The Book of Ephesians ~ Chapter 2:8-9 ~ Saved by Grace Not by Works, False Doctrines of Salvation by Works, Pt. 2

Vol. 15 No. 2

02-01 17 16 word eph 2 vs 8-10Last week we began the doctrine of “Salvation by Works” which identifies the various false doctrines and false systems that say salvation is gained or maintained by faith plus some form of works. We noted the first five points that included the false doctrines of:

1.) Verbal works.

2.) Ritual works.

3.) Commitment Salvation.

4.) Lordship Salvation.

5.) Salvation by emotion.

This week we complete the doctrine with the following points:

6.) Invitation.

We noted “salvation by invitation” under verbal works, but here we are addressing it uniquely because salvation by invitation has a right and a wrong connotation.

a)  The right connotation is the invitation made by our Lord. He invites us to salvation. The invitation to salvation follows the principle of coming to Christ, not inviting Christ to come to you. By believing in Christ, we come to Christ at His invitation. These words were uttered by our lord Jesus Christ.

Mat 11:28, “Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” 

John 6:35, “Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never hunger. He who believes in Me will never thirst’.”

Note that Jesus Christ invites us to salvation; we do not invite Him.

John 6:37, “The one that comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

John 6:47, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.”

This is our Lord’s invitation to the spiritually dead. We are spiritually dead as of the moment of our birth. We cannot invite Jesus Christ anywhere. He can only invite us, which he does through common grace. This becomes efficacious grace when we believe in Jesus Christ. Dead people do not issue invitations! The spiritually dead person can hear and believe. But only God the Holy Spirit can make the gospel perspicuous and the faith effective.

And notice in the following verses that even after our salvation we are reminded of the fact that God has called or invited us to Himself, not that we have called Him to us. The Greek noun for “called” is KLESIS that means, “call, calling, invitation.” The Adjective KLETOS means, “κλητός “called out, invited, chosen, or appointed.” Compare: Rom 1:6; 1 Cor 1:9; 7:21; Gal 1:6; 5:13; Eph 4:1, 4; Col 3:15; 1 Thes 2:12; 2 Thes 2:14; 1 Tim 6:12; James 2:7; 1 Peter 1:15; 2:9, 21; 5:10; Rev 19:9.

1 Cor 1:9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Gal 1:6, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.”

Eph 4:1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.”

Eph 4:4, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling.”

1 Peter 2:9, “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

Rev 19:9, “And he said to me, ‘Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb’.”

b) The wrong invitation is a reversal of the correct invitation for salvation from God and is divided into two categories: 1) Inviting Christ into your heart, and 2) Inviting Christ into your life. Both come from the erroneous interpretation of several scriptures, first Mat 25:31-43, regarding the separation of the sheep (believers) and the goats (unbelievers) at the end of the Tribulation, as He establishes His Millennial reign.

Mat 25:35, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in.”

In fact, the word for “invite” here is a mistranslation. It’s the word ERCHOMAI that means, “to come or go” and should be translated, “you came to Me” rather than “you invited Me.” The NASB is the only translation that uses “invite” which is wrong; the others use “came to Me.”

This passage speaks of works the believer should enter into post-salvation, but yet these unbelievers did not do these works, which demonstrated they were not saved in the first place. This is not a passage that tells us how salvation is gained, as it contradicts all the other salvation passages of faith alone in Christ alone. It was a reproof to these unbelievers regarding their spiritually dead life as demonstrated through dead works. Remember, sin was paid for at the Cross. Only works will be judged in the future. So this verse aligns with Rev 20:11-15.

The other reason for this blasphemous idea is the misunderstanding of Rev 3:19-20, which addresses believers only. It is an invitation to Rebound (1 John 1:9) after salvation for those believers out of fellowship with God. When Jesus Christ stands at the door and knocks, He is extending to us the invitation to Rebound. So this is not a salvation verse, it refers to a post-salvation experience called Rebound. And even if it were a salvation verse, Jesus is the one doing the knocking. He is calling out to us.

1) Inviting Christ into your heart is answered in Jer 17:9, “the heart is more deceitful than all else and desperately wicked; who can know it?” When the spiritually dead person invites Christ into his heart (right lobe), it is equivalent to inviting Christ into a garbage dump. Spiritual death is not only total depravity of the heart, but total separation from God and total helplessness to invite Jesus Christ anywhere. Furthermore, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace is limited to faith alone in Jesus Christ, making only that faith effective for eternal life. Therefore, inviting Christ into your heart is not a condition for salvation, but a blasphemous expression of spiritual death. Spiritual death is total helplessness to do anything for salvation, including inviting Christ anywhere.

When people say that you must invite Christ into your life, Rom 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world and death (spiritual death) by sin, so spiritual death passed upon all men, because all have sinned.” In other words, how can you invite Christ into your life when you are spiritually dead? Dead people cannot give invitations! The imputation of Adam’s original sin to the genetically formed Old Sin Nature at the moment of physical birth results in spiritual death, which means at least three things.

a) Total depravity due to our Old Sin Nature.

b) Total separation from God.

c) Total helplessness to establish a relationship with God on the basis of anything we can do, i.e., human works.

Inviting Jesus Christ into your life is equivalent to inviting Him into total depravity or spiritual death. It is like inviting Christ into a tomb.

For salvation, Jesus Christ does not accept your invitation for Him to enter your heart. Your invitation is works, and Titus 3:5 tells us, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.” In addition, our verse, Eph 2:9 notes, “not of works, lest any man should boast.”

You do not invite Jesus Christ into spiritual death and total depravity. Inviting Christ into your heart or life is an act of emotional or irrational legalism. It is dead works. The dead works of the unbeliever are judged at the Great White Throne, Rev 20:11-15.

Therefore, the spiritually dead person cannot invite Christ into his life or anywhere else. Inviting Christ into your life is not salvation. Scripture mandates for us to believe in Christ, it does not say you must also invite Him into your heart or into your life, which is salvation by works that excludes faith, which is not salvation at all. As such, wrong invitations are blasphemous. In salvation, we come to Christ through believing in Him, as per His invitation. There is no salvation by inviting Christ to come to us. The wrong invitation is blasphemous, for it becomes salvation by works. It adds something to faith in Christ.

Jesus told us in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

Mat 7:13-15, “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. 14For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it. 15Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

7.) Salvation by Morality.

Salvation by morality is legalism. Morality is something the spiritually dead person can accomplish on his own, including keeping the Mosaic Law, adherence to the laws of Divine Establishment, or any other man made religious system of morality for salvation. Anything a spiritually dead person can do is not a part of God’s Plan for salvation. Therefore, salvation is obviously not by morality or any form of legalism.

Rom 3:20-22, “Because by the works of the Law, no flesh shall be justified in His sight, for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now, apart from the Law, the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, (title for Old Testament), even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.”

Rom 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.”

Rom 4:4, “Now to the one who works for salvation, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, (CHARIS – is not calculated on the basis of grace), but as what is due (OPHEILEMA – on the basis of debt).”

The harder anyone works for their salvation, the further they go from it. They are only digging a hole that gets deeper and deeper. The more works they add to salvation, the deeper into the hole they go. Works “are not calculated on the basis of grace, but on the basis of debt.”

Then Rom 4:5 tells us, “But to the one who does not work for salvation, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as, (receives credit for), righteousness.”

Rom 4:14, “For if those who are of the Law (keeping law for salvation) are heirs, then faith has been made void and the promise is nullified, (have been canceled).”

This verse says that the only thing God the Holy Spirit can make effective for salvation is faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ. When you add anything to faith, you make salvation void. For the Holy Spirit cannot, under any set of circumstances, take any system of works and make it valid for salvation. When keeping the Law, (i.e., Judaism salvation), or any other system of morality that is added to faith in Christ, that faith is voided and nullified; it cancels out faith. The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit makes only faith in Christ effective for salvation.

Gal 2:16, “Nevertheless, knowing that a man (spiritually dead person) is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”

Rom 5:1, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ.”

Salvation by morality or by keeping the Law is legalism and blasphemy. In fact, humanistic morality is not the Christian way of life. Virtue from the Holy Spirit is the Christian way of life. Virtue includes morality but is infinitely greater. The Christian way of life is a supernatural way of life and demands a supernatural means of execution. Only God the Holy Spirit can execute the Christian way of life inside the believer. The Filling of the Holy Spirit, means that something greater is produced than spiritually dead morality. Anything the unbeliever can do is not a part of the Christian way of life. Anything the unbeliever can do is not the way of salvation.

8.)  Psychological works.

Psychological works alleges salvation through various gimmicks the potential believer must do while also believing in Jesus for salvation. These psychological gimmicks include things like, raising your hand during prayer, coming forward, walking an aisle, weeping tears of repentance at an altar, making a public declaration of faith, or jumping through some psychological hoop.

These activities show no understanding of grace, for grace says you can be saved only through faith alone. All of these are added to personal faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, and they cancel out faith. The omnipotence of God the Holy Spirit makes only faith in Jesus Christ efficacious for salvation.

