In Ephesians 2, Paul explains that we are saved by grace and not by works. He shows that Christians are the workmanship of God (v. 10). We are His handiwork; thus there is no occasion for boasting on our part. This creation took place in Christ Jesus (see also 2 Cor. 5:17). All of God’s plans for man are summed up in Him (Eph. 1:10). The reason why we are created in Christ Jesus is “for good works.” This simply means that we are to do those things which are pleasing unto God. In this way we glorify Him. Which good works may we perform? Paul states that the good works under consideration are those prepared beforehand by God. God wants us to walk or live in good works, but He has already prepared them.
“Beforehand” must mean about the same thing as the “eternal purpose” of God in Eph. 3:11. This matter has already been settled with God. We only have the choice of whether to walk in them or not. In a day of ready-mixed and pre-cooked foods and prefabricated buildings, we should certainly understand what this means.
How may I know what these good works are? In 2 Tim. 3:16-17, Paul declares that “All Scripture is -inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (New American Standard Bible). This passage affirms that the inspired Scriptures will adequately furnish the man of God unto every good work. The good works prepared beforehand by God are announced in the Scripture. If we want to know how God would have us walk, we must read our Bible. We must be content with no less than all that God says on a subject, but we must ever be content to teach and do only those things ordained by the Lord.
Any time my brethren announce a project and attach the “good works” tag to it, I have a right to demand the verse of Scripture that says so. When they announce that something is, a “good work,” I have the duty to ask, “By whose standard?” If it is by God’s standard, they will be able to give me book, chapter and verse. If it is by the standard of man, they will likely call me ugly names for asking or simply refuse to read what I write about it.