By Grace are You Saved
Part 2 of the series: Grace and the Law
In part one (1) of this series entitle Grace and the Law, we critically looked at some of the key bible passages that our cousins in fundamental and charismatic churchianity (or Christianity as popularly referenced) have used over the centuries to support their claim that Torah was done away with and replaced by the hijacked (my wording) doctrine of grace. Allow me to conduct a brief review of those controversial passages so that we all have a central place to begin our quest for a sound, biblically-based response to our Faith’s most staunch critics.
Restating the problem simply, traditional and charismatic Christianity contends that Torah has been done away with by the work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Furthermore, our cousins in the Christian religion contend that any attempt or even thought of adhering to the Laws or Commandments of God (or as we prefer to call these collectively, Torah) are tantamount to a transgression of God’s grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ; that we are placing our eternal hope in works that could never pay the price of our redemption. Finally, the Jew showed us that it is impossible to keep Torah, thus any effort to keep Torah will be met with utter failure and any claim of faith in Jesus Christ, a total mockery. According to the Christian, Jesus kept Torah perfectly during His life and ministry here on earth. Therefore, we who would claim Jesus as our Lord and Saviour no longer are required to keep Torah. In other words, everything has been taken care of by the Creator or Jesus Christ—in other words, don’t worry, be happy—occupy until Jesus returns and raptures us from this earth and takes us to heaven where we’ll reign with Him for all eternity.
Conversely, we in the Hebraic Roots/Messianic Believers in Y’shua Messiah/Netzari communities contend that we are compelled by our love for the Father and in strict obedience to our Lord and Master, Y’shua HaMashiyach, to be Torah honoring, observant and obedient. We see our salvation as a free gift from Yahovah, the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov. Furthermore, we contend that our freedom from sin and the resulting eternal life came to those of us who would claim Y’shua HaMashiyach as our Messiah, as a result of His atoning death on the execution stake on Calvary more than 2,000-years ago. It is our love for our Creator and our loyalty to our Master Y’shua HaMashiyach that we, without reservation, without the slightest hesitation, obey the Father’s Torah and adhere to His way of life for mankind. Our salvation is tied to Torah by way of our qualification for that free gift of salvation. We are able, contrary to popular Christian belief and teachings, that one may live Torah perfectly as a result of the infilling of the Ruach Kodesh (aka the Holy Spirit) and it is this divine arrangement that the Christian wrongly interprets as “grace.” Despite the many seeming anti-Torah passages in the Brit HaDashah (aka the New Testament), primarily from the pen of Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul), we of the true Faith once delivered to the first-century saints by Y’shua HaMashiyach realize the truth of what Shaul was trying to get across to the recipients of his many epistles. We contend that Westernized—Paulinized churchianity has failed to properly execute sound biblical exegesis of his writings and thus it is really these (that is the westernized Christian) that have fallen from grace, not us. This is not a finger-pointing exercise, but a thing of seeking the truth as revealed to any who would seek it via (1) the revelation of the Ruach Kodesh; (2) bible scholarship that is devoid of denominational assertiveness and influence; and (3) commonsense that the Creator endowed each of us with at birth.
I, unfortunately, am of a mind that our two sides can not be reconciled to any appreciable degree without one side conceding to the claims and accusations of the other. It would mean we in the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith abandoning a fulfilled life of discipline, love and peace in Torah for a contrived life of “live as you please” or “as you see fit” and “occupy until Christ returns.” It would mean we would become subject to the traditions, laws and rules of men. Essentially, it would mean going over to a life of religion that Y’shua came to free us from. I came from that and many of you came from that as well. We’ve come to realize and greatly appreciate the freedom that has come as a result of our giving ourselves over to our Master Y’shua as opposed to giving ourselves over to men; to a church; to a denomination; to a religion. Y’shua told us that He came that we would have life and experience that life in abundance. (John 10:10) As wonderful as life may appear in churchianity, her members have spoken loudly with their feet and their wallets. The Barna Group reported a few years ago that people are leaving tradition/fundamental Christianity in droves—some estimates place the number in the millions over the course of the last decade. The primary reason given by those who have left Christianity is a lack of spiritual fulfillment and their lives having not been challenged during the time they were members of the church. Conversely, all indications are (and unfortunately there is no data that I can find to back this up) that our Faith is growing and that large numbers of folks are coming to a knowledge of the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. These are finding rest for their weary souls and a refreshing for their diminished spirits. Indeed, the Ruach is moving in our Faith. It is a wonderful time to be a part of the true Faith once delivered.
