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Sunday, April 19, 2020

062 - Saved for Good Works [B]

Ephesians 2:10 by Robert Dean
What role do good works play in our Christian life? Listen to this lesson to learn that performing good works is not necessary for salvation but still holds significance when we are walking by means of the Holy Spirit. Find out what God’s goal and purpose is for believers. Understand the difference between justification and sanctification. See who “we” and “you” refer to in the text. Find out what it means that believers are created in righteousness and how that enables us to perform good works.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:1 hr 5 mins 54 secs

Saved for Good Works
Ephesians 2:10
Ephesians Series #062
April 19, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.

Opening Prayer

“Father, we are so thankful for all that You have given us, all that You’ve provided for us. As we examine this chapter, we are brought face-to-face with the essence of the gospel: that we were born dead in our trespasses and sins, but You intervened. You in Your grace, and from the foundation of Your love demonstrated that love to us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

“You made us alive together in Christ, You raised us and seated us together with Him in the heavenlies. This “by grace-through-faith” salvation is free to us; there is no cost involved. We do no works to earn it. We do not merit it. It’s impossible for us to merit it, for it is as the text says a free gift.

“Father, as we come to this last verse, which emphasizes for us that though we do nothing to earn or deserve our salvation, it is not based on our good works, but it is designed to produce in us good works. We are saved for that purpose: to live in light of all that You have done for us as we walk with You in these good works.

“Father, we pray that You would help us to understand the Scripture as we study. We pray in Christ’s name, amen.”

Slide 2

As we prepare to study this morning, open your Bibles to Ephesians 2. We have come to the last verse in this tremendous paragraph in Ephesians 2, one of the most significant paragraphs for helping us understand the significance of our salvation, but especially this salvation that is in this Church Age.

While those who have believed in Christ throughout the dispensations, from Creation to the Day of Pentecost with the birth of the church, were regenerated, were saved, were justified, were reconciled: they have eternal life and will spend eternity with the Lord, there is something distinctive, something unique. There are aspects of our salvation that are especially designed for Church Age believers.

I believe it is this epistle that more than any other book of the New Testament tells us about the uniqueness, the distinctiveness, and the glory of what God has provided for us Church Age believers: that we are to be the bride of Christ, we’re also the body of Christ. We are raised to a level that no other group of believers, no other people of God in the Scripture has risen to. All because of the grace of God.

Slide 3

The last verse in this section tells us about God’s goal and His purpose for us in saving us and giving us all that He has given us. He has made us alive together in Christ, He has raised us; He has seated us together in Him. Now why has He done this? All of this is due to His grace.

It is explained in Ephesians 2:10, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Slide 4

In studying this passage, I looked at five different Greek texts, as well as a number of English translations, and all of them recognize that this is an independent sentence. It is stating the conclusion and the purpose for the salvation that is talked about in Ephesians 2:1–9. It is set apart, and so we should analyze it that way. Also we should recognize a few things about it.

1.      The verse begins with the English word “For,” which most of the time in your English text is a translation of the Greek GAR which indicates that it is stating the cause or the reason for something that has already been stated.

It indicates a further explanation or further clarification of something that has already been said. This helps us to understand a little bit more about what has been said in Ephesians 2:8–9: it says something further, gives more explanation, gives more clarification.

Ephesians 2:8–9, which I recited earlier, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works.”

Someone may conclude that works are of no value at all. But what we learned in Ephesians 2:10 by contrast, is that “… we are His workmanship, and we are created for the purpose of good works …” not BY good works, but FOR good works.

Ephesians 2:8 also began with this same word, this same idea of explanation. Ephesians 2:8–9 further explained Ephesians 2:1–7, going back to pick up the statement from Ephesians 2:5, that “… by grace you have been saved through faith …

2.      A second basic observation, Ephesians 2:10 is a contrast with Ephesians 2:8-9, which states that our salvation is not from works. Now in Ephesians 2:10, we’re told that our salvation is for the purpose of good works.

Slide 5

3.      Ephesians 2:10 moves us from the focus on our Phase 1 justification salvation to our Phase 2 sanctification salvation.

Remember, the Bible speaks about three phases, stages or even tenses of salvation. The first phase takes place in an instant in time when you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior. We talked about this in the previous two lessons when we focused on: What does it mean to believe? What is faith? What is saving faith? I pointed out that there are some people who teach that saving faith is a different kind of faith, and I do not believe that’s what the Bible teaches.

I spent some time going through these explanations and also took us through some of the explanations that are outlined in Gordon Clark’s book Faith and Saving Faith, which is a small book. I always hesitate to recommend some things; I’m not recommending it. I’m just stating it.

