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What the Bible says about We are God's Workmanship
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Ecclesiastes 3:10-14

Some commentators describe Ecclesiastes 3:12 as negative because they understand the phrase, “there is nothing better,” as implying something “second-best.” They almost seem insulted that God has “tossed them a crumb.” But look again at what God has counseled that we should do! In verse 12, He advises us to rejoice and do good in our lives, and in verse 13, to eat, drink, and enjoy the good of our labor because these things—the food, the drink, and the ability to labor—are gifts of God.

If we reword these verses into the first-person voice, it reads, “There is nothing better than that I should be joyful and do good as long as I live, and to eat and drink and take pleasure in all my work—this is God's gift to me.” How much good can be accomplished in a life lived with the attitude that He counsels us to live with? What does God more specifically mean by “do good”? What He means should be taken in a moral and ethical sense. To do good is to do good works, and that is our assignment all the time! God is most certainly not tossing us a crumb.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that doing good is the very reason for our calling! “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Regardless of a trial God may have specifically assigned us, doing good works is always our assignment, whether within that specific trial or free from whatever particular discipline the trial might normally impose.

Thus, in Ecclesiastes 3:10-14, God is telling us to take joy in His employment of us before the world in doing good at home for those we live with, doing good work on the job, doing good in serving the brethren, and doing good within our community as we have occasion, using our spiritual gifts to the best of our abilities.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Four): Other Gifts

James 2:14

Some of the wrong thinking about works is derived from Martin Luther's teaching that salvation is by faith alone, a statement that does not appear in the Bible. It is true that God gives salvation through His merciful gift of grace. However, James says that a person's faith is proved by his works (James 2:14-26). If a person has no works, he is actually proving that he has no faith.

People who denigrate Christian works must be rigidly ignored because God pointedly assigns work to all Christian converts. Ephesians 2:10 pointedly states, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” God has prepared, ordained, and assigned these works beforehand. They are requirements and must be accomplished to the level and quality God judges as right and good. At the same time, these works are the very purpose for which the Christian is called and converted. Even though the works do not earn one salvation, God's calling, regeneration, and assignment of works are given so that we are prepared to live that same way of life for all eternity.

The works that we do—the way we live our lives—prove our conversion, that our faith in Christ is real and makes the witness that glorifies God. Thus, we must understand these truths regarding works:

1) God has never intended that works save anybody. Jesus is the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. God knew beforehand that we would need a Savior for salvation.

2) Doing the works provides practice in God's way of life, thus helping to ingrain His way as part of our character.

3) Doing the works is a witness before the world, and by them God is glorified. These are their major purposes.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Two): Works


 




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