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

 

Vol. 15 No. 1

eph 2 vs 8 and 9 for fb and web

Vs. 8

Eph 2:8, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

Continuing with Eph 2:8, we now note that our salvation is not accomplished nor maintained from our own work or power but is purely, wholly, and completely a grace gift from God, as stated in the last half of the verse, “and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.”

The Greek reads KAI TOUTO OUK EX HUMON, THEOU TO DORON.

KAI meaning, “and,” is the Conjunction that ties the last phrase with the following one, establishing the negation of salvation by works.

TOUTO for “this” is in the neuter gender of the immediate demonstrative Pronoun HOUTOS that does not refer to either grace or faith, but refers to salvation in general.

OUK is the Greek negative for “no or not.” It is used as a negative for a statement of fact. The statement of fact is that we absolutely did not and cannot save “ourselves,” HUMON. And in fact we have been “saved”, SOZO, “by grace through faith which is a gift from God.”

It is the gift of God,” uses THEOU as the possessive Genitive of THEOS which means, “God,” and DORON the noun that means, “gift, offering, or present.” The first time we see DORON in Scripture is Mat 2:11, when the Magi from the east gave gifts to the new born King, Jesus Christ, in appreciation for God’s gift of sending His Son to provide salvation for all of mankind.

Interestingly, we also see in Scripture that any “gift” or “present,” including the votive offerings of religion, could be deemed a DŌRON by classical Greek writers. Sometimes “temple offerings” are called DŌRA (see Moulton-Milligan). The Septuagint also bears witness to this, as DŌRON was frequently selected as an equivalent to the Hebrew term QORBĀN that means, “an offering or gift.” Therefore, it has a sense of sacrifice associated with it.

In addition, a second meaning of the word in classical Greek is “the breadth of the hand, the palm,” (see Liddell-Scott), therefore we are given an image of the hand of God that reached out toward us by having His Son crucified on the Cross for our benefit, when our Lord’s hands were stretched out and nailed to the Cross.

Col 2:14, “Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.”

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.”

2 Cor 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

It is the gift of God,” refers to the whole process of salvation, not just to the granting of faith to believe, as this grace gift is also referred to as the “gift of righteousness,” made available through the obedience of one Man, Jesus Christ, Rom 3:23-25; 5:15-19. As such, God’s love is expressed in His giving gifts to men, His greatest gift being His own Son.

Rom 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.”

And we see that our Lord perfectly expressed this attribute of God by giving His life as a ransom for many. In turn He commanded His disciples, John 15:13, and us, to lay down our lives in sacrificial giving; as it is “more blessed to give than to receive,” Acts 20:35. As such, your entire Christian life should be characterized by giving with a view toward serving God with a grateful heart in the process, because of what He has done and freely given to you, cf. Rom 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5.

Vs. 9

Next we see in vs. 9, the support that Salvation is not from our own doing or power.

Eph 2:9, “Not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”

The Greek reads, “OUK EX ERGON, HINA ME TIS KAUCHESETAI.”

OUK EX ERGON simply means, “not of works.

Works” is the Genitive Neuter Plural of the Greek noun ERGON that means, “work, deed, action, task a thing or a matter.” It is used extensively through the N.T. and here means our human works or effort to save ourselves. In fact, the use of ERGA (plural) as a technical term for “deeds” of keeping the Law, also tells us that our religious service and duties cannot and will not save us, e.g., Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10.

Rom 3:20, “Because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.”

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

There is no human works, human good, human service, human action, human effort, etc. that we can do that will give us or ensure our salvation.

As Job stated in Job 4:17, “Can mankind be just before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?”

One reason why God does not allow for works for salvation is human arrogance, “that no one should boast,” HINA ME TIS KAUCHESETAI. Here ME is used for the negation. “In classical Greek this negative particle is used for the negative of thought, i.e., negation that depends on a condition that is understood. It is distinct from OUK which denies, while ME rejects. When one thinks a thing is not, ME is used. It is subjective, involving will and thought, not fact and statement,” (Liddell-Scott).