The first part of it is an outstanding analysis of the word in the Greek for “faith” and the concept of faith and what that means. When he gets into some of his conclusions, I’m not so sure that he’s on target there.

What’s interesting about him is he demonstrates that the popular understanding of faith that is taught in the reformed circles, in reformed theology, are illogical and do not hold up to a solid, logical analysis. This is from a man who himself is a very well-known reformed theologian.

He demonstrates that there is a fallacy there, and that faith means to agree that something is true. A lot of people have problems with that. They say, “Oh, that’s just intellectual assent.” He raises the issue, if it is not intellectual assent, with what do you believe? Don’t you believe with your mind? Well, that makes it intellectual, and it is assent because you are agreeing, you are saying that it is true.

Ah! But what is the “it?” The “it” is the salvific proposition: that which we must believe to be saved. The salvific proposition gets muddled a lot today. Some say:

  • “Well, you need to invite Jesus into your heart.” There is no verse that says that.
  • “You need to commit your life to Jesus.” There’s no verse in the Bible that says we need to commit our life to Jesus.

The word “faith” does not mean commit. The word “faith” means to trust and to rely upon something, to believe something to be true. What is it that we are to believe to be true? Scripture says that Christ died for our sins; He died in our place; He paid the penalty for our sins, and that we are to believe that. We believe that Jesus died for—fill in the blank with your name—your sins.

I believed Jesus Christ died for my sins when I was about 6½ years old back in 1959, and I trusted in Christ as my Savior. But there are some people who get these things muddled up, and they say, “Well, I believe the Bible teaches that Jesus died for my sins.” That’s not the same thing as saying I believe Jesus died for my sins.

I can believe that Charles Darwin taught that human beings evolved from monkeys and from apes, but that doesn’t mean I believe that human beings evolved from monkeys and from apes. There’s a difference there. You can believe a historical fact, but that’s not the salvific proposition. That’s not the statement in Scripture that one must believe.

One must believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that by believing in Him and Him alone, you have eternal life. What are you believing? You’re believing that Christ died on the Cross for your sins.

We studied this in detail in the last two lessons. It’s interesting because I received an email from somebody who has just been listening to lessons online for a short time and had not listened to those lessons, and he was asking me various questions about faith, all of which were answered there.

Even though some of those questions may not have occurred to you, there are people out there who are young believers who are struggling and asking:

  • Is that faith enough, is it enough just to have a small amount of faith?
  • Is it a problem if I doubt my salvation at times?
  • What kind of faith do I have to have?
  • Is it the faith that saves me or is it the faith in Christ that saves me? Is it the object of my faith?

These were the questions that he was spelling out; he was somewhat uncertain. So I had him listen to those last two lessons that we covered at the end of February and early March. He replied in a nice email thanking me for clearing up all the answers to his questions.

This is important to help people understand the certainty of their salvation and have confidence that even when they doubt, even when they question, that nevertheless that Christ has paid the penalty for all of our sins. Ephesians 2:8–9 talks about that Phase 1 instant of trusting Christ as Savior.

After that, we have to grow as believers. At the instant that we trust in Christ, we are made alive together with Him. We studied in Ephesians 2:5 that God made us alive together with Christ; that’s regeneration.

But having been born, there has to be growth. Following birth there has to be nourishment. We are to desire the sincere milk of the Word. Peter tells us that we may grow by it. It is the Word that nourishes us. There are some people who never get the Word, so they don’t grow.

Others say, “Oh, you didn’t show any fruit.” That’s such a superficial view of God’s wonderful plan of salvation and His grace. God recognizes that there are those who are going to be saved, but they are not ever going to take advantage of growth. As it were, they are going to be born alive, born again, and yet they will not grow because they never study the Word or they get distracted, something of that nature.

But growth should follow. That doesn’t mean it automatically will follow someone’s salvation. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are to go beyond just simply getting saved, to grow and mature because God’s purpose is for us to have good works, and that our lives should reflect those good works.

Let’s just review the first part of this chapter, what we’ve already gone over. It’s been six weeks since we last studied this, so we need to be reminded of the flow of what’s going on here, and then wrap it up with Ephesians 2:10 before we go forward into the next section of the epistle.

Slide 6

There are 6 basic questions that are answered in this section:

1.      What is the problem? Ephesians 2:1, 2

Part of the problem, aside from our sin, is understanding some of the grammar and the language in this section, where you have a second person plural pronoun “you” in the English. It should be “you all” or “y’all,” as we say in the South.

