) and also that
you are a canvas on which He is still painting, for "He
Who began a good work in you
will complete it in the day of Christ Jesus." (Php 1:6-note).
CREATED IN CHRIST JESUS FOR GOOD
WORKS: ktisthentes (APPMPN) en Christo Iesou epi ergois agathois: (Ep
4:24; Psalms 51:10; 2Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Colossians 3:10)
NOT BY WORKS
BUT FOR WORKS!
How do works
relate to regeneration by grace through faith?
"Works are to salvation, what thunder is to lightning, an inevitable
result. Just as thunder does not generate lightning, our good deeds will
not generate salvation. But on the other hand, just as you can't have
lightning without the following thunderclap, you can't experience the
transformation of salvation without a change in your attitudes and
behaviors. And those changes are a gradual process called
sanctification, that can be likened to an endurance race. The apostle
Paul often compared the Christian life to a long race, as did the author
of the book of Hebrews." (cp He 12:1-note)
(Source - Steve Kreloff's broadcast on the
The Spiritual Marathon - Mp3)
[word study]) means to bring
something into existence or of calling into being, used in the NT only
of God's creativity. The Greeks used ktizo to describe the
founding of a place, a city or colony.
points to saved sinners as new creations in Christ, having formerly been
dead in trespasses and sins (Ep 2:1-note) and by His Spirit now called into an existence of eternal life
(today, now)! The
points to this specific
creative act as having taken place at a point in time in the past. The
result is that believers are no longer their own (1Co 6:19-note,
but now are doubly His, created first in His image (Ge 1:26, 27), and
then recreated based on His work of redemption. Hallelujah! Let us live
out this truth before a dying world!
emphasizes the believer's new creation in Christ exhorting his
put on the new self, which in the
likeness of God has been created (ktizo) in righteousness and
holiness of the truth (i.e., to be like God - righteous, holy, and
true). (Ep 4:24-note)
In a parallel
passage in Colossians Paul reminded the saints that they...
have put on the new self (at the time
of salvation) who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the
image of the One Who created (ktizo) him. (Col 3:10-note)
Comment: "Being renewed” is
= “constantly being renewed.” The crisis of salvation leads to
the process of sanctification, daily becoming more like Jesus Christ,
Who is to be our life-long goal taking priority over all other goals.
This verse is an
answer to David's prayer...
= ktizo) in me a
clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm
Writing to the
church at Corinth Paul reminded them that...
if any man is in Christ, he is a new
creature (literally = new creation, where
= new in kind
or quality, unprecedented, unheard of, new in sense that it brings into
the world a new quality of thing which did not exist before); the old
things passed away (the
indicates a past completed action and speaks of the decisive change
salvation brings); behold, new (kainos) things have come. (2Corinthians
Comment: The miracle of
regeneration, of being born again and baptized by the Holy Spirit into
the spiritual body of Christ (1Co 12:13, cp Spirit in each member of the
body = Ro 8:9-note), is a true miracle of special creation, not
psychological crutch as is so often argued by skeptics and scoffers.
This creative act of the new birth is indeed comparable in
quality to the creation of the universe! No natural process can
accomplish or explain either miracle. The evolution of man is
foolishness! Man is not getting better. Instead, the
Best Man died that all men might attain to the best by grace through
faith. That is the miracle
of the new creation, God's workmanship!
Writing to the
Galatians who were being tempted to add works (such as circumcision) to
faith in Christ Paul declared that...
may it never be that I should boast,
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world
has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither is
circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. (Galatians
Comment: What really matters
is not external works such as circumcision but whether we really have
been changed into new and different people. Is your life different now
that you are in Christ? If not then you might want to think about
whether you are truly "in Christ".
new birth creates a qualitatively new appetite and requires a
qualitatively new diet.
O child of God, guard well your
From anything that stains the heart;
Forsake those things that soil the mind--
Your Father wants you set apart.
(See related discussion of
in Christ Jesus) -
don't read over these words too quickly as they should be pondered every
time we encounter them in Paul's writings. "In Christ" signifies a brief
but most profound statement of the inexhaustible significance of the
sinner's glorious salvation, which includes (among other things) (1) the
believer’s security in Christ, Who bore in His body God’s judgment
against sin, (2) the believer’s acceptance in Him with Whom God alone is
well pleased, (3) the believer’s future assurance in Him Who is the
Resurrection to eternal life and the sole Guarantor of the believer’s
inheritance in heaven and (4) the believer’s participation in the divine
nature of Christ (2Pe 1:4-note).
The Bible views
all men as either in Christ, or in Adam with no
- Union with Him is a source of a new
life (Ed: cf Col 3:4-note),
and a life unto holiness; and therefore it is said created unto good
works. Holiness is the end of redemption, for Christ gave himself for us
that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a
peculiar people zealous of good works. Titus 2:14-note.
Those therefore who live in sin are not the subjects of this redemption.
(Ephesians 2:10 Commentary)
(ergon) describes that which displays itself in activity of any
kind and so refers to deeds.
literally means upon good works and indicates the God
glorifying goal of our salvation. Good (the "God" variety) works
should be the sum and substance of our behavior. Believers are saved to serve
God, not self. This supernaturally enabled shift (even as imperfect as
it is in this life, because of the continual struggle with the old
flesh) is good evidence that a man or woman is in Christ. Be careful
though, because just doing works in a church or a city or a country does
not necessarily mean they are "good", Spirit initiated, Spirit
enabled, "John 15:5 type" works!
It is not the quantity of works (how
much you do) that proves you are saved, but the fact that good works
automatically follow salvation. The believers at Thessalonica proved
their salvation by turning to GOD from idols, to serve GOD (Ed:
Excellent illustration of repentance!) (1Thess 1:9-note).
The Ephesian believers confessed, brought their books of magic and
burned them before all the people, thereby proving that they had
experienced a change of heart (~repentance) (Acts 19:18-20). The
believers at Rome who were the servants of sin, obeyed from the heart
the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith, and they became the
servants of righteousness unto holiness (Ro 6:14-23-note).
Works have nothing to do with redemption; but works
testify that redemption has been wrought in the heart. We work
because we are the sons of GOD. We do not work to try to gain
Heaven - we work because we are on the way to Heaven. Salvation
is totally and entirely by Grace, the gift of GOD. Our eternal reward
will be determined by our faithful works . . . our faithful
stewardship. (Study carefully 1Cor 3:11-15.) (Ref)
This new creation in connection with
Christ, for we read in the text, "Created in Christ Jesus." We
are the branches; He is the Vine out of which we grow. Your life, and
all your fruit-producing power lie in your union to Christ. You
are not merely new-created, but you are created in Christ Jesus.
It is not merely a change from a lower nature to a higher, but from
separation from Christ to union with Him. What a wonderful
thing that is—that you and I should not only be creatures in the world,
but new creatures in Christ Jesus! Creatures we were in the first Adam;
but our new-creatureship is in the second Adam. Beloved, if you are what
you profess to be, you are one with Jesus by that vital union which
cannot be dissolved; and good works follow upon that union. Joined to
Jesus by faith in Him, love to Him, and imitation of Him (1Cor 11:1,
1Cor 4:16, 1Jn 2:6, 1Pe 2:21, Jn 13:15), you walk in good works. Your
creation to holiness is your creation in Christ Jesus. As you become one
with the anointed Savior, His anointing (with His Spirit, even as He was
anointed - 1Jn 2:20, 27, Acts 10:37-38) ordains you to service, and his
salvation leads you into obedience. There cannot but be fruit on that
blanch which is vitally joined to that fruitful stem, Christ Jesus, Who
did always those things which pleased the Father.
Our good works must flow from our
union with Christ by virtue of our faith in Him. We depend upon Him to
make us holy. We depend upon Him to keep us holy. We overcome sin by the
blood of the Lamb. We reach after holiness by the constraining love of
Jesus. Love to Christ is the impelling cause of putting away, first one
evil, and then another; and the energy enabling us to follow after one
virtue, and then another. Love to Christ burns like a fire in the breast
that has conceived it; and, as it burns, it makes the heart to glow, and
to become transformed to its own nature. You have seen a piece of iron
put into the fire, all black or rusty, and in the fire it has gradually
become red with heat; and, as it has reddened, it has thrown off the
scales of rust, until at last it has looked to be itself a mass of fire.
The effect of the love of God, shed abroad in the heart by the Holy
Ghost, is to burn off the rust and scales of sin and depravity, and we
become pure love to God through the force of the love of God, which
takes possession of our being.
