God has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life – Ephesians 2:10

By: Northern Seminary

For years I’ve had a love/hate relationship with a phrase often used by evangelists: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” I’ve never completely disliked it, but the saying has always sounded so trite, so simplistic.

But more recently I have come to love it. For one simple reason: it’s true, very true. God really does have a wonderful plan for our lives. That’s exactly what Ephesians 2:10 teaches.

10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

There is a very simple progression of thought in this verse.

First of all, Paul says, we are God’s work. 

Here are his exact words: “we are God’s handiwork” or “God’s workmanship.” A sculptor or carpenter stands back and admires what he has made. It did not exist before, but with his skill it does now. He made it.

That’s God and us. We exist as children of God because God has been at work.

It’s true of our very existence. Psalm 139: 13: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

But Paul’s point goes deeper. The faith we have, our new life in Christ, the child of God we have become…this is God’s work, not ours.

A few verses before our key verse in Ephesians 2 Paul has said these things: “you were dead in your sins,” but “God made us alive with Christ;” “by grace you have been saved;” “God raised us up with Christ.”

In other words, we did not do it – he did.

And he makes his point explicit in verse 8: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

When I was about ten, I was playing by the river near my home. From just round the bend in the river I heard a desperate cry: “Help! Help!” I was thinking: “That sounds like my friend Sandy…” but before I could do anything I saw a man running. It was Sandy’s father – rushing down to the river bank and pulling his son out. On his own Sandy could never have escaped the fast flowing river and could never have climbed the steep muddy bank. The fact that Sandy did not drown was entirely because of his father.

The fact that we will not die in our sins is entirely because of our heavenly Father. You and I are not Christians by accident, not by our own choice, not by our own effort. God has been at work in our lives: making us – shaping us –refining us.

We are God’s handiwork.

Paul’s thought then moves on to his second point.

Our purpose now is also to work, to do good work. 

Paul says we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” – made by God to work.

Here are two bad images or metaphors of what it means to be a Christian.

  1. That our faith is like a large investment (or insurance policy). I have handed over a massive sum, and it is now invested for my benefit (protection) and there is nothing more to do but wait for it to mature, then retire and enjoy the benefits for eternity.
  2. The cruise ship. As if when I became a Christian I boarded a luxury ship transporting me to the celestial shores, and all there is for me to do now is sit back in my deckchair, sip divine lemonade and look forward to arriving in the heavenly port.

As images of Christian faith, both of those are seriously faulty.

Their problem is the complete absence of anything between salvation and heaven. We were told to accept Christ and we were promised the glories of heaven, but no-one told us there is a life to live for God between the two of those. But there is. God certainly has things for us to do.

  • In this world today, about five out of every six people live outside of Christ. Those people are not only in far away places, they are right beside us where we work and where we live. There is a great task for every Christian to do in sharing their faith.
  • And in this world today, about every three seconds a child dies for reasons that never needed to happen, like polluted water or malnutrition or lack of health care.

We are made by God to work, and there is important, life-saving and eternity changing work to be done.

Lastly, the third part of what Paul teaches in Ephesians 2: 10, and it is full of encouragement.

Confidence that God is not only with us but ahead of us in all he gives us to do. 

That slogan: “God has a wonderful plan for your life”? Here is the good news: God really does have a wonderful plan for your life, and he has already made it all possible.

Paul writes that we are “created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Wherever we are now – office, factory, home, church, college, military, government, charity, school – wherever, God already knew we would be there, planned for it, and has work for us to do in exactly that place. God is never caught by surprise. He’s never behind us but always ahead, always preparing the way, always making his will possible.

When I was young I often worked with my Dad in our large garden. Somehow I was always able to do whatever he gave me to do. How was that possible? Because I was so strong, so brilliant, so hard working? I don’t think so. It was because he knew me, knew what was possible for me, and gave me the jobs that were just right for me. He planned it thoughtfully, exactly. Sometimes, when I was very little, I suspect he had even dug over a piece of ground in advance to make it easier for me when he asked me to dig it. A loving father does that.

God is the Loving Father, and he has prepared in advance the work he gives us to do. Often it isn’t easy, but it’s always possible, because God knows exactly what he is doing.

He has changed our lives.

Now he has important work for us to do.

And because he has always known what that work was, he has prepared us for the work and prepared the work for us.

Because of all of that, we can go forward with energy, faith and joy and know God will use us in this world.

-Alistair Brown 

February 18, 2013

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