|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 17
Meditation Title: A Job to do
Eph 2:10 For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
You may become tired with me keep pointing this out, but this passage is one long continuous flow of Paul's thinking and verse after verse starts with a link word, tying it in to what has gone before or showing what is the next logical thing to think about. See it again: As for you (v.1)… All of us also (v.3)… But because (v.4)… And God (v.6)… in order that (v.7)… For it is (v.8)… For we are (v.10). We have pointed this out because these are not individual points of doctrine but all different facets of the same thing – the wonder of our salvation. We need to see in today's verse the individual components and then the thrust of the whole thing.
“For we are God's workmanship.” We have seen this already a number of times in the preceding verses, that we are the outworking of God's activity: “God ….made us alive” (v.4,5) and “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms” (v.8) and “it is the gift of God.” (v.8). John stated it clearly at the beginning of his Gospel: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.” (Jn 1:12,13). Hopefully you have been seeing it as we have gone through these meditations so that you are completely clear in your minds – we are a work of God! Paul said it elsewhere as well, “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6). The good work was a work of transformation. He speaks of some of the components of that work to the church at Rome : “think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you ….. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.” (Rom 12:4,6)
Yes, this is a wonderful truth that perhaps few of us can really comprehend: the work of making us new creations (2 Cor 5:17) was a pure act of God, but it wasn't just a one-off thing involving Him forgiving us, adopting us and putting His Holy Spirit in us, it also meant that somehow (and this is purely a suggestion of how it might work), He by His Spirit emphasized the natural within us and made it so that the new ‘blown up' characteristics of us were now seen as gifts to bless others and bring honour to Him.
But there is another component in this verse: “created in Christ Jesus.” Again, without labouring the point too much, we've seen this a number of times so far in this letter: “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (1:3), then, “he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ.” (1:5), then, “the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ.” (1:9), then, “seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,” (2:6) and “expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (2:7) and now “we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (2:10) It's ALL about Jesus! Everything that the Father has achieved has been through His Son Jesus coming to the earth and dying for us and then being raised to life and then ascending to heaven where he now reigns. NOTHING but NOTHING about our faith exists without Christ. That is how significant the coming of Christ is to us!
But there is yet more: “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” God didn't just make us anew for us to sit in isolation (up poles or out in the desert) as some of the strange Christians did in the past! No, because God has put part of Himself in us, He energises us to continue doing what He has been doing ever since He created mankind. Ever since He created Adam and Eve, He has been seeking (despite their free will that led them into sin at Satan's suggestion) to bring blessing into their lives. Indeed, the whole of the later ‘Israel experiment' was to seek to lead a whole people into a way of life where they would live in the way God had originally designed mankind to work and thus be blessed and be a light or revelation to the rest of the world – yet sin kept on breaking through and that got it wrong.
But there is even more: “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” This takes the onus off us because what it says, is that when God brought us through to Himself, He knew us completely and He knew how we would best ‘work' and be more fulfilled and most successful. So, He knew how He could lead us into lives that were being totally fulfilled by doing the things He put before us, and in such a way blessing would follow. What is often so sad, is that in the same way that Israel allowed self and sin to rise up so they missed the target, so many of us start out this wonderful new experience of encounter and life with God, but allow the enemy to focus us on our own thinking and he raises up self-centred desires in us, and so we miss God's desires for us and so live half-fulfilled lives. How tragic!
So let's put all this together. We are to look back and see the people we were, and then see afresh the wonder of the work of God in us. Thus we will see that we are God's workmanship, a new creation brought about by God through Jesus, designed to share our lives with Him and He with us, so that we live out His desires and plans for us which are designed to bless us and make us fruitful. What we achieve in life, then becomes that which He has designed us for, and we are most fulfilled – and this all through Jesus. How wonderful!