Meditating on the Will of God: 13: God’s Workmanship
Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
I am aware that as we meander around pondering the will of God, there will be times when we will tread the same ground more than once. The more we tread it the more we will understand it. I find at this moment I am being drawn back to this familiar verse which says so much. Let’s ponder it and as we do we’ll find it opens up a number of other avenues of amazing thought!
First of all it speaks of a God of purpose. We can, in the hurly burly of life forget that we are living in a world where God is working out His specific purposes. Nothing is happening by accident. It is a combination of what we’ll call the mechanical working of the world (e.g. perhaps the weather), the workings of mankind, each person expressing their own will in creating their own little world and yet constrained by circumstances and human limitations – and of course the workings of God which may be infinitely bigger than anything we can comprehend.
We’ll come back to our starting verse later but the apostle Paul hinted at something of Jesus’ working into this world when he writes, “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:24,25) Those are challenging words. Note that they declare that Jesus IS reigning TODAY and will continue to rule until he winds everything up. There are those tantalizing verses in Psa 110 – “The LORD says to my Lord “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psa 110:1,2). Jesus is ruling in the midst of his enemies, those who are self-centred and godless, and they tend to be the ones who catch our attention and fill most of the news. But he is sovereignly working to bring about an end where, eventually when he comes again, every knee will bow before him (Phil 2:9-11). He is working to bring everything and every one back into the perfect will of God where all things confirm to the design of God as He made it perfect at the beginning. The mystery is what Jesus is doing in the world and for that we need prophets and we need the revelation of the Holy Spirit – but he IS working.
Now coming back to our starting verse, what we are today is a product of the will of the Father, the work of Jesus on the Cross, and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. If yesterday was the day we had been born again of the Spirit of God – after He had drawn us to a place of conviction and surrender and then put His Spirit in us and adopted us as His forgiven and cleansed children – today we stand in the world as new entities, God’s workmanship, the product of the working of the Trinity.
We are what we are because we have been “created in Christ Jesus”. That simply encompasses his work on the Cross on our behalf, the work of his Holy Spirit (as we noted above) and his work to make us part of his body on the earth today. Thus on one hand we are unique beings with our own unique characteristics but at the same time limited so that we form a body, the church, with all our different characteristics and gifts harmonizing and flowing together to act as ‘the body of Christ’ to bring about the will of God – part of the reign of Christ in the midst of his enemies.
And that brings us to the “good works” part. That is the outworking of His working to bring us to Himself, that we can become part of Him as He works to bless His world. But there are two levels for this as scripture shows us. Observe. “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:16). Very simply by being nice people, good people, kind people, generous people, etc. etc. others will realise that we have something more than they have and will realise it comes from God and will praise Him and even turn to Him. Understand this is simply by being good, and that will flow out of our relationship with Him. If it flows from humanistic self-centred ‘please me’ motivation it will always have a rough edge and will simply glorify self, and not God. But that is simply good deeds.
But then there is another level. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.” (Jn 14:10) To catch that we have to look at Jesus own summary spoken to the disciples of John the Baptist: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.” (Mt 11:4,5) Alternatively, consider Jesus mandate found in Luke’s Gospel: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Lk 4:18,19) What we see in both those quotes is divinely supernatural ministry, ministry directed and enabled by the Holy Spirit. This isn’t just doing good, this is moving under the direction, guiding and inspiration of the Holy Spirit and bringing about changes that are the will of God through Jesus Christ as he ‘reigns in the midst of his enemies’. These are the good works that God has got for us to do.