Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation by Grace, Not Works



reproduced from The New Testament Validates Torah

Pastor: Ephesians 2:8-9: We are saved by grace, not as a result of works.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

The pastor is absolutely correct in stating, “We are saved by grace, not as a result of works.” No one should ever question the profound truth of the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:8-9: “You have been saved by grace through faith. This does not come from you; God’s is the gift; not from anything you have done; let no one be proud” (Lattimore). Any evangelical Christian reading The New Testament Validates Torah should understand that today’s Torah observant Messianics such as myself are not at all challenging the Biblical truth that faith in the Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) is what saves people from their sins, and that our human works cannot even remotely save us. What today’s Messianics do challenge is the place that good works are to have in the lives of those who have experienced salvation. Too frequently, not enough readers continue with Ephesians 2:10, where Paul clearly says that born again Believers are to have good works:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (cf. Colossians 1:9-10).

While it is clear that we are not saved or redeemed by works (ouk ex ergōn), it is quite true that we have been created for good works (epi ergois agathois). Good works or good deeds are to most certainly be the “sphere of action” (Moffat New Testament) in which Believers conduct themselves.

Today’s Messianic movement believes that while these good works begin with demonstrating love for God and neighbor, the foremost of the commandments,[1] and also critical acts of grace, mercy, and helps (i.e., James 1:27)—that it also includes honoring the Hebraic practices of our Lord and His Apostles like keeping the seventh-day Sabbath/Shabbat, the appointed times of Leviticus 23, and eating kosher. We do not at all follow the Torah to “earn salvation,” as is commonly accused, but so we might be the holy and set-apart people who the Lord wants us to be. Bruce’s observations are quite worthy of consideration here:

“They are the good works which reflect the character and action of God himself. God gave his people the law that they might be like him: ‘I am the LORD your God;…you shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Lev. 11:44-45). Jesus similarly taught his disciples to behave in a manner befitting God’s children, to be merciful as their Father is merciful (Luke 6:35-36). But to live like this, to accomplish the good works prepared for his children by God, the empowering gift of his Spirit is necessary. The good works were promulgated long ago, but thanks to the saving act of God ‘the righteous requirement of the law’ is fulfilled in those who ‘walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:4). His new creation ‘in Christ Jesus’ is brought into being by the agency of the Spirit, and by the Spirit’s agency the promise of the new covenant is realized when men and women are found ‘doing the will of God from the heart’ (Eph. 6:6).”[2]

The Apostle Paul says that God has prepared Believers to perform good works which follow a true salvation experience. Saving faith in Yeshua the Messiah is to be attended by good works, stirred on and compelled by the transformative action of the Holy Spirit on a redeemed person’s heart and mind. It is very true that within not only much of evangelical Christianity, but even the Messianic movement, people have lost sight of this foundational Biblical truth. We either have those who have forgotten the value of good works, or those who think that their actions of Torah observance will merit them eternal salvation. Ephesians 2:8-10 perfectly summarizes how salvation will lead to accomplishing good works, something which is to manifest by a heart that has been changed by God’s love.


[1] Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18; cf. Matthew 19:19; 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14; James 2:8.

[2] F.F. Bruce, New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984), 291.

About J.K. McKee 633 Articles
J.K. McKee (B.A., University of Oklahoma; M.A., Asbury Theological Seminary) is the editor of Messianic Apologetics (www.messianicapologetics.net), a division of Outreach Israel Ministries (www.outreachisrael.net). He is a 2009 recipient of the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek. He is author of numerous books and commentaries, dealing with a wide range of topics that are important for today’s Messianic Believers.

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