Eph 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Here Paul is explaining the previous two verses where he has said that we have been saved by grace through faith, apart from any works on our part. All of that is the gift of God, so that He alone gets all the glory. Now Paul further explains that genuine salvation is entirely of God and it results in a new life that was designed to inevitably result in a life of good works, using the Conjunction GAR, “for.” That is, we have been given grace for salvation “for” Divine Good Production.
Sometimes it is said that there is a conflict between Paul and James over the matter of justification by faith versus works, cf. Rom 3:24, 28; James 2:18-26. But both men are saying the same thing from different angles to address different issues. Paul was attacking the Pharisaic idea that our good works will commend us to God whereby we will be saved. He argues that no one can ever be good enough to earn salvation. God justifies the guilty sinner through faith in Christ alone. But James was attacking the view that saving faith was sometimes used as an excuse to not produce Divine Good, i.e., “the fruit of the Spirit.”
In our verse, Paul is reminding us that God did not give us salvation for salvations sake only. No! We are saved to also produce for God. In addition, while salvation is entirely of God, so are the good works that follow salvation. God has ordained the entire process. Just as we cannot claim any glory for ourselves in our initial salvation, even so, we cannot claim any glory in our subsequent good works we produce. God is behind the entirety of our salvation and our spiritual life from start to finish. As such, He gets all the glory.
“For we are His workmanship,” in the Greek is AUTOS GAR EIMI POIEMA.
“We are” is the Present, Active, Indicative of EIMI which is ESMEN that it used for our current position and stance inside the plan of God. Our position is that we are “His (God’s) workmanship.”
“Workmanship” is the noun POIEMA that means, “something made, done, or created; a deed or act.” In Greek mythology, this noun or its verb POIEO was used to speak of the activity of gods. So, Paul uses this word to speak of the activity of the One and only true God and creating our new life in Christ using language of accommodation. It is used only here and in Rom 1:20.
Rom 1:20, “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, so that they are without excuse.”
As Rom 1:20 tells us, creation displays God’s power, authority, and deity, His essence and attributes, so that when people reject Him and suppress knowledge about Him that is available through the created order, they are without excuse when He judges them for it. As you know, men can see the attributes of God in His creation. Now in Eph 2:10, they can also see His person in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, through the believer’s Divine Good Production.
Therefore, POIEMA in the New Testament, refers to the created universe and to Christians as those “made” by God.
As such, both the acts of creation and of redemption are God’s “work,” His handiwork. And all of our “riches in Christ” are based on His “workmanship” in us.
God’s handiwork “created” us, the Aorist, Passive, Participle of KTIZO that means, “create, form, shape, or found.” It is only used in the New Testament to speak about God and His creative activity, cf. Mark 13:19; Col 1:16; Rev 10:6.
All of the creative usages are designed to point out that there was nothing in existence before God created it, just like BARA of the Hebrew. In addition, Paul made it clear that the creative activity of God was due to His spoken word by which He created something out of nothing, Rom 4:17; 2 Cor 4:6. This word conveys things both conceived of in the mind and actually brought into being. So, God’s creation of the believer as a new creation, a new spiritual species, 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15, was thought about in eternity past and brought to fruition in time, cf. Eph 4:24.
Our creation as a new spiritual species is because we are created “in Christ Jesus,” CHRISTOS IESOUS. “In Christ Jesus,” cf. Eph 2:6-7, shows that everything God has done for us comes through Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, we have nothing. In Him, we have every blessing in the heavenly places, Eph 1:3. He gets all the glory.
Here we have answers to several questions, the “who, what, where, when, and why,” of our spiritual birth becoming a new creation in Christ Jesus.
What did God create our new life for? Our creation was for the expressed purpose of performing “good works,” EPI AGATHOS ERGON. “Good works” means, “Divine Good Production,” a.k.a., the Fruit of the Spirit, which we will note below.
Who created us to perform Divine Good? “God,” THEOS!
When was this creation thought of and put into motion? i.e., “prepared beforehand,” PROETOIMAZO, that tells us in eternity past.