The second problem is the “we.” Who are the “y’all” (who are the “you”) and to whom does the “we” or the “us” or the “our” refer?

2.      What is the solution to the problem? The problem is spiritual death. The solution is what God does, Ephesians 2:4, “But God made us alive together, raised us and seated us together.”

3.      What does it mean to be saved? Ephesians 2:5, 8.

A lot of people are confused about that term. In the Old Testament the word “saved” doesn’t always refer to justification regeneration. It also refers to deliverance from physical danger, a physical problem or even a disease being healed.

4.      What is the purpose for being made alive, raised and seated? Ephesians 2:7

We did a lengthy study going back into key Old Testament passages to understand:

  • What happened when Jesus ascended and was seated at the right hand of the Father?
  • What is its purpose because we are raised and seated together with Him?

5.      We looked at the definition of the “gift of God” and the problem in Ephesians 2:8.

6.      Today we will look at who is God’s masterpiece? Ephesians 2:10.

Slide 7

The text may be little small for you, but this is a way to get all of these verses up on the screen, so we can see how this one long sentence connects together.

In Ephesians 2:1, I’ve taken the phrase “He made alive” and put it in brackets and italicized it. If you’re using King James or even a New King James version, that will be how it is in the text, it’s italicized because it’s not there in the original.

This is an awkward sentence to translate into English because the subject of the sentence does not appear until Ephesians 2:4. The grammatical subject is God. Then the verbs that go with the subject, the actions that God takes, are found in Ephesians 2:5–6. So this is a long, long sentence, yet it is a very important sentence to understand.

Slide 8

Next is Ephesians 2:8–9; the third sentence of the paragraph is Ephesians 2:10.

We have one sentence talking about everything that God did for us, then in the middle of that the writer interrupts himself in Ephesians 2:5 and says, “for by grace you have been saved…” Then he comes back and explains what that means in Ephesians 2:8–9. Then in Ephesians 2:10 takes us to the next step, which is that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works.

It’s important for us to understand this phrase “in Christ Jesus” that runs through this section. That has to do with our new legal standing as believers in Christ, our position in Christ, what is ours in terms of our eternal relationship in Christ, which is different from our day-to-day walk, our day-to-day experience, and what may or may not transpire in our Christian life. We have to understand who we are in Christ.

We look at the framework for Ephesians—as I titled the book—it is about the wealth that we have in Christ.

  • Ephesians 1–3, Wealth describes all that is ours at the instant of salvation because we are in Christ: our legal standing, our position.
  • Ephesians 4–5, the Walk of the believer.
  • Ephesians 6:10 on focuses on the Warfare.

In the core of this opening sentence we read that the subject is God, and that what He did for us was to make us alive together, to raise us up together, and to make us sit together in Christ. That is the focal point of this whole chapter: What God has done for us.

The same thing is true in Ephesians 2:10. We are His workmanship. Actually, in that verse “His” is the very first word in the verse which emphasizes that it’s all God’s work, and it is not our work.

Slide 9

Looking at Ephesians 2:4–6, three things are mentioned: that He made us alive together, raised us up together, made us sit together. But after he mentions the first one, he interrupts himself and says, “For by grace you have been saved …” That seems to relate specifically to the first part in terms of being made alive together, and we will see the significance of that is that being made alive together contextually means to be saved.

Slide 10

It’s very important to understand what is meant when we get into Ephesians 2:8, when it starts off, “For by grace you have been saved …” Just exactly how does that relate?

Slide 11

What’s the problem? The problem as we see in Ephesians 2:1 is that we’re dead in our trespasses and sins, but we have to also understand the problem for these pronouns. Notice at the beginning it’s a reference to “you all,” to those to whom Paul is writing.

Slide 12

Ephesians 2:1, “And y’all who were dead in trespasses and sins.” So he’s referring to his Gentile readers, and he’s saying that you all were dead. When were they dead in their trespasses and sins? It’s not physical death, but a different kind of death. It is a spiritual death that is defined as separation from God. It does not mean a total inability; it means that they are separated from God if we look at it contextually.

Notice he’s talking to his Greek recipients, Ephesians 2:1–2, “And y’all were dead in trespasses and sins, in which y’all once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”

Ephesians 2:3 shifts to a first-person plural, “… among whom also WE all …” What’s the difference between the plural “y’all” and the “we?”

Some say, “Well, the only difference is he’s talking about the Ephesian believers with the second person plural (with the “you”) and the “we” refers to Paul and the Apostles.” But that doesn’t satisfy what is said in the epistle itself. We have to discover who that “we” and “you” relate to.

