2) Walking In Good Works
Ephesians 2:8-10 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
"The word so translated (* poiema) has the idea of 'that which He has made,' 'His creation,' 'His production.' He not only saved us, He has made us a new creature in Christ. Thus, we have been 'created in Christ Jesus unto good works.' God's purpose in saving us, in part was that we might serve Him thereafter. We are not saved by good works. But we surely have been saved to do good works thereafter." [Quoted from David Sorenson's Understanding The Bible commentary on Ephesians, page 360 of the volume entitled Corinthians Through Philemon.]
The word for "workmanship" is poiema, where we get our English word "poem." If you have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, you are the Lord's poem, His masterpiece, that He is creating. This same word is translated in Romans 1:20 as "things that are made." Just as God personally made and fashioned all of creation by the work of His hands (see Psalms 8:3, 6; 19:1), you are also His special handiwork. You are a new creature in Christ, created for His glory and pleasure.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Revelation 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
In all my years of being saved, I have always read Ephesians 2:10 with the perspective of the Lord working on the true Christian as an individual believer - however, this time around I am starting to see the bigger picture covered in this chapter. The "we" in "we are his workmanship" refers not just to believers individually but to the church collectively, the church He is building today, and that adds a greater focus and emphasis. Yes, the Lord is perfecting the work He has begun in each believer, but the good works He has ordained for them is with and through the local church that He has placed them in.
"The church is His poem and His new creation. Paul is not talking about the local church here, but rather about that body of believers from the day of Pentecost to the Rapture, the real believers (and most of them are members of local churches). The body of believers is His workmanship and His new creation in Christ Jesus." [J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible Commentary, Volume 5, page 237.]
I don't 100% agree with J. Vernon McGee's quote above (though I wanted to give his full statement here), so I will give you another quote for clarification:
"God wants us to be joined together to form a fellowship of saved people we call a church. When we get saved, God places us into His body by His Spirit and we become a part of the body of Christ. When the Bible teaches about the church, the emphasis is on the local church. A local church is a group of baptized believers who have voluntarily joined themselves together to carry out the Great Commission." [Clarence Sexton, Strengthen Thy Brethren, pages 114-115.]
B) Before Ordained - This phrase means "made ready, prepared in advance." In Romans 9:23, this same Greek word is translated as "afore prepared."
Romans 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Upon studying out the usage of this word (and seeing what some sound commentators had to say), I have found that there are two ideas expressed by it, and I think both are quite applicable here:
- The Lord Jesus Christ has planned good works for believers to walk in, works that He has prepared in advance for them to do in His name.
- He has molded and prepared believers in Christ in such a way that they would be enabled and equipped to walk in these good works that He has planned out.
Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Notice that the above passage states that we are to "work out" (not "work for") "your salvation." This will happen on a day by day basis as we serve and follow the Lord. As we submit to God's leading in our walks with Him, He will work in us and through us, so that He is glorified in our lives.
As a younger believer, I had somewhat of the mentality that it was up to me to find good works to do, and then trust and expect the Lord to bless them. Yet in this verse we see that Jesus Christ had already prepared in advance the good works that He wanted me to follow in.
The primary word for "walk" in the New Testament is peripateo, and means "to tread all around, i.e. walk at large (especially as proof of ability); figuratively, to live, deport oneself, follow (as a companion or votary)." Peripateo comes from two root words, one of which basically means "to trample/tread a beaten path."
What this is saying then is that we are simply to follow along in Jesus' footsteps, walking in the path or trail that He has already blazed before us.
1 John 2:6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.
Colossians 2:6-7 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
C) Good Works - The theme of believers doing good works is a prominent one in the New Testament. Grouping these various passages together into categories might help us to better see the range of them. This list below does not contain all the usages of the phrase "good work(s)", but the ones that most fit the theme of this study (ie. the good works we are to walk in). I have chosen to quote these passages in the general order we find them in the Bible.
Praise - Our good works are to bring glory and honour to the Lord:
Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
1 Peter 2:11-12 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Planning Ahead - Laying up treasures in Heaven through our good works to others:
1 Timothy 6:17-18 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Prepared - Ready and equipped for every good work (Notice: it is the Word of God that makes the believer perfect/complete and fully furnished to serve the Lord):
2 Timothy 2:19-21 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Titus 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
A Pattern - Believers are to be models in their good works for other believers to imitate and follow:
Titus 2:6-8 Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
Peculiar - God's own people set apart to serve Him in doing good works in His name:
Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Practice - Good works are to be maintained regularly, as a way of life:
Titus 3:8 This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
Titus 3:14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.
