Made Alive in Christ Unto Good Works

by Mike Ratliff

We are his masterpiece, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

The second chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians can be divided into two sections of emphasis. As we shall see, Paul makes it abundantly clear in vv1-9 that our salvation is by grace through faith and this it is God’s work in which he lavishes his grace on Christians through his saving initiative alone. Paul uses v10 to introduce the next section that is based on what he introduced in vv1-9, that believers are new creations. In vv10-22 we learn that our new life in Christ is unto good works in him and that all of this unto the glory of Christ as we walk in obedience and unity. 

1 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν, 2 ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας· 3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί· (Ephesians 2:1-3 NA27)

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked according to the age of this world, according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit now working in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom we all conducted ourselves once in the lusts of our flesh, performing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and we were by nature children of wrath just as the rest. (Ephesians 2:1-3 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

All believers were once dead in their sins separated from God. This includes you and I. We were blinded by the fact that our flesh controlled us and our minds were blinded to the truth because of being spiritually dead. This means that we were completely incapable of doing one thing to be anything other than among the sons of disobedience. That is a bleak picture, but that is what God’s Word says. There are no exceptions.

4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ, – χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι – 6 καὶ συνήγειρεν καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 7 ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον· 9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. (Ephesians 2:4-9 NA27)

4 But God being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and he raised us with him and seated us with him in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus 7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus 8 for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves, it is God’s gift, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:4-9 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Now, for those in Christ, the bleak picture is gone. Is it gone because of something they did? Is it gone because of some quality they possessed that others do not have? Paul goes out of his way here to tell us that we are saved by grace, that is God’s work not ours and why God did it this way. First, God did it this way so that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in his kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. Second, the only way this would work is that there be no possibility that those whom he saves could take any credit whatsoever for it. Therefore, the faith through which we are saved, and proven in the way the Greek is structured in v8, is part of God’s gift. Remember, those whom he is saving here were spiritually dead, but made alive. It is in this making alive that enables them to believe the Gospel and so, by grace through faith, as God’s gift, not of works, they are saved. The words “have been saved” translate σεσῳσμένοι or sesōsmenoi, which is a passive, perfect, participle of σῴζω or sōzō, “save, deliver, restore to health, rescue.” This verb form stresses the state brought about by the finished results of the action. Since the “voice” is passive, this should make it clear that those who are saved are not in any way the producers of that salvation.

10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν. 11 Διὸ μνημονεύετε ὅτι ποτὲ ὑμεῖς τὰ ἔθνη ἐν σαρκί, οἱ λεγόμενοι ἀκροβυστία ὑπὸ τῆς λεγομένης περιτομῆς ἐν σαρκὶ χειροποιήτου, 12 ὅτι ἦτε τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ χωρὶς Χριστοῦ, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς πολιτείας τοῦ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ ξένοι τῶν διαθηκῶν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, ἐλπίδα μὴ ἔχοντες καὶ ἄθεοι ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ. 13 νυνὶ δὲ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ὑμεῖς οἵ ποτε ὄντες μακρὰν ἐγενήθητε ἐγγὺς ἐν τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ. (Ephesians 2:10-13 NA27)

10 We are his masterpiece, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them. 11 Therefore, remember that you once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by the ones called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—12 that you were at that time without Christ, having been alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers of the Covenants of the Promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus, you, the ones once being far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:10-13 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1) 

Again, Christians are saved, that is, resurrected from spiritual death unto eternal life in Christ by God not according to anything we did nor according to any quality we possessed. We are his masterpiece and we are new creations in Christ Jesus unto good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them. What does that mean? These good works do not, nor can they, produce salvation, but are subsequent and resultant God-empowered fruits and evidences of it (John 15:8; Philippians 2:12,13; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2:14; James 2:16-26). Just as out salvation was predestined before time began, so is our sanctification and good works.

Notice in v11 that Paul makes it clear that those who insist on salvation by works are those who are the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands, that is, they believe it their own works that set them apart before God. They actually believe that salvation by grace through faith is not sufficient, works must be added, law keeping, et cetera. Legalism abounds in this. Who is it that has been brought near to God? It is those who are in Christ through His blood, not those who attempt to earn their way to God in and of themselves. Of course, many Jews in Paul’s day, like himself, became believers. In these verse, he talks about how they can have unity in Christ.