Moreover, that love moves us to
patient imitation of Christ. Do you know what that means? "The Imitation
of Christ" is a wonderful book upon the subject, which every Christian
should read. It has its faults, but its excellences are many. May we not
only read the book, but write it out anew in our own life and character
by seeking in everything to be like to Jesus! It is a good thing to put
up in your house the question, "What would Jesus do?" It answers nine
out of ten of the difficulties of moral casuistry. When you do not know
what to do, and the law does not seem very explicit upon it, put it
so—"What would Jesus do?" Here, then, stands the case: by your creation
in Christ you come to exhibit faith in him, love to him, and imitation
of him; and all these are the means by which good works are produced in
you. You are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works." (Ephesians 2:9-10:
Agreement of Salvation by Grace with Walking in Good Works)
means profitable, benefiting others,
whereas the related word kalos means constitutionally good, but
not necessarily benefiting others. Saints are made adequate and equipped
for "agathos" works by God's Word for
All Scripture is inspired by God and
profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in
righteousness that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every
good (agathos) work. (see note
2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Good Deeds - Study of this Phrase - on site
The Scriptures and Good Works - A W Pink
Consider the fruit
tree. It is not "conscious" of the bearing process. We are to be like
the fruit tree for it is God (His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ
indwelling us) Who is causing fruit be borne (Jn 6:63) in good
works which blossom and ripen as we are walk obedient to His revealed
will (cp Jn 15:5).
comments that every good work
signifies every kind of activity
undertaken for the name of Christ; everything so undertaken is a
means of fruitfulness, and the operating power is the indwelling Holy
Spirit, upon Whom the believer is entirely dependent. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
One way to think
of this is as a process, so that in salvation God does work for
us, in sanctification He does work in us and in service He does
work through us and bears fruit that remains. God builds
character before He calls to service. He must work in us before
He can work through us. God spent 25 years working in Abraham
before He gave him the promised son Isaac. Remember too that although we
are not saved by good works, we are saved unto good works.
Luther - It’s
not against works that we contend, it’s against trust
in works that we
The Protestant Reformers spoke of this as "Sola fide
justificat sid non fides qua est sola" which translated means
but not the faith which is alone.
Calvin phrases it very similarly "It
is faith alone that justifies, but faith that justifies can never be
True faith will issue in good works from a new
creation in union with Vine Christ Jesus (Jn 15:5). Now the good works
necessarily be seen by us, but there will be good works reflecting the
truth that we are new creatures in Christ .
The KJV Bible Commentary has an excellent summary
of good works...
in us still goes “about doing good” (Acts 10:38). We are saved apart
from good works, but saved unto good works.
Good works are the aim of
our salvation and the evidence of our faith (Jas 2:17,18-note). Works never
produce salvation, but salvation always produces good works. A man is
not justified by works, but a justified man works. Works are the
consequences, not the causes of salvation. They are the fruit, not the
root of salvation. One must be a Christian before he can live as a
Christian; he must be good before he can do good. God is
By grace (Eph 2:8), it was Christ for us;
Through faith (Eph 2:8), it was Christ in us; and
Unto good works, it is Christ through us.
E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV
We are not saved
by faith plus good works, but by a faith that works. Any declaration of
faith that does not result in a changed life and good works is a
false declaration. True saving faith can never be by itself for it
always brings life, and life produces good works. The
person with dead faith has only an intellectual experience. In his mind,
he knows the doctrines of salvation, but he has never submitted himself
to God and trusted Christ for salvation. He knows the right words, but
he does not back up his words with his works. Faith in Christ brings
eternal life right now (John 3:16), and where there is life there must be growth and
fruit. (cf Jas 2:17-note)
Spurgeon on good works in Eph 2:10...
desires that his people should abound in good works. It is his great
object to produce a people fit to commune with himself: a holy people,
with whom he can have fellowship in time and in eternity. He wishes us
not only to produce good works, but to abound in them; and to abound in
the highest order of them. He would have us become imitators of himself
as dear children, possessing the same moral attributes as the Father in
heaven possesses. Is it not written, "Be ye perfect, even as your rather
which is in heaven is perfect"? Oh, that we came within measurable
distance of this blissful consummation!
Are you bearing
fruit in every good work? (Col 1:10-note)
Dearly beloved, be encouraged for Paul
is writing here in Ephesians 2:10 that your very purpose for existence
is good works. And God never expects anything from us without
first enabling us. We need to walk forth empowered by this truth and the
Illustration of Faith and Good Works - An old
Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day
a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word
“Faith,” and on the other oar the word “Works.” Curiosity led him to ask
the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced Christian and
glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, “I will show you.”
So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they
just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to ply
the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles
again—this time the other way around, but still in a circle. After this
demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works and plying both oars
together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring
passenger, “You see, that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead
works without faith are useless, and “faith without works is dead” also,
getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for
safety, progress, and blessing.”—Bible Friend
minimize the place of good works in the Christian life reasoning
that because we are not saved by good works, then good
works are something to be shunned. But our Lord reminds us that our
incredible privilege is to
Let your light shine before men in
such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your
Father Who is in heaven. (Mt 5:16-note)
It is not only by
words that we give testimony to the greatness of God, but also by our
works. Our good works in fact pave the way for witness with good words.
If our walk contradicts our words, we lose our testimony. Our “walk” and
our “talk” must agree. Good works and good words must come from the same
yielded heart. Too many believers today emphasize guarding the truth,
but downplay living the truth. One of the best ways to guard the truth
is to put it into practice. It is good to be defenders of the faith, but
we must not forget to be demonstrators of the faith by letting them see
our good works!
You are writing a
A chapter each day,
By the deeds that you do
And the words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithful or true:
Just what is the Gospel
According to you?
-- Author unknown
When doing good
works, also remember that the following question is irrelevant
"Does this person deserve
my good works?" We are to "abound to
every good work" (NIV, 2Cor 9:8).
Titus (and us) that Jesus
gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for
His own possession, zealous (afire, ardent, fervent, eager,
enthusiastic) for good deeds. (Titus 2:14-note)
The writer of
Hebrews exhorts believers
doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God
is pleased (He 13:16-note)
Comment: And so we see that
good works represent our acts
of worship (it's not just Sunday morning when the worship team leads us,
but its Monday through Saturday, as the Spirit leads us, fills us and
empowers good works) for in God's eyes these good ("God") works are "spiritual sacrifices”!
Please do not
misunderstand. Believers do not manufacture these good works but
instead such works are to be the fruit of God's Spirit working in a
surrendered, obedient heart. Good deeds are "God" deeds. "Good deeds" differ from "your
deeds". Let me explain. Paul is calling for "good" (agathos
"good" in character or constitution, beneficial in effect)
deeds, and the only "good" deeds are those
supernaturally borne by
believers (think of believers as "branches") who are abiding
(believing, obeying) in Christ ("the Vine").
Good deeds reflect Christ's life flowing through us and are
deeds which are initiated and energized by His Spirit and therefore are
deeds which bring pleasure to our Father, for
it is God Who is at work in
you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Php
compare Php 2:13NLT version)
Jesus stated the
vital truth concerning good deeds when He declared
"I am the vine, you are the branches;
he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart
from Me you can do nothing (absolutely, totally nothing!)...By this
is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit (good deeds =
good fruit) and so prove to be My disciples...You did not choose Me, but
I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit,
and that your fruit should remain...." (John 15:5,8,16)
Paul reminded the
Corinthian church (in the context of giving of money, which is a good
deed when motivated properly) of this same foundational principle
regarding "good deeds", explaining that
God is able to make all grace abound
to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything (cp 2Co
cp Name of God -
EL Shaddai), you may
have an abundance for every good deed (2Cor 9:8).
that the key to his good works was the grace of God writing that
grace toward me did not prove vain;
but I labored (kopiao
= to the point of exhaustion) even more than all of them, yet not I, but
the grace of God with me. (What a divine mystery - God's
sovereign grace providing transforming power coupled with my
responsibility to "labor"! Amazing, miraculous grace!) (1Cor 15:10).
the vital importance of good deeds exhorting his suffering readers to...
Keep your behavior excellent among
the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as
they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them,
glorify God in the day of visitation. (1Pe 2:12-note).
Comment: Thus a believer's good
works are testimonies to the lost (like "Lighthouses" they serve to
warn those otherwise destined to crash and die an eternal death).
In light of the
importance of good deeds, the writer of Hebrews encourages saints
consider how to
one another to love and good deeds. (Heb 10:24-note)
works" will validate your "good words" which is in
stark contrast to the false teachers who
“profess to know God, but by their
deeds they (continually) deny Him, being detestable (root word = "to
stink"!) and disobedient and worthless for any good deed”
The lives of
believers should continually demonstrate the reality of the spiritual
regeneration and transformation they have received through faith in
Jesus Christ. People don't care how much you know until they know
how much you care.
Here in Ephesians 2:10, Paul is emphasizing that
every believer was created for
good works which signifies that God has a plan and purpose for
each of our lives and that we should walk in His will and fulfill His
plan. This is the state of true divine happiness or blessedness.