Last episode we looked at a few controversial passages that may cause some of us problems when trying to defend and explain to non-Torah observant believers in Jesus Christ (or traditional/fundamental/charismatic Christians) why we believe Torah is still viable for every believer in Y’shua Messiah. As well as it’s important that we make sure within our own minds and spirits that we understand what Shaul meant when he wrote these seeming anti-Torah passages. Let’s go over them quickly before we move forward. They are as follows:
Ephesians 2:8,9— 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Is Shaul saying here that grace through the simple act of faith eliminates any need for works in a believer’s life? What does Shaul mean when he says “not of works?” What is this “works?” What does a “workless” life look like as it pertains to those who depend solely upon grace through faith?
Romans 6:14—14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. I discussed last episode that sin, despite what Shaul appears to be saying, remains commonplace in many congregations and churches throughout the world. Since it would stand to reason that Shaul is not speaking to actual sin that believers are prone to commit—that is the violation of Torah; is it then reasonable to conclude that Shaul is actually referring to something else here? Could it be that Shaul is creating an analogy here whereby he is actually referring to any negative influences or affects that sin will have in opposition to the believer’s eternal life?
Romans 7:6— 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.1 According to this passage, it would seem that Shaul is saying that the law was not good for us and if we were to serve in the newness of spirit, then we had to be delivered from the law. Is Shaul saying here that the Law had problems associated with it? Was the Law problematic? Was the Law bad? Was the Law a mistake that needed correcting? Was the Law a failed experiment? If we choose to honor and obey Torah, have we placed ourselves in spiritual harm’s way, so to speak?
Galatians 3:10-14– 10 ¶ For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Is Shaul here saying that Torah observers are under some kind or type of curse? If so, what is there about the Law that makes it a a curse? If the Law is deemed to be a curse through the auspices of the Holy Spirit that was working in and through Shaul, and that Holy Spirit was provided to Shaul as a gift from Y’shua HaMashiyach, why would Father have placed upon us a cursed thing such as Torah? What would that say about our Creator? Are we then victims of the Law?
Lastly, Galatians 5:2-4– 2 ¶ Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Are we who are Torah observant truly fallen from grace? For that matter, what does “fallen from grace” really mean? Do our cousins in churchianity, who love to use this passage as an assault upon us and our Faith, truly understand what this actually means? Is it true what our cousins in churchianity say about those of us who follow Torah—that if we choose to obey the Law, if we are found to have violated one of the 613-commandments or laws, that we are guilty of breaking the entire Torah? Does breaking one of the commandments actually nullify the rest or make one guilty of breaking the entire Torah? Is circumcision a dead or done-away with commandment? If we who are of the true Faith once delivered, who have chosen to be Torah observant, make the work of Y’shua Messiah of no effect unto us? If so, why?
Setting the Stage
As I stated in the previous post, these are some tough passages to confront for those of us Torah observant believers in Y’shua Messiah. What I find very interesting is that Christianity has gone out of her way to apply a very literal read of these passages and has effectively made Rav Shaul, or as the Westerner prefers to refer to him as the Apostle to the Gentiles Paul, into the most effective anti-Law (aka Torah) agent in all of history.
We inherently know that a plain read of these Pauline passages can be profoundly misleading. We also know that biblical illiteracy is at the heart of the misunderstanding and mistranslation of these passages. The purpose of this episode is to take each of these passages and determine whether or not the plain read of that passage provides an accurate meaning of that passage based on sound biblical interpretative practice and exegesis. We will resist denominational influences to guide our study. We will not allow our individual cultural and personal biases to prevent our gaining a true understanding of these passages. All we want to do is to resolve once and for all what Shaul meant when he wrote these passages and whether or not he stood for Torah observance in the life of the believer in Y’shua Messiah. I want to know if I truly understand why it is important for all believers in Y’shua Messiah to be Torah observant, especially in light of these seeming anti-Torah passages of Shaul. If we fail to prove that the plain reading of these passages does NOT reject Torah observance by us believers, then we are in a dilemma: are we Torah observant because someone told us we needed to be but we really have no true biblical basis for our beliefs and actions? Or are we simply making things up in our heads and living according to how we feel we should live? I don’t know about you, but I want to be in line with the will and commandments of Yahovah/Yahweh/Yahuah and His Son Y’shua HaMashiyach.
