Are His Workmanship
by A.P. Adams
ARE GOD'S WORKMANSHIP"
Eph. 2: 10
great and important truth is contained in this declaration,
and one which practically most Christians deny. Perhaps this
statement may seem too strong to some, but I think that I
can show that it is correct. Theoretically all Christians
believe that, in a sense, "we are God's workmanship."
but in practice most of them deny it, and act as though they
must make themselves and (in some cases) everybody else. In
other words, most Christians live as though the responsibility
of their own development and perfection rested entirely upon
themselves; and in addition to this they oft-times act as
though the responsibility of the world's salvation also rested
upon them. Understand that I am not speaking of the expressed
belief of Christians, but of their practice.
Now I desire to show in this article, from the Bible, that
the declaration--"we are God's workmanship"--is
the most absolute and literal and that we do not have anything
to do with our own manufacture, so to speak, excepting to
"yield ourselves unto God." Rom. 6:13; also
the remainder of the chapter.
orthodox view must be wrong."
the first place we must understand God's plan of creation.
We must know something of what "our Lord is doing"
(John 15:15). God's great work according to the scripture
is the creation of a race of beings in His own image and
likeness. When God said, "Let us make man
in our image," He meant not the first man only, but the
race of man. God was speaking prophetically here. He
was speaking of things that were not as though they were.
The work then of creating a race of beings in God's image
began in Eden, and has been steadily carried on ever since
and will be carried on to its completion without any
check, hindrance, interruption or delay. The idea that most
Christians have is that God created a perfect man and woman
to begin with, intending that this perfect pair should be
the progenitors of a perfect race. But Satan comes in and
spoils God's work at the outset; he contaminates the fountain
head, and the whole stream is befouled, and God must delay
His originally intended work until He repairs damages, so
to speak--until He has counteracted and undone the devil's
evil work; in which endeavor He will only partially succeed
according to the common view, and thus Satan will succeed
in marring God's original plan eternally.
course, we cannot suppose that, when God created man innocent
in Eden, He intended that any of his descendants should
be eternally tormented; and yet some of them will be
eternally tormented, according to the so called orthodox view.
Hence the conclusion necessarily follows that Satan has succeeded
in permanently disarranging God's plan and has compelled Him
to take a course that He would not have taken had it not been
for the so called "fall of man." But how can we
accept such an idea as this? Thus we make God to be "altogether
such an one as ourselves" (Psa. 50:21). I for one could
never accept such a view. What is the alternative then? The
orthodox view must be wrong. Satan did not disarrange
God's plan, nor compel Him to change it in the least; hence
the "fall" was a part of the plan and a necessary
step towards its accomplishment. I want each one to see this
point clearly and positively; for, unless we thus understand
God's relation to the race as a whole, we cannot understand
His relationship to us as individuals. I want each one to
see that the above reasoning is absolutely inevitable. Either
Satan, by the introduction of evil into the world with all
its consequences, disarranged God's plan, and partially, at
least, thwarted it, or else the all of man was a part of God's
plan, prearranged, provided for, and tending to the
advancement of His purposes of grace and love. To my mind
the former supposition is impossible; the latter one must
be true. Do not stop now to think whether the Scripture is
in harmony with this view or not. We will examine that by
and by. Just use your own reasoning faculties and common sense
and everyone must see that if, God is supreme, the
introduction of evil into the world with all its consequences
must be a part of the plan of God.
