Study Notes

Ephesians 2:10-10


Last Sunday morning, we got a very clear picture painted for us: the fact that we're saved is by grace. We are saved from this perverse generation, saved from perishing in death, saved from the wrath of God, and saved from eternal judgment - all because of grace. God freely gave us this gift, although we did not and do not deserve it. It was stated plainly that grace was not earned - it was nothing that we have done

Eph. 2:9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

It is not our works that have saved us. However, as we continue on in the book of Ephesians, we read in the very next verse that good works do have a huge place in the Christian's life.

2:10 We Are His Workmanship

We are God's workmanship. The word for workmanship is the Greek word "POY-ay-mah," which means "something that has been made." The word can be used to refer to a work of art, and is in fact where our English word "poem" comes from.

Now, I have heard many teachers wax eloquent about how this is saying that we are God's poem. And I don't deny that God has crafted us wonderfully and carefully. The Scriptures do say,

Ps. 139:14 I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.

But there is a danger in the "poem" illustration, because it uses a backwards definition. Let me explain: the word "poem" came from "POY-ay-mah." "POY-ay-mah" did not come from "poem." And so we can accurately say that "poems" were given their name because they are something created. But we cannot accurately say that anything called a "POY-ay-mah" in Greek is a "poem."

This same mistake is made at other times. For example, the word for "power" in Greek is "DOO-nam-is." It comes from the verb "DOO-nam-ahee," which means "to be able, to be strong."

This is the word Jesus used when He said,

Acts 1:8 " shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you..."

Here's where the mistake comes in: Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, discovered in 1867 that soaking nitroglycerin in an absorbent material made it far more stable and safe to use. Using a blasting cap to ignite the material produced a massive explosion. It was so powerful, he used the Greek word "DOO-nam-is" as his inspiration for naming his invention "dynamite." Now, preachers have said that the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon people is like dynamite - Whammo, a big explosion! But that is using a backwards definition. Dynamite is certainly powerful, so it can be said to have "DOO-nam-is." But can "DOO-nam-is" be called "dynamite"? Not at all. That word means power, strength, and ability, not explosiveness.

So don't make the mistake of defining this verse in Ephesians as saying that we are God's poem. But certainly, we are His workmanship. God made us. He formed us in the womb (Jer. 1:5) and causes us to grow, both physically (Eph. 4:16; Col. 2:19) and spiritually (1Cor. 3:6-7). We are products of God's personal attention and handiwork.

Created For Good Works

Why has He made us so carefully and wonderfully? Why was I made? What is the meaning of my life? I was created in Christ Jesus for good works. That is my purpose, why He made me.

Some people say, "No, my purpose is to witness." But in fact, your good works are what opens up the opportunity to witness. As Jesus said,

Matt. 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Others say, "No, the purpose of my life is to worship God." But again, good works are key to this as well. Worship is much more than singing. It is the good things that we do, and the sin that we avoid by doing them, that is our spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1).

Another group says that our purpose in this life is to learn of God. To know Him and to learn His Word. Once again, we see that the Scriptures say these things are inseparable from doing good works. Paul told the Colossians,

Col. 1:10 ...walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please {Him} in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

If we are not bearing fruit in good works, our knowledge means nothing.

Some people get hung up on the religiousness of doing good works. They begin to think that when we talk about the necessity of good works, we're preaching a righteousness that comes from doing good. They say, "Hey, that's not grace, that's works!" But I always go back to passages like Romans 11...

Rom. 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

And in 2Timothy...

2Tim. 1:9 who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace...

It is important to continually remind ourselves that our good works don't save us or make us righteous. The simple fact is that when we do them, we can't say, "Look at these great things I've done," because the next section of this verse tells us that God prepared them beforehand!

God Prepared The Good Works Beforehand

No, we can never take credit for the good things we do, since God prepared them beforehand for us to do them. It is expected of us. Remember that Jesus said,

Luke 17:7-10 "But which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat'? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and {properly} clothe yourself and serve me until I have eaten and drunk; and afterward you will eat and drink'? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done {only} that which we ought to have done.'"

As I give my life to serve God, I cannot be self-righteous or prideful. I am only doing what I'm supposed to do, what I've been commanded to do. There is no way that I can glory in doing good - it is what is expected of me.

As we go through our daily lives, God puts opportunities before us to do good. God makes sure that we see someone who is in trouble, and expects us to rescue them. God makes sure that the basket is passed in front of us, and He expects us to give a financial sacrifice. God makes sure that we see someone in need, and expects us to help them.

God has prepared these things in advance, and the exhortation is that we must walk in them.

Walk In Them

I like to think of these good works that God prepared for me beforehand as doors. They are doors placed in front of me that I choose to walk through, because I know that God has placed them before me and expects me to walk through them. His job is to put the door in front of me, my job is to walk through it.

How many times a day do we see a door and keep driving? We turn our heads and keep walking, because, "I don't have the time. I don't have the money. I don't want to get involved. I'm going to mind my own business." Saints, good works are our business. It is why we have been created in Christ Jesus.

When God prepares a good work for you to do, walk in it. It will open up opportunities to witness. It will be an act of worship. And, it will help you to increase in your knowledge and understanding of God.

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