Writing to young
Timothy in his last known written communication, Paul emphasized the
principle that good deeds flow from "ready" vessels,
if a man cleanses himself from these
things (Amplified - "from what is ignoble and unclean, who separates
himself from contact with contaminating and corrupting influences"), he
will be a vessel (instrument) for honor, sanctified, useful (beneficial
for honorable and noble purposes) to the Master, prepared (ready,
ripe, primed) for every good work (ergon agathon)." (2Ti
Pulpit Commentary homily...
is the fountain at once of pardon and of holiness....The old man cannot
work. The new man receives the power (Ed: Via learning to
surrender, submit, yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit) in the very
structure of his spiritual being; for, having died with Christ, he is
risen with him that he should walk in newness of life.
(Another Homily) Bushnell wrote a famous sermon in which he tried to
show that “every man’s life is a plan of God.” We modify the thought and
recognize in every believer’s life a plan of God. Every good work is
down in God’s design, it has its place, and it will exercise its
influence. While, therefore, God will save no man for his good works, he
saves every soul unto good works. They are the fruit, though they cannot
be the root of salvation. Foreordination covers the effects of salvation
as well as salvation itself. God’s plan embraces the whole problem, and
it is thoughtless to rob him of a single element in the glorious
result.—R. M. E.
presents us with another opportunity to fulfill our potential and
produce (by the Spirit, not under law) good works. Thus we need to arise
present (our) bodies a
and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God (Ro 12:1-note).
And we need to
tense = continually buying up - see study of
(opportunities = kairos-
word study), because the days are evil (Ep
And finally we must daily be diligent to
imperative = command to do this continually)
ourselves for godliness which is
profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life
and also for the life to come." (1Ti 4:7, 8, 9, 10, 11-see notes
Don't let the your
"divine opportunities" slip by. Be "confessed up", "repented up" and
"filled up" with the Holy Spirit and you will be ready to recognize the
divine opportunities God graciously gives. One day we will give an
account for how we "invested" our Master's gracious gifts (cp parable of
the talents - Mt 25:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24,
25,26, 27, 28, 29, 30 - read Ray Pritchard's sermon on Mt 25:13-30
Life on the Edge -- Make the Most of
In his first
letter to the Corinthians Paul emphasized that
no man can lay a foundation other
than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ ("the Vine"). Now if
any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones,
wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will
show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself
will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's
work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive
a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he
himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. (1Cor 3:11, 12,
13, 14, 15)
One day in the
future the Lord Jesus will
disclose the motives of men's hearts;
and then each man's praise will come to him from God. (1Cor 4:5)
In sum, Paul is
referring to a genuine, sincere, loving, Spirit empowered, God
glorifying eagerness to serve others. No matter how hostile the society
around us may be, we are to be good to the people in it whose lives
intersect with ours. Paul reminded the Galatian believers that
While we have opportunity (kairos-
word study), [we are
to] do good (agathos) to all men, and especially to
those who are of the household of the faith (Gal 6:10).
Comment: Webster defines "opportunity" as a favorable juncture of
circumstances and in regard to good works, it is God Who gives us that
"favorable juncture of circumstances". Thus we need to be abiding in
Him, in communion with Him, filled with His Spirit, that we might always
be ready to recognize those "God moments" He so graciously provides.
Once that divine convergence of circumstances passes, that unique
opportunity is irretrievable. I'm not saying He won't give us similar
opportunities, but that moment in time once passed is gone forever!
Lord, give us 20/20 spiritual vision to recognize the God glorifying
opportunities you place "right before our face". Amen
Believers are to
be known for what might be described as consistent aggressive
goodness, done however not simply out of a sense of obligation or
duty but out of an unselfish love for our Lord and for other people,
for (we) have been called (see
kletos) for this
purpose, since Christ also suffered for (us), leaving (us) an
example...to follow in His steps...entrusting Himself to Him Who judges
righteously. (1Pe 2:21, 22, 23-see notes
1Pe 2:21; 22; 23)
We do not witness
only with our lips; we must back up our "talk" with our "walk." There
should be nothing in our conduct that will give the unsaved ammunition
to attack Christ and the Gospel. Our good works must back up our
good words. Consider this illustration - A church in Naperville,
Illinois, had delayed its plans to hang bells in the open space above
its sanctuary. As they approached their twenty-fifth anniversary, they
decided that something needed to be done. The congregation's funds were
limited, so instead of purchasing real bells, they elected to fill the
spot with artificial bells made of resin without clappers. Although they
looked like the genuine article, they were incapable of sounding a note.
Jesus commanded us
your light shine
Don't delay! Do this now!)" (Mt 5:16-note), and the entire
Bible echoes this truth (cp 1Co 6:20-note,
Ps 115:1-note). The powerful impact Christians can make on the
lost when they combine a godly life with a loving witness is well known
to most believers. We all know of instances of some wonderful
conversions simply because dedicated Christians let their lights shine.
The story has often been told about
Dr. Will H. Houghton, who pastored the Calvary Baptist Church in New
York City and later served as president of Chicago’s Moody Bible
Institute till his death in 1946. When Dr. Houghton became pastor of the
Baptist Tabernacle in Atlanta, a man in that city hired a private
detective to follow Dr. Houghton and report on his conduct. After a few
weeks, the detective was able to report to the man that Dr. Houghton’s
life matched his preaching. As a result, that man became a Christian.
On the other hand, we can recall with grief some lost persons who
rejected the Word because of the inconsistent lives of "professed"
Gandhi in his
autobiography wrote that in his student days he was truly interested in
the Bible. He was deeply touched by reading the Gospels, and seriously
considered becoming a convert, since Christianity seemed to offer the
real solution to the caste system that was dividing the people of India.
One Sunday he went to a nearby church to seek the minister and ask for
instruction in the way of salvation. But when he entered the sanctuary,
the ushers refused to give him a seat and suggested that he go worship
with his own people. Gandhi left and never came back. He reasoned
If Christians have caste
differences also, I might as well remain a Hindu.
The partiality showed by those ushers
proved to have a devastating effect on India and the world. As an aside
we should never underestimate the impact of a "good work", for that is
God's business. One cannot help but wonder (I know God is sovereign)
what might have transpired had those ushers shown the compassion of
Christ to the caste weary Gandhi. We must be careful to redeem every
opportunity, even those that to our human minds seem quite mundane and
ordinary. In God's hands "ordinary" good works become extraordinary.
expressed the following attitude toward "good works"...
expect to pass through life but once. If therefore there be any kindness
I can show or any good thing I can do to any fellow-being, let me do it
now, and not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
Illustration - In the summer of 1805, a number of
Indian chiefs and warriors met in council at Buffalo Creek, New York to
hear a presentation of the Christian message by a Mr. Cram from the
Boston Missionary Society. After the sermon, a response was given by Red
Jacket, one of the leading chiefs. Among other things, the chief said:
"Brother, you say that there is but one way to worship and serve the
Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people
differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the
"Brother, we are told that you have
been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our
neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while and
see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them
good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then
consider again of what you have said."
We are the
Bibles the world is reading.
We are the truths the world is needing.
We are the sermons the world is heeding.
Charles Swindoll has a comment that
relates to works...
book I Surrender, Patrick Morley writes that the church's integrity
problem is in the misconception "that we can add Christ to our lives,
but not subtract sin. It is a change in belief without a change in
behavior." He goes on to say, "It is revival without reformation,
without repentance." (C. Swindoll, John The Baptizer, Bible Study
Guide, p. 16)
Martin Luther who as a zealous monk well knew
about fleshly works carried out in an attempt to earn salvation had the
following to say regarding faith and works...
question is asked: how can justification (one being declared righterous)
take place without the works of the law, even though James says: "Faith
without works is dead"? In answer, the apostle distinguishes between the
law and faith, the letter and grace. The 'works of the law' are
works done without faith and grace, by the law, which forces them to be
done through fear or the enticing promise of temporal advantages. But 'works
of faith' are those done in the spirit of liberty, purely out of
love to God. And they can be done only by those who are justified by
can cleverly imitate the actions of humans. But he is not therefore a
human. If he became a human, it would undoubtedly be not by virtue of
the works by which he imitated man but by virtue of something else;
namely, by an act of God. Then, having been made a human, he would
perform the works of humans in proper fashion. Paul does not say that
faith is without its characteristic works, but that it justifies without
the works of the law. Therefore justification does not require the works
of the law; but it does require a living faith, which performs its
works...God our Father has made all things depend on faith so that
whoever has faith will have everything, and whoever does not have faith
will have nothing...The true, living faith, which the Holy Spirit
instills into the heart, simply cannot be idle.
William Booth founder of the Salvation Army
made the interesting statement that...
and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the
legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again,
and then works again -- until they can scarcely distinguish which is the
one and which is the other.