The perfect, exact, prearranged plan of God
I ought to say right here for the benefit of some of my readers
that the idea that God has a plan may be to them a
new one. According to the view of most Christians, God has
no definite, prearranged plan, but is simply endeavoring to
do the best He can through human instrumentality to repair
the ruin that sin has made, and though thus far the majority
of the race have been overwhelmed in that ruin, yet in the
end truth will triumph and sin will be destroyed, or at least
confined to an eternal prison house. To my mind such a view
of God is very belittling and dishonorable. I cannot entertain
it for a moment. The God of the Bible, the God that we can
worship, and adore, and trust in, is Almighty and Supreme--"He
worketh all things after the counsel of His own will"--"He
doeth all thee things, and known unto Him are all His works
from the beginning of the world." Acts 15: 17, 18. "He
doeth according to His will, in the army of heaven, and among
the inhabitants of earth, and none can stay His hand, or say
unto Him, What doest Thou?" Dan. 4:35. God has a perfect,
definite plan, embracing all the details and particulars of
His work, and including in its sweep ages and world, past
and to come. Paul announces this fact directly in Eph. 3:21:
"According to His purpose of the ages"; See the
margin of the Revised Version. Rotherham renders it the "plan
of the ages." There can be no doubt that God has a perfect,
exact, prearranged, and absolutely changeless plan of creation.
will notice also in this connection why I speak of the plan
of creation, and not the plan of redemption,
as Christians commonly speak. The view presented above makes
this change necessary. When we speak of God's plan of redemption,
we seem to imply that redemption was an afterthought
with God--that it is simply a means of remedying and unforeseen,
or at least, and unintentional and undesirable contingency;
and that while redemption is being worked out, God's original
purpose must be delayed. We have already shown that this view
cannot be accepted by anyone who believes in a supreme and
all wise God; the so called fall of man and redemption as
its consequent are a part of the original plan of God--they
are steps in the carrying out of that plan; in fact God controls
and directs "all things" to the furtherance of His
own counsels, and hence all things are tending toward the
completion of the purpose announced in Eden--the creation
of the race in the image and likeness of God. Therefore we
speak of God's plan of creation, not of redemption. Redemption
is only one of the steps in the process where by man is ultimately
to reach the divine image. To speak of the plan of redemption
is to take a narrow, unscriptural, ungodlike view of the situation.
God's plan of creation covers the whole ground from the commencement
of the work in Eden to the completion of it in Eden restored,
in the New Heaven and New Earth.
is the only human being thus far that has been finished."
am well aware that the foregoing view involves several very
startling and we might even say staggering conclusions; such,
for instance, as that Satan is one of God's servants to help
on His plan and that all evil, under God, shall eventuate
in good, and that God in some sense is responsible for the
introduction of evil into the world, etc. I cannot now stop
to notice these points in detail; I have done so in other
writings. I will now simply say that there is nothing in any
of these conclusions contrary to the Scripture. Indeed, they
harmonize and make plain the Word. The great principle set
forth in the article "All Things are of God" makes
this whole subject clear, and fully prepares us for all these
otherwise startling conclusions. Let us not fear conclusions
so long as we can feel the solid bed rock of truth under our
feet at every step of our reasoning. Many a one has been enamoured
of the truth for a season, and has gone a little way in the
ever brightening pathway, but suddenly perceiving how far
from the old ruts they were diverging, and that they must
diverge still further if they kept on, they have become frightened
and turned back again to the orthodox thoroughfare. Such a
timorous, cowardly spirit will not be found among those who
climb the highest peaks of inspiration to catch the first
glimpse of the coming dawn. "Ye are bought with a price;
be ye not the servants of men." "Then shall ye know
if ye follow on to know..." God has His "friends"
to whom He tells His "secrets." (John 15:15, Psa.
25-14). But if we would be "the friend of God",
we must be willing, like Abraham, the great pattern friend,
to leave home, kindred, and country if need be, and go forth
"not knowing whither", alone with Him who is the
source of all truth, and who will surely bring us into the
Canaan of rest if we follow on.
completion--for His own sake, His glory, and His honor.
start out then in our investigation concerning how we are
God's workmanship with this truth, that God is creating a
race of beings like Himself; this work began in Eden and has
been steadily progressing ever since; Christ is the only human
being thus far that has been finished--He alone reached the
goal, likeness to God. The rest of the race are unfinished,
the mass of them being in the crude, rough, "natural"
state, having lived and died in this condition; a few in the
past have had some finishing work done for them; and during
this gospel ages a class, "they that are Christ's"
(1 Cor. 15:23 and John 17:9), are being finished off, so to
speak; and during the "ages to come" "all shall
be made alive in Christ," or finished, "but every
man in his own order" (band or class). All this is entirely
the work of the Father and the Son--Let us make man
--and man has no more to do with it than Adam had to do with
his own creation, or Eve with hers. What man has to do, and
the purpose of it we will notice presently; but now we are
speaking of the carrying out of the original purpose announced
in Eden--"Let us make man in our image."
if we consider man in this light, as unfinished, half made--"Ephraim
is a cake not turned" Hosea 7:8--then we shall be able
to understand the true condition of things. We shall see how
thoroughly and absolutely he is God's workmanship. "If
any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." "Ye
are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." 1. Cor.
3:9. Surely the man cannot recreate himself any
more than he could create himself in the first place. The
beginning, continuance, and completion of the process of creation
is entirely of God. Read Rom. 9:9-33 and see how absolute
is God's sovereignty. "The purpose of God according to
the election stands not of works but of Him that calleth."
He raised up Pharaoh for the very purpose for which He used
him, and "He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and
whom He will He hardeneth." "Shall the thing
formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump
to make one vessel unto honor and another unto dishonor?"
Are there not "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction,"
and "vessels of mercy before prepared unto glory."
No stronger language than the above could be used to show
how absolutely man is God's workmanship--clay in the hands
of the potter. And this view clashes not with the true idea
of man's freedom, but everything is harmonized and made clear
when we see this truth. God is man's proprietor, and
will surely make the best of His property. This view is full
of hope and comfort. If we are God's workmanship, the work
will surely be done, and done well. He speaks with the simplicity
and quietness of conscious power--"Let us make man in
our image"--as though it were the easiest thing imaginable
to make a man in the image of God, and "hath He said
and shall He not do it? Hath He spoken and shall He not make
it good?" God's own veracity is at stake here; His own
reputation and credit, so to speak, is involved. For His own
sake, He will complete and perfect His work; and so He speaks
by His prophets. "I, even I, am He that blotteth out
thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not
remember thy sins." Moreover, mark these blessed words:
"Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art My
servant. I have formed thee; thou art my servant. O
Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me. I have blotted
out as a thick cloud thy sins. Return unto Me, for I have
redeemed thee." Take notice that it does not read,
"Return unto Me and I will redeem thee and blot
out thy sins," but, "Return to Me because I have
redeemed thee and blotted out thy sins." O blessed
grace that reconciles a world unto God, not imputing their
trespasses unto them, (2 Cor. 5:18-21), "while they are
yet sinners," and "before they call", and so
it is able to preface the invitation to come to God by the
declaration of His finished work! Surely this is a gospel--glad
tidings! No wonder that the prophet breaks out, "Sing,
O ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it; shout, ye
lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing ye mountains;
O forest and every tree therein, for the Lord hath redeemed
Jacob and glorified Himself (mark it--glorified Himself--made
His own word good) in Israel. Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer,
and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that
maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone;
that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself." Isa. 44:21-24.
Read in the same line Ezek. 36:16 to the end of the chapter.
First God charges Israel with their perversity and corruption
and yet He has pity (verse 21) and makes them great promises
(verses 25-30). Why? On what ground? Not for their
sake; not because they deserve it; but for "His
holy name's sake." See verses 21-23, 32, 36. See
also Ezek. 20, the whole chapter, especially verses 9, 14,
22, 41-44. If we can only see this truth and get it well in
mind, we shall have no fear of the final result of God's creative
plan. God's own honor is at stake. His declared purpose--"Let
us make man in our image"--cannot fail. For His
own sake, if not for man's, He will bring the work
to a perfect completion, a faultless consummation; and a godlike
race shall yet people the earth to the universal praise of
God's workmanship, and the honor and glory of Christ, God's
above blessed truth explains also why man is so imperfect
and full of defects and flaws and failures. He is only half
made. He is "a cake not turned," What can you expect
of man in this crude, rough state? "He remembereth our
frame; He knoweth that we are dust."