Again, we see this is important because in Ephesians 2:8–9, he uses the pronoun “you all,” “For by grace y’all have been saved through faith,” and then in Ephesians 2:10 he says, “For we are His workmanship.” So we have to understand who that “we” describes.

Slide 14

Many believe that this “we” and “you” does not always refer to a distinction between Jew and Gentile. That is the most common view, and I have shown many times as we’ve gone through this that that doesn’t work. Because when you look at Ephesians 1:12 at the very beginning, Paul says, “that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.”

The first group to trust in Christ were the Jews. So “we” refers to Jewish background believers; they were the first chronologically to trust in Christ. The early church from Acts 2 through Acts 9 is exclusively made up of Jewish background believers.

Then God revealed to Peter that he should take the gospel to the Gentiles, to Cornelius the centurion, and he had a number of others who were proselytes to Judaism who were with him.

He went to the Gentiles, took the gospel to them, and this is when you see the Gentiles now included equally in this new thing that God is doing, equally included in the church. It makes sense all the way through here that the “we” and the “you” must refer to a Jew and Gentile distinction.

Ephesians 2:11, “Therefore remember that you all once Gentiles in the flesh who are called the Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands.”

Ephesians 2:12, “that at the time y’all were without Christ.”

Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus y’all who once were far off.”

Ephesians 2:14, “For He Himself is our peace, who is made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”

Slide 16

My point: from Ephesians 2:11 on, it is very clear that the “you” refers to “you Gentiles” and the “we” refers to “us Jews,” primarily saved Jews is the main idea. There’s no change though, no sudden information in the text that’s telling you that the “we” and the “you” meant one thing at the beginning, and now it means something else.

We see consistently through this section the emphasis on these two distinct groups. The “we’ or the “us” or the “our” talks about these Jewish background believers who believed in Christ from the Day of Pentecost forward; they are believers.

Slide 17

Sometimes it refers to Jewish and Gentile believers together in Christ. In Ephesians 2:5–6, 10, the “we” refers now to what has been brought together.

Slide 18

For example, when it talks about “we are made alive together,” it’s talking about “we Jew and Gentile.” That’s the focal point in Ephesians 2: this new group, this new entity, this Body of Christ.

Ephesians is about the church, this new entity that God has brought into creation in this Church Age. When we don’t have this distinction down correctly, then somehow it dilutes the significance of his focus on the glories of this new creation in this Church Age.

The plural “we” can refer to Jewish background believers only, and in some places it refers to Jews and Gentiles together in Christ. The second person plural “you” or “y’all” refers to Gentiles. In a couple places it refers to them prior to their salvation, as unbelievers. But in most places it’s referring to “you Gentile believers.”

Slide 19

We see at the very beginning that the basic problem he talks about, is a problem of spiritual death. This spiritual death is defined for us in Ephesians 4, talking about being alienated from God: that we need to have a different life from the way we were when we were first born and we were alienated from God.

It doesn’t mean that we just had no life and that we couldn’t do anything, it means we’re just separated from God, so Paul defines for us spiritual death.

The solution is life, “but God made us alive together.” That’s the first thing. We were dead, i.e., alienated from God, and now there’s a transformation; we’re no longer alienated from God.

The third question, what does it mean to be saved? What exactly does that mean when the text talks about the fact that we are now saved? We have to understand this contextually.

Slide 20

Ephesians 2:5, “even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together… (by grace you have been saved).”

Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved.”

We were dead, we were made alive together, and this is defined through this appositional phrase “you have been saved.” “Saved” here is a broader word that specifically refers to being made alive together. Therefore, when we get to Ephesians 2:8, which picks up on that phrase “For by grace you have been saved,” we know that he’s talking about being made alive together.

In Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved,” being saved equals being made alive together. We could also read it contextually, “For by grace you have been regenerated.” You have been made alive together, and this regeneration is not something you could bring about on your own, it is the gift of God.

“Made alive together” from Ephesians 2:5 is a synonym for “being saved” in the last part of Ephesians 2:5, and that is the same thing as regeneration or being born again.

“For by grace you have been born again,” “for by grace you have been regenerated,” “for by grace you have been made alive together,” “for by grace you have been saved.” That is the focal point and the summary of what he is talking about.

Slide 21

The fourth question is, what’s the purpose for being made alive, raised and seated together in Christ in Ephesians 2:7?

Slide 22

It is so that God can make trophies of us of His grace and that we will be on display for all of eternity so that people can see how magnificent and how marvelous and how wonderful His grace is.

Slide 23

Then the section where there’s a bit of a problem, and that is understanding what this phrase means that it’s a “gift of God.” What exactly is the gift of God?

