Crafted for Goodness: Understanding Our Role in God’s Masterpiece”
I recently listened to Ephesians on repeat several times in the car, and while many fantastic verses came up (all the while recalling Martin Lloyd-Jones’ brilliant series on the epistle), I found myself continually pondering Ephesians 2:10. It’s a verse with a profound message about the importance of good works and God’s divine and extravagant plan for us. It reads, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Esv)
There are three (and maybe four!) main areas of encouragement for us in the text, but perhaps our encounter with Paul’s exhortation starts with a brief look at Jeremiah.
The prophet Jeremiah’s encounter with the potter’s wheel in Jeremiah 18:1-6 is a powerful illustration that can be related to Ephesians 2:10. God had instructed Jeremiah to visit a potter’s house, where he watched the potter at work. While working, the potter encountered a flaw in the clay, so he reshaped it into a new vessel. God then used this picture to speak a message to Jeremiah about His sovereignty over nations and His ability to shape and mould them according to His will.
God is presented to us as a skilled craftsman and as we look at Ephesians 2:10, we quickly discover that believers are described as His workmanship (Greek: poiēma), emphasising that they are very carefully crafted by God. Again, in Jeremiah’s prophetic encounter, the flawed clay is reshaped into a new vessel. Praise God for that! The transformative power of God in shaping and refining individuals and nations according to His will is phenomenal.
God’s sovereignty and purpose for His people in Jeremiah’s potter’s wheel encounter puts us in a perfect frame as we look at Ephesians; God demonstrates His authority over nations, shaping them according to His divine plan.
We are thoughtfully and intentionally (before the foundation of the world)crafted by God, an act that reflects His creativity, love, and intent for us. Each person in the kingdom of God is unique and valuable, and we all have worth and value in the eyes of our Creator.
One of my favourite quotes on this idea comes from the pipe-smoking Charles Spurgeon, who said, “We are not our own; we are bought with a price. We are not the creatures of chance and the offspring of dust; we are the Lord’s highest and last creation, and he has made us for himself.” We need to learn to see ourselves and others through the lens of God’s unsearchable love and accept of us, it’s a love that has no boundaries, no final picket fence.
Created in Christ Jesus for good works
The second thing with this verse is the admonition to us of God’s intention for us is to perform good works. We are not just pulled into the family as adopted kids, but God has things for us to do. Lot’s of them. Belief in Jesus Christ has the power to transform our lives, leading us to a purpose-driven life of serving others and glorifying God.
I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I have read much of and about Billy Graham, he writes, “Our works do not save us, but they are the evidence that we have been transformed by God’s grace through faith in Christ. Our good works are the fruit of our new life in Christ, and God has prepared them for us to do.” We are drawn to the realisation that our actions increasingly reflect the change in our hearts as we grow in our relationship with Christ.
God prepared good works beforehand
The bit that stirs me is that God has a plan for each of us, equipping us to perform good works throughout our lives. We are not left unsupervised, the Spirit leads us into good works, but not just any good works, they are works He has planned beforehand (not just planned today, but premeditated in His Sovereignty) for us to do. To do, not think about! “Before the foundation of the world, God planned that the beauty of his grace would shine most brightly and most fully in a people who were created anew in Christ Jesus for good works.” (Piper)
We are co-workers with Christ and absolutely part of a bigger plan designed by God.
Ephesians 2:10 has been a source of inspiration for me, reminding me to embrace my God-given purpose, walking in the path of good works that He has prepared, and the joy is that those works are not just for the younger folk but also for those with a few more years under their belt. Understanding that we are God’s extremely unique workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, and that God has a plan for each of us, leads and urges us to go on to lead lives filled with meaning, service, and devotion to our Lord.