PROETOIMAZO is a compound word from PRO, meaning, “before” and HETOIMAZO that means, “prepare.” It is in the Aorist, Active, Indicate, speaking of the overall process of God’s creative act and plan for the believers life as a snap shot in time, i.e., eternity past. It is used here and Rom 9:23. Both times it refers to the good works of God in preparing blessings for His people. So, it can mean, “before ordained, i.e., “prepared in advance.”
Rom 9:23, “And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.”
The “where” of our creation is by default in heaven; God’s throne room. This is the place where God conceived and designed our new creation.
Why were believers created as new creatures? “So that we should walk in them, (Divine Good Production).”
“We should walk” is the Aorist, Active, Subjunctive of PERIPATEO, that means, “go about, walk around, walk, live, or conduct oneself.” Not only is this word used literally in Scripture, but also metaphorically as one of the many terms for describing the spiritual lifestyle of the individual believer, John 11:10; 12:35; 1 John 1:6f.; 2:6ff.; 2 John 1:4, 6; 3 John 1:3, 4, i.e., “walking in the light.”
All of this goes back to God’s foreknowledge of man’s fall into sin and to God’s decision to send His Son to become man’s Savior.
Five Aspects of Being Created for Divine Good Production:
Salvation involves a new creation that is entirely God’s doing.
Paul says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus….” “His” is emphatic in the Greek; underscoring the point that Paul has been making throughout Chapters 1 & 2, that our salvation was ordained by God from eternity and that we had nothing to do with it. We were dead in our sins, but God raised us from the dead, Eph 2:1, 5. Just as God created the universe out of nothing, by the word of His power, so God created us in Christ Jesus by His mighty power.
Just as God powerfully brought creation into existence for His purpose and glory, Rom 1:20, so it is when He saves a soul. 2 Cor 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
If you think that I have been emphasizing this point too much in the past few weeks, it is only because Paul emphasizes it repeatedly in these first two chapters. He knows how prone we are to take some of the credit for our salvation. If we cannot claim any reason to boast in our salvation, then we will try to boast in our good deeds after salvation.
But Paul is saying that the entire process is from God. It comes from His eternal, sovereign choice to save us and from His mighty creative power. Just as the physical creation cannot claim any grounds for boasting in its beauty, so neither can we who are God’s new creation “in Christ” claim any grounds for boasting in our salvation or in our Divine good works.
Everyone who is saved receives Christ and decides to trust in Him. When God saves someone, that person becomes a new creation in Christ. Now he is able to follow Christ and through growth by the Word, perform Divine Good, Rom 6:17-18; 8:1-13.
Salvation inevitably results in a life of good works.
C.H. Spurgeon, said (All Round Ministry, Banner of Truth, p. 310), “We have been clear upon the fact that good works are not the cause of salvation; let us be equally clear upon the truth that they are the necessary fruit of it.”
We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works. Those different prepositions make all the difference in the world! Good works are the evidence of salvation, not the cause of it.
Paul shows the relationship between saving grace and good deeds. He explains in Titus 2:11-12 that God’s grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires. Then he adds in vs. 13-15, that Christ “gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”
What are these good works for which we were created? Spurgeon summarizes them as, “works of obedience, works of love, works of faith, and acts of common life,” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 31:152-153).
By works of obedience, he means obeying the commands of Scripture. Works of love includes both AGAPE love for God and AGAPE love for our fellow man, with an eye to God’s glory. Works of faith refers to all that we do in reliance upon God and His promises. By acts of common life, he meant whatever we do at home, at work, or traveling, that we do all to the glory of God. In other words, the entire focus of our lives after we have been saved by God’s grace should be lived with a God-ward focus to please Him. Thus, salvation involves a new creation that is entirely God’s doing; made for good works.
God prepared these works before He saved us.
Concerning these good works, Paul adds, “which God prepared beforehand…” The only other use of this verb is in Rom 9:23, where after writing that God prepared vessels of wrath for destruction, Paul states, “And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory.” Paul taught that God not only predestined our salvation, but also the works that follow. We already saw in Eph 1:4 that God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless…” So, this continues the same idea, that God’s sovereign plan does not stop with salvation, but also includes a life of godliness, leading to final glorification, Rom 8:29-30; 2 Thes 2:13-14. So, we have our Positional, Experiential, and Ultimate sanctification and glorification.