Dr Harlan Roper discussing the relationship of
faith and works writes...
illustrate dead faith, "It is that kind of faith which would lead a man
to take a bottle of medicine from his medicine cabinet. Looking at the
instructions on it, he says, 'I'm sure they're correct. I have all
confidence in the source of the medicine. I know who wrote these
directions. I believe everything about it. I know this will relieve my
headache, if I just take it.' But he takes the medicine bottle and puts
it back on the shelf. He doesn't lose his headache. It continues on. Yet
he can say I believe that medicine. I believe all about that medicine.
But still he won't take it. That's dead faith."
Alexander Maclaren (God's
Workmanship and Our Works) writes that...
THE metal is molten as it runs out of
the blast furnace, but it soon cools and hardens. Paul’s teaching about
salvation by grace and by faith came in a hot stream from his heart, but
to this generation his words are apt to sound coldly, and hardly
theological. But they only need to be reflected upon in connection with
our own experience, to become vivid and vital again. The belief that a
man may work towards salvation is a universal heresy. And the Apostle,
in the context, summons all his force to destroy that error, and to
substitute the great truth that we have to begin with an act of God’s,
and only after that can think about our acts. To work up towards
salvation is, in the strict sense of the words, preposterous; it is
inverting the order of things. It is beginning at the wrong end. It is
saying X Y Z before you have learnt to say A B C. We are to work
downwards from salvation because we have it, not that we may get it. And
whatever ‘good works’ may mean, they are the consequences, not the
causes, of ‘salvation,’ whatever that may mean. But they are
consequences, and they are the very purpose of it. So says Paul in the
archaic language of my text — which only wants a little steadfast
looking at to be turned into up-to-date gospel — ‘We are His
workmanship, created unto good works’; and the fact that we are is one
great reason for the assertion which he Brings it in to Buttress, that
we are saved by grace, not by works.
wish, in the simplest possible way, to deal with these great words, and
take them as they lie before us.
I. We have, first, then, this as the root of everything, the divine
Now, you will find that in this profound letter of the Apostle there are
two ideas cropping up over and over again, both of them representing the
facts of the Christian life and of the transition from the unchristian
to the Christian; and the one is Resurrection and the other is Creation.
They have this in common, that they suggest the idea that the great gift
which Christianity brings to men — no, do not let me use the abstract
word ‘Christianity’ — the great gift which Christ brings to men — is a
new life. The low popular notion that salvation means mainly and
primarily immunity from the ultimate, most lasting future consequences
of transgression, a change of place or of condition, infects us all, and
is far too dominant in our popular notions of Christianity and of
salvation. And it is Because people have such an unworthy, narrow,
selfish idea of what ‘salvation’ is that they fall into the bog of
misconception as to how it is to he attained. The ordinary man’s way of
looking at the whole matter is summed up in a sentence which I heard not
long since about a recently deceased friend of the speaker’s, and the
like of which you have no doubt often heard and perhaps said, ‘He is
sure to be saved because he has lived so straight.’ And at the
foundation of that confident epitaph lay a tragical, profound
misapprehension of what salvation was.
For it is something done in you; it is not something that you get, but
it is something that you become. The teaching of this letter, and of the
whole New Testament, is that the profoundest and most precious of all
the gifts which come to us in Jesus Christ, and which in their totality
are summed up in the one word that has so little power over us, because
we understand it so little, and know it so well — ‘salvation’ — is a
change in a man’s nature so deep, radical, vital, as that it may fairly
be paralleled with a resurrection from the dead.
Now, I venture to believe that it is something more than a strong
rhetorical figure when that change is described as being the creation of
a new man within us. The resurrection symbol for the same fact may be
treated as but a symbol. You cannot treat the teaching of a new life in
Christ as being a mere figure. It is something a great deal more than
that, and when once a man’s eye is opened to look for it in the New
Testament it is wonderful how it flashes out from every page and
underlies the whole teaching. The Gospel of John, for example, is but
one long symphony which has for its dominant theme ‘I am come that they
might have life.’ And that great teaching — which has been so vulgarised,
narrowed, and mishandled by sacerdotal pretensions and sacramentarian
superstitions — that great teaching of Regeneration, or the new birth,
rests upon this as its very basis, that what takes place when a man
turns to Jesus Christ, and is saved by Him, is that there is
communicated to him not in symbol but in spiritual fact and spiritual
facts are far more true than external ones which are called real, a
spark of Christ’s own life, something of ‘that spirit of life which was
in Christ Jesus,’ and by which, and by which alone, being transfused
into us, we become ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ I beseech you,
brethren, see that, in your perspective of Christian truth, the thought
of a new life imparted to us has as prominent and as dominant a place as
it obviously has in the teaching of the New Testament. It is not so
dominant in the current notions of Christianity that prevail amongst
average people, but it is so in all men who let themselves be guided by
the plain teaching of Christ Himself and of all His servants. Salvation?
Yes. And the very essence of the salvation is the breathing into me of a
divine life, so that I become partaker of ‘the divine nature.’
Now, there is another step to be taken, and that is that this new life
is realised in Christ Jesus. Now, this letter of the Apostle is
distinguished even amongst his letters by the extraordinary frequency
and emphasis with which he uses that expression ‘in Christ Jesus.’ If
you will take up the epistle, and run your eye over it at your leisure,
I think you will be surprised to find how, in all connections, and
linked with every sort of blessing and good as its condition, there
recurs that phrase. It is ‘in Christ’ that we obtain the inheritance; it
is ‘in Christ’ that we receive ‘redemption, even the forgiveness of
sins’; it is in Him that we are ‘builded together for a habitation of
God’; it is in Him that all fulness of divine gifts, and all blessedness
of spiritual capacities, is communicated to us; and unless, in our
perspective of the Christian life, that expression has the same
prominence as it has in this latter, we have yet to learn the sweetest
sweetness, and have yet to receive the most mighty power, of the Gospel
that we profess. ‘In Christ’ — a union which leaves the individuality of
the Saviour and of the saint unimpaired, because without such
individuality sweet love were slain, and there were no communion
possible, but which is so close, so real, so vital, as that only the
separating wall of personality and individual consciousness comes in
between — that is the New Testament teaching of the relation of the
Christian to Christ. Is it your experience, dear brother? Do not be
frightened by talking about mysticism. If a Christianity has no
mysticism it has no life. There is a wholesome mysticism and there is a
morbid one, and the wholesome one is the very nerve of the Gospel as it
is presented by Jesus Himself: ‘I am the Vine, ye are the branches.
Abide in Me, and I in you.’ If our nineteenth century busy Christianity
could only get hold of that truth as firmly as it grasps the
representative and sacrificial character of Christ’s work, I believe it
would come like a breath of spring over ‘the winter of our discontent,’
and would change profoundly and blessedly the whole contexture of modern
And now there is another step to take, and that is that this union with
Christ, which results in the communication of a new life, or, as my text
puts it, a new creation, depends upon our faith. We are not passive in
the matter. There is the condition on which the entrance of the life
into our spirits is made possible. You must open the door, you must
fling wide the casement, and the blessed warm morning air of the can of
righteousness, with healing in its beams, will rush in, scatter the
darkness and raise the temperature. ‘Faith,’ by which we simply mean the
act of the mind in accepting and of the will and heart in casting one’s
self upon Christ as the Saviour — that act is the condition of this new
life. And so each Christian is ‘God’s workmanship, created in Christ
And now, says Paul — and here some of us will hesitate to follow him —
that new creation has to go before what you call ‘good works.’ Now, do
not let us exaggerate. There has seldom been a more disastrous and
untrue thing said than what one of the Fathers dared to say, that the
virtues of godless men were ‘splendid vices.’ That is not so, and that
is not the New Testament teaching. Good is good, whoever does it. But,
then, no man will say that actions, however they may meet the human
conception of excellence, however bright, pure, lofty in motive and in
aim they may be, reach their highest possible radiance and are as good
as they ought to be, if they are done without any reference to God and
His love. Dear brethren, we surely do not need to have the alphabet of
morality repeated to us, that the worth of an action depends upon its
motive, that no motive is correspondent to our capacities and our
relation to God and our consequent responsibilities, except the motive
of loving obedience to Him. Unless that be present, the brightest of
human acts must be convicted of having dark shadows in it, and all the
darker because of the brightness that may stream from it. And so I
venture to assert that since the noblest systems of morality, apart from
religion, will all coincide in saying that to be is more than to do, and
that the worth of an action depends upon its motive, we are brought
straight up to the ‘narrow, bigoted’ teaching of the New Testament, that
unless a man is swayed by the love of God in what he does, you cannot,
in the most searching analysis, say that his deed is as good as it ought
to be, and as it might be. To be good is the first thing, to do good is
the second. Make the tree good and its fruit good. And since, as we have
made ourselves we are evil, there must come a re-creation before we can
do the good deeds which our relation to God requires at our hands.
II. I ask you to look at the purpose of this new creation brought out
in our text.
‘Created in Christ Jesus unto good works.’ That is what life is given to
you for. That is why you are saved, says Paul. Instead of working
upwards from works to salvation, take your stand at the received
salvation, and understand what it is for, and work downwards from it.
