By Stan Brown
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Does God care about the works that we do? Does He want us to do good works? Paul has just discussed God’s great plan for salvation that is entirely devoid of any human works. His plan is a grace through faith plan. His plan for salvation was one that Paul describes as not from works in order that no one may boast. So what part do works play in our salvation? Paul tells us that God’s creative plan of salvation was the only one that could possibly lead us into good works. He has just said that our works do not procure our salvation yet God desires that we walk in them so he hatched a plan in eternity past to accomplish it. We are fallen folks, so we have no good works of our own, ergo God made a change in us that could only be accomplished by Him. He did the work of creating us in Christ Jesus that we might be able to accomplish good works and it remains through His creation that we are enabled to walk in them. As human beings we often get this thing of salvation flip flopped as we think that good works produce salvation when in reality, it is salvation that produces good works.
So, let’s look at the verse. We are His workmanship. The word is used only twice in the New Testament. In Romans 1:20, it speaks of the physical handiwork of God in the creation of the universe. Here it speaks of the spiritual re-creation in the lives of people. We might consider which is a more difficult task but God accomplishes them both. This, of course, reminds us of Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come (2Cor. 5:17). Actually, we are a part of both His physical handiwork and his spiritual re-creation of us as a new creature. We, as believers, are His workmanship.
We are created in Christ Jesus. The word translated created is used thirteen times in the New Testament and every time it refers to that which is created by God. We are created anew in Christ Jesus. Paul has just written that we are made alive, raised and seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. Paul will soon write that our ‘new self’ has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:24). Our place as a new creation is completely and always in Christ Jesus. (Word translated created is used in Matt. 19:4; 13:19; Rom. 1:25; 1Cor. 11:9; Eph. 2:10, 15; 3:9; 4:24; Col. 1:16, 3:10; 1Tim. 4:3; Rev. 4:11; 10:6).
We are created unto good works which God has prepared beforehand. God purposed to create us in Christ Jesus for good works. There was no other way to accomplish it. Hoehner describes the good works, “We are created in Christ Jesus for works that are morally and beneficially good for us, for those around us and for God.” In eternity past God prepared the works which will be described in chapters four through six for us to follow. When we come to faith the works are already there for us to follow. If it is only through God’s spiritual re-creation that we do good works, we cannot help but ask two questions. First, do not unbelievers do good things? The simple answer is ‘yes they do’. Yet God characterizes their condition in the first three verses of this chapter as being dead in trespasses and sins. Our understanding of good works is not the same as God’s. His definition extends to our deep intrinsic nature. We are ultimately sinful at heart. Second, do not believers do bad things? If we did not do bad things, Paul could have left out chapters four through six. God has made us new that He might enable us to do good works. We still must choose to walk in them.
We are created so that we might walk in good works. In 2:2 Paul describes our past walk as being in trespasses and sins. In contrast, our present walk is in good works. Since we are His workmanship, we are to walk in the sphere that God has provided for us, that is the sphere of good works. Sometimes we step out of the light.
OK, I am stopping here since I have already gone on too long. I could go on much longer about the practical implications of this verse. Entire books have been written about how good works play out in our lives. Oh, I did say I was stopping so I end here.