For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
[Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV]
Created for good works ...
The subject of our being ‘created ... for good works’ has caused great theological debate over the centuries, with our good works often taken as our purpose; but Paul makes it plain that we are His workmanship, and that the good works we are to walk in are His workmanship also.
Our purpose is to live as the joy of His creation, looking to Him as the author and finisher of our faith, and growing in our relationship with Him, to express inwardly and outwardly His perfect nature. It sounds great — and indeed it is — but, as we know, it is far from the easiest thing for us. We are flighty and our focus so easily alights on pretty distractions that are put in our paths.
But that not of yourselves ...
It is important to remember that we were chosen before the beginning of the world. This is not that we should say “It’s not my fault, Lord. You chose me!” In a sense, we would be justified in thinking this only if we weren’t chosen by Him in the first place. Ultimately, we are not our own; we are His. We have each been bought at a price ... and such a price too!
And you He made alive, who were dead ...
... and He does it still. It is both a completed work and an unfinished ever-creative one. That is the beauty — and the mystery — of God’s workmanship. His is the finished work, our part is to see His growing unfinished work in us.
If there is to be another revival, it will be through the readjustment of those of us on the inside who call ourselves Christians.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.
[Ephesians 1:7-10 NKJV]
The picture above is a copy of my notes taken while listening to an inspiring man of God speak at a meeting about 15 or 20 years ago. I do not know how coherently it reads, and I see that I have missed bits out here and there, but to me it represents an important piece in the jigsaw that is my maturing walk with The Lord.
Thinking of this man of God reminded me that he often referenced Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, so I felt to re-read through Ephesians — and of course found some verses which have been an immense inspiration for me, as well as millions of others, I am sure. These words speak eloquently for themselves; a wonderful exposition of redemption, and marvellous words to dwell in.
In Him We Have Redemption - David Fellingham
If I am a Christian, to whom is my appeal? To none but to those God sends you to. You can’t get men to come; nobody could get you to come till you came. “The wind bloweth where it listeth: . . . so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
I will praise You, O LORD, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
[Psalm 9:1-2 NKJV]
We can forget that our praises are sacrificial offerings — the sacrifice of praise. In praise, we are giving everything of ourselves; we are lifted into a different sphere, because I am focussed on He that is greater than I. It is part of what is described as death to self; a message that seems unpalatable, and yet it is so uplifting and easy when we throw ourselves fully into praise, because we are transported to a greater reality; the reality of Jesus Christ.
But we must be careful in this. Praise can become an end in itself; almost a drug; for we enjoy the lifting up, the exhilaration of the moment. This can be a trap, when we are merely enjoying ourselves — our eyes diverted away from who we should be worshipping. Not that there should not be enjoyment; perhaps joy would be a better description? Praise is not there to serve us, but to glorify The Lord.
Psalm 9:1-2 shows us the sure heart of our praise. Sing praise to your name, O Most High!
Sing Praises Unto God, Sing Praises
It is the most natural thing to be like the person you live with most, therefore live most with Jesus Christ; be absorbingly taken up with Him.
GEORGE and GILL STEWART