So let’s get started. But first, let’s establish some ground rules for this study: (1) we acknowledge the primacy of Scripture to determine how we live our lives in Y’shua Messiah. (2) We believe that Shaul was a sent one from Y’shua and therefore he has authority to instruct us in the ways of our God. (3) We acknowledge that the only way to gain a true understanding of the bible is through the revelation of the Ruach Kodesh (aka the Holy Spirit) and applying proper exegetical principles to our study of Scripture. Those exegetical principles include: (a) allowing the bible to interpret itself; (b) avoid taking one verse alone to establish doctrine, but to examine every other applicable verse in comparison; (c) studying each passage in question in context—that is, what is the true issue being addressed; who is writing the passage; what was going on in history at the time the passage was written; who was the author’s intended reader and audience; how do the surrounding verses connect with the verse/passage in question? And (d), when examining the use of certain key words in the passage in question, gain an understanding as to how that same word is used in other passages of the bible.
That which we don’t cover we’ll pick up where we leave off in the next episode. Again, I believe that we can not downplay the importance of this subject as it relates to our Faith and our being able to defend what it is we believe and why we believe that which we say we believe and practice. Too many of us assume that we don’t need to defend our actions or our Faith. Yet when we are confronted by someone who opposes our Faith, or we are asked by someone in search of truth to explain our Faith, we choke—we present a poor witness. Our Master gave His best for us when He walked this earth 2,000-years ago. Shouldn’t we do likewise? I don’t want to disappoint Him nor do I want to do anything that will diminish the opportunity for someone to find truth in the midst of a jacked-up world. We have all the answers to this world’s many woes. That being said, my goal, my intent, my mission in life is to be ready to give anyone who asks me about my Faith. Rav Kefa (aka the Apostle Peter) wrote in his first epistle:
ESV 1 Peter 3:15, 16 but ain your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, balways being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and crespect, 16 ahaving a good conscience, so that, bwhen you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Does the Creator’s Grace Eliminate Torah Entirely?
Ephesians 2:8,9— 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This verse seems to aptly support the doctrine of “sola gratia” that I referenced last episode/last posting. Sola gratia, if you recall, is the Latin phrase meaning “grace only” or “grace alone.” The concept of sola gratia came out of the Protestant Reformation and was to stand in stark contrast to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that seemed to suggest that salvation was achieved through the grace of God and also by the merits of “one’s own works performed in love.” (Wikipedia-sola gratia) Although this was a hardcore belief of those behind the reformation, the truth of the matter was that the Roman Catholic Church “explicitly affirmed the doctrine of sola gratia in the year 529” in the Councils of Orange and of Trent. It was the doctrine of “sola gratia” that emerged from these councils and was explained as such: that salvation is made possible only by grace and that faith and works “are the secondary means that have their origins in and are sustained by grace.” The protestant reformers, however, seized upon and took the concept of sola gratia to a higher level, taking works entirely out of the equation and actually labeling works as Legalism. Bottom line, as it relates to the protestant reformer’s concept of sola gratia—which today constitutes the same view of most fundamental,traditional and charismatic denominations throughout the world—is that “salvation is entirely comprehended in God’s gifts (that is, God’s act of free grace), dispensed by the Holy Spirit according to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ alone.” (Wikipedia—sola gratia)
Now, one must agree that there is a problem with the doctrine or concept of “sola gratia” and that problem is what is referred to in Wikipedia as “Antinomianism.” Antinomianism argues that “if someone is saved, he/she has no need to live a holy life, given that salvation is already in the bag” so to speak. And isn’t this perspective a primary cause for the schism; the chasm; the thing that divides our two faiths? It is indeed clear that our love and obedience to Torah is nothing short of a gross offense to Christianity as a whole. The problem, however, is not with us but with the Christian who is sorely mistaken, not only in their understanding of the concept of “grace,” but also in their reasoning and understanding as to why we are Torah observant.
So as it relates to this passage of Ephesians, what do we know about the purpose and intent of this letter? Who was Shaul’s intended audience or readers? What could have prompted this statement from Shaul? Well, scholars tell us that Ephesus was located on the east side of the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor which is part of modern Turkey. Shaul’s first visit to Ephesus is recorded in Acts 18:18-23, which appears to be one of the stops Shaul made on his second missionary journey. The assembly in Ephesus appears to have been a mixture of Gentiles and Jews who seemed to be primarily congregating at the local synagogue, which was common place throughout the Roman Empire of the first century. With that, we know then, that a mixture of Torah observance, Judaism, and maybe even some paganism was being practiced amongst the members of that assembly. It so happens that Ephesus was famed for its Temple of Artemis or Diana. So like everywhere else that Shaul’s foot print was felt, Shaul had a rough road to haul—trying to coral believers from every walk of first-century life, into the true Faith, must have been an impossible task.