The thing that is rejected is man’s arrogant “boasting,” KAUCHAOMAI, καυχάομαι that means, “to boast or glory.” Negatively, boasting is self-centered, self-reliant, and proud. Arrogance is also a facet of its meaning, because it ignores the work of Christ and gives credit to one’s own abilities. Therefore, mankind’s boasting of a right relationship with God can never rest upon works, i.e., keeping the Law, which is what is also called, “human good.”

Human good is associated with the great mental attitude sin of pride and boasting. Pride is the expansion of the self-consciousness of the soul in reversionism to the point of total disorientation to the grace of God. The believer who rejects the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith and its accompanying eternal security are very proud because inevitable they think their sins are greater than the grace Plan of God. As such, they are more impressed with their sins than they are with what God has done for their sins.

Why is salvation by grace through faith and not by works?

Apart from the fact that God is perfect and His perfection demands He do all the work, salvation by grace eliminates all forms of human arrogance through human works. Therefore, salvation is the total grace of God and no man can boast in himself about his works for salvation. God has done everything for man’s salvation. Sinful, arrogant man can do nothing to pay for his own sins. Everything the unregenerated man produces is tainted with sin, even his faith. Therefore, any works unsaved man produces includes sin, and sin cannot pay for sins. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Only the perfect unstained works of God can pay the price for our sins. In addition, arrogance and grace cannot coexist. They are diametrically opposite. One is something you produce; the other is something you receive. One is from man; the other is from God. One is from sin; the other is from perfect righteousness.

Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Therefore, there is no possibility of self-achieved salvation, and no reason for boasting.

Even though the Scriptures are dogmatic regarding this fact, many people, religions, Christian denominations, and evangelicals believe that works can save them and/or ensure their eternal salvation. The following is a list of erroneous viewpoints regarding “Salvation by Works.”

1)  Verbal works.

  • “Repent and believe.” Repent is a word that has been misinterpreted, especially in regard to salvation. Many misinterpret it to mean to feel sorry for your sins. That is pseudo-repentance which wrongly or erroneously construes repentance as feeling sorry for sin. As a result, they include with their gospel message to feel sorry for your sins. No one is saved by feeling sorry for his sins.

Repent means to change your mind about Christ, as occurs under the Holy Spirit’s ministry of Common Grace. The Greek word is METANOEO that means to change your mind. To repent is simply the result of common grace. You understand the gospel and so you change your mind about Christ; that is why you believe in Christ. Repentance is a result of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in common grace and the Divine invitation; it is not a condition of salvation.

In the misapplication of the word, many preach that you must confess your sins for salvation. Confession of sins, 1 John 1:9, is only for the believer in Rebound after salvation, never for salvation.

  • Begging God to save you. This is ridiculous, coming from one who is spiritually dead.
  • “Inviting Christ into your heart” is total nonsense and blasphemy. A spiritually dead person cannot invite eternal God, the Lord Jesus Christ anywhere! Not into his heart, his home or his life. As Pastor R.B.Thieme Jr. noted, “This is stupidity, asininity, emotion, and works. You believe in Christ! Do what the Bible says, not what some jackass evangelist says.
  • Muttering repetitious words or phrases as, “O God, O God, O God save me!” Or “hail Mary.” These do not impress God.
  • “Acknowledge Christ publicly.” This is not effectual for salvation. This is a distortion of Rom 10:9-10, which is about cause and effect: the cause is faith; the result, as the believer matures, is to witness, to acknowledge Christ. But you are saved only by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ by the Grace of God. Public acknowledgement of Christ as Savior is a failure to understand Rom 10:9-10. Acknowledging Jesus Christ as Savior is a result of salvation; it is not the means.

All this can be called the “magic word” system. People are very superstitious, and look for the magic words for their salvation, e.g., “plead the blood of Christ.” Many have carried their superstitions into the Christian life by trying to be saved by the “magic word(s).” The omnipotence of the Holy Spirit does not make verbal works an effective part of salvation.

2) Ritual works.

