For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works… ~Ephesians 2:10
God creates. This is part of his nature from the opening pages of the Bible: ours is a God who creates, even so far as he makes something by just speaking words over where there is nothing. More than this, God doesn’t simply create a utilitarian world. He created a world, no, a universe made to be enjoyed. God has put on a vast display of beauty and imagination from the tiniest fish in the sea, to the great and high mountains, to the galaxies spinning above.
With that same creative fervor, God also recreates. Jesus speaks in Revelation, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Our sin has and continues to scar God’s good creation, but the day is coming where every hint of sin will be done away. On a personal level, God recreates us who belong to him in Jesus.
In Ephesians 2, Paul launched into the good news and the bad. The bad: we are, by nature in a post-Genesis 3 fallen world, rebels against God and children of wrath. We turn against God and exalt ourselves at every opportunity. Though it would have been good and just of God to leave us all under his wrath for our rebellious betrayal, he did not desire this.
So he offered up Jesus. The perfect Son of God and son of man, born to Mary with all our limitations but none of our rebelliousness. Tempted like us in every way, he remained faithful. He walked straight into death on the cross not for any wrong he did but for every wrong we did.
This was the sacrifice, the offering for our sins—God’s gift of grace. This gift we receive by faith, an acknowledgement that what God says is true about us and a recognition of our need for Jesus as the answer. So, Paul wrote, “You are saved by grace through faith, not by works” (2:8).
If it was by works, it would be something we have earned. Yet on our own, we are sinners, and sin does garner a wage—death (Romans 6:23). Even the good that we can do, each work still tainted by our sin, could never add up so that the good would cover the bad. So it is not by works. We do not have to work to please God, rather God gives us his pleasure because he so desires in Christ.
Again, by faith—we simply receive. And as we receive, God recreates. The old in us is gone, new has come, as Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17. We might not feel new all at once, this is after all an already-but-not-yet reality. When we come to Christ we are justified, our sins have been paid and our debt covered and the fullness of the new will come. We are not yet glorified, walking both body and soul in the newness of Christ, but that day will come. We are being sanctified, changed each day by the work of God as we pursue him because he first pursued us, becoming less and less like the old and more and more like the new.
The work of God, recreating us and making us new.
By shaping us in this way, God has given us a new way of life. Saved by grace and not by works, we are saved to walk in good works. At our jobs, we work ethically and fulfill our duties as if we were working for God himself. In our families, we work to grow the bonds of love in our relationships to reflect more and more the grace that God has given us. In our churches and communities, we look for the needs of the day–physical, relational, emotional, educational, and spiritual. We do what we can with the resources we have to meet these needs.
In doing so, we live out the wonders of being a new creation. And in doing so, we bring a hint of God’s new creation to the world around us.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.