THINGS ARE OF GOD."
is no statement in the Bible that is more remarkable and even
startling than this. When you think of it seriously, it seems
as though Paul was very unguarded and careless in his language.
We are apt to think that he ought to have modified and limited
it in some way such as, for instance, all good things
are of God.
no, Paul makes the sweeping, unqualified statement, "all
things are of (literally, out of) God." Furthermore,
so important did Paul consider this truth that he repeats
it over and over again. The direct statement is made no less
than six times in the writings of the apostle. See Rom. 11:36;
1 Cor. 8:6, 1 Cor. 11:12; 2 Cor. 5:18; Eph. 1:11, and Heb.
2:10. Now was the apostle careless and a little too bold in
these utterances, or did he mean just what he said, and are
they true, taken full strength? I say without hesitation,
yes, to the two latter questions. The more we learn of God's
works and ways the more we shall understand that in a sense
absolutely "all things are of God"; or in
other words, as it has been often expressed, God is in
everything. We will notice a few passages that will set
forth the Bible teaching on this point.
Christ, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And
one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered." Matt.
10:29, 30. In Luke 12:6 we read, "Are not five sparrows
sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten
before God." Do you realize, friend reader, the stupendous
character of this statement? How many millions of sparrows
think you are there in the world? And of course it is not
sparrows alone that God cares for, but all creatures. Not
one of them is forgotten, and even the hairs of your head
are numbered. The great men of the earth manifest their
greatness by their close attention to so called great things--the
affairs of state, national interests, business ventures involving
the risk of millions, vast philanthropic schemes, and such
like matters of world-wide importance. These men generally
have very little care and pay very little attention to the
common every-day affairs of life. But God, between whom and
the greatest of all earth's great ones there is an infinite
disparity, displays His greatness by caring for what
would seem to be the most trivial interests of His creatures,
like the numbering of the hairs of their heads and taking
notice of apparently the most unimportant events, like the
falling of a single sparrow. Well may we exclaim with Faber
in view of such greatness,
God! Thy loving greatness ever lies
us like a boundless sea;
cannot lose ourselves where all is home,
drift away from Thee.
doth Thy grandeur make us grand ourselves,
goodness quells our fear;
greatness makes us brave as children are
those they love are near.
you would like to see this thought of God's universal providence
carried out in every detail, read Psalms 104, 107, and 147.
the case of Joseph for an illustration of how God is in affairs
of greater moment than it would seem. His unnatural brethren
decided to kill him. (Gen. 37:12, etc). Being dissuaded from
this, they sell him to the Ishmaelites, thus bringing upon
him a cruel servitude, and upon their aged father a heart-breaking
agony. A blacker and more wicked deed could hardly be imagined;
and yet in the sequel of the story, when Joseph is made ruler
of Egypt and his brethren, coming down to buy corn, at last
discover that he is their long-lost brother whom they had
so cruelly wronged, he reassures and comforts them by saying,
"Now therefore, be not grieved nor angry with yourselves
that ye sold me hither, for God did send me before
you to preserve life. So now, it was not you that sent
me hither, but God." Gen. 45:5, 8. Could we have
a more striking and positive illustration of how "all
things are of God"? He is in everything, even in the
crimes and cruelties of man.
another illustration not so prominent in the Bible but just
as positive. See Judges 14:1-4. Samson becomes enamored of
a Philistine woman and must have her for his wife. In vain
his parents try to dissuade him from so improper an alliance
as it would seem. Samson is completely bewitched and insists
on having her. Who would suppose that God had anything particular
to do with this apparently foolish love affair? And yet it
was of Him, for the 4th verse reads, "but his father
and mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that He sought
an occasion against the Philistines." For another illustration
see 2 Chron. 10:15, 11:4.
very striking example of how all things are of God is brought
out in the case of the priestly house of Eli. Read 1. Sam.