When you understand it properly, there is no more humbling doctrine than that of predestination. Likewise, when we understand the aspects of our predestination, it gives all the glory to God and none to us. It causes us to understand how much we are obliged to God, while at the same time, it is our grounds for assurance. So, when we recognize that God predestined both our salvation and Divine Good Production, our positional and experiential sanctification, it humbles our pride.
The fact that God has prepared our Divine Good Production, shows that we are not to “engage” in our projects and good deeds, but rather to “seek God” for what He wants us to do. Some of the false teachers in our day tell people to dream their own big dreams. They promise that God will help you succeed in whatever you want to do. But that puts us in control of our lives, and God merely becomes our helper to achieve our goals. That is completely backwards! Rather, we should never engage in any service for the Lord without first waiting on Him as to what He wants. If He is directing, then we should follow. He is the Lord, and we are only His servants seeking to do His sovereign will.
And do not think that the doctrine of predestination says to just sit back and do nothing, because God has ordained it and it will happen whether we do anything or not. This is deception, because God not only foreordains the ends, He also foreordains the means to those ends.
Although God sovereignly ordained these good works before time began, we are responsible to walk in them.
When you walk by faith, God has prepared a path of good works for you which He performs in and through you. This does not mean doing a work for God; instead, it is God performing His work in and through the believer. Phil 2:13, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Walking in these good works which God has prepared for us implies a consistent and lifelong process. Once we are saved, the direction of our lives should be to walk on the path of obedience to God in everything.
Walking in good works does not mean that we dabble in them in our spare time, when we do not have anything better to do. The “new creature” is not a “volunteer to serve” God when he gets a little extra time on his hands. Rather, serving God becomes the priority of our lives every day in every situation, whether you are at work, at home, at church, at leisure, or traveling, Col 3:18-24. We all should be seeking to serve the Lord in accordance with our gifts and desires in every situation of life.
The application is, if God has saved you by His grace, He has saved you for a life of good works. If you are not engaging in these works, you need to confess your self-centered lifestyle to the Lord and seek Him for how He wants you to serve Him. He does not save anyone so that they can live for themselves. He wants everyone who has tasted His grace to engage in a life of good works.
The Divine Good that we walk in should be done in a corporate context.
Our American culture inclines us toward independence. We tend to idolize the “self-made man,” who goes it alone. But Scripture teaches that when God saves us, the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the one body of Christ, 1 Cor 12:13. We are individually members of this body, each with a role to perform, based on the gift God has given to us. But we must work in coordination and cooperation with other members of the body. Paul uses three words in vs. 10 that point us towards this corporate aspect of these good works:
“We,” meaning collectively, both Jews and Gentiles who make up the body of Christ, in a local assembly and the overall Body of Christ. This sets the stage for vs. 11-22, where Paul shows the blessings that have been poured out on us corporately as members of this new entity, the Church.
“Workmanship,” POIEMA where we get our English word “poem” from, which means, “something that is created or made.” A poem consists of words carefully crafted to fit together so that the whole presents a beautiful picture that the individual words cannot convey in isolation. Likewise, the Church, as God’s poem or new creation, shows forth His nature and glory as the various parts work together in harmony.
“Created” – This points us to the Church as the “one new man,” vs. 15. We are the body of which Christ is the head. What was lost by the first created man, Adam, God is recovering through the new man, Christ and the Church.
The practical application is that we need to learn to work together more closely in the local church. As members of the body, we need to think and work interdependently. Many times I hear of people who launch new ministries or mission endeavors independently of the local church, usually without any coordination or cooperation from a local body of believers. They say it is easier, and they do not want the hassles. But God’s program for this age is the local church. Together, we can reflect Christ to our community in a way that we cannot if we act independently of one another.
Note that the walk in good works closes the paragraph that began with our formerly walking in trespasses and sins, according to the course of this world, vs. 1-2. The contrast is stark and deliberate. Either you are walking in sin in accordance with this evil world, or you are walking in Divine Good Production in accordance with God’s work of salvation in your heart. In vs. 3, Paul mentions Satan’s working in the sons of disobedience. But here it is God working His good works that He has ordained in His sons of obedience.
