“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.
“STUDY TO SHEW THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD, A WORKMAN THAT NEEDETH NOT TO BE ASHAMED, RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH.” II Timothy 2:15.
Before any man can walk in the good works which God hath before ordained, before he can be a workman for God, he must be the workmanship of God. He must first be worked upon by God before his work will be acceptable to God. No man can work himself into God’s favor or by any labour assist in his own creation in Christ Jesus. God is the Creator. God, the Divine Workman, does the work of creating. The believing sinner is the recipient of God’s grace, and is made acceptable in Christ, the Beloved. It is God, the Father “Who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins”. Colossians 1:12 to 14. It is all the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.
Not of works; but unto good works. All believers are to learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful. The Apostle Paul was directed to write much more about the believer’s spiritual walk and good works than about the sinner’s salvation without works; but he was never directed by the Lord to confuse the futile good works of an unbeliever with the fruitful good works of a believer.
In setting forth the gospel of salvation for the sinner, the Apostle Paul was directed to write that a man is declared righteous by faith “without the deeds of the law”, “without works”, even “without a cause” (freely). Romans 3:24. Boasting is excluded; not by the law of works, but by the law of faith.” Romans 3:27.
If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creation, he is God’s workmanship. The works of Christ were not only good works, but absolutely perfect works. Christ came to put away sin and He accomplished His task. Hebrews 9:26. Christ abolished death. Christ provided a perfect righteousness for the unrighteous. Christ suffered for sins once, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. The sinner’s first good work is to acknowledge himself the ungodly sinner for whom Christ died and accept the perfect redemption work of Christ, His death and resurrection.
Having taken this step of faith, the redeemed sinner is ready for good works. But he must look to God for God’s program of good works. God hath before ordained that he should walk in them.
As it is possible for unbelievers to think they are saved when they are not, it is possible for believers to think that they are walking in the good works, ordained by God, when they are not. Be assured that no amount of sincerity and zeal will take the place of spiritual knowledge in the matter of walking in God’s program. Zeal without knowledge means ignorant disobedience.
As members of the Body of Christ we may be walking in a path marked out in Scripture, we may be working religiously at some God-given task mentioned in the Bible, we may be enthusiastically and faithfully carrying out some specific program plainly described in the Word of God, and still not walk in the good works that God hath foreordained us. Such a workman of God is one who needs to be ashamed.
God wants a believer to be enthusiastic, zealous, sincere and faithful in constantly maintaining good works; but unless that believer studies the Word of God and rightly divides the Word of God, he may be wasting his time in dead works instead of in good works. There are many zealous, religious people much occupied with a program given to a different group of God’s people in a different dispensation, earnestly trying to carry out orders from God which were never intended for members of the Body of Christ. Here are some good definite, specific instructions to follow, that will keep us busy walking in the good works that God hath before ordained: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy, Romans 12 to 16, Galatians 3 to 6, I Corinthians 13, and Titus. When we have learned our path from these chapters, there are many others. But reading these and understanding them first, it will help us to intelligently and spiritually appropriate and apply the others.
For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.