Ritual works include water baptism, circumcision, or the observation of the Eucharist as a condition for salvation.

  • Most common in this category is baptismal regeneration or salvation through faith plus water baptism. Salvation by baptism is prominent with us today. This was started in the Protestant churches by the Lutherans in the reformation, copied from the Catholics, who also believe in infant baptism for salvation.

From passages such as Luke 18:15-16; Acts 16:15, 33 and 1 Cor 1:16, where “households” were baptized, the Catholic church believes infants were included in early church baptism and should be today too. To them and others, it replaced the circumcision commanded under the Law, quoting Col 2:11-12 as proof of its replacement. Yet even circumcision did not save the Israelite or proselyte.

“Since the New Testament era, the Catholic Church has taught that it (water baptism) is a sacrament which accomplishes several things, the first of which is the remission of sin, both original sin and actual sin—only original sin in the case of infants and young children, since they are incapable of actual sin; and both original and actual sin in the case of older persons. In the New Testament, if one wants to become a Christian, one must believe in God and Jesus and be baptized.” (Catholic Answers, www.catholic.com).

Water Baptism of infants or adults for salvation is a heresy that has always existed in the Church Age. Baptism was a testimony to retroactive positional truth and current positional truth prior to the completion of the canon of Scripture. But when the canon was completed, water baptism was no longer something to be performed. In fact the Bible tells us there is only one baptism and that is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which occurs at the moment of your salvation, Eph 4:5; 1 Cor 12:13. When water baptism is added to faith, there is no salvation because the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit cannot and does not make water baptism effective for salvation. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace makes faith in Jesus Christ, and faith alone, efficacious or effective for salvation.

  • Circumcision was the favorite of the Jews. Galatians was written to correct this. The Galatians were typical Gaelic people. They were very excited about Paul’s ministry and responded and became believers. But after Paul left, the Judaizers counteracted, telling these new believers they could not be saved until they were also circumcised. These gentile believers swallowed this. So Paul wrote Galatians, a letter telling them they had gone astray from the gospel. Not only that, but Paul likened them to the priests who had mutilated themselves to impress God, and it did not work, cf. Gal 5:12.
  • Another heresy is the teaching that one must partake of the Eucharist, (a.k.a. Communion), the partaking of the bread and wine, as commanded by our Lord, Mat 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20, and later Paul, 1 Cor 11:23-26, as a necessity for salvation. Catholic tradition believes it too is necessary for one’s salvation.

“The only essentially important points remaining are the outward sign (matter and form) and inward grace (effects of Communion), to which may be added the necessity of Communion for salvation. Eminent divines, like Francisco Suárez, claim that the Eucharist, if not absolutely necessary, is at least a relatively and morally necessary means to salvation, in the sense that no adult can long sustain his spiritual, supernatural life who neglects on principle to approach Holy Communion. This view is supported, not only by the solemn and earnest words of Christ, when He Promised the Eucharist, and by the very nature of the sacrament as the spiritual food and medicine of our souls, but also by the fact of the helplessness and perversity of human nature and by the daily experience of confessors and directors of souls.” (newadvent.org, Kevin Knight. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.)

“The Eucharist is therefore our participation in the saving self-offering of Christ. When we eat His Body and drink His Blood, we receive His divine life and abide in His salvation, receiving forgiveness, healing, transformation, and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Eucharist is thus the fiery center of our Christian life. It is also what binds us together one with another as the Church. Indeed, the Eucharist makes us into the Church, renewing us and reconstituting us week by week as the Body of Christ.” (Catholics.com)

Even though communion is an important ritual of our spiritual life, signifying remembrance with thanksgiving for the saving work of Jesus Christ, there is absolutely no scripture that ties it to or makes it a condition of our salvation. The belief that it is necessary for one’s salvation is “participating in” or adding a work to salvation, which is always rejected by the Holy Spirit for salvation.

3) Commitment Salvation.

