Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV)8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
"That salvation not of yourselves. … The Holy Spirit has been very careful to guard this precious doctrine of salvation by grace against all forms of heresy. Works in the Scripture are the product or fruit of salvation, not the cause of it. Lest any man should boast. There will be no boasting in heaven because there will be no one there who has anything to boast about. We are his workmanship. The his is emphatic in the original. Created in Christ Jesus unto good works. It is the purpose of our new creation that we should walk. - The Wycliffe Bible Commentary.
The Greek word “poiēma”, translated “workmanship,” occurs in only one other place in the New Testament, where it is translated, “things that are made.”
Romans 1:20 (KJV)20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Here the reference is to the original creation. Just as God created the universe, at salvation, He brings about a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
This new creature is made for good works.
The Bible tells us that you can tell what this new creation is like by their good works (fruit).
Matthew 7:15-20 (KJV)15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Titus 1:16 (KJV) They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Jesus, in Matthew and Paul, in Titus, were talking about false teachers and those who were follow them. If you can recognize them by their works or actions then the opposite would be true as well. Those who know God will be known by their works too. In their case those works would be good works.
Salvation is by grace and entirely of God, so are the good works that follow salvation. Just as we cannot claim any glory for ourselves in our salvation, we can’t claim any glory in our good works.
Charles Spurgeon summarizes these good works a, works of obedience, works of love, works of faith, and acts of common life (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 31:152-153). By works of obedience, he means obeying the commands of Scripture. Works of love includes both love for God and love for our fellow man, with an eye to God’s glory. Works of faith refers to all that we do in reliance upon God and His promises. By acts of common life he meant whatever we do at home, at work, traveling, or on a sick bed, that we do all to the glory of God. In other words, the entire bent of our lives after we have been saved by God’s grace should be lived with a God-ward focus, to please Him. - FROM THE SERIES: EPHESIANS Lesson 15: Salvation and Good Works (Ephesians 2:10) by Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2007, All Rights Reserved.
Most of us think these good works are: attending worship services, praying regularly, studying Scripture, giving generously from our financial resources, joining a small group, going on mission trips, caring for the poor, working for justice for the oppressed, loving our neighbors, etc. These are certainly among the good works that God has prepared for us, but if we stop with them I think we miss the entirety of what God has prepared for us as He includes us in His desire that all men be saved. The works that I listed are not just religious activities but a lifestyle.
My opening scripture says that we should walk in the good works that God has prepared for us. This means that we don’t just do them in our spare time. Walking in good works means that this is what we do every day and in every situation. This means that your good works can include that which you do at work, in the classroom, on the football field, in your neighborhood, and in your community associations. If you're a boss, part of your good works involve the way you manage your employees. If you're a parent, your good works include making dinner for your children as well as praying with them as you tuck them into bed. The more we grow in our faith, the more we see ourselves as God's masterpieces, the more we will indeed do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, by his strength, under his authority, and for his purposes.
Colossians 3:23-24 (KJV)23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
We are His workmanship. God knows everything about us… every detail of our lives. He formed every part of us and planned every day of our lives before we were born.
Psalm 139:16-18 (NLT)16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
PRAYER: Gracious God, I find the perspective of this passage exciting, compelling, and counterintuitive. My culture and even much of my Christian experience have taught me to divide my life into the "stuff for you" and "all the other stuff." I am learning to think more truly and inclusively, to see my whole life as an offering to you.
Help me, Lord, to walk in the good works you have in store for me. Help me to be open to all that you would have me do. Teach me to see my whole life as you see it. By your Spirit, may I come to see every moment of every day as an occasion to do good works—including good work—for you. Amen. - From What Are the Good Works God Has Prepared for Us? Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling