HOW ARE WE GOD’S “WORKMANSHIP?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Many charge us Pauline dispensationalists with the following: “You are telling people to sin all they want because God’s grace and forgiveness cover it!” When we proclaim God’s grace, are we really encouraging people to pursue careless, frivolous lifestyles, as our (legalistic) critics claim? Or, are they simply misunderstanding grace?
The Greek word translated “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10 is “poiema,” meaning “creation,” from which we get “poem.” Interestingly, “poiema” is used one other time in Scripture: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [poiema], even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). From salvation and the Christian life to the origin of the universe, the emphasis is not on the creation (us, the heavens, and the earth), but on the Creator, Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:25). Just as we did not engineer the heavens and the earth, neither did we work to receive salvation in Christ—Christ alone worked to save us. Now that God has saved us, His grace can permeate our inner man, and teach us how to live in Christ Jesus (Titus 2:11-15).
Grace teaches us not to focus on what we do for God, for we sinners can do nothing to please God (Romans 3:23), but rather focus on what God did at Calvary for us. Our good works could not save us, so how could they keep us saved? They cannot! Thus, our receiving and keeping salvation, and our Christian lives, are not reliant upon our performance, but on Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary.
As Ephesians 2:10 specifies, we are not doing good works. “Our” good works are actually the outward manifestation of what God the Holy Spirit is doing internally (Galatians 5:22-23; cf. Romans 8:1-14). When we study and believe sound Bible doctrine, God will use that doctrine to transform us from the inside out (Philippians 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). We are God’s workmanship!
When we Pauline dispensationalists proclaim God’s grace, are we really encouraging people to pursue careless, frivolous lifestyles, as our (legalistic) critics claim? God forbid! Religion deceives billions through indoctrination: to wit, lies repeated long enough are accepted as truth. Works-religion (legalism) prevails in the professing church today: “Perform so God can save you!” Thus, the average church member, upon hearing the Biblical truth, “God will save you, regardless of your works,” they mistake this as careless living. They are programmed to accept error as truth; consequently, they reject contradictory information (God’s truth!).
When we Pauline dispensationalists declare, “Salvation is by grace through faith plus nothing,” we mean salvation is COMPLETELY independent of our performance (Romans 3:28; Romans 4:1-5; Galatians 2:21; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; et al.). Grace saves us solely because of the merits of Jesus Christ at Calvary; grace does not save us on the basis of our good works—grace is unmerited favor (Romans 11:6). Grace is what God can do for us because we sinners can do nothing for God.
As mentioned earlier, the Greek word translated “workmanship” in Ephesians 2:10 is “poiema,” meaning “creation,” from which we get “poem.” Interestingly, “poiema” is used one other time in Scripture: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made [poiema], even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). From salvation and the Christian life to the origin of the universe, the emphasis is not on the creation (us, the heavens, and the earth), but on the Creator, Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:25). The focus is not on the poem (workmanship), but rather the POET (Creator)!
God the Holy Spirit is doing something amazing in us believers. He is transforming us from the inside out for His glory. “Our” good works are God’s sound doctrine working in us. It is God’s work (1 Corinthians 15:10; Galatians 5:16-26; Philippians 1:9-11). Indeed, we are God’s workmanship! The Bible presents God as the Poet; we Christians are but His poem. He is the Mastermind; we are merely His design. God has the power; we are just His vessels. Our will and our works have not the preeminence; God’s will and God’s achievements do. The Creator of the universe is doing something excellent; the creatures’ work, our work, pale in comparison. What God did for us is foremost (grace), not what we do for Him (religion). This is God’s grace, and we are His workmanship.
Religion is not the work of God; it emphasizes man’s performance to make himself acceptable to God. Christianity is God’s workmanship, for it stresses how God can use mere frames of dust (us) for His glory (see Ephesians 2:10). Those of us who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, God is using us to make a “new man,” a “new creature,” the Church the Body of Christ, an entity He will use in Heaven forever (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:13-17); this is something that God, not us, does. God is building us—a temple, a house for Himself (1 Corinthians 3:16,17; Ephesians 2:18-22). We are “God’s husbandry, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).
Currently, God is preparing us Christians for eternity. We have his preserved and inerrant Word, the King James Bible, to learn and grow in His knowledge. The more sound doctrine we study and believe in the rightly divided Bible, the more equipped we are to function here and in eternity (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). In the ages to come, God will use us to restore the government of the heavens unto Himself (Ephesians 2:6-7; cf. 2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 1:16-22). God saved us to use us for all of eternity future, to do His good work in us now on earth, and to do His good work in us forever in heaven. Verily, verily, we are God’s workmanship… forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever! 🙂
» Is grace “a license to sin?”
» We are saved by faith, but are we blessed by works?
» Does God see us Christians as sinners?
» Does God chasten us when we sin?
» Why do some Christians persistently behave like lost people?
» Does “once saved, always saved” entitle us to abuse God’s grace?
» Once Christians fall into gross sin, will God use them again?