Commitment salvation is closely related to verbal works. It is putting the cart before the horse. Commitment confuses the salvation work of Jesus Christ on the Cross with the believer’s dedication, noted in Rom 12:1.  Therefore, it makes Rom 12:1 and similar commitment passages a condition for salvation. In reality, commitment is a function that occurs after salvation. So distinction must be made between the mandate for salvation, which is faith in Jesus Christ, and commitment, which is actually a number of post-salvation positive decisions towards God’s Word and His Plan for your life. When commitment is added to faith, there is no salvation. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace does not make commitment effective for salvation.

4) Lordship Salvation.

Lordship salvation is another “work for salvation program,” in that one must recognize the Lordship of Christ, (i.e., be obedient to Him and His Word in every aspect of your life), in order to be saved. This too is adding something to faith. This false system for salvation, made most recently popular by the late Arthur Pink and John MacArthur, uses a false epigram that says, “if Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” This statement completely ignores the true Lordship of Jesus Christ as a result of the Baptism of the Spirit. Jesus Christ was Lord in eternity past, is Lord now, and always will be Lord. The moment we believe in Christ, the Baptism of the Spirit enters us into union with Christ. Therefore, we share in His Lordship, and therefore He is our Lord. Whether we know it or not, is not the issue. He is our Lord.

He is the “Lord of lords and King of kings,” Deut 10:17; Psa 136:1-26; 1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16.

There is only one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” Eph 4:5.

Rom 14:11, “For it is written, ‘AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD’.” Cf. Is 45:22.

Phil 2:10, “That at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth.”

Acts 10:36, “The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all).”

Rom 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

1 Cor 12:3, “Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”

Therefore, you do not make a commitment of Lordship for salvation; that cancels your salvation if thought at the time you believe in Jesus. No one can make Christ Lord. Only God the Holy Spirit can do that and it is accomplished by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Holy Spirit must never be confused with the salvation ministry of the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace. Logically, efficacious grace comes first.

As such, Lordship salvation is salvation by works, and therefore is not salvation. The spiritually dead person does not have the ability to make Christ Lord of anything. All he can do is believe in Christ, and then the Holy Spirit makes his faith effectual for salvation. The volition of the spiritually dead person cannot make Christ Lord or make any commitment to Him, and even post-salvation, making Him Lord, (which you cannot do), does not maintain your salvation because He is already your Lord!

5)  Salvation by emotion.

Salvation by emotion alleges salvation through “feeling saved,” or salvation through ecstatics or emotional activity. This is the blasphemy of adding emotion to faith for the validity of faith. However, the validity of faith in Christ comes from the Holy Spirit, never from emotion. Even after salvation, the filling of the Spirit is not associated with emotion; that only will occur in the Millennium.

The emotions of the spiritually dead are not effective for salvation. The ministry of the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace makes faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ effective for salvation. The Holy Spirit does not make any form of emotion effective for salvation. No one is ever saved because he “feels saved.” Furthermore, no one is ever saved by speaking in tongues or alleging the “second blessing” through the Baptism of the spirit.

Neither emotion nor “feeling saved,” nor a rosy glow experience, nor weeping tears of repentance at the altar, nor speaking in tongues is a condition or a part of salvation. The principle is that emotion is not a valid spiritual experience, either in salvation or in spirituality. The emotion in the soul is designed to be a responder to things you enjoy, but you must never assume that emotion has a spiritual connotation. You may get emotional over understanding spiritual things, such as grace. However, that emotion does not constitute the spiritual function of your life; it is merely a response to the spiritual function of your life. In itself, it does not indicate the filling of the Spirit. Yet, it does indicate appreciation.

How you feel is inconsequential in salvation. The gospel does not emphasize how you feel; it emphasizes who and what Christ is. Being spiritually dead, there was nothing we could do to impress God. When you believe in Christ, how you feel is never important; it is what God has done for you that is important. You may have an emotional response to your salvation, or you may feel terrible. It makes no difference.

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For more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson #’s:

16-002 through 16-003

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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU

If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore our sins will never be held against us. Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life.

To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life. So right now you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:

“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”

If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!

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