Now, do not let us take that phrase, ‘good works,’ which I have already
said came hot from the Apostle’s heart, and is now cold as a bar of
iron, in the limited sense which it has come to bear in modern religious
phraseology. It means something a great deal more than that. It covers
the whole ground of what the Apostle, in another of his letters, speaks
of when he says, ‘Whatsoever things are lovely and of good report, if
there be any virtue’ — to use for a moment the world’s word, which has
such power to conjure in Greek ethics — ‘or if there be any praise’ — to
use for a moment the world’s low motive, which has such power to sway
men — ‘think of these things,’ and these things do. That is the width of
the conception of ‘good works’; everything that is ‘lovely and of good
report,’ That is what you receive the new life for.
Contrast that with other notions of the purpose of revelation and
redemption. Contrast it with what I have already referred to, and so
need not enlarge upon now, the miserably inadequate and low notions of
the essentials of salvation which one hears perpetually, and which many
of us cherish. It is no mere immunity from a future hell. It is no mere
entrance into a vague heaven. It is not escaping the penalty of the
inexorable law, ‘Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap,’ that
is meant by ‘salvation; any more than it is putting away the rod, which
the child would be all the better for having administered to him, that
is meant by ‘forgiveness.’ But just as forgiveness, in its essence,
means not suspension nor abolition of penalty, but the uninterrupted
flow of the Father’s love, so salvation in its essence means, not the
deliverance from any external evil or the alteration of anything in the
external position, but the revolution and the re-creation of the man’s
nature. And the purpose of it is that the saved man may live in
conformity with the will of God, and that on his character there may be
embroidered all the fair things which God desires to see on His child’s
Contrast it with the notion that an orthodox Belief, the purpose of
revelation. I remember hearing once of a man that ‘he was a very shady
character, but sound on the Atonement.’ What is the use of being ‘sound
on the Atonement’ if the Atonement does not make you live the Christ
And what is the good of all your orthodoxy unless the orthodoxy of creed
issues in orthopraxy of conduct? There are far too many of us who
half-consciously do still hold by the notion that if a man behoves
rightly then that makes him a Christian My text shatters to pieces any
such conception. You are saved that you may be good, and do good
continually; and unless you are so doing you may be steeped to the
eyebrows in the correctest of creeds, and it will only drown you.
Contrast this conception of the purpose of Christianity with the far too
common notion that we are saved, mainly in order that we may indulge in
devout emotions, and in the outgoing of affection and confidence to
Jesus Christ. Emotional Christianity is necessary, but Christianity,
which is mainly or exclusively emotional, lives next door to hypocrisy,
and there is a door of communication between them. For there is nothing
more certain and more often illustrated in experience than that there is
a strange underground connection between a Christianity which is mainly
fervid and a very shady life. One sees it over and over again. And the
cure of that is to apprehend the great truth of my text, that we are
saved, not in order that we may know aright, nor in order that we may
feel aright, hut in order that we may be good and do ‘good works.’ In
the order of things, right thought touches the springs of right feeling,
and right feeling sets going the wheels of right action. Do not let the
steam all go roaring out of the waste-pipe in however sacred and blessed
emotions. See that it is guided so as to drive the spindles and the
shuttles and make the web.
III. And now, lastly, and only a word — here we have the field
provided for the exercise of the ‘ good works.’
‘Created unto good works which God has before prepared’ — before the
re-creation — ‘that we should walk in them.’ That is to say, the true
way to look at the life is to regard it as the exercising-ground which
God has prepared for the development of the life that, through Christ,
is implanted in us. He cuts the channels that the stream may flow. That
is the way to look at tasks, at difficulties. Difficulty is the parent
of power, and God arranges our circumstances in order that, by wrestling
with obstacles, we may gain the ‘thews that throw the world,’ and in
order that in sorrows and in joys, in the rough places and the smooth,
we may find occasions for the exercise of the goodness which is lodged
potentially in us, when He creates us in Christ Jesus. So be sure that
the path and the power will always correspond. God does not lead us on
roads that are too steep for our weakness, and too long for our
strength. What He bids us do He fits us for; what He fits us for He
thereby bids us do.
And so, dear brother, take heed that you are fulfilling the purpose for
which you receive this new life. And let us all remember the order in
which being and doing come, We must be good first, and then, and only
then, shall we do good. We must have Christ for us first, our sacrifice
and our means of receiving that new life, and then, Christ in us, the
soul of our souls, the Life of our lives, the source of all our
power we have, it is to ill,
And all the power is Thine to do and eke to will.’
WHICH GOD PREPARED
BEFOREHAND: ois proetoimasen (PPPMPN) o theos: (Eph
1:4; Romans 8:29)
The church at
Antioch (Acts 13:1) gives us a clue as to how we might discern the good
works which God prepared beforehand...
Acts 13:2 And while they were
ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart
for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
Comment: Notice that the
Spirit of Christ already knew "the work to which" He had "called them."
They did not yet know. They (the church in this case) was ministering to
the Lord and fasting and the Spirit made clear the "good work" which He
had prepared beforehand! Many folks want to go to the mission fields.
That is a good thing. But it behooves all prospective candidates to
soberly, seriously, seek the Spirit's guidance to make absolutely
certain this is the work to which He has called them. The principle is
applicable for all "good works."
pró = before +
= to make ready) means to ordain
before, to make ready in advance or to be made ready beforehand. The
points to a specific
action that has taken place. This verb is used twice in the Septuagint (Wis
9:8, Isa 28:24)
"beforehand?" Paul gives us a clue In chapter 1 where he says that God
"chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world,
that we should be holy and blameless before Him." (Eph 1:4)
The only two times
this verb is used in the NT, it is used of God's foreordaining for good,
referring to glory and to good works. In the only other use Paul
He did so (He withheld
demonstration of His wrath on those who were fit only for destruction)
in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels
of mercy, which He prepared beforehand (proetoimazo) for glory,
Vessels of mercy
for good works prepared beforehand!
Vincent - God prearranged a sphere of moral
action for us to walk in. Not only are works the necessary outcome of
faith, but the character and direction of the works are made ready by
Greek Testament - Proetoimazo It means to prepare or place in
readiness before, not specifically to foreordain (Aug., Harl.). The
pro- describes the preparation as prior to the
creation....(Good works) are the goal to which God’s new creation of us
looked; they are also in God’s eternal plan. Before He created us in Christ by our
conversion, He had destined these good works and made them ready for us
in His purpose and decree. There is the unseen source from which they
spring, and there is their final explanation. (Expositor's
Pulpit Commentary - A further proof of the true origin of
good works. They are the subjects of a Divine decree. Before the
foundation of the world it was ordained that whoever should be saved by
grace should walk in good works. The term “walk” here denotes the
habitual tenor of the life; it is to be spent in an atmosphere of good
works. Here we have one of the Divine safeguards against the abuse of
the doctrine of salvation by grace. When men hear of salvation
irrespective of works, they are apt to fancy that works are of little
use, and do not need to be carefully attended to. On the contrary, they
are part of the Divine decree, and if we are not living a life of good
works, we have no reason to believe that we have been saved by grace.
illustrates this passage...
Paul says that God has prepared these
works beforehand. I experienced an interesting illustration of this. One
of our interns flew to Albuquerque with me. We decided, as the plane was
landing, that we would have some prayer together. I hadn't talked to him
about this passage at all, but I was struck by the way he prayed. He
said, “Father, thank You for the good works already prepared for us in
Albuquerque, for the fact that they are waiting for us to step into them
and experience them.” Sure enough, after we got to Albuquerque these
began to unfold.
There was a missionary there from the Amazon region of South America who
was discouraged and terribly upset, ready to quit the ministry. Through
the ministry we had there he came alive and began to see again what God
could do. He came to us with a light on his face and said, “I'm going
back to my field completely revolutionized in my approach. Now I've
learned how God operates.”
A young pastor was facing dissension in his church. He wanted some
counsel on how to handle it. God enabled the Scriptures to speak to that
situation and give him wisdom and guidance for it. All these good works
had been prepared beforehand. All we did was step into them.
Do you have any idea how many good works God has prepared for you? They
are waiting for you to enter into as you walk in faith and trust and
dependence upon Christ. The situations are there, ready and waiting for
you to step into. This is what God has called you to. As you do so, you
become a vivid display of the greatness and the glory of God.