“Having been saved,” the focus of your life should be, “Lord, what will You have me to do?” Paul asked God that question after his experience on the Damascus Road. The Lord answered, Acts 22:10, “Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.” God had already prepared beforehand Paul’s future ministry! Paul had to learn God’s plan and walk in it. So do you!
As noted above, “Workmanship,” is the Greek word POIEMA, where we get our English word “poem” from, which means, “something that is created or made.” A poem consists of words carefully crafted to fit together so that the whole presents a beautiful picture that the individual words cannot convey in isolation. Likewise, we as individual believers are being knit together by God to form His Church which is God’s poem or new creation, to show forth His nature and glory, as the various parts work together in harmony to produce AGATHOS ERGON, “good works,” i.e., Divine Good / The Fruit of the Spirit, cf. Eph 4:14-17.
Eph 4:14-17, “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, 16from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. 17This I say therefore, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind.”
To be the poem that God has designed us to be, we must “walk in,” PERIPATEO, the Divine Good that God has designed for our lives from eternity past, Eph 5:8-11, 15-21.
Eph 5:8-11, “For you were sometimes darkness, but now are you light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9(For the fruit of the light (Spirit in the KJV) is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10Proving what is acceptable to the Lord. 11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.”
Eph 5:15-21, “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, 16making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
The production of Divine Good in the human race is impossible. Therefore, God has provided the means of producing it. The only way this can be accomplished is for a person to be born again into the family of God and to utilize God’s grace provisions to execute the spiritual life.
There are Three Spheres of the Believer’s Walk that are
Necessary in Order to Produce Divine Good:
In the sphere of the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:16, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” Cf. Rom 8:4 w/ Eph 5:18.
Eph 5:18, “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.”
We are filled with the Spirit through the confession of our sins to God the Father, 1 John 1:5-9, (Rebound), and then we are able to Produce Divine Good, 2 Tim 2:21, “Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
In the sphere of Faith, 2 Cor 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”
In the sphere of His Word / Bible doctrine, 3 John 3, “For I was very glad when brethren came and bore witness to your truth, that is, how you are walking in truth.”
Next, we need to understand that “good” is not always good in God’s eyes, i.e., Divine Good. When we have wrong motivation regarding life, it changes good into evil. Good may be dead works or the function of good deeds. Good may be Christian service, which is Divine Good or dead works. Everything depends on the relationship of that good to the first three keys above; in the sphere of the Spirit, Faith, and the Word.
Christian service can be fulfilled in the power of your own ability, your human energy, and your personality, rather than the power of God. Anything done with wrong motivation or while not under the filling of the Holy Spirit is not Divine Good.
We also understand from Scripture that there must be spiritual growth before there can be the production of Divine Good. All production must come from within the boundary of Bible doctrine. It is the will of God that you learn doctrine before you produce Divine Good. You do not put baby believers to work doing anything, before you teach them. When the baby grows up, it will work and produce naturally, as a result of all the training it received.
Therefore, the right mental attitude plus the filling of the Holy Spirit results in being in the will of God that equals the production of Divine Good. The believer is only a fruit bearer when he has consistent post-salvation renewing of the mind, resultant spiritual growth, and correct mental attitude, Rom 12:2.
Rom 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
To produce Divine Good, you must have right priorities. Right priorities are consistent Divine viewpoint of life, James 4:13-15, which originates from perception, metabolization, and application of God’s Word / Bible doctrine through the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
James 4:13-15, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that’”.
In John 15, we have three stages of Divine Good Production that correspond to the three stages of spiritual growth in adulthood; Spiritual Self Esteem, Spiritual Autonomy, and Spiritual Maturity. In John, they are described as producing, “fruit, more fruit and much fruit,” John 15:1, 5, 8.
Divine Good includes not only the actions that we perform through the power of the Word and Holy Spirit within us, but also the things that we say and think, Gal 5:22; 2 Thes 2:16 17. Every good word and production comes from the heart / right lobe of your soul.