14 Αὐτὸς γάρ ἐστιν ἡ εἰρήνη ἡμῶν, ὁ ποιήσας τὰ ἀμφότερα ἓν καὶ τὸ μεσότοιχον τοῦ φραγμοῦ λύσας, τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν τῇ σαρκὶ αὐτοῦ, 15 τὸν νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας, ἵνα τοὺς δύο κτίσῃ ἐν αὐτῷ εἰς ἕνα καινὸν ἄνθρωπον ποιῶν εἰρήνην 16 καὶ ἀποκαταλλάξῃ τοὺς ἀμφοτέρους ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ σταυροῦ, ἀποκτείνας τὴν ἔχθραν ἐν αὐτῷ. 17 καὶ ἐλθὼν εὐηγγελίσατο εἰρήνην ὑμῖν τοῖς μακρὰν καὶ εἰρήνην τοῖς ἐγγύς· 18 ὅτι δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἔχομεν τὴν προσαγωγὴν οἱ ἀμφότεροι ἐν ἑνὶ πνεύματι πρὸς τὸν πατέρα. (Ephesians 2:14-18 NA27)

14 For he is our peace, who has made both one, and having broken the middle wall of the partition, breaking the hostility in his flesh 15 having annulled the law of commandments in ordinances that he might create in himself the two into one new man making peace 16 and he might reconcile the two in one body to God through the cross having killed the hostility by it. 17 And having come, he preached peace to you, the ones far off, and peace to the ones near 18 because; through him, we have the access both in one spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14-18 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Jews and Gentiles in Christ have the same access to God, that is, in one spirit to the Father. Notice, please notice how Christ annulled the law of commandments, et cetera. He kept the Law perfectly so we do not have to. His perfect obedience is imputed to our account at our salvation. This is good news for these Jews as well for if they were honest, they could not keep it perfectly either.

19 Ἄρα οὖν οὐκέτι ἐστὲ ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι ἀλλὰ ἐστὲ συμπολῖται τῶν ἁγίων καὶ οἰκεῖοι τοῦ θεοῦ, 20 ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ προφητῶν, ὄντος ἀκρογωνιαίου αὐτοῦ Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, 21 ἐν ᾧ πᾶσα οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη αὔξει εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν κυρίῳ, 22 ἐν ᾧ καὶ ὑμεῖς συνοικοδομεῖσθε εἰς κατοικητήριον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πνεύματι. (Ephesians 2:19-22 NA27)

19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. 20 Having been built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the Cornerstone 21 in whom all the building being fitly joined together grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22 Possessing the Treasure V1)

All in Christ are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God regardless of whether they are Jews or Gentiles or what nationality or background or any other thing that people can come up with to divide from one another. If God saves a person, he or she is my brother or sister in Christ. We are all part of this holy sanctuary (the Church) that our Lord is building. It is built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets with Christ himself being the Cornerstone holding it all together correctly. In each of us, we are a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. How awesome is that?

Think and mediate on these things my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

12 thoughts on “Made Alive in Christ Unto Good Works

  1. So you mean that Christ is actually sufficient? But the Wesleyans say otherwise!

    Ah, the glorious Truth of the gospel! If the Lord did not intercede, none would be turned. And then none would do good works. But God (that glorious phrase!), Who is rich in mercy, condescended and became man, that He would buy trophies of His grace with His blood. “Would we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing. If not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing. You ask who that may be? Christ Jesus it is He! Lord Sabaoth His name, from age to age the same. And He must win the battle!”

    Having been bought at such a price, consider yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ and serve Him with joy and thanksgiving!

  2. Yes I do mean that Manfred, but really I mean it because that is what Paul said because that is what the Holy Spirit inspired him to say. :-) That is the part those who disagree with what you said overlook. There is no wiggle room. God’s Truth is absolute. The last full year we were members of that SBC church that ended up going PDC, our Pastor got all the Deacons and their families together on Christmas to visit the local Nazarene College and Church that is close by that was putting on a Christmas play called a Living Christmas Tree. When we walked in I was amazed at how huge the auditorium was compared to ours. In any case, the usher asked us where we were from. When one of our group gave him the name of our church, he made a sour face then said something like, “Well, I suppose we are all brothers and sisters in Christ so come on in.” Even though the SBC church I was attending was very Arminian, those Nazarenes saw us as inconsistent Calvinists. Nazarenes split from the Methodists because they weren’t following Wesley consistent enough into his Arminianism. Those who have that theology are like Roger Olson at Baylor, they look at the passages behind these doctrines and say, well whatever they mean, I don’t understand them, but they can’t mean what the Calvinists say because that would make God evil.

