“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10).
We know from the Bible that there was once a perfect harmony in creation. Nature and people were pure and holy, and praised Him who doeth all things well. It is impossible to find anything with which we can compare that harmony now, for there is nothing in the world which is wholly God’s work. We can in a measure try to imagine what existence was like when perfection prevailed.
There was no barrier between heaven and earth, or between God and man. Heaven and earth were united as a drop of water is united with the ocean. God was a neighbor to man, and was a frequent and welcome guest among them.
The disaster came when Eve ate of the forbidden fruit and gave her husband to eat also. Perfect harmony throughout creation ceased to be from that very moment; man, the world and nature were to a greater or lesser degree destroyed by that one act. Much of it today resembles more a work of Satan than of God.
Of all that was injured by this act, man suffered the greatest damage. No nature is now so unnatural as human nature. A horse knows his master and finds his manger; but man does not know God, nor can he find Him unaided. An animal guards its young, but a human mother may murder her child. Millions of ants co-operate to build a home; but man spills his brother’s blood, or seeks to reduce his fellow man to poverty and wretchedness.
The finer the mechanism is, the greater is the injury when it is damaged. One may step with an iron heel on a hardwood floor and make a dent in it; but the damage is slight, and can easily be repaired. However, if one were to step with that same heel on a delicate watch, it would be beyond repair. Satan placed his iron heel on man, the noblest and finest of God’s workmanship, and the damage was enormous. Man was crushed completely, and was left dead in sin and shame. The serpent had reached his goal. The way was closed to the tree of life; an angel with a flaming sword stood between God and man. Man cannot see God now and live. In the days of Moses God had to clothe Himself in a cloud or in fire when He had a message for the people. While clouds covered the top of Sinai, and everything within the cloud was a flaming fire, God spoke to the people. In their wilderness wanderings God was with His people in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He directed their goings, protected them against enemies, and led them to a new land.
We who live today are subject to the same laws; we are not permitted to see God either. Through a Book we are given to know His will, and by faith in what He declares we are to live and die. It is only after we have crossed the border into the next life that we shall see Him as He is.
In the midst of our sin and shame, however, it is comforting to know that He who created us in love could not endure to see His work destroyed forever. He promised to make a new creation. When God closed the road to the tree of life, and man was compelled to depart from God, He did not send them into a hopeless night. Quite on the contrary, He promised to make a new way to life for us. Sin and death were to be removed and the wall separating us from God broken; God would meet us as a father meets his child. A new creation in Christ would make it possible for God to restore to us what we had lost.
All that which God gave us in the beginning, but which we lost through disobedience, He has now given us in Christ. It is ready for all of us.
It is God’s work that our sin was placed on Christ and in Him nailed to the cross. It was also God’s work that Christ rose again for our justification and made life possible for us. Listen, all you who desire to look into the great realm of salvation: Go not only to Calvary, but to the open grave as well; behold Him at the right hand of God. Try to catch a glimpse of these truths from God’s Book that we are raised with Him and seated in heavenly places in Him. If the Spirit could open our eyes to the contents of these truths, we should see more clearly the secret of the gospel, and understand more fully the import of these words: “For by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.” (Eph.
It is well to note that we are not raised up and seated in heavenly places “by” Christ, but “in” and “with” Christ. If we had read “by” Christ it would have been easy to understand it to mean God’s work in its. It is not so, however; it is God’s work in Christ. It is “unto all and upon all them that believe” (Rom. 3 22).
What Christ is at the right hand of the Father as Savior, Son of God and Son of man, He is for us. What He gained in his life upon earth and through death He gained for us. He is the second Adam who has restored to us what the first Adam wasted for us. All that which a human being must be if he is to stand spotless and pure before God, Christ is for us. All this is in heaven in Christ.
This is God’s workmanship!
“So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous.” (Rom. 5:18-19).
It is comforting to know that this piece of God’s workmanship is in Christ in heaven; thus it is beyond our power to destroy. It is not placed in a garden among forbidden fruit that might tempt us; it is in heaven. It has weathered all temptations and has gone through death and hell; it is safe in heaven and beyond the reach of Satan.
We can refuse to believe it; we can reject it; we can speak mockingly of it; but we cannot destroy it. The human arm is too short to reach into heaven, and the prince of darkness has been mortally wounded by Him Who now stands in the presence of God for our sake. Satan found the way to the Garden of Eden, but through the walls that surround the city- of God he cannot force an entry. Satan was compelled to meet the Prince of Life in open combat here on earth; he lost the battle, and his power is broken forever.