Slide 24

Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that—what is the ‘that?’—that not of yourselves; it—the ‘that’—is the gift of God.”

Is the gift of God grace? Is the gift of God salvation? Is the gift of God faith? We’ve studied this quite a bit, and I pointed out that “the gift” is not grace, it’s not faith, it’s not salvation. It is all of it. It is a “by grace through faith salvation.”

As a result of analyzing the text, we have seen that because this is “through faith,” faith must precede salvation. There are those that say that first you’re regenerate. But you see regenerate is what saved means in this context, so you can’t be regenerate before you’re saved because you’re saved through faith. Faith has to come first and then salvation. Faith comes first and then regeneration. Let’s see how that works grammatically.

Slide 25

It is the Greek preposition DIA plus PISTIS. PISTIS is in the genitive case. I know you may not be able to stay on track with all of this because of the grammar, but you can use the preposition DIA with either a genitive case or an accusative case. If you use it with an accusative case, it would mean because of faith. If you use it that way, then faith becomes the cause or the meritorious basis for faith.

If you put it that way, then this means that it is the kind of faith that you have. This was pointed out to me by a rather strong Calvinist, a professor I had in my first year of theology at Dallas Seminary, Dr. Bloom, who pastored a Presbyterian Church here in Houston back in the late 60s.

He said this shows without a doubt that faith has to be nonmeritorious, because it’s through faith—treating faith as a means and not treating faith as the cause. If faith is the cause, then it’s the kind of faith. If it’s a means, then the object of faith is what has all of the merit.

Slide 26

I’ve designed this diagram where we have a poor guy who is alienated from God. He is without life, and he is thirsty. He does not have the water of life.

Then over here he comes to the faith pipeline, because the water must flow, the water of life must flow through faith. He must turn the valve; this is his will; he has volition.

Slide 27

He turns the valve, and the water will flow through it. Does the water flow through the faith before he has life or must he be given life before the water flows through the faith? It is very clear from the grammar that when something is through something else, then whatever is through something precedes.

If somebody asks me, “Where’s the restroom?” I say, “It’s through that door, first door on the right.” That means you have to go through the door before you can come to your destination. If salvation is the destination you have to first go through faith before you get to the destination.

This makes it very clear grammatically that regeneration that salvation, does not precede faith, but faith comes first. Faith is the belief, the trust, in the saving proposition of Scripture that Christ is the Messiah, He died on the cross for our sins.

When we believe Him—just a mustard seed of faith, then we have eternal life. We are transformed by God at that instant, we’re made alive together in Christ, we are raised, we are seated together with Him in the heavenlies. If we were to lose our salvation, God would have to reverse all of that, and that is so absurd you can’t even imagine.

People who believe that you can lose your salvation and get it back, well first of all, that would violate Hebrews 6. That’s where they usually go, and Hebrews 6 says it’s impossible to renew such a person who has lost it if they get it again. That’s not what it’s talking about, but that’s how they interpret it.

Hebrews 6 would only give you one shot, but that’s not grace, that’s just legalism. Grace is that God gives you life and it transforms you so dramatically and places you in Christ with this incredible new identity, as we’ll see in our passage; this new creation in Christ which is an irreversible transaction.

Slide 28

We saw in that verse that “being saved” is the same as regeneration or being born again. “Being saved” is the same as “being made alive together.”

Slide 29

We looked at what the relative pronoun “that” relates to. It’s not faith. It can’t refer to faith because faith is a feminine noun; it can’t refer to grace because grace is a feminine noun; it can’t refer to salvation because that is a masculine noun. The “that,” a relative pronoun, is a neuter, so when you have a pronoun that’s a neuter, it must refer to a neuter noun.

Slide 30

“Grace” and “faith” are excluded because they’re feminine nouns. “Saved” is a masculine participle.

Slide 31

In Greek, neuter relatives, neuter demonstrative pronouns, are used to refer to phrases, clauses and sentences or entire works of literature. So when you have a phrase “For by grace you have been saved through faith,” the relative pronoun “that” must describe the entire phrase.

Slide 32

Ephesians 2:8 would be translated, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that ‘by grace through faith salvation’ is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Christ is the object of faith. Faith is nonmeritorious. If faith were meritorious, it would be because of faith, and we would have to be given the right kind of faith. But faith here is not in the accusative case, it is the means, so it is when we turn that volition valve, the water of life flows through. God is the One who makes us alive. God is the One who regenerates us. God is the One who identifies us with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection and puts us in union with Him.

Slide 33

Through Scripture we are always given the option to believe or not. John 11:25-26, Jesus talking to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes shall never die. Do you believe this?”

