- God, who is rich in mercy, ... even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ... For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:1-10).
God was rich in mercy when He gave us this second chance. We are “His workmanship” and “were created in Christ” for these “good works.” Our gratitude and relief should lead us to be zealous of, and careful to maintain good works.
But what are these “good works” God prepared beforehand for us to walk in? The English “prepared beforehand” translates a single Greek word: “Ready in advance,” “prepared in advance,” and “determined/purposed in advance.” These are not good works we devise, but good works He prepared! We will need more than human ingenuity and imagination to do them (1Cor. 2:9-11).
God revealed it will take “all Scripture given by inspiration of God” to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Tim. 3:15-17). Without consulting the Scriptures, we cannot be “thoroughly prepared,” “furnished completely,” or “fully qualified.” David discovered this when he planned the “good work” of moving the ark to Jerusalem. Although he thought it good, “the Lord our God broke out against us.” Uzzah lost his life and the ark’s travel to Jerusalem was stopped “because we did not consult Him about the proper order” (1Chr. 15:13). Their good work included an ox cart while God’s good work required the Kohathites to carry it on their shoulders. This small modification changed the good work into an evil one. We must learn from this and search the Scriptures to assess our good works. Jesus said only if we do “the will of My Father in heaven” will we escape the condemnation “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Mt. 7:21-23)
In order to “do the will of My Father in heaven,” we must first be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Only then can we be equipped and thoroughly prepared to “please Him in all respects.” Without this, we are not “being fruitful in every good work” (Col. 1:9-11). King Saul was given the good work of punishing the Amalekites for their sins. When he changed (very slightly in his view) what God asked him to do to better suit himself, God rejected him as King and instead sought out “a man after his own heart who would do all His will.” (1Sam 15; Acts 14:22). True good works can only be performed when “filled with the knowledge of His will,” and in full respectful submission.
The “ordinances of divine service” of the Old Covenant were done away when “Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation” (Heb 9:1, 11). We now have “boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us,” and are to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:19-20,24).
These “good works” can only be found in “the Holy Scriptures” that “make one wise to salvation.” Hence, in order to do the “good works God prepared beforehand,” we must consult the blueprints God gave. Even those “who serve the copy and shadow of the heavenly things” were warned “See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain” (Heb. 8:5). Nadab and Abihu lost their lives because the good work God had revealed to them was not done “according to the pattern.” He saw it as an insult to His holiness and glory when they “offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them” (Lev. 10:1-3). God not only defines the good works we should walk in, but often gives specific instructions about how they should be carried out. Worship, organization, terms of membership, code of conduct, etc. are all the good works God wants us to walk in.
Conclusion. The Most Holy Place was the most beautiful place in the tabernacle. Gold covered walls, “a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen with an artistic design of cherubim,” “the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat,” and “the ark of the covenant with the tablets of the covenant. (Ex. 26:31; Heb. 9:5). Its value was priceless.
Yet God decreed it only be entered once a year, by one person (the High Priest). The rest of the time it sat empty. While many might consider this a waste, it was God’s will, God’s good work that needed to be obeyed. It was priceless as a testimony to God’s holiness and served no other purpose. Today when a church building sits idle, some consider it a waste. Yet because it was purchased with the Lord’s money, it must be used for the Lord’s good works.
Some have done what Saul did, changing the good works to suit themselves by modifying the building as an eating place. Others have followed Nadab and Abihu and do things that were never commanded by making this building a place of recreation. Multitudes have followed the bad example of David, not seeking to do God’s will after the proper order when they devise other uses. If we are wise, we will remember that God’s good works can only be done when we do them after His will, not after our imagination. If we do not do the Father’s will, Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”