Thank You, Father, that You have
prepared beforehand good works for me to walk in. Grant that I might see
these opportunities and take full advantage of them in the power of your
Life Application: Before we step out
from home, we usually think about how we look. Do we also think about
God's plan for us today how He is going to display Himself through us
Display Daily Devotion)
good works were assigned before his birth
Before I formed you in the womb I
knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed
you a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)
records God preparing beforehand writing that...
when He who had set me apart, even
from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to
reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did
not immediately consult with flesh and blood (Galatians 1:15-16)
Thine eyes have seen my unformed
substance; and in Thy book they were all written, the days that were
ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:16)
SO THAT WE WOULD WALK IN THEM:
hina en autois peripatesomen (1PAAS):
2:2; 4:1; Deuteronomy 5:33; Psalms 81:13; 119:3; Isaiah 2:3, 4, 5; Acts
9:31; Romans 8:1; 1John 1:7; 1Jn 2:6)
the devil began to control our walk in sin and among sinful people, God
had already planned good works for us to do. (The NET Bible Notes)
explains it this way...
God’s purpose in the place which He
gave to good works in His decree was that they should actually and
habitually be done by us. His final object was to make good works the
very element of our life, the domain in which our action should move.
That this should be the nature of our walk is implied in our being His
handiwork, made anew by Him in Christ; that the good works which are the
divine aim of our life shall be realized, is implied in their being
designed and made ready for us in God’s decree; and that they are of
God’s originating, and not of our action and merit, is implied in the
fact that we had ourselves to be made a new creation in Christ with a
view to them. (The
Expositor's Greek Testament)
(Literally "in order that in
them we might walk")
(hina) expresses purpose.
This shows the purpose of the good works prepared beforehand. - that we
might walk in them. In short, we are saved not by good works but for good
works prepared in eternity past. The NT bears ample testimony to the
fact that believers are to perform good works.
In them - "In them" is locative of sphere
meaning that we are to order our behavior within the sphere of these
that you may walk in a manner worthy
of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every
good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:10-note)
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself
and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and
good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good
work and word. (2Th 2:16, 17)
Writing to the
saints at Philippi Paul exhorted them to
(present imperative) your salvation with fear and trembling; for (term
of explanation) it is God
who is at work in you (the Holy Spirit, Spirit of Christ in us), both to
will (the "want to") and to work for His good pleasure. (Php 2:12-13-See notes
Comment: Notice that Paul says
"work out" not "work for" his point being that once we are saved we
continue to walk daily in that salvation which includes good works,
worked out by God Who is working in us.
The writer of
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, equip you in every good
thing (Stop right there - Who's part has been described? Obviously
to do (Who's part is described? So juxtaposed we see God's
sovereign provision and man's responsibility to perform! What a
wonderful, divine mystery!) His will, working in us (Again emphasizing
God's sovereign energizing) that which is
pleasing in His sight (the only thing that pleases God is what God works
out in and through yielded, obedient saints), through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory
forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20, 21-note)
Comment: And so we see
that it is God working in and through us, not us working in our own
strength and will.
explains the believer's work noting that...
Each of us has an
eternally-designed job description which includes the task, the ability,
and the place to serve. You may prefer Jerusalem, but you will glorify
him more in Babylon if he has called you there. And whatever the task to
which he has called you, you will be equipped for it as surely as a bird
is capable of flight. And in doing the works he has called you to do,
you will be both more and more his workmanship and more and more your
true self. Sometimes as I have been preaching I have become aware of an
unnatural silence. The ever-present coughing ceases and the pews stop
creaking, bringing an almost physical silence to the sanctuary through
which my words sail like arrows. A heightened eloquence invades my
speech so that the cadence and volume of my voice intensify the truth I
am preaching. Though I know that I am speaking, I have thought at these
times, “What is going on here? Is this me?” And then, seeing it for what
it is, my heart has cried, “Lord, help me!”...There is nothing more
beautiful than his workmanship working for him. Are we doing this? (Ephesians 2:10 Commentary - God's Amazing
Word - Partial preview)
from peri = about,
around + pateo = walk, tread) means literally to go here and
there or to tread all around. Most NT uses are figurative referring to
the daily conduct of one's life or how they order their behavior or pass
their life. The
that this is now to be the believer's lifestyle - "keep on walking".
To walk means to take a series of small steps in the same direction over
a long period of time. Walking implies steady progress in one direction
by means of deliberate choices over a long period of time. Disciples of
Christ can sing the well known secular song "I'll Never Walk Alone"
because we have the Spirit of Christ wherever we go (Ro 8:9-note).
The Spirit supplies the power which enables our supernatural walk (cp
It is our part to continually renounce our self
rely on His sufficient supply (cp Phil 4:13-note).
previous use of peripateo in Eph 2:2-note!
What a difference regeneration makes!
In the figurative
sense, peripateo refers to one's habitual way or direction of
life, and so to their life-style.
For example, in a
good sense, Luke describes Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John
the Baptist, as being
righteous in the sight of God,
walking (peripateo) blamelessly in all the commandments and
requirements of the Lord (Lk 1:6).
In contrast, Paul
refers in Ep 2:2 (note) to
the lifestyle of unbelievers and later in this same letter counseled the
Ephesian believers to
walk no longer just as the
Gentiles (in context a description of all the unsaved) also walk,
in the futility of their mind (Ep 4:17-note).
if we walk (peripateo) in the
light as [God] Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one
another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1Jn
In Colossians 4
uses peripateo in a similar manner charging the saints to
(command to continually -
yourselves with wisdom (living prudently and with discretion) toward
outsiders (non-Christians, whether Jew or Gentile), making the most of
the opportunity (present
- continually seizing, redeeming or
buying up the opportunity). (Col 4:5-note)
In (the sphere of immorality, etc,
all things that on account of the wrath of God will come - Col 3:5, 6-see notes
you also once walked (peripateo), when you were living in them.
J Vernon McGee
- Walking is not a balloon ascension. A
great many people think the Christian life is some great, overwhelming
experience and you take off like a rocket going out into space. That’s
not where you live the Christian life. Rather, it is in your home, in
your office, in the schoolroom, on the street. The way you get around in
this life is to walk. You are to walk in Christ. God grant that you and
I might be joined to Him in our daily walk. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
simplifies the idea of the Christian walk in works God prepared
beforehand writing that...
a walk, of course, merely consists
of two simple steps, repeated over and over again. It is not a
complicated thing. In the same way, the Christian life is a matter of
taking two steps, one step after another. Then you are beginning to
walk. Those two steps follow in this passage. Paul describes them as,
"Put off the old man" (Ep 4:22-note
Col 3:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 where "self" in NAS
is "man" in KJV) and "put on the new self." (see
then read Ep 4:25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32-Ep 4:25 26; 27; 28; 29; 30; 31; 32 for what the walk of
the "new man" looks like) Then repeat them. That is all. Keep walking
through every day like that. That is how Scripture exhorts us to live.
for full text of
True Human Potential)
In several letters
Paul commanded and encouraged the saints to walk worthy and in
note) he prays to God
asking that they would be enabled to walk worthy of the Name they
represent to a lost world. Remember the important principle that the
purpose of correct knowledge is right conduct. A Christian’s
walk is no less than a Christian’s life. Every saint's walk
and talk should be twins going along on the same trail. Christian
works in Christ are the corollary of our worship of Christ. The works
that we do are the outflow of His life in us as we live, ever learning
how to continually abide in Christ (Jn 15:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8). God must make the worker before He can do the work.
Warren Wiersbe reminds us that
Practical obedience means pleasing
God, serving Him, and getting to know Him better. Any doctrine that
isolates the believer from the needs of the world around him is not
Cockrell wrote that our...
upon Christ's work for us, while rewards depend upon our works for
said that regarding "we are His workmanship" that...
You have seen a painter with his
palette on his finger, and he has ugly little daubs of paint on the
palette. What can he do with those spots? Go in and see the picture.
What splendid painting!
The Believer’s Walk
Seven times the Apostle Paul speaks of the believer’s walk, in the book
of Ephesians. This walk refers to how the Christian is to conduct
himself before a holy God and a Godless world. It speaks of a course of
life that one is following; a manner of living; a lifetime experience.
How one walks (behaves himself) reflects on his entire Christian
Our old walk is finished.
(1) Our previous walk: “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the
course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air”
(2) Our present walk: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should
walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10-noe).
Our manner of living should be filled with good works.
(3) Our privileged walk: “I beseech you that ye walk worthy of the
vocation wherewith ye are called” (Ep 4:1-note).
(4) (Ep 4:17-note)
(5) Our humble walk: “And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,
and hath given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a
sweet smelling savour” (Ep 5:2-note).
The essence of love is self-sacrifice.
(6) Our changed walk: “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye
light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Ep 5:8-note).
(7) Our wise walk: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools,
but as wise” (Ep 5:15-note).
(From Days of Praise, August 27, 1992)
><> ><> ><>
F B Meyer
one of the great words of the Bible. It is its peculiar possession.
Other religious books have their cosmogonies, and attempt to explain how
all things came to be. The process of production is traced as far back
as possible; but they dare not speak this wonderful word. It is left to
the Bible to inscribe the name of God on all things visible and
invisible, and append to it the word create. "In the beginning God." "In
the beginning God created."