Provoke - To stir up and encourage to do good works (Notice: it is in the context of the church fellowshipping and assembling together that we see this command - see verse 21):
Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
These last two points are listed out of sequence because I want to emphasize them a little more:
Promise - Here is a sevenfold promise that the Lord will provide EVERYTHING you need to do good works to others:
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
Prayers - Paul's prayers for New Testament believers that they would be fruitful and perfect/complete in every good work:
Colossians 1:9-11 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Hebrews 13:20-21 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
D) One New Man - God's Temple
Ephesians chapter two goes on to describe God's building project, the new man He is making. The Apostle Paul continues by giving us a more indepth look at mankind's condition apart from the Saviour. Notice the six negative statements Paul makes here:
Ephesians 2:11-13 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time 1) ye were without Christ, 2) being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and 3) strangers from the covenants of promise, 4) having no hope, and 5) without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus 6) ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
But just like the Apostle does in the first part of this chapter, he overturns the bad news with the good news of the hope we have in Christ:
Ephesians 2:14-18 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Paul's two main points are: God has reconciled Jews and Gentiles together in one new man by the death of Christ; and the new body He is making - His workmanship - is the church, God's temple. (There is so much more we can glean from this passage, but that is beyond the scope of this current study.)
Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
E) The Habitation Of God
"Habitation" means "place of abode, dwelling place."
It is worth noting that this spiritual temple is referred to in two senses in the New Testament. The first being the body of the individual believer, and the second being the collective or corporate spiritual body of believers gathered together (in each local church) in His name. Both are "the habitation of God through the Spirit," as the Holy Spirit permanently indwells each believer, as well as dwells within the church collectively.
1 Corinthians 3:9, 16 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building... Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
1 Timothy 3:15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
F) Fitly Framed Together - "The word so translated (* sunarmlogeo) is of interest. It has the sense of being masterfully designed and crafted together. It bespeaks a master architect and builder." [David Sorenson, page 364.]
This same Greek word is translated in chapter four of Ephesians as "fitly joined together." Strong's Concordance defines it as "(in its original sense of laying); to render close-jointed together, i.e. organize compactly." "Compactly" means "Closely; densely; with close union of parts." Thus this word carries the idea of the members of a body being closely joined together; or that of a building (in this case a temple), where the stones are being layed closely together, all parts united as one.
Ephesians 4:11-16 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
1 Peter 2:4-9 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
This poetic work of art, this handiwork that the Lord is building, is individually and collectively God's temple, God's building, God's house. We are not referring to a physical house or building, but a spiritual one, comprised of individual born-again believers joined together into a new entity, the church. An entity that was created to praise and glorify the Lord, and to do His will. A building not made with dead materials, but with living stones built together on the same foundation, built upon the Rock - the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
G) Full Of Good Works
One verse that has intrigued me as I have been studying out this theme is:
Acts 9:36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.
Notice the phrase "full of good works and almsdeeds." "Almsdeeds" means "active compassion exercised towards the poor." In the Bible, when someone was "full" of something (such as being "filled with the Spirit" or "full of joy"), that meant that they were "controlled or influenced by it." Tabitha was "full of good works" - all that she did in her day to day life was influenced by doing good to others. Can we say the same thing about ourselves? It certainly is a challenge to consider as we seek to "walk" in good works.
Under construction by the Lord,
Pieced together in perfect accord,
Bit by bit, each part joined carefully,
Fitted and arranged with wisdom, tenderly.
As the Holy Spirit smoothes the edges,
And transforms His vessel into honour,
These changes, blessed by God's own touch,
Are wrought by His glorious power.
When God's final product is presented,
It will have been tested and proved.
Fired in the kiln of life's afflictions,
Refined and the impurities removed.
Though I can't imagine the end result as yet,
This work of art will someday be done.
Molded by the Potter with His very hands,
Lovingly crafted into the image of His Son.
Poem written August 22nd/1995
Study written September 7th/2009
Part One - Our Walk Without Christ
Part Two - Walking In Good Works
Part Three - Walking Worthy Of Our Calling
Part Four - Walking In Newness Of Life (Coming Soon)
Part Five - Walking In Love (Coming Soon)
Created in Christ unto. Eph 2:10
Exhorted to put on. Col 3:12-14
Are full of. Acts 9:36
Are zealous of. Tit 2:14
Should be furnished unto all. 2 Tim 3:17
Should be rich in. 1 Tim 6:18
Should be careful to maintain. Tit 3:8,14
Should be established in. 2 Thess 2:17
Should be fruitful in. Col 1:10
Should be perfect in. Heb 13:21
Should be prepared unto all. 2 Tim 2:21
Should abound to all. 2 Cor 9:8
Should be ready to all. Tit 3:1
Should manifest, with meekness. James 3:13
Should provoke each other to. Heb 10:24
Should avoid ostentation in. Matt 6:1-18
Bring to the light their. John 3:21
Followed into rest by their. Rev 14:13