How shall we find words to describe this mystery and make it plain to people who fail to see it! Our life, our peace, our paradise and our heaven is in Christ. He is given to us by God with all that He is for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Our minds cannot fully comprehend the greatness of this mystery, but through the Word the Holy Spirit can reveal it to a repentant and believing sinner.
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It is stated further in this verse that we are created in Christ unto good works, and that these works have already been prepared for us. Let us pause a bit to consider that God has prepared the works for us beforehand.
God’s Word presents here an aspect of salvation which we often overlook. Some are not aware of it at all, while others who have caught a glimpse of it are afraid to say much. Perhaps the latter fear that Christians might not be able to make proper use of so rich a gift of liberty. Such fear is not wholly without foundation. Paul had it in mind when he wrote in Romans 6, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!”
Every time a Christian is confronted with sin today he ought to cry out with Paul; God forbid! Especially should he do so when he is tempted to live carelessly on the strength of a conviction that God will forgive.
Christ has performed the good deeds that we should have performed in order that we might be before God what we ought to be. No one must venture to believe that he will be saved by doing a good turn for one who is poor or ill. Christ has fulfilled all righteousness. He has not only made atonement for our sin, but He has also fulfilled the law in our stead; thus He can be righteous and justify the ones who believe in Him.
The thief on the cross had lived a life that was nothing but sin. From the cross he prayed for grace. Never having another opportunity to do a single good deed thereafter, he was nevertheless permitted to go with Jesus to Paradise. Can it be that some are saved on less rigid conditions than others? Is God more lenient to some than to others? We know better; all are saved in the same manner. No one is saved by works, lest he should boast.
Let us also consider the phrase, “for good works.”
This new creation of God in Christ is to be transferred to us; we receive it by faith, and it is to be built up in us. The foundation was laid in us when we were born of God. As time goes on, and God’s power is made perfect in weakness, God works in us so that we live not after the flesh but after the Spirit. All that a Christian does as the love of Christ constrains him is the work of Christ in us; indeed, it is Christ in us.
A Christian becomes a servant of Christ, a channel through which God’s power flows, a candlestick which carries God’s light of salvation, and an agent for the works before prepared that we should walk in them. All that is done out of such a life with Christ in God is done by God in us. Since it is of God it shall never perish, but follows the Christian into eternity. All else will burn as straw in the day of judgment; only that which is of God shall abide.
Two people can be engaged in identically the same activity; in our eyes their deeds may be exactly the same. Yet the one may be done in and for self and the other done in Christ. The first shall not stand because it is not done in God, while the other shall abide because it is done in God.
“Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; for their works follow with them.” (Rev.14:13).
“And they that are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3).
The halo of glory which they shall receive who have turned many to righteousness is not the basis of their salvation, but the fruit of a life in God’s grace. It seems that there shall also be those in heaven who will not shine with brightness. All who believe in Christ shall be saved, but there shall be a difference in glory according to the faithfulness with which we have served God. We are saved on the basis of Christ’s merits; but it is God’s will that we shall be obedient servants and present ourselves as an offering to God. As Christ gave Himself completely for us, so ought we to give ourselves wholly to Him; this we should do, not only for salvation, but also for service.
We are created for good works. May no Christian ever forget this.
Then we have the great hope that one day all our work shall be perfect. We shall not only be saved by faith in what another has done; we shall one day stand before God with a soul and body that is a perfect work of God. We shall be like Him.
Even the earth with its myriad forms of life shall whirl through space as a perfect work of God. Death, and the fruits of death, shall have vanished away. Instead of tears and lamentation, eternal life shall rise up in every soul. Every flower and blade of grass shall proclaim the glory of Him who bought us with His blood.
The Christian hope is truly great. All suffering and strife is as nothing compared to the glory that awaits us.
It will be a great day when we shall see this work of God and realize fully that we are also a part of it. It is small wonder that heaven itself shall resound with living echoes in praise of Him who made us, sinful and wicked though we were, to be a complete and perfect work of God.
0 blessed thought! Speak thou to fill my heart
With hope each time the road seems hard and long;
And sweetly mellow every bitter smart
Of sin, and fill my weeping soul with song.
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