IT IS, HOWEVER, NOT WITH THE MATERIAL BUT WITH THE SPIRITUAL CREATION
THAT WE HAVE TO DEAL (Ephesians 2:10)
When we first knelt at the Cross of the Lord Jesus, we were made new
creatures. "If any man is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old
things are passed away, behold they are become new" (2Corinthians
But there was an older creation than that. If we read aright the
apostle's thought, he takes us back, beyond the limits of our mortal
life, to the eternal past, and reveals to us the workings of God's
thought before even the earth or the world was made. We were created in
Christ Jesus, in the purpose and intention of God, before an angel sped
through the newly-created ether, or a seraph raised his first sonnet of
adoration. Our creation at the Cross was the realization in our
experience of an eternal thought of God.
Let us ponder deeply the Divine purpose in thus creating us in Christ.
It was unto good works. The apostle was eager to put these in their
legitimate and proper place. There was apparently a tendency among the
converts whom he addressed to associate their salvation with their
works, or, at the least, to get credit for their faith. He therefore
reaffirms our entire indebtedness to grace, and says that even our faith
is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; "not of works, that no man
should glory." We are not to work up to the new life, but from it. The
good works we do before regeneration are not even reckoned to our
account. The apostle calls them dead works. They are the automatic
convulsive movements of a corpse. The only works that please God, and
are accepted through the mediation of Christ, are those which emanate
from that new life which He imparts in regeneration by the Holy Ghost.
We are created unto good works. "He gave Himself for us, that He might
redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for his
own possession, zealous of good works." Cain's gift of fruit may be both
fair and fragrant; but it is rejected because it is an attempt to
purchase God's favour, instead of being the outcome and flower of his
faith. It is very blessed to know that our good works have been prepared
for us to walk in. Walking implies a path, whether through the
cornfield, or over the stretch of moorland, or beside the sea; and we
may think, therefore, of our life-course as a path which starts from the
Cross, where we entered on our real life, and ends, as Christian's did,
at the gate of the Golden City.
All the paths begin and end at the same points; but how different their
character! and how different the character of the same path at different
places! Sometimes a bit of greensward, where at every step the foot
sinks deep in flowers; then a few miles of rough walking over jagged
flints, which cut the feet; then a climb up the Hill Difficulty, in the
face of the pitiless blast; and finally a descent into the Valley of the
Shadow. Now we shiver amid the snows of the mountains; and again we are
enervated by the scorching heat of the plains. At times we come into the
midst of congenial companions, and enjoy their blessed fellowship in the
Gospel; at other times we are carried into loneliness and isolation, and
the work itself tries us to the uttermost.
But when once we have learned to believe that the pathway of our good
works was before prepared for us by God; that He created for us the
prepared path, endowing us with all the qualities it might demand; and
that He prepared the path for us whom He created, in order to afford
scope for our special powers, we come to rest in the perfect adaptation
between God's creations and his preparations. Fear not: go forward! He
gives what He commands, and then commands what He wills.
WHAT RELIEF IS HERE!--We have no longer to choose our pathway; or to cut
it through the thick undergrowth of the forest; or to scheme it through
the trackless waste. It is all prepared, and we have but to walk in it,
with God, one step at a time. Put your hand into God's, look up into his
face, saying, "Lead me, Father, in the prepared way;" "Teach me thy
way;" "Make me to know the way wherein I should walk."
WHAT CONFIDENCE IS HERE!--The only serious matter is to discover the
prepared path. We may do this by abiding fellowship with the Spirit.
Remember how when Paul essayed to turn aside from the prepared path of
his life, and to go first to the left to Ephesus and then to the right
into Bithynia, in each case the Spirit of Jesus suffered him not. For
the most part the trend of daily circumstance will indicate the prepared
path; but whenever we come to a standstill, puzzled to know which path
to take of three or four that converge at a given point, let us stand
still and consider the matter, asking God to speak to us through our
judgment, and to bar every path but the right.
When once the decision is made, let us never look back. Let us never
dare to suppose that God could fail them that trust Him, or permit them
to make a mistake. If difficulties arise, they do not prove us to be
wrong; and probably they are less by this path than they would have been
by any other. Go forward!--the way has been prepared. The mountains are
a way; the rivers have fords; the lions are chained; the very waves
shall yield a path; the desert shall be a highway to the land which
flows with milk and honey.
WHAT SCOPE FOR LOVE IS HERE!--Envy and jealousy need have no place. God
has prepared the path for each of us, according to His infinite wisdom
and love. One way is adapted for one, and another for another. Peter is
girded and carried whither he would not go; whilst John tarries until
the Master comes for him in the peaceful decease of old age. "What is
that to thee? follow thou Me." Each, then, can take a loving interest in
the life-plan of another, sure that nothing can interfere with the
evolution of his own, save his indolence or sin. Prepare us, O God, for
all that Thou hast prepared for us. We will not be ambitious of great
things, but to walk, day by day, humbly with Thee, and so fulfil our
course. Thus shall we become thy workmanship.
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L. Moody often said, "Every Bible should be bound in
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Illustration - The Way People Choose - Michelangelo and
Raphael had totally different perspectives on lifestyle. Michelangelo
lived alone, with only a servant; Raphael traveled with a retinue. “You
go about with a suite, like a general,” Michelangelo stormed at him.
“And you go about alone, like a hangman,” Raphael sniped in reply. City
dwellers of the Renaissance urged escape to the country to enjoy its
delights and pleasures. One farmer replied: “Had I not been born a
rustic, I should readily have been touched with pleasure” by the
descriptions of rural happiness. However, being a farmer “what to you
are delights are to me a bore.” Contrary to his brother’s greed for
multiplied possessions, Prospero declared, “My library was dukedom large
enough.” God orders no single lifestyle for humanity. Instead, by
stressing our individuality, he allows each person to determine how to
dress, where to live, or what career to pursue. But we must not confuse
personal lifestyle with the life God planned when he created us. When
God envisioned beings to share his fellowship, he created a person in
his own image. (Hurley,
V. Speaker's Sourcebook of New Illustrations Dallas: Word Publishers)
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Raku - Some friends gave us a piece of Raku pottery. "Each pot is hand-formed,"
the tag explained, "a process that allows the spirit of the artist to
speak through the finished work with particular directness and
Once the clay has been shaped by the potter it is fired in a kiln. Then,
glowing red hot, it is thrust into a smoldering sawdust pile where it
remains until finished. The result is a unique product—"one of a kind,"
the tag on our piece insists.
So it is with us. We bear the imprint of the Potter's hand. He too has
spoken through His work "with particular directness and intimacy." Each
of us is formed in a unique way for a unique work: "We are His
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared
beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).
But though we are created for good works, we're not yet finished. We
must experience the kiln of affliction. Aching hearts, weary spirits,
aging bodies are the processes God uses to finish the work He has begun.
Don't fear the furnace that surrounds you. Be "patient in tribulation"
and await the finished product. "Let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James
1:4-note).—David H. Roper (Our
Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by
permission. All rights reserved)
We are here to be perfected,
Only God our needs can see;
Rarest gems bear hardest grinding,
God's own workmanship are we.
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Home Improvement -
If you've ever wanted to live in a castle, this is your chance. The
state of Saxony in eastern Germany has a dozen castles for sale, each
priced at one German mark (which is just over half a US dollar).
There is a catch, however. According to a New York Times article, the
historic structures are in advanced stages of disrepair, and buyers must
restore each property "consistent with its historical architecture."
Estimates for restoration run from $7 million to $60 million per castle.
It has occurred to me that buying a fixer-upper's nightmare gives us a
picture of what God has done for each of us in Jesus. Ep 2:1 (note) bluntly states our
condition without Christ--"dead in trespasses and sins." But the
hopelessness of the human condition never deters God's love.
The renovation and renewal the Father carries out in all who receive His
Son begins with new life. "But God, . . . even when we were dead in
trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Ep 2:4, 5-note).
And what God purchased at the great cost of His only Son, He gives to us
freely (Ep 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9-see notes
Like derelict castles restored far beyond their former glory, our
transformed lives point others to God, who is rich in mercy, grace, and
love. --D C McCasland (Ibid)
When we receive Christ,
God's work isn't over--it has just begun.
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Living Up To The Name -
A new Christian was reading through the Gospels. After she finished, she
told a friend she wanted to read a book on church history. When her
friend asked why, the woman replied, "I'm curious. I've been wondering
when Christians started to become so unlike Christ."
We can understand why this new convert was perplexed. There is a great
disparity between the life of Christ and the lives of many who bear His
name. In fact, some believers are even imitating the world instead of
trying to live like Jesus.
Almost 2,000 years have passed since followers of Jesus were first
called Christians (Acts 11:26). Today, we who have placed our trust in
the Savior still bear that name and march under the same banner as those
The Bible says that we are God's "workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in
them" (Eph. 2:10). When we call ourselves Christians, we are saying to
the world that Christ is our Savior and that we are following Him.