  3. So many churches embrace the false gospel of synergism – but we shouldn’t be surprised. It pleases the flesh to think we complete (at the very least) or compel (if completely honest) the work of “sovereign” god (small “g” intentional). Hence the large crowds at many churches, with enthusiastic throngs who love the coddling of the flesh.

    A fella posting on DefCon testified that he was an Arminian until he graduated from two colleges that taught that lie and was saved, in part, by hearing the tortured thinking of Jerry Walls: http://wesleyanarminian.blogspot.com/2010/07/jerry-walls-on-problems-with-calvinism.html. He also learned from Roger Olson – but he mostly learned from Christ and gives Him all the glory.

  4. I’m not surprised at all by that Manfred because if you really go deep into those two guys you will find nothing because that is all that inside of us. What saves us is outside of us, not inside, that is the beauty of Monergism. In this God gets all the glory. I find it so puzzling that synergists can quote Ephesians 2:8,9 yet refuse to bow the knee the Sovereignty of God in their salvation even though that is exactly what Ephesians 1 & 2 teaches.

  5. Amen, my brother. It’s not surprising so many are in rebellion, but it’s still disheartening. But we must yet be encouraged, for the Word of God prophesied such would be the case.

  6. So,you didn’t say, but how was the play? :)
    Was it the K.C. First Nazarine Church or some other permutation? :)

  7. My daughter is at another Nazarene University finishing up her degree as we type, so no thank you, I’ve seen enough spiritual formation to last many reincarnations! Thankfully she takes after her fathers…both of them! There is, believe it or not a civil war in that denomination over the whole mess. As there is that same battle in many denominations, as the supra-denominational mega apostasy slithers in wherever it can.
    Thankfully He raises a standard wherever evil enters and increases true believers even among the false, but like Gideon’s Army we seem outnumbered against the enemy, yet it is the Lord who delivers!

  8. “Again, Christians are saved, that is, resurrected from spiritual death unto eternal life in Christ by God not according to anything we did nor according to any quality we possessed. We are his masterpiece and we are new creations in Christ Jesus unto good works that God previously prepared that we should walk in them. What does that mean? These good works do not, nor can they, produce salvation, but are subsequent and resultant God-empowered fruits and evidences of it (John 15:8; Philippians 2:12,13; 2 Timothy 3:17; Titus 2:14; James 2:16-26). Just as out salvation was predestined before time began, so is our sanctification and good works.” Amen Mike.

    1. Martin Luther stated that there are no pre works of merit for justification nor is there any aftercare. When individuals emphasize there own works in order to contribute to or merit justification, one aspect they display is a lack of knowledge concerning the fall and the total depravity/inability of man.

    2. It is also interesting to note that if one does not understand the doctrines of grace one can easily be led astray especially to RC. I have heard individuals say from the RC that “we believe in justification by faith”; however, it is not the same as what true Protestants believe (Sola fide).

    John Owen stated: “The principle differences about the doctrine of justification are reducible to three heads. (1) The nature of it; namely, whether it consists in an internal change of the person justified by the infusion of a habit of inherent grace or righteousness; or whether it be a forensic act, in the judging, esteeming, declaring, and pronouncing such a person to be righteous, thereon absolving him from all his sins, giving to him right and title to life. Herein we have to do only with those of the Church of Rome; all others, both Protestants and Socinians, being agreed on the forensic sense of the word, and the nature of the thing signified thereby…For when all is done, if free justification through the blood of Christ and the imputation of his righteousness, be not able to preserve its station, in the minds of men, the Popish doctrine of justification must and will return upon the world, with all the concomitants and consequences of it. Whilst any knowledge of the law or gospel is continued amongst us, the consciences of men will at one time or other, living or dying, be really affected with a sense of sin, as to its guilt and danger. Hence that trouble and those disquietments of mind will ensue, which will force men, be they never so unwilling, to seek after some relief and satisfaction.”

    This is also the slippery slope of the NPP teaching.

    I am thankful for the grace of God!

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