What Does it Mean That We Are God’s Workmanship?
The truth that Christ’s believers are God’s workmanship reflects His works of creation, redemption, provision, and sanctification in every believer’s life. This workmanship displays the greatness and the goodness of the loving Creator.
Paul wrote to God’s holy people in Ephesus who were faithful followers of Christ Jesus, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, NKJV).
Other English Bible translations use words such as “handiwork, masterpiece, accomplished, creative work, or the product of His hand” (heaven’s poetry etched on lives) instead of workmanship.
In the Oxford English Dictionary, workmanship is defined as “the degree of skill with which a product is made, or a job done” and synonymous with craftmanship, which is “the quality of design and work shown in something made by hand; creative skill or ability.”
The truth that Christ’s believers are God’s workmanship reflects His works of creation, redemption, provision, and sanctification in every believer’s life.
1. God’s Work of Creation in His Workmanship
All human beings are created in the image of God, regardless of whether or not they put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:26-27). All we are the clay, and the Creator is our potter (Isaiah 64:8).
God created the universe by His word: He spoke, and things came into existence. But it was only when He created man that He did something different: “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
Therefore, unlike animals and plants, every human being possesses a spirit, which means having the ability to perceive spiritual realms or matters and the things of God, who is Spirit (John 4:24).
Man is the crown of God’s creation (Psalm 8:3-5) and created through God’s direct, intimate intervention (Psalm 139:13-16). Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, displaying the intricate, excellent, and marvelous work of God. Therefore, the life of every human being is precious, purposeful, and meaningful in the sight of the Creator.
2. God’s Work of Redemption in His Workmanship
Because of sin, originated by the enemy (i.e., the fallen angel or Satan), God’s image in every human being is corrupted. As a result, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we are all sinners, by nature and by choice, and no amount of good works can save us from the penalty for sin: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
We all need God’s mercy and grace for our salvation. We all need God taking the initiative to restore the relationship — and thankfully, He did! (by sending His Son, Jesus Christ) — so that we can have peace with God.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).
This redemptive and restorative mission has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10). Here is the wonderful truth: God’s image in every believer is restored by Jesus Christ, the perfect, visible image (i.e., the exact representation) of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Romans 8:29), as we live in Him, and He lives in us.
3. God’s Work of Provision in His Workmanship
Everyone who trusts in Jesus can be sure that God is able to supply all our needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
As King David declared, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).
It is for His name’s sake that God provides all our needs. We can trust Him, the Possessor of heaven and earth, for our every need, including physical, financial, emotional, and spiritual needs.
Note that we are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus,” having been blessed, not only with eternal life but also with a new life (2 Corinthians 5:17) and abundant life (John 10:10) in Him. Praise the Lord!
4. God’s Work of Sanctification in His Workmanship
As we receive and believe Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit resides in us, making our hearts His home (Romans 8:9). By the Holy Spirit alone, we can realize that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, of our need for God’s righteousness, and of His judgment (John 16:8), and He guides us into all truth (John 16:13).
We live in a broken world and oftentimes our faith in Christ is challenged by the temptation and values of this world. Hence, we need God’s Spirit to continue to sanctify us from the sins of this world that could “pollute” our hearts.
And as we are God’s workmanship, the Holy Spirit ultimately transforms us into Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18), producing the character of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit in us (Ephesians 5:8-10; Galatians 5:22-23). This means that our sinful nature (i.e., tendency to disobey and rebel against God) is replaced with a new, godly nature that desires to please, obey, and glorify the Lord.
The Purpose of God’s Workmanship
It is amazing to see that the triune God (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) all participate in this workmanship, which displays His divine nature — His greatness and goodness.
And now, Ephesians 2:10 tells us further that we are God’s workmanship for good works, which He ordained beforehand that we should walk in them.
The preceding verses say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NKJV). It is clear that we are saved by God’s grace through faith that should be manifested in good works.
In other words, God’s grace in our lives through Christ Jesus should result in good works, which, I believe, speak of our unique calling and purpose in Him. These are related to God’s original plan in creating mankind (Genesis 2:28), which is then translated into the Great Commission.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
These good works ultimately bring honor and glory to the One who creates, redeems, provides, and sanctifies us with His unchanging love. All glory to God!
For further reading:
What Is the Difference Between Grace and Mercy?
What Does It Mean to Have Peace with God?
How Are We Created in the Image of God?
How Did Different Races Come into Existence as God’s Wonderful Created Image?
What Does “Imago Dei” Mean? The Image of God in the Bible
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/dorian2013
Philip Wijaya, Ph.D. currently lives in Vancouver, Canada with his wife, Sandra, and their daughter, Shalom. His interest in science and faith in God has motivated him to actively write in his personal blog (philipwijaya.com), in addition to his professional research work in the area of clean energy and chemical engineering. In his leisure time, he enjoys sports, football games, music, and traveling with family.