December 16, 2018
So here is a question worth thinking about, especially during this Christmas season. Why did God save us? Up to this point in his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul gives two answers to this question. God saved us because he loved us. And God saved us for the praise of his glory. These are beautiful answers to a marvelous question.
But there is also a third answer. And this third answer is very interesting. Why did God save us? God saved us for good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.
Many of us here have been Christians for a long time. And so many of us know that we are supposed to do good works. We know that we are supposed to obey God’s law. We know that we are supposed to be holy. We know that we are supposed to live for Jesus and be like him. We know we are supposed to help the poor. Good works. We know that we are supposed to read our Bibles and pray. We know that we are supposed to go to church and encourage and serve one another in the church. We know that we are supposed to get better at things like patience, self-control, hospitality and thankfulness. We know that we are supposed to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves. Good works. We know that we are supposed to do good works.
But many of us who are Christians can sometimes get tripped up by our approach to good works. Sometimes we might think that good works are the reason why God loves us. Sometimes we might worry that our good works are not good enough, or that they are tainted with imperfect motivations in our hearts. Sometimes we might be in despair because we believe that we just can’t do the good works that we are supposed to do. These are very real issues that many believers go through in their lives.
But praise the Lord for his absolutely encouraging truth here in Ephesians 2:10.
You are God’s workmanship. God is like a potter. And you are like his clay (Isaiah 64:6-8). God is skillfully making you and crafting you into a work of art. You are God’s masterpiece. You are his greatest achievement and work. You are made with his love and care. So you know what this means? This means that good works are surely going to happen in your life. When God made you a new creation in Christ and gave you a new heart, a new soul, a new strength, a new mind, he didn’t make any mistakes. And as God sanctifies you now and grows you now in the grace and knowledge of Christ, good works are not a possibility. Good works are a certainty. God prepared your good works beforehand. Your good works have been ordained by God and predestined, so to speak, by him. You need to know this. This is God’s purpose for you. This is what God desires for you. God created you in Christ Jesus for good works. You are God’s workmanship.
Brothers and sisters, be encouraged. This means that you will obey God’s law more and more. You will grow in holiness and godly character. You will learn to live for Jesus and be like him. You will have a greater desire to help the poor. You will increase in a love for the Bible and for prayer. You will go to church and encourage and serve one another. You will get better at things like patience, self-control, hospitality and thankfulness. You will be able to love God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbors as yourself. You will walk in good works. Why? Why will you be able to do good works? Because you are God’s workmanship.
God has not forgotten about you. Perhaps you’re thinking, “I don’t know if I’m ever going to get over my anger issues.” But this is what you need to know: you are God’s workmanship. God created you in Christ Jesus for the good work of getting over your anger issues. And God prepared beforehand that you would get over your anger issues. Therefore, be encouraged… and get over your anger issues. God has not forgotten about you. Perhaps you’re thinking, “I don’t have what it takes to be a better husband/wife.” But this is what you need to know: you are God’s workmanship. God created you in Christ Jesus for the good work of being a more loving husband/wife. And God prepared beforehand that you would become a more loving husband/wife. Therefore, be encouraged… and be a more loving husband/wife. God has not forgotten about you. Perhaps you’re thinking, “I wish I had the desire and ability to evangelize and share the gospel of Christ with others.” But this is what you need to know: you are God’s workmanship. God created you in Christ Jesus for the good work of sharing the gospel of Christ with others. And God prepared beforehand that you would be willing and able to share the gospel of Christ with others. Therefore, be encouraged… and share the gospel of Christ with others. God has not forgotten about you.
God worked for six days to create the heavens and the earth. And then he rested. But that was creation. This is redemption. And God has, so to speak, gone back to work, one more time, to save you. God is the potter… now. And you are his clay… now. God is skillfully making you and crafting you into a work of art… now. You are God’s masterpiece… now. You are his greatest achievement and work… now. You are made with his love and care… now.
Good works are meaningful. Have you ever wondered why we should do good works? They are meaningful because of the grand story of Adam and Christ. Remember, Adam was given a covenant. And that covenant was a covenant of… works. Adam was to obey God’s law. And if his works were good, then he would earn a sabbath rest with God. But Adam’s works were not good. Adam sinned against God. And as a result, there was suffering and death. But God in his mercy and grace provided another person who would fulfill the good works required in the covenant. That person was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus perfectly obeyed the law of God. Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness. Jesus was sent for ultimate good works! And it is his ultimate good works that save us!
And now we do good works. But we don’t do good works in order to be saved. We do good works because we are already saved. We do good works for Jesus, but we do good works because we love him and because we are so thankful and joyful of our salvation. This is the meaning of our good works.
I would like to offer one point of application. And it has to do with relationships.
It is worth stating here that your spouse is not your workmanship and you are not your spouse’s workmanship either. If you have children, your children are not your workmanship. And if you have parents, you are not theirs. You are not the workmanship of me your pastor. Your friends are not your workmanship. And you are definitely not the workmanship of yourself. If we think this way, then we invite major dysfunctionality in our relationships. It is not good when husbands and wives look at each other and believe that they are going to fix the other and help the other, as if the spiritual well being of the other ultimately depends on them. It is not healthy when parents believe that the destiny of their children’s spiritual well-being completely falls on them. You will drive your friends crazy if you are their judgmental life coach. And if you look in the mirror and believe that you are alone in your sanctification, you will be in for a world of hurt. You are not your own workmanship. You are God’s workmanship. Stop taking the place of God for yourself and for others. Stop elevating people in the place of God. None of us are the potter. We are all the clay. Salvation belongs to the Lord. The workmanship is his and his alone.
At the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation, our God showed the Apostle John a vision of the future. John saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. John sees the city in absolute detail. And the city is amazing. It is incredible and expensive and glorious and perfect. Its radiance is like a most rare jewel. It is made of gold that is so pure that it is like clear glass. Even its streets were made of it. The city has a great high wall, whose foundations are adorned with every kind of jewel. This is a city of infinite magnificience and immeasurable worth.
Now, it’s natural to hear this or read it in the Bible and think that this is a metaphor of where we are going to be at the end. You might think that the city is a picture of where we are going to be. But you’re wrong. The city is not a picture of where we are going to be. The city is a picture of who we are going to be. For it is clearly stated in Revelation 21:2 and 21:9 that the city is a metaphor for the Bride of Christ.
The city is us! The city is you! And God skillfully built this city and crafted it and worked it into a work of art. The city is God’s masterpiece. It is his greatest achievement and work. It is a city made with love and care. It is God’s workmanship, a workmanship that is incredible and expensive and glorious and perfect, a workmanship that is of infinite magnificience and immeasurable worth.
Wow! This is who we are. Praise the Lord! May this gospel truth be an encouragement to us as we do good works and as we wait for the return of Christ our King.