Evangelists need not know how many are saved. To say they want to know who you are so they can guide you to a local church is baloney! Once you are born-again, you will seek doctrine if you are positive. “The newborn baby desires the milk of the Word,” 1 Peter 2:2. But the emphasis today is on the human beings rather than on the work of Christ on the Cross.

Titus 3:5, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”

His mercy includes efficacious grace. Regeneration is the creation of the human spirit to which God imputes eternal life.

9.) Corporate works.

Corporate works are those things some add to faith in Christ in regard to some form of participation in the local assembly, some of which we have previously noted. Corporate works for salvation include, joining a church, tithing, being baptized, taking communion, etc. In other words, corporate salvation is salvation associated with the activities of a local church. In efficacious grace, the Holy Spirit makes faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ effective for salvation. Efficacious grace does not include church membership or tithing for salvation.

10.) Roman Catholic Salvation Adds Works to Faith in Christ.

As we have noted in several of the topics above, the Catholic Church adds many works to their system of salvation. As such, salvation by Roman Catholic faith is not salvation.

Many Roman Catholics, when questioned, claim that they believe that Christ died on the Cross for their sins. Hence, they allege to believe in Christ. But at the same time, the Roman Catholic Church has a system of penance and works which they follow for salvation. Those Catholics who follow that system of penance, indulgences, and works for salvation are not saved. They have canceled any benefit of their faith by adding the works imposed upon them by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church believes in purgatory, which they call an intermediate state after death designed for expiatory purification, especially from venal sins, i.e., sins capable of being forgiven. Many light candles or say masses for the dead in this state. There is no such thing; all this is works. The Roman Catholic view of purgatory, mortal sins, and penances form a system of ecclesiastical works which nullifies faith in Christ.

The Roman Catholic belief that believing Christ died for their sins on the Cross, followed by adherence to penance and indulgences to get into heaven, is not salvation. Salvation is by faith in Jesus Christ alone. The practice of any form of works is contradictory. Therefore, faith is nullified by these works.

However, many Roman Catholics do not depend upon penance or a system of works for salvation. Those people are truly saved. Therefore, it is impossible to judge whether any Roman Catholic is saved or not. Only the individual himself knows. If he is depending upon the work of Christ on the Cross alone, he is saved. But if he adds and follows the system of penance and works avowed by the Roman Catholic Church, he is not saved.

The ministry of the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace makes faith in Jesus Christ only effective for salvation. One of the forty things you receive at salvation is eternal life. You do not have to practice a system of works to ensure or regain your salvation, as alleged by the Roman Catholic Church and many other protestant churches. Therefore, some Roman Catholics are saved because at some moment they believed in Christ alone for salvation, totally apart from the ritual and penance imposed by the church. At the moment they believe in Christ totally apart from the works of the Catholic Church, they receive eternal life plus thirty-nine other things.

11.) Conclusion:

Confusion of means and result has given the wrong impression to many spiritually dead persons as to the condition for salvation. The Holy Spirit, in His ministry of Efficacious Grace, only causes faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ to be effective for eternal salvation.

Salvation through faith in Christ is equivalent to coming to Christ, not Christ coming to you to enter your heart or your life. In salvation, the spiritually dead person accepts the invitation to believe in Christ, and God the Holy Spirit uses that. We go to Jesus Christ as the perfect God-man. He does not come to us as one who is spiritually dead and totally depraved. We simply believe in Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit makes our faith effective. Then we are entered into a relationship with God, not on the basis of works, but on the basis of faith.

John 3:16, “For God loved the world so much that he gave his son, the uniquely-born one, that whosoever believes in him shall never perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:18, “He who believes in him is not judged; but he who does not believe is judged already because he does not believe in the uniquely-born son of God.”

The correct order of evangelism is as follows. Someone communicates the gospel. Under the ministry of common grace, the Holy Spirit makes only what is accurate lucid and understandable, then follows the Divine invitation of God the Father to believe in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation.

The invitation from God the Father is taught in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” God the Father “draws” by the ministry of the Holy Spirit in making the gospel clear.

The invitation from God the Son is found in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me. I give to them eternal life. They shall never perish; no one shall snatch them out of My hand.”

Finally, in efficacious grace, the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit makes faith in Christ effective for salvation.

So in salvation, the spiritually dead person comes to Jesus Christ through personal faith in Him plus nothing. Therefore, in principle, the spiritually dead come to Christ for salvation, not the reverse. The spiritually dead person does not invite Christ to come to him.

“When a man is born again, he knows that it is because he has received something as a gift from Almighty God and not because of his own decision. People register their vows, and sign their pledges, and determine to go through, but none of this is salvation. Salvation means that we are brought to the place where we are able to receive something from God on the authority of Jesus Christ, viz., remission of sins.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.)

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