When we look at a little baby, we often marvel at God’s workmanship, how He can put together tiny little fingers and toes, bright eyes and precious smiles. It is beautiful and wonderfully made by God indeed!
We need to remember that this is only Phase One of God’s workmanship. Without Phase Two, Phase One dies.
“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)
When we look at a little baby, we often marvel at God’s workmanship, how He can put together tiny little fingers and toes, bright eyes and precious smiles. It is beautiful and wonderfully made by God indeed! (see Psalm 139:13-14) The marvelous work we see in a newborn is only the first of two phases of God’s workmanship, and sadly, the first phase faces eventual destruction if the second phase does not take place. It is this second phase of God’s workmanship that Paul refers to in our passage above. You see, as innocent as the gurgles and coos of an infant can be, there still underlies a sinful nature that will have to be dealt with if God is going to do any true, lasting workmanship at all.
I’ve got some bad news and some good news… (see Ephesians 2:1-4)
This is a true bad news/good news story. The bad news is that when we are born, we not yet God’s true workmanship. We are simply the physical raw materials God will use as instruments of His love and peace once He has crafted us into the people He plans for us to be. And there is a problem. In Paul’s letter, he shares a harsh reality with the Ephesians – they were all dead. This may have come as a shock to many of them. It may come as a shock to many of us if we hear such an evaluation of our state of being. Having a pulse, breathing, moving, thinking, feeling has nothing to do with life from God’s perspective. To God, if we have sin we are separated by that sin from Him. If we are separated from God, we are dead. Pure and simple. If we accept breathing and thinking as life-defining measures, we disqualify ourselves from becoming God’s workmanship. God can’t do His workmanship on a dead person, whether they think they are dead or not. This is the bad news.
Enter God’s Grace (see Ephesians 2:4-9)
Here’s the Good News: God knew that we would be born sinners, so He planned right from the beginning, out of His great love for us, to make a way for us to become alive. It is by His Grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul was careful to explain an important fact about God’s Grace: it does not come from us; it is a gift. We accept His gift through faith in Jesus, and in this gift, we are made alive. Now God has something to work with. This is the very Good News!
(If you are not sure that you have accepted the gift of God’s Grace, see “For God So Loves You” now!)
The Potter, the Clay, His Workmanship (see Isaiah 64:8)
When we become alive, we become like softened clay to a potter, pliable and yielding to the work of the potter’s hands. Have you ever watched a potter spin his work on a potter’s wheel? It is precise work that takes a great deal of kneading and pressing to shape the formless lump of clay into the shape the potter intends. It is hard work. It takes a lot of force, especially in the beginning. So it is with our potter, God, and His clay, us. When we become God’s workmanship, we are subjecting ourselves to sometimes uncomfortable molding and shaping, especially as God begins His work. But as we continue to yield to the guidance of His hands, we will become more and more the useful implement He intends for us to be. Think about it – a lump of clay is of no use in it’s original form. But after the lump is formed, glazed, fired, and finished it is a vase, a bowl, a cup, it is a beautiful, purposeful piece. So what is God forming us to do?
Good Works (as in our passage, Ephesians 2:10; also see Romans 9:21)
Paul further explains that God’s workmanship is about good works. Not any good works. Not good works we may choose for ourselves. Not good works done with ulterior motives in mind. No, we are God’s workmanship to do those good works God has prepared in advance for us to do. You see, God is an all-seeing God. Before we were even born, God had works in mind for us. He knew exactly what good works would advance His Kingdom in the place we would be at the time we became His workmanship. He’s got it all worked out. He’s had it all worked out for a long time. That’s the truth.
You are beautiful and wonderfully made by God’s first phase of work. Without God’s second phase of work you are dead in your sinful nature. If you are dead, God can’t complete His work in you. If you come alive by His grace through your faith in Jesus Christ, God will complete His work in you. You will then become His beautiful and purposeful workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, to do good works which He prepared in advance for you to do.
©2009, 2010 Dan Buckhout
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Internatonal Bible Society.
Used by permission of International Bible Society.