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Description: We Are God’s Workmanship 1
We are God’s Workmanship 1
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
I was going to say that the verse that we’re studying this Ephesians 2:10 seems to be really one of
the most profound statements of reality that I know of, except that it seems to me dangerous to say
the most profound. But certainly it is a very profound and comprehensive statement of reality. And
you remember we talked about it a little last day, so maybe you just turn to it, Ephesians 2:10.
See the way it runs, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God
prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
It is interesting the first word virtually in the verse is “autou” in Greek, it means “of him.” And
the second word is workmanship, and that is the whole emphasis of the verse. His, “his
workmanship,” that’s what we are. His workmanship we are. So the verse doesn’t start with ‘us’,
which is part of the problem we have in our lives. We start with ‘us’ but it starts with ‘his’,
his, God’s workmanship we are. And ‘we’ is at least the Gentiles that Paul was writing to, and then
the Jews, including himself, and of course it’s us; “we are his workmanship.”
And I think you remember me telling you that my dad would say, “Oh Ernest look at that
workmanship,” and how he’d say that when he looked at a piece, a beautiful piece of furniture with
carving. And the emphasis was on the workmanship and really on the workman, behind the workmanship.
And that’s the spirit of this verse, “We are his workmanship.”
And I think it’s very easy for us to take it with a pinch of salt, and to say, “No, no, I’m Mrs.
Coleman’s workmanship,” or “I’m Mrs. Blomfield’s workmanship,” or “I’m Mr. Livingstone’s
workmanship,” or “I’m Mr. and Mrs. O’Neil’s workmanship.”Except when you — if you ever talk to your
mum or dad, they certainly know very little about how you were formed inside them. And all they
know was they had a moment of love and then suddenly, well not suddenly, but gradually your mum
found you inside her and you came out. And they don’t even know too much about how you come out.
It’s all really rather a miracle. And the last thing they, either of them would say was, “We really
took a lot of care in making your nose the way it is.” They would say, “We had no idea what you
would look like, we hoped you would look a little like me or you’d like a look a little like him.”
But they had no feeling at all that you were their workmanship.
And of course that’s what, you remember, God very clearly says that there, and I’d just ask you to
glance at it again in Psalms 139, where he states very, very clearly in 139:13, “For thou didst form
my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise thee, for thou art
fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are thy works! Thou knowest me right well; my frame was not
hidden from thee, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.”
Pointing back to when Adam, the first Adam, was made, in the dust of the Earth. Pointing back to
that, “Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days
that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
But our mum or our dad, even though certainly there were no sound systems in those days to tell what
gender the baby was, but even so, ‘they’ could not behold our unformed substance; they did not knit
us together in our mother’s womb. It was God.
So that’s the first thing I think that we said, that we underestimate completely the individual care
that our Creator took of us, if we just think, “Oh no, we just popped out; we just popped out; we’re
just a chance production of two human beings coming together in intercourse.” No. His workmanship,
each of us is.
You remember I said to you, “That’s why it’s really rather insulting and downright wrong when we
say, ‘I don’t like — my arms are so skinny or my ears are so big or my eyes are squinty or my face
is too thin, or my hair is not right.’” It’s just very insulting, because you are his workmanship.
You’re exactly the way he intended you to be. You’re exactly what he wants for the purpose that he
has in mind for you. And you probably don’t know it, but do you know what the word for workmanship
is? It’s the Greek word, and you can almost guess it, “poiema”. And that’s right, in English it
becomes poem. So it is, “His poem are we.” So each of us is a poem that God has written very, very
carefully. And it certainly behooves us not to underestimate or undervalue how precious therefore
we are, and not for one moment to think that we were somehow made wrongly for the life that he has
planned. We’re exactly right.
So that’s the way that verse runs. His poiema, his workmanship are we, each one of us, made by his
own hand using the intermediary of a little human being and another little human being, and then a
lot of other little grandfather parents down through the years. But we’re exactly what he wanted us
to be. There isn’t a detail of us that is not known to him and has not been planned by him. And
that includes everything that we regard as a shortcoming or a weakness, or everything that we regard
as some kind of a deformity, or some kind of a mistake. Everything he formed, carefully.
And then the next part of the verse: is created in a couple [man and wife], in Le Sueur [City in
Minnesota]; created in a couple in Minneapolis, Minnesota; created in a couple of little Irish
people in Belfast; created in Christ Jesus. And it’s very hard to get around that. It’s very hard
to interpret that any other way, but “created in Christ Jesus.”
And even if you say, “Well doesn’t it mean created when we were born again as Christians?” Well
it’s senseless to say that in the light of verses like Colossians. And maybe you just turn to it
again. It’s so clearly stated in Colossians and that verse that we’ve often looked at before that
of course implies that it does not refer just to the new birth in Christ. Colossians 1:15, “He is
the image of the invisible God,” that is Jesus, “The first-born of all creation; for in him all
things were created,” not just the Christians, not just those who are born of God. “In him all
things were created.” And that’s why Ephesians 2:10 says, “Created in Christ Jesus.” And that’s
exactly what this verse says. Except that it says, “In him all things were created, in heaven and
on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities—all
things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold
together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the
dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to
dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making
peace by the blood of his cross.”
And that’s what that means, “Created in Christ Jesus.” We were all made in Jesus. And why were we
made in Jesus? Because Jesus was the first born of all creation; Jesus was the very first human
being. And I think that’s where a lot of our misinterpretation comes; we keep thinking, “Well no,
Jesus was a — he became a human being.” And that’s what we were all taught. “Jesus became a human
being for a short 33 years, here on earth, and then he went back up to being divine. That’s it!
Jesus just visited humanity. Sure, he was touched with our infirmities, but that was just for a
short time here on earth. Then he went up to being divine.”