Christians have a glorious name. It is a great privilege to be
identified with Christ--and a great obligation to live up to His name!
--R W De Haan (Ibid)
More like the Master I would live and grow,
More of His love to others I would show;
More self-denial, like His in Galilee,
More like the Master I long to ever be.
When you walk with Christ,
you'll be out of step with the world.
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Crucible Steel -
Frank has a toolbox full of knives and chisels that are designed for his
woodcarving hobby. His favorite is a German-made, all-purpose carving
knife. He has honed it repeatedly, and it still holds an edge. "I'm
going to be sad," Frank said, looking fondly at his knife, "when this
blade gets too thin to sharpen." note). That testing may come in the form of "various trials" to refine
our faith (1Pe 1:6-note).
Like all reliable carving tools, that knife is constructed of "crucible
steel." To produce this durable metal, raw material is placed in a
crucible where it is subjected to intense heat. Once it is glowing with
molten brightness, the white-hot metal is maintained at precisely the
right temperature until it qualifies as crucible steel. When it cools,
it is neither so soft that it won't hold an edge nor so hard that it is
Christians, as the handiwork of God, are shaped and formed by His will.
Sometimes He places us in a crucible of affliction. Peter wrote about
the faith of Christians and said that it may be "tested by fire" (1Pe
If you're in a crucible of testing right now, don't be discouraged. God
knows what He is doing. He has promised to stay with you and help you to
become a useful tool in His strong, loving hands. --D C Egner (Ibid)
All things work out for good we know--
Such is God's great design;
He orders all our steps below
For purposes divine.
© 1961 Singspiration, Inc.
Gold is tested by fire;
man is tested by adversity.
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Saved--To Be Good -
Many people assume that we qualify for heaven by doing good deeds. This
fallacy is illustrated by a comment made after the death of a man who
had been held in high esteem. A friend said, "If anyone goes to heaven,
he'll certainly be there, for he was such a good man!" note,
Ro 3:25, 26-note,
Ro 3:27, 28-note). How does grace deal with this problem? An elderly man on his
deathbed said it well: "I have just taken all my good works and all my
bad works and thrown them right overboard, and I am going to heaven on
the basis of free grace."
According to the apostle Paul, however, salvation is based on God's gift
of grace and not on good works that anyone can boast about (Ep 2:8, 9).
So where, then, do works belong? In the next verse, Paul described
believers as "created in Christ Jesus for good works [not by good
works], which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them"
If we're not straight on this matter, we'll make the mistake of trying
to earn our way into heaven, which the Bible says no one can do (Ro
The only safe and sure foundation for both life and death is God's free
gift of grace. That's not cheap grace, however, for remember that Jesus
died to pay the penalty for our sin. We are saved for good works. --J E Yoder
Naught have I gotten but what I received,
Grace has bestowed it since I have believed;
Boasting excluded, pride I abase--
I'm only a sinner saved by grace!
We are not saved by good works
but for good works.
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The Sculptor -
Early in the last century, sculptor Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) gazed at
the cliffs of South Dakota's Black Hills. He envisioned what no one else
could—the sculpted faces of US presidents George Washington, Thomas
Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
Borglum and his crew were suspended on ropes 500 feet above the valley
floor. They used everything from chisels to dynamite to create the
5-story-high visages. It took 14 years to complete the project.
Borglum's housekeeper occasionally went to visit the site. She once
asked a worker, "How did Mr. Borglum know that Mr. Lincoln was in that
How indeed? Borglum knew what was in the rock because he saw with his
artist's eye what he could create out of the raw material with which he
had to work.
And so it is with God. With His artistic eye, He sees the potential in
the most unpromising, hardest human material. With His loving hands, He
begins to make of us a monument to His genius and grace. God "loved us,
even when we were dead in trespasses" (Ephesians 2:4, 5), and made us
alive in Christ. And He can make you more and more like Christ—if you
put yourself in His hands. —D H Roper (Ibid)
In ourselves we may see hardened ground,
Empty spaces that long to be filled;
But God sees our heart, and if we let Him start,
An image of Christ He will build. —Carbaugh
Our rough edges must be chipped away to bring out the image of Chris
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God's Song -
A church organist was practicing a piece by Felix Mendelssohn and not
doing too well. Frustrated, he gathered up his music and started to
leave. He had not noticed a stranger come in and sit in a rear pew.Ibid)
As the organist turned to go, the stranger came forward and asked if he
could play the piece. "I never let anyone touch this organ!" came the
blunt reply. Finally, after two more polite requests, the grumpy
musician reluctantly gave him permission.
The stranger sat down and filled the sanctuary with beautiful, flawless
music. When he finished, the organist asked, "Who are you?" The man
replied, "I am Felix Mendelssohn." The organist had almost prevented the
song's creator from playing his own music!
There are times when we too try to play the chords of our lives and
prevent our Creator from making beautiful music. Like that stubborn
organist, we only reluctantly take our hands off the keys. As His
people, we are "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand" (Ephesians 2:10). But our lives won't produce
beautiful music unless we let Him work through us.
God has a symphony written for our lives. Let's allow Him to have His
way in us. —David C. Egner (
Once we stop our own devising,
Quit the schemes of our own choosing,
Cease from all our fruitless striving,
God steps in with grace and power! —D. De Haan
God's ability is not limited
by our inability.
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Our Very Best -
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was a lonely and unhappy child, with no
siblings or friends. One day he was investigating the backyard of his
home and discovered a hole in the fence surrounding the yard. Suddenly a
small hand reached out toward him from the other side of the fence. Then
just as suddenly the hand was gone. On the ground was a small toy sheep.Ibid)
Pablo ran inside the house and brought back the best thing he had—a
pinecone. He set it down in the same spot and ran off with the sheep.
That toy lamb became his most cherished possession.
The exchange brought home to him a profound yet simple fact: To know
that you are cared for by someone is one of life's greatest gifts. "This
small and mysterious exchange of gifts remained inside of me," he said,
"deep and indestructible."
Reading this story made me think of God's gift to you and me—His hand
reaching out to us with His love that sent His Son Jesus to die for our
sins. Salvation is the "deep and indestructible" gift of God, received
by grace through faith.
What should our response be to our God's infinite love and grace? Let's
give Him in return our very best—our heart.—David H. Roper (
Oh, help me, Lord, to take by grace divine
Yet more and more of that great love of Thine;
That day by day my heart may give to Thee
A deeper love, and grow more constantly. —Mountain
Jesus gave His all for us;
are we giving our all for Him?
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Our Daily Bread-
But do you want to know, 0 foolish man, that faith without works is
dead? (James 2:20).
In nature, lightning and thunder present a striking illustration of the
relationship between faith and works. When lightning flashes across the
sky, we know that the roar of thunder will follow. Without lightning,
there would be no thunder, because the one is the cause of the other.
Likewise, good works always accompany saving faith, because one causes
We must keep before us the clear truth that we are saved by grace and
grace alone. Ephesians 2:8, 9 (notes) says,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of
yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should
But many believers who glibly quote this passage ignore the verse that
follows: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good
works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ep
In the same manner that thunder contributes nothing to lightning, good
works add nothing to our salvation. Rather, they are the "sound" of
faith and will follow every genuine conversion experience. The one
without the other is not the real thing.
Genuine faith is always evident by what follows—a life of good works.
—R W De Haan (Ibid)
Faith without works is presumptuous
Faith with works is precious.
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In Our Daily Homily F B Meyer writes the following...
We are his workmanship.
The Greek word might be literally rendered his poem. As the meter varies
in the poems of a laureate, so does the course of one life differ from
another; but God has a thought, a plan, a purpose for each. This lyric,
that heroic, another dramatic.
Created for good works. —
How carefully the apostle defines the true position of works in the
divine life. In the foregoing verses he insists that we are not saved by
our works, that none should boast; but, as though to meet the objection
that his system was inconsistent with holy living, he affirms that the
whole intention of God was that we should manifest our new life in
Christ by the holy life in which it fruits. We were created in Him unto
good works. Whatever good works may be demanded of you, dare to believe
that you were created in Christ Jesus to do them. There is a perfect
adjustment between the two.
The good works prepared. —
Our new creation in Christ Jesus and the preparation of our life-work
are due to the same mind. God who made us has prepared our path for us.
It may lie up hill or down dale; may be lined with grassy sward or be
full of jagged stones; may be short with the years of childhood or long
with those of old age; may consist in lying on a couch to suffer or in
strenuous activity — but every yard has been prepared.
Our daily walk. —
We have not to cut or make our path; but simply to follow it, one step
at a time. And when the heart or flesh fails, when the way seems too
difficult, or the door too strait — we must look always unto Jesus, who
has gone along the same track, asking that his righteousness may go
before us, and set us in the way of his steps (Psalm 85:13. - see
Spurgeon's note). (from
Our Daily Homily)