He specifically addresses her; she has to decide: does she believe it? Does she agree that that is true? Or is she going to disagree and say no that’s not true, I don’t believe it?

Slide 34

John 20:31, “but these—what are the ‘these?’ “These” are the signs, the miracles that are pointed out by John in Jesus’ life. There are seven great signs in the Gospel of John and the eighth and greatest sign is His resurrection, which we looked at last Sunday morning on Resurrection Day—these signs are written that you might believe.”

Over 95 times John uses the verb PISTEUO, the verb for believe, and he never qualifies it. There’s no adverb with it. He doesn’t say, “You need to sincerely believe,” “You need to genuinely believe,” “You need to truly believe.” He never says that, because in life we either believe it—we accept something as true—or we don’t.

We either agree or disagree; we either assent to it—it’s truth that Christ died for me—or we reject it. That is the gospel, that if we believe Christ died for us—put your name in that blank—if Christ died for you, then you have eternal life.

John 20:31, “but these are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”

Slide 35

That brings us to the end of this section and answers the question, who is God’s masterpiece here in Ephesians 2:10?

Slide 36

Ephesians 2:10, “For WE are His workmanship—now we’re going to have to answer some questions as we go through this—WE are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which—that is, the good works—which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Slide 37

What does this mean? We have to note several things about this passage:

1.      To whom does the “we” refer?

Earlier I said the “we” in most of its uses in the first chapter and most of the verses we’ve seen up to this point, describes “we Jews” who first trusted in Jesus as the Messiah. But starting in Ephesians 2:4–6, the “we” begins to describe the Jew and the Gentile who are now together in Christ, made alive together, raised and seated together in Christ.

Here it’s not just talking about what the Jew who first came to Christ had, but now it’s talking about “we—Jew and Gentile.”

Ephesians 2:8 said for YOU have been saved, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.” In Ephesians 2:10 it shifts and says, “For we are His workmanship.”

2.      What is the significance of word “workmanship?”

What does that mean? Workmanship is not a user-friendly term in our society. What exactly is he talking about when he is saying that we are His workmanship?

He goes on to say in Ephesians 2:10, “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” The workmanship relates to being created.

What does it mean that we are created in Christ?

Why is that significant that we are created in Christ Jesus?

What does he mean by “good works?”

3.      What is the significance of what he says, that God prepared beforehand “that we should walk in them?” What does it mean when he says that we should walk in them?

Slide 38

We will begin with the opening “For we …” “For,” as I’ve already pointed out, tells us that this is a further explanation of what has already been said. The “for” further clarifies and explains Ephesians 2:8–9, this “by grace through faith salvation.”

In the context we saw that “saved” means to be “made alive again.” It refers to regeneration, and that regeneration is by faith alone. It is through faith or by faith.

Slide 39

This is parallel to what Paul says about justification in Romans 4:1–3. He goes back to Genesis 15:6 where Moses tells us about Abraham’s faith: how Abraham became justified.

Romans 4:1 Paul said, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father …” He is talking to Jewish background believers; he refers to Abraham as their genetic father. But he would also include Gentile believers, because in Galatians he demonstrates that we are also of Abraham’s seed because we have believed the promise of God.

Romans 4:1–2, “What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about.”

What did Ephesians 2:8–9 say? That salvation “is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast…” He is saying that being saved—that is, regeneration—is not on the basis of works, so we can’t boast.

That’s the same thing that Paul is saying in Romans 4:2, that justification can’t be on the basis of our good works because then we would boast about it. But if it’s based on faith in God’s promise, then we have nothing to boast about.

In Romans 4:3 he quotes from Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”

Without getting out into the weeds too much, when it states this in context, it’s not talking about the immediate promise that God made to Abraham in Genesis 15:1–5. I believe the verb tense there in the Hebrew is telling us, remember, Abraham had already believed, had already trusted in God.

What did he trust in? He trusted in the early gospel message from Genesis 3:15 and on that God would send the seed of the woman to destroy the seed of the serpent. He had believed that long before God called him from Ur of the Chaldees in Genesis 12:1–3.

How was Abram justified? He was justified by trusting in God’s promise of a future salvation. This is the same issue; works are excluded. Faith is the means by which God’s salvation promise is appropriated to the individual.

Slide 40

We’re reminded that when it’s talking about “y’all,” that it describes those Gentile believers. Ephesians 2:12–13 uses that word very distinctively in that manner.

Slide 41

Ephesians 2:10, he’s concluding this section: “For we—both Jew and Gentile—are His workmanship.”

