September 21, 2017

Not Our – But His Workmanship

By Bill Hall

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).

When one is baptized he becomes a new creation, but he is not the creation of any man. He is the workmanship of God.

He is not the workmanship of the person who converted him - not primarily, anyway. Man can teach, influence, persuade, and baptize; but only God can cleanse, forgive, raise a person to sit with Christ in the heavenly places, and give him life. He is God's creation - God's workmanship. Just as surely as no man could create an "Adam," just that surely can no man create a new creature in Christ.

Neither is one self-made. In Christ, one does not lift himself "by his own boot-straps." Christianity is not a "do-it-yourself" religion - not in the fullest sense. One does not effect his own salvation through his own merit. Rather, in obedience to the gospel and faithfulness as a Christian, he places himself as clay in God's hand, to become the work of the divine Potter, who molds, shapes, and perfects him that he might be fashioned in the image of his Son.

He is the workmanship of God because his salvation is "by grace through faith ... .. the gift of God" (vv. 8,9). If one's salvation were of meritorious works, he would not be the workmanship of God. This is the primary thrust of the passage.

The workmanship of God exists as a monument to his greatness. As a beautiful vessel is a monument to the greatness of a potter; as a beautiful painting is a monument to an artist; so a mature and perfected Christian is a monument to the marvelous power of God. Such a person is a product of God's grace and exists for "the praise of his glory" (Eph. 1:6,12,14; 3:14-19). That God could take a Peter, a John, a Saul of Tarsus, an Aquila, a Priscilla, a John Mark, and mold him or her into the lovely vessel each became is a manifestation of his greatness. That he could do the same for people this writer has known and observed equally manifests his greatness. That he can and will do the same for me if I will but submit myself to his care in humble obedience, trust, and prayer is the greatest marvel of all. "I am so glad that Jesus loves me. . . Jesus loves even me" (P.P. Bliss).

The workmanship of God must be handled with care. Such a person is special, precious, priceless to God. As one is cautious in handling a family heirloom or rare piece of pottery fashioned by the hands of a master, so he must be cautious in his handling of that creation which is the work of God. "For meat destroy not the work of God," Paul warned the Romans (Rom. 14:20). That person toward whose tender conscience you are showing little regard or whose soul you are placing in jeopardy is the work of God. Love that person. Appreciate him. Be tender toward him. Recognize his value. Handle with care!

The workmanship of God must never be content until it is brought to perfection. "Finish then thy new creation," Charles Wesley wrote in his familiar hymn "Love Divine." In keeping with this, Paul could express his confidence in the Philippian Christians, "that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6,7). Only those who remain in the Potter's hands until brought to completion and perfection become vessels of honor All others become marred and fit only fit for destruction (2 Tim. 2:19-21).

Let no man, then, boast of himself. Self-righteousness has no place in the heart of a Christian. If any man boast, "let him glory in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:31) and "in the cross of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 6:14). We are his workmanship.

Guardian of Truth XXXII: 18, pp. 553, 567
September 15, 1988

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