2:30-33. Now see how the fulfillment of this prediction was
brought about in 1 Sam. 22:18-20. A more cold-blooded, barbarous
butchery was never perpetrated, and yet it was the carrying
out of the purpose of God. In 1 Sam. 2:31 God says, "I
will cut off thy father's house." According to the account
in chapter 22 it was Doeg that did the awful deed, and yet
it is plain to see how God was in it. Abiathar escaped the
massacre; the denunciation was against the entire house of
Eli. Abiathar must be banished from the priesthood. See how
it is done in 1 Kings 2:26, 27. "So Solomon thrust out
Abiathar from being priest unto the Lord; to fulfill the world
of the Lord, which He spake concerning the house of Eli in
Shiloh." Is not his a very plain illustration of the
great truth we are considering? The awful deeds of wicked
men are "of God" in such a sense that He makes them
conducive to the carrying out of His own plans and brings
good out of them in the end. "Surely the wrath of man
shall praise Him; the remainder of wrath (that which He cannot
turn to His praise) will He restrain." "All are
His servants." Psa. 119:91 "Fire and hail, snow
and vapor and stormy wind fulfill His word." Psa. 147:8.
heathen king Cyrus is another illustration of this truth.
See Isa. 45:1-7. Cyrus was God's "anointed" to do
His work. God used him as an instrument to accomplish a certain
purpose, though Cyrus knew not that he was being thus used
of God. See verses 4, 5. THe case of the Assyrians is still
more marked. God was using tehm just as the carpenter uses
his tools. See Isa. 1-:1-19, especially verse 15; and in the
same connection see Jer. 51:19,20. Again, see Josh. 11:15-20.
Israel destroyed the Canaanites and made peace with none of
them, except the Gibeonites. "For it was of the Lord
to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel
in battle that He might destroy them utterly."
See also a very remarkable illustration in Psa. 105:25. God
sent His people down into Egypt, having sent Joseph before
them (verse 17: this verse confirms Joseph's own statement
that God, and not his wicked brethren, sent him) to prepare
the way for them. God increased His people and made them stronger
than their enemies (verse 24), and now mark, "He turned
their heart to hate His people, to deal deceitfully with His
servants." What! Did God incline the hearts of the Egyptians
to hate His own people, to deal deceitfully with His own servants?
So the record reads. Truly "all things are of God."
still another illustration from the New Testament. The crucifixion
of Christ is always looked upon as the most awful crime that
ever was committed, and the perpetrators of it are considered
as deserving the most severe retribution; and yet they simply
did what God's hand and counsel determined before to be done.
Acts 4:28. And Peter tells us that Christ "was delivered
up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God."
Acts 2:23. Thus we see how even this stupendous crime was
of God, and since we know that He worketh all things
after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11), we can readily
understand from the illustrations cited how true it is that
"all things are of God." Thus is God's universal
sovereignty fully established by the plain teachings of the
word. "He doeth according to His will, in the army of
Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can
stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?" Dan.
4:35. See also Isa. 40, the whole chapter, and Rev. 17:17.
the child of God this truth is most precious and reassuring.
It teaches us how absolutely safe we are while we "abide
under the shadow of the Almighty." His power extends
not simply to the smallest affairs like the hairs of our heads
and the birds of the air, but also to greater things--individuals,
communities, states, nations, and world--and no creature moves
but by His appointment or permission. "All things are
of God"; therefore I can understand how all things work
together for good to them that love God, and how also all
things shall yet turn for good to man, since God loves him.
God uses the forces of the world, whether human or otherwise,
just as one would move the pieces on a chess-board. They are
so many instruments--tools--in His hands. "Shall the
axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?
or shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?
As if a rod should shake itself against them that lift up,
or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no
wood." Isa. 10:15
from Present Truth, vol 1, No. 1, published in conjunction
with The Page. Originally published by A.P. Adams in 1885.
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Are God's Workmanship
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