We Are His Workmanship . . .
Ephesians 2:10 reads, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for Good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This is the continuation of what we have been considering since the inception of this series of radio sermons. Those who are saved by grace through their faith are special. Anything the Almighty creates is special and this verse says clearly that the saved are His workmanship.
Paul said very humbly, “for we are His workmanship.” The we of this text is the church that Jesus promised to build. It is the new creation of God through Christ. On the first Pentecost following the ascension of Christ to the Father, there was an event in Jerusalem which demanded the attention of everyone. The church Jesus had promised became a reality. For the first time, the New Testament speaks of the church as in existence. Prior to Pentecost it was always future. Jesus had said, “Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). The church belongs to Christ. We often thoughtlessly speak of “my church,” “our church,” or “your church.” If the church is mine there is no way it can be the one Christ promised -- He said that one was His and His alone.
The expression “our church,” or “my church” is correctly applied only to something that has its origin with someone other than our Lord. On the first Pentecost Day celebration after Jesus rose from the dead, the Lord not only empowered His apostles to preach repentance and remission of sins in His lovely name (Luke 24:47), He sent them their infallible guide, the Holy Spirit (John 16:13) so that what they said was not of themselves -- it was the God speaking through them. And after they preached, those who were saved by grace, through their faith, having been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of past sins, were divinely added to the church. The inspired record tells that those penitent believers who were baptized were, “praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:47).
Notice carefully the following: Jesus promised to build His church. Something that will be built is quit clearly not built at that moment. The Lord had carefully laid out His own plans for the building of the church. He promised the apostles that they would have divine and direct guidance. The Holy Spirit would come and empower the apostles to bring that to a reality. When the apostolic preaching on that memorable Pentecost brought thousands of people to the conviction they needed forgiveness of sins, the record tells us there were about three thousand who obeyed the gospel.
These saved were added to the church. It was the Lord who added to the church day by day those who were being saved (Acts 2:47). The Lord was beginning His great workmanship by establishing His one and only church. His work was perfect and complete. From the divine side of the New Testament church there was not a single flaw. In fact it became such a marvelous accomplishment that Paul could write to the Ephesians as follows. “To the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10).
The very existence of the church in this world makes known the manifold wisdom of God. Several years ago, I got to see the inner workings of a marvelous printing press, a four-color web press, I think. It was probably a hundred feet long and possibly ten feet or more high. It consisted of no telling how many thousands of parts that were all so synchronized that it could place one tiny dot of ink within millimeters of another consistently and produce a beautiful full color picture on paper. It made known the wisdom and skill of the one who designed it and made it work. The church does that even more for the manifold wisdom of God.
The God of heaven planned the church -- the Lord Jesus Christ promised to build it -- the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to preach it into existence and when it was finished -- it is the workmanship of God. How dare anyone mistreat it! How dare a man modify it to his own liking and desire! To put unholy hands upon such a masterpiece of workmanship is even more sacrilegious than for the unqualified to touch the ancient ark of the covenant. How dare any mere man create something as a substitute for it? The workmanship of God stands for God’s holy and divine wisdom.
A preacher many years ago went to speak in a small town during a blizzard. Only a few brave people came out in such awful weather. The preacher raised his Bible and began, “This is the Lord’s word, we are the Lord’s church, and we are experiencing the Lord’s weather -- all we can do is accept them all as the Lord gives them.” That is the right sentiment to have. That is the only sentiment God will approve. All of the modifications men have made to the church, either in name, doctrine, organization, or worship corrupt the church. The works of man make the workmanship of God impure.
Men have certainly created their own versions of the Lord’s church. One of the major so-called Protestant denominations has a creed book that states the following: “It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but ‘one Lord, one faith, and one baptism’ and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church, and at once endowed him with all the rights and privileges of full membership. In that sense, ‘baptism was the door into the church.’ Now, it is different ...” (A Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, by Edward T. Hiscox, DD, page 22).
Question: Who made it different? Has God changed His pattern? Has God given His masterpiece of creation over to men and allowed them to modify and change it to suit their taste? The church may be different today in this so-called protestant world, but there are those who remain completely committed to keeping the Lord’s church like He gave it without any modification at all. That is our quest in the religious community. Churches of Christ seek to be only what the New Testament church was in the first century. We do this by allowing only the word of God to be our guide and refuse all man made creeds and humanly devised plans.
Notice how this workmanship of God came into being. In verse 1 of this chapter (Ephesians 2) “He made alive” those who were dead in trespasses and sins.” In verse 15, Paul says Christ “abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.” Later Paul says this creation of the Lord is done “according to God, in righteousness and true holiness” (4:24). This is the “new creation” the spiritual world God created for man. Here is a very important fact. The church is formed through preaching truth -- it is the pillar and support of truth (1 Tim. 3:16). Thus baptized believers were formed into a body in which they could enjoy the greatest advantages for doing the will of God Almighty. It is “in Christ” that this workmanship of God was created. And to be in Christ is to be part of the great and beautiful church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is but one way to be part of God’s workmanship -- that is through sincere obedience to His word. As a penitent believer, just like those first additions to His church, all must be baptized for the remission of sins. Otherwise there is no promise anyone has for being part of God’s work. It is dangerous not to be in God’s creation. Jesus said, “Every plant which My Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matt. 15:13). And the pertinent question for us is -- is the church of which I am a part the one -- the only one -- the Lord created. If not, do something about it now while you have time. Remember, Jesus said if the Lord did not plant the church to which you belong, it will be uprooted.
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