Gal 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
2 Thes 2:16-17, “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, 17comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”
Your heart, right lobe of your soul, is strengthened every time you produce Divine Good, whether it is physical, verbal, or mental Divine Good production.
As we noted in Eph 2:9, human good / works are rejected for salvation, cf. 2 Tim 1:9; Titus 3:5; likewise, they are rejected post salvation in the believer, as they are called “dead works” in Heb 6:1.
2 Tim 1:9, “Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our (human) works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.”
Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”
Heb 6:1, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
Human good is not acceptable to God at any time, Isa 64:6a, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our (human) righteous deeds are like a filthy garment.”
The believer’s human good, also called “wood, hay and straw,” is revealed and destroyed at the BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ, 1 Cor 3:11-16; 2 Cor 5:10.
2 Cor 5:10, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
The “good” in this verse is Divine Good Production, the Fruit of the Spirit, while the “bad” is human good produced from man’s relative righteousness which is always rejected by God.
It is possible for any of us to get sucked into a system, religious or secular, that appears to be good. We think we are doing something for God, when in reality we are fighting against God’s plan. This is often true of Christian activism.
Just as human good is judged for the believer, human good is the basis for the unbeliever’s indictment at the last judgment, the Great White Throne Judgement, Rev 20:12-15.
Therefore, we see that human good is rejected for salvation and as Divine Good Production. Only deeds accomplished through the filling of the Holy Spirit are considered “Divine Good” that is rewardable for the believer at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ, Gal 5:22-23; 1 Cor 3:10-15.
Divine Good is primarily the production of the mature believer, but it can also be the production of the growing believer. It is the maximum and most effective production a believer can have in his life. The production of Divine Good comes from the source of God directly and mechanically; it is produced by the Balance of Residency between the Filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible Doctrine applied from the soul, also called operating inside of God’s Power System, (GPS), Heb 13:10, 15-16.
The only production which counts as Divine Good is production based on something in your soul which is there as a result of grace. The filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine exist in your soul as a result of grace.
As we have also noted, in eternity past, God knew how much Bible doctrine you would have at any moment in your life, and as such, He predesigned all the Divine Good you would produce and entered it into His plan for your life, as part of His Divine decree with your name on it.
In addition, the production of Divine Good is related to God’s logistical grace blessings in your life. In 2 Cor 9:8, “all sufficiency” refers to God providing everything necessary to keep you alive and to take in Bible doctrine, “so that you can have an abundance of every production of Divine good.”
2 Cor 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Therefore, we never have an excuse for not producing Divine Good, as God has provided us with everything we need to produce it, that is, “to walk in it.”
2 Tim 3:16-17, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”
The production of Divine Good is an issue in the Angelic Conflict, as Satan tries to hinder you from advancing spiritually in God’s Plan and producing Divine Good, Rom 12:21, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Summary: Therefore, there are four keys to the production of Divine Good and being a part of God’s poem for the Church.
Status quo. This means being in the directive will of God, which is synonymous to the filling of the Spirit or residence inside of God’s Power System, under the enabling power of the Holy Spirit, cf. 1 John 1:5-10. Whatever counts for good in our lives must be related to the filling of the Spirit. There is no effective function of good in our lives or effective Christian service apart from the filling of the Holy Spirit, Gal 5:22f; Eph 5:18f.
Momentum. This means that God’s Word is important in everything. Momentum is understanding and applying God’s Word /Bible doctrine to our lives as we advance from spiritual infancy to spiritual adulthood.
Attainment. This is advancing to and maintaining spiritual maturity through the execution of the Plan of God. Bible doctrine must be learned before Divine Good can be produced.
Impact. This is the function of the mature believer as an invisible hero in the Church Age, (i.e., being part of the poem), as a star witness for the prosecution, God, during the appeal trial of the Angelic Conflict.
Therefore, through the reception of God’s grace provisions including; your salvation by grace, the filling of the Holy Spirit, Bible Doctrine resident within your soul, and your logistical grace support, you can advance from spiritual infancy to spiritual maturity and have Divine Good Production, (the Fruit of the Spirit), in your life that will be rewarded for all of eternity at the BEMA Seat of Jesus Christ.