For we are his workmanship , created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
In vs. 10 of chapter 2 of Ephesians, Paul concludes the thought which he began back to chapter 1, where he expresses the content of his prayer for the church: that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe … The hope, riches and power of which he writes, were first demonstrated in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and then the resurrection of all those who are join with Him, by faith. It is God’s intention to display His glorious grace by raising dead men, who are bound in sin, walking according to the course of the world, to life by His grace. We become the beneficiaries of being the objects of God’s lavish love and mercy – a love which we not only receive but one that actually transforms us into the image of His Son from glory to glory. As trophies of His grace, the effect of God’s undeserved favor toward us will shine out of God’s ‘china cabinet’ for all eternity.
Paul is quick to remind us that this glory which we display is not from ourselves as a source of origin. Our salvation is a gift of God, so that no one may boast as having deserved or earned it. It is also received through faith which excludes boasting. This is stated in one of the clearest passages on how one is saved in all the Bible – Ephesians 2:8,9: For by grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Rather than working for our own salvation, Paul continues in verse 10, for we are His workmanship. As God’s workmanship – the product of His hands – His masterpiece – we understand that we are displays of His glory, not only in the ages to come, but in this age, where we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount that our good works are meant to be on display to the world. Read Matthew 5:14-16. The light of good works which the church reflects, displays the glory of God. The time for final exhibition is yet to come; heaven is the final showroom, but here on earth God is already showing what He can do through His church.
Lest anyone think that these works are of human origin, Paul concludes the statement confirming what he has already said about our salvation. That just as God chose us for salvation from the beginning (2 Thess 2:13) and we are elect according to grace, likewise our ensuing sanctification and conformity to the image of Christ are also the work of God and not of man. Paul writes that the works for which we were created in Christ are prepared beforehand. While it is true that this preparation came both in His giving of the law, and was fulfilled in Christ, the text is quite clear that the very particular good works that we perform as individuals have been predestined for us to do. God guarantees that these works will be done, not merely by teaching us what is good and by providing Christ as an example, but by recreating us with a new heart and the power to perform these works. Until God has done this, any virtue that any man may have of his own accord is useless – as the prophet Isaiah wrote, all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Is 64:6). So there is no meritorious work that anyone can do to please God prior to being recreated by God. Legalists have always tried to hang the accusation of antinomianism over sola fide (faith alone), but what they seem incapable or unwilling to understand is that, it has been the understanding of the Gospel from the time of the Reformation that: “justification is by faith alone, but not by the faith that is alone.” In other words, good works (sanctification) is the necessary product of true saving faith.
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