A “still life” is an artist’s rendering of inanimate objects, such as a painting of a bowl of fruit. These inactive, dormant objects do nothing but sit still. They are not active in the painting. The objects are not even active in real life.
In the book of Ephesians, Paul describes our salvation as a masterpiece of God. Forwe are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Eph 2:10, ESV).
From beginning to end, our salvation is a work of God. Solely God’s creation. The Greek word translated as “created” in Ephesians 2:10 is only used in Scripture to refer to an act of God. Our salvation is something only God can accomplish. We cannot save ourselves. From beginning to end our salvation is a gift from God. We don’t even seek after God (Romans 3:11). He must draw us to Himself (John 6:44). He alone takes the initiative in our salvation. (For more on this see Sandra’s post “Chosen by God.”)
Paul calls us God’s “workmanship.”
The Greek word translated as “workmanship” is poiema. The English word “poem” is derived from this word. We are God’s “poem,” His work of art, His masterpiece. But we were not created as a “still life.” God’s purpose for us is far greater than to be hung on a wall so the Artist’s work can be admired. We were created in Christ Jesus “to do good works.” Works that God determined and planned long before we were even born.
Good works testify to the reality of our salvation. James said that “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17, ESV). True salvation will result in good works. Outward acts of obedience to God reveal our salvation. Obedience to God demonstrates we have been saved.
Even the good works we accomplish after salvation have their beginning in God. He has prepared them, ordained them. And we can’t carry them out without the indwelling presence of His Spirit. Our task is simply obedience, to walk the path He has laid out for us. Although God’s specific purpose looks different for each Christian, there are general “good works” God intends for every believer. Here are a few we see over and over in Scripture:
- We will obey God’s commands (1 John 5:3).
- We will love our Christian brothers and sisters (1 John 5:1).
- We will share the truth of Jesus with those who don’t know Him (Matt 28:19-20).
- We will give generously to those in need (Matt 25:34-36).
- We will serve the church (1 Cor 12:7).
- Our lives will progressively display the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
- We will work to live holy lives (1 John 3:3).
Both our salvation and the good works God calls us to are accomplished by Him and His power. We have no cause to boast. No reason to pat ourselves on the back. Only reason to praise Him. To give Him glory.
What works has God called you to? How are you doing with following the path He has ordained for you?