This is an interesting word translated “workmanship.” It brings in the idea of looking at God as a craftsman. You’ve heard me teach this before, that when God is creating Adam in Genesis 2, we have this picture of a potter, a craftsman, an artist. He is spitting, as it were, into the soil, mixing it around in the soil, and He is shaping and forming something.

One of the creation words used there is a word that’s used for a potter shaping the clay. We see God pictured as an artist, as a craftsman, and that’s exactly what this Greek word portrays. The Greek is POIEMA, basically the idea of something that is made.

Interesting, in the English; if you take the “I” out and drop the “A,” from POIEMA, what’s left? Poem. Something that is crafted, something that is artistic. Many people believe that this is the word from which we get our English word “poem.”

POIEMA was used in classical literature for the work of a craftsman. It’s used in one instance in Herodotus as crafting and designing a crown for a ruler. It is not just producing something that’s of an everyday type of production, but something that is artistic, something that is valuable and beautiful.

The Septuagint uses it 29 times to translate various Hebrew words. The main idea is that this is talking about the creation of something of great value, the creation of something that is a masterpiece. It is only used two times in the New Testament, and in both instances—here and in Romans 1:20—it portrays the creative action of God.

Because God is perfect that which He creates is going to be perfect. It’s going to be beautiful. It is going to be the most beautiful artistic design that He can come up with, so it’s an absolute masterpiece.

For that reason, some versions translate Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His masterpiece …” We are His work of art. We as Church Age believers are God’s masterpiece. We as Church Age believers are a work of art. It elevates us to the highest value of expression for anyone who is a believer in all of the Bible. Church Age believers are a work of art.

It raises the question whether the “we” means “we the body of Christ” or “we as individuals in the body of Christ.” I think that it emphasizes both because when we look at how the word “we” is used in the first 10 verses of this chapter, it is focusing as “we as individuals.”

But the “we as individuals” in those 10 verses and in the next 5 or 6 verses is talking about how we are brought together in Christ. Even in this verse, those who are His masterpiece are created in Christ Jesus, so it’s emphasizing the value of Church Age believers. That is beyond anything that we can imagine; the language here elevates us to this special creation of God.

Slide 42

It is tied immediately to the next word, “created” in Christ Jesus, the verb on the upper right. It’s a participle that means to create or to build. It’s related to the noun KTISIS: the verb is KTIZO, the noun is KTISIS. These two words are used to describe this new creation in this Church Age.

Slide 43

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ.” Well, how do you get in Christ? By believing the gospel. If you believe in Christ in this dispensation, you are in Christ, and “you are a new creation,” the noun KTISIS. You are a new creation, and God only creates that which is beautiful, that which is artistic, and that which has the highest value. He goes on to say “old things have passed away behold, all things are new.”

Slide 44

In Galatians 6:15 Paul writes, “For in Christ Jesus—again it’s talking about our position in Christ—for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.”

He uses KTISIS again. It relates to our new legal identification with Christ. It is referred to in theology as our position in Christ, our positional truth. That’s another term that refers to the legal standing in Christ. It’s not talking about our experience.

Slide 45

Ephesians 4:24, “… and that you put on the new man.” That’s experiential; we already are created in Christ. But in the second half of the epistle, it talks about what we should do because of our wealth: we should put on the new man.

It clearly indicates that just because we are in Christ doesn’t mean we’re necessarily going to grow and mature and walk in good works. That’s what the second half of the epistle is about. If it was automatic, we wouldn’t have these expectations and these injunctions.

We’re seeing here the statement that one of the blessings that we have in heaven is that we’re now in Christ: we are a new creation in Christ; we are a masterpiece in Christ.

Slide 46

Let’s chart this. On the left side we will chart our eternal realities. We come to Christ, we trust in Him as our Savior, and we have two areas that apply from Scripture. One is our eternal reality, our position in Christ and our legal standing in Christ, and the other is our temporal reality, our day-to-day experience, our day-to-day walk.

Slide 47

We’re going to focus initially on the fact that we are placed in Christ. This is positional truth. We are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, so we are entered into Him. We are now transformed legally and positionally into the kingdom of light. We are sons of light. Paul says in Ephesians 5:8, “walk as children of light.”

Slide 48

We have been reconciled.

Slide 49

We have been redeemed.

Slide 50

We have been regenerated—made alive together in Him.

Slide 51

We have been adopted into God’s royal family.

Slide 52

We are a new creature or new creation in Christ.

Slide 53

We are freed from the power of sin, Romans 6:3–6. We still have a sin nature, but the sin nature is no longer the tyrant.

Slide 54

We have new life in Him. We’re no longer alienated from God, but we are in right relationship with God.

