Friday, March 2, 2012
“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 KJV).
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 today’s Scripture 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, 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 today’s Scripture 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!