Except that of course, you remember, we said in Matthew 25 when the Bible is talking about the
judgment day, it says, “When the Son of man comes in his glory and all his holy angels with him.”
And it talks about Jesus as the Son of man, and regards Jesus as, not only becoming a human being
for 33 years here on earth, but being a human being from the very beginning. That Jesus was the
first born of all creation. That he was himself conceived by his Father as his own divine Son, and
at the same moment God conceived of the human race, and conceived of his Son Jesus as being the
human race. And inside his Son he conceived all of us — made us all inside Jesus.
And of course that’s the only thing, that makes sense of all the verses, you remember: back in the
beginning of Ephesians the verses that make it plain that right from the very beginning God had the
whole thing planned this way. Ephesians 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as
he chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” Before even the world was founded God chose
us in Jesus. He placed us in Jesus, “That we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined
us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ,” so that by being part of Jesus we would be his
sons. “According to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely
bestowed on us in the Beloved.” And then it says, you remember in verse 9, “For he has made known
to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which is set forth
in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and
things on earth.”
And we’ve talked a little about why God did it, because he knew we would rebel; he knew we would
choose our own way; he knew he had to give us some way of exercising our own free will, and yet give
us the chance of continuing with himself. And of course, he himself had to have some way in which
he faced the consequences of creating such ‘free will’ beings as we were, and that’s why he made us
in his Son Jesus. So that in his own Son he would meet all the things that we would do.
And it’s horrifying when you think — sometimes we think of ourselves too highly, and we think,
“Well we’re not so bad.” But really we’re terrible, too. But maybe it brings it home to us when
you think that he made Hitler inside Jesus. Because our God is someone who is responsible, and is
true and honest, and he is determined to face the consequences of all that he has done. Even if
it’s our free will that chooses it, he faces the consequences of that free will, even in a Hitler,
and he makes a Hitler inside his Son Jesus. So that everything that Hitler did, not only Christ
bore every moment, but God himself felt every moment, and bore it all the way, and bears us even at
this moment now, bears everything we do, because he has created us in his Son Jesus.
The other side of that is the wonderful one: that we each are actually inside Christ, that we’re
each part of Christ, that in a sense we travel inside him. I don’t know why I think of a kangaroo
and the little baby, but I suppose I’m trying to envisage how real it is that we are carried inside
Christ; that he at that moment, at this very moment has us inside himself, that he not only feels
everything that we do, but that we are surrounded by him and by his person, by his body, and by his
Spirit, that his mind is all around us, that we are in a cocoon in a way. And actually we often
wonder at times how that car missed us! And at other times we wonder, “Why did I not feel that? Why
did I not somehow sense the horror of it all? Why did I pass through that experience so relatively
And it is because his body shields us, because he lovingly filters everything through to us that we
experience, and he allows to come to us only the things that will bring us into the fullness of his
own heart, and his Father’s. And so we’re all the time surrounded by Jesus. And I would encourage
you to see that it’s not just surrounded by an atmosphere. There’s nothing of that in this verse,
that it’s kind of an ‘atmosphere’ of Jesus, or an ‘aura’ of Jesus, or a ‘spirit’ of Jesus. This
verse says, “You were created ‘in’ Christ Jesus; you’re created ‘in’ him; you are ‘part’ of him.”
And I don’t know if you’ve had any difficulty with this one, but I used to think, probably when I
was maybe younger, I used to think, “Oh well, how am I going to kind of line up my dad and my mum
with Jesus and with all the other people,” because I felt so close to them as a child. And then you
see, but we’re all in Jesus, every one of us is in him, and we are all part of each other because
we’re part of him.
And yet the remarkable thing is that you’re not just a cell. Sometimes I’ve used the term ‘cell’,
because I’m trying to think of some way to bring it home to us that we are actually a part of Jesus
body as the Bible just says, “You are all the body of Christ and individually members of it.” But
it’s not even a cell; because we’re a live being that has a free will and that he deals with. In
fact he says, “I have called you friends.” And he doesn’t say that to a cell. You don’t say that
to a cell, “I’ll call you a friend.” So we’re living beings. So in a way it’s not adequate to say
we’re cells in Jesus body; we are actually separate beings inside him.
It actually goes further than that, because the reason for all this is that our Father knew that his
Son was incredibly varied and incredibly expansive in his personality, and could only be expressed
through thousands, and millions of beings who would set forth all his beauty, in all its various
shades. And that’s why we are here, because there’s a sense in which Jesus is in us in a way that
he isn’t in anybody else. And there is a certain combination of characteristics in each one of us
that Jesus is able to express, that he cannot and does not express in anything else.
So it’s not only that we’re a living being and not just a cell, but even there, we’re a living
expression of him that is different from every other living expression of him. That is why the Bible
says, “In him we live and move and have our being.” That’s the whole reality and the whole meaning
of our lives.
And we do really get a totally one sided, upside down idea of life as we exist here on this earth,
because we know in a way that these bodies are not important. And there will come a time when some
of us will see the other one into the ground. And we’ll know at that moment that the body was not
But such is our life here on earth that our bodily presence, almost, preoccupies us with each
other’s individuality or separateness. And in a way it’s unreal. In a way our real existence is in
Jesus. And that’s where are life is, and that’s where all our life comes from, and that’s the
purpose of our life. And of course it’s the great security and safety of our lives.
It’s not just your bank account; it’s Jesus’ bank account. He bears everything. It’s not really
your car, and it’s not your tires; it’s not our designs and our jewelry. It’s actually his designs,
and his jewelry. And it’s his mind that has brought it all this far. And it’s his mind that will
carry it on. And it’s him that will actually pay the bills as they come in each month.
So it is a glorious life that God has given us. His workmanship are we, created in Christ Jesus.
Let us pray.