Slide 55

We are sealed by the Holy Spirit,

Slide 56

We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Slide 57

This phrase, “in Christ” is used 164 times by the Apostle Paul. It describes our new identity in Christ: that we are united together with Him, and it is unique to the Church Age believer.

Slide 58

Colossians 2:3, “… in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Slide 59

Colossians 2:7, we are to be “rooted and built up in Him.”

Slide 60

Colossians 2:10, we are “complete in Him.”

Slide 61

Colossians 2:11, we have been spiritually circumcised, which means we are cleansed positionally from all sin. That is who we are in Christ.

Slide 62

The temporal realities: we’re to walk a certain way.

Slide 63

The end of Ephesians 2:10 talks about this—that we are to walk in these good works. We are to do this by walking by the spirit; we are filled with the Word by the Holy Spirit.

These good works are developed: the idea of good works is that which pleases God, which is produced by God the Holy Spirit. It’s not morality. Anybody can be moral. There are a lot of pagans who are very, very moral.

I know unbelievers who are very religious and are very moral, have high ethical standards, are very honest. They’re good husbands, good fathers, but they do not have new life. They are still spiritually dead. Good works is not talking about just being moral, it’s talking about something supernatural that is produced in us by the Holy Spirit as we walk by the Spirit.

Slide 64

2 Timothy 3:16–17 says that not only is this done by the walk by the Spirit, but is from the Word of God, “All Scripture is breathed out by God, and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and instruction of righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

We’re to walk in these good works. That presupposes that we’re studying the Word of God that transforms us.

2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

These good works are produced by God in us, not by our own efforts.

Slide 65

Titus 3:1, addressed to a pastor, “Remind them—just as I am reminding you now—remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.”

Slide 66

These good works God prepared beforehand was part of His plan from eternity past—that we should walk in them.

Slide 67

This is PERIPATEO in the Greek, the word for “to walk.” It’s used twice in this chapter. It’s bracketed; it’s an inclusio in literature.

Slide 68

At the very beginning of the chapter, Ephesians 2:2, “in which you once formerly walked—how did they walk? as unbelievers—according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience.”

Before we were saved we lived a certain kind of lifestyle. We thought a certain way. We acted a certain way. We had a certain set of standards and values.

But at the end of this section in Ephesians 2:10, we are now a new creation in Christ. We are “created in Christ for the purpose of good works…that we should walk in them.” Not walk like we walked before. That’s going to be the thrust of how this word is used in the remainder of Ephesians.

Slide 69

In Ephesians 4 and 5, we have six different uses of the word, PERIPATEO:

Ephesians 4:1, we’re to “walk worthy of the calling with which we were called.”

In Ephesians 4:17, we “should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk.”

Ephesians 5:2, we’re to “walk in love, as Christ also has loved us.”

Ephesians 5:8 we’re to “walk as children of light.”

This sets us up to go into the next section, Ephesians 2:11 and following which focuses on what God did in tearing down the barrier. There are two barriers; there’s a barrier of the law between Jew and Gentile; and there’s another barrier that separates Jew and Gentile from God. God in Christ destroyed the barrier, so that now the two—Jew and Gentile—are made one in Christ. He has made peace between them and the Father, so that we have salvation.

All of this relates to the unique distinctives of Church Age believers and why we are above and beyond anything that was ever imagined for the spiritual life and our relationship with God in the Old Testament.

Next time we will begin to work our way through this next very important section, Ephesians 2:11–22.

Closing Prayer

“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to be reminded of all that You provided for us as Church Age believers. It boggles our minds to think about the wealth of resources, the wealth of blessing, that You have given us, and we need to live in light of that.

“Father, we pray for any who might be listening to this lesson today or some future time through the Internet, that if they have never trusted in Christ as Savior, that they would do that now, for the days are growing short.

“We never know how much longer we may have to live. We never know how much longer it might be until Jesus returns. We can’t put off till tomorrow these important decisions. We know that Christ died for our sins; make this clear to those who are listening, that by believing in Him we have eternal life, and that there is no other way.

There’s no way we can work our way to heaven. There is no way that we can be good enough. There’s no way that we can have religious works, the works of righteousness. As Paul says, it’s not by works of righteousness—tsedeqah—which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us. Father, make these things clear to the unbeliever who listens, that they might trust in Christ as Savior.

“Father for us who are believers, that we might live and walk in light of all that You have done, that we might walk in these good works that are described in the remainder of Ephesians. All of these wonderful things that we’re taught, that we might live accordingly because that’s what it means to live according to of these works You prepared.

“We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”