Good Works


One of my favorite verses in scripture is found in Ephesians 2:8-9

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

Most people stop after they quote this part of the passage, but the part of the verse I love even more is what follows in verse 10…

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

This verse bursts forth from that amazing passage about the grace that has saved us through faith. It has a grand purpose, a purpose that is housed here and now in the present. Yes, we do look forward to being in the presence of the one who has redeemed us, but for now, he has a purpose for us.

The Greek word for workmanship in this passage is poiema, which generally means something created or made. It is also the title of the album by Michael Card. I love the song on this album called the Poem of your life, I would not be surprised if he was not thinking of this passage when he penned these words…

Life is a song we must sing with our days 
A poem with meaning more than words can say
A painting with colors no rainbow can tell
A lyric that rhymes either heaven or hell
We are living letters that doubt desecrates
We’re the notes of the song of the chorus of faith
God shapes every second of our little lives
And minds every minute as the universe waits by

CHORUS:
The pain and the longing
The joy and the moments of light
Are the rhythm and rhyme
The free verse of the poem of life

So look in the mirror and pray for the grace
To tear off the mask, see the art of your face
Open your ear lids to hear the sweet song
Of each moment that passes and pray to prolong
Your time in the ball of the dance of your days
Your canvas of colors of moments ablaze
With all that is holy
With the joy and the strife
With the rhythm and rhyme of the poem of your life
With the rhythm and rhyme of the poem of your life

Michael Card:Poiema (1994) The Poem of Your Life

What a beautiful thought, that we are saved by grace and our lives become a beautiful poem in the hands of our creator. A creator who created us in his Messiah, Yeshua for good works.

What are those good works? Well, it says that they were prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. What came before? I believe that the principle is outlined for us in Deut 30:11-18

For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?” But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-18, ESV)

This whole passage is talking about what is written in the book of the Torah, essentially the first 5 books of the Bible given to Moses on Mt. Sinai and passed down to us today through the people of God. The principle that is set forth is that if we walk according to God’s ways then we will live, and multiply and be blessed, but, if we do not then our hearts turn away.

So, just as God redeemed Israel out of Egypt from the bondage of slavery, and act of His grace, then he gives Israel instruction on how to live as a result of that Grace. So to God has set us free from the bondage of our sinfulness that we can look to His example in our Messiah Yeshua who showed us how to live by example the good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Maybe they understood this in the 1500’s when the Scot’s confession was penned which included this confession in chapter 14…

We affirm good works to be those alone which are done in faith and at the command of God who, in His law, has set forth the things that please Him.”

Faith gets us there, through a beautiful act of the father, but we are not to sit still in that faith. No, that faith should drive us to do the things that please our Father. Things which God has already planned, His will for our lives, all of which are already housed in the principles he has set forth in His word. Yeshua even sets forth this principle when he teaches His disciples the Lord’s prayer…

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10, ESV)

What is God’s desire in all of this? Maybe, it’s to bring us back to the original plan before we sinned in the Garden, maybe it was part of the plan all along, for in that wonderful section of Deuteronomy God also said this…

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deuteronomy 30:6-10, ESV)

So, how then now shall we live?

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