This portion of the Ephesian letter, interestingly enough, seems to be focusing on the Gentile half of the assembly. Shaul writes:
“For it is by His grace we are rescued, through faith; and this is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of Elohim: Not of works, or else anyone glory (in themselves). For we are His creation who are created in Y’shua the Mashiyach for good works which Elohim has before prepared for us to walk in. Wherefore be mindful that you formerly were carnal Gentiles; and you were called the uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision and which is the work of the hands of the flesh. And you were, at that time, without the Mashiyach; and were aliens from the regulations of Israel; and strangers to the covenant of the promise; and were without hope and without Elohim in the world. But now, by Y’shua the Mashiyach, you who before were afar off, have been brought near by the blood of the Mashiyach. He is Himself our peace, who has made the two (become) one, and has demolished the wall which stood n the midst, and the enmity, by His flesh; and in His flesh (the) enmity and regulations of commands (contained) in his commandments are abolished (so) that in himself (an occurrence of the divine nature or qnoma), he might make the two into one, establishing peace.” (Eph. 2:8-15 AENT)
Now there are a few things to consider as we examine this passage in context. Instead of taking just verses 8 and 9 at face value, we have now taken on a sizable chunk of Shaul’s letter to the Ephesian assembly. Now, most of churchianity when referencing Ephesians in their arguments in support of sola gratia and the abolishment of the Law or Torah, will focus only on verses 8 and 9. However, there is a severe problem in referencing just verses 8 and 9 when discussing the issue of grace and the law, and that is one receives an incomplete understanding of what Shaul has to say on the subject.
To begin with, Shaul goes on to say in verse 10 that we (Gentiles) have newly been created “for good works which Elohim has before prepared for us to walk in.” Does this not hit you like a brick wall as it hit me? What is Shaul saying here? He’s saying that we who were Gentiles, having been made new by the work of Y’shua, are now created “for good works” and those good works were prepared by Yahovah (as opposed to Elohim) for us to walk in. The NAS and ESV says of those good works, that they were “prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” And the natural question that we must ask is, what are those good works that were prepared beforehand that we should walk in them? Well, the phrase “good works” is found in 23 verses in the KJV. Now, we must be careful to discern the different Greek words used to describe “good works” which are “agathos” and “ergon” respectively. In some passages, the word “good” is “kalos” which means beautiful, handsome or excellent. Shaul uses “agathos” in this Ephesians passage. Invariably, however, the Greek word “ergon” is used to denote “work.”
As it pertains to this particular passage, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon suggests ”ergon” is “that which is required and approved of Yahovah (as opposed to God), in the same sense of Mashiyach.” And we can safely presume that which is required and approved of by Yahovah and Mashiyach as related to “works” is commandments or rules, or as I will boldly propose here, Torah. Yes, I believe Shaul is suggesting here that we Gentiles, through the work of Mashiyach, have been fashioned to do “good works” which I surmise to be Torah. There are several biblical verses that I point to as support for my contention:
Titus 2:11-14—For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
What is Shaul writing about here? He’s talking about the grace of Yahovah bringing salvation to the world and that grace teaching us to live Godly lives as we await the Saviour’s reappearing. And we know that it is not up to man’s discernment or determination as to what is Godly and what is not. Father alone is the stipulator of what is Godly. Yet Father has not left the determination as to what is Godly or not Godly up to chance or up to trying to read His mind. He revealed what is Godly and what is not by His Torah. It’s not rocket science.
Titus 2:1-10—But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
Hello! All of these qualities are not unique to Shaul’s teachings. They come right out of Torah. Good works!
2 Timothy 3:17—But thou hast fully known my doctrine (writing to Timothy), manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus (here’s that reference to living Godly lives again) shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou has learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom thou has learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (none other than the Tanakh—the Torah, the prophets and the writings—but primarily Torah, because the New Testament had not been created as yet), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all “good works.””
Here we go again, good works being tied directly to scripture, or better, tied to Torah.
And there are several others that I will not overtax with you. But suffice to say, that Shaul seems to be tying the concept of “good works” or “ergon agathos” to being Torah observant.
But then there is the other aspect of works that we must not overlook here and that has to do with Shaul tying works directly to “law.” The phrase “works of the law” is used some 5-times in the KJV. (Reference: Rom. 9:32; Gal. 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10)
So I think we have enough to put into some semblance of understanding what Shaul is saying in Ephesian 2: 8—and that has to do with providing a quasi definition of grace; that being grace through our faith in Y’shua HaMashiyach, has rescued us from the world and from eternal death. That rescuing came as a free gift from Yahovah/Yahweh and all we had to do is accept that rescue. In doing so, however, we have received the power to live godly lives. And what does living godly lives look like? It’s all contained in Torah. We have become new creatures. Being former Gentiles (but now Israelites—having crossed over and grafted in) we lived according to the ways of men—evil, sinful, without Yahovah in our lives. Taking on that newness of creation, we have the wherewithal to walk according to His ways or as Shaul wrote: created for good works which God “prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” What is this good works that Shaul is referring to? It’s Torah. So already we see that Shaul has not discarded Torah observance by believers, especially Gentiles. But Shaul clearly indicates here that grace has saved us from the world and from destruction and has provided us the means by which we may walk in accordance to Yahovah’s stipulated way of life for mankind.
Oh, I have no doubt that the more stubborn and obstinate Christian will insist that “good works” as referenced here by Shaul throughout his writing has nothing to do with Torah, but will instead provide a definition or explanation of the phrase “good works” that is consistent to his/her western understanding of what good works means. The problem with this line of reasoning is that there will be thousands, if not millions of perspectives on what constitutes good work. Like opinions, everyone has their own idea of what constitutes good work. But let’s break it down folks: our opinions amount to nothing more than “dung” in the sight of the Almighty. And if anyone is a serious believer in Y’shua HaMashiyach, or for that matter, Jesus Christ, and they are pure in their agenda, then he or she must concede that it’s all about Yahovah/Yahweh/Yahuah/God/Father. It is His opinion, and His opinion alone that matters. So let’s get off our high horses and stop being arrogant fools. Any concept of what is good, especially as it relates to works, must absolutely come from Father and can not come from man, as much as we may like to thing that we have the right stuff to determine what is good and what living a good and godly life looks like.
But let’s not stop here fellow saints, we’re heading towards the stretch as it relates to this Ephesian passage—and hang on, this is where it really gets exciting and brings home for us the truth about Torah living in relation to grace! Hallelujah.
Verse 11, Shaul, a Benjamite, a former Pharisee and at the time of this writing, an Apostle—a sent one directly from our Master Y’shua Messiah—lovingly reminds us of our past. We were carnal gentiles. The KJV, ESV, NAS, ASV words it, Gentiles in the flesh. But the literal rendering of the Greek text (along with the DBY and YLT) reads nations in the flesh. In other words, we were not Israelites and we were certainly not Jews. Thus looking at us from the Jewish and Israelite perspective–from Shaul’s perspective, we were so-called “uncircumcised.” Being of the so-called “uncircumcised,” we were aliens, devoid of commonwealth of Israel, or better rendered in the Greek, we were lacking Israeli-citizenship—verse 12. For all intents and purposes, we were “outsiders.” We were despised and rejected by the Israeli nation, especially by the Jewish nation. Being outside the realm of the true Israelites—not speaking of Judaism per se, but of true Israelis who’s lives were governed by Torah—we were NOT privy to the covenant promises that came by virtue of being an Israeli; especially an Israeli who had Mashiyach as their Master and Yahovah as their God. Thus we were in a hopeless state. Destined for eternal damnation. But the Father, in His infinite wisdom and love for mankind, made provision for even us, being, existing in our hopeless state. He inserted Himself in the affairs of men to offer a lifeline to any who would grab hold to it. It was no longer a case whereby we would have to live out our lives in a hopeless state. It was not situation that we had to convert to Judaism to have the remotest chance and part of the covenant. No! Not this time! It was an opportunity for complete inclusion in the commonwealth of Israel; full access to the blessings of the covenant. What should have cost us our lives for access and inclusion, cost us nothing—just acceptance. But with that acceptance comes responsibility. That responsibility is that we perform. Perform what? That we live and operate in the realm of “good works,” for we have been made—we have been prepared—for such. That is who we become—it is who we are identified as. It is what we look like. It is how the world sees us from then on. Good works. It’s not negotiable as the Christian would assert.
Being born here in America, my citizenship comes to me free of charge. However, if I am to be; if I am to remain a citizen, there are things that I am expected to do—obey the laws of the land; pay my taxes; make a living; contribute to society in some way or another. If I fail to obey the laws of the land or pay taxes or make a living for myself and my family, I will not realize the full benefits of American citizenship. In fact, I may even lose my citizenship (in a low-level way I would add) by being incarcerated.
Despite what the Christian believes and teaches and lives, there are no free lunches as it relates to our relationship with Father. He does indeed offer us the gift of eternal life that comes without charge to us—but oh what price was paid for that gift. In order to receive and keep the gift, we must qualify for it. Father is not going to promote any human to the place of being one of His children; a king; a priest; His elect in a state of rebellion; hating Him by virtue of being disobedient to His will and His commandments. Does it make any sense, Christian, to think and believe that we can live anyway we damn-well please, reject Father’s laws and commandments, and enter into His Kingdom as honored citizens? Would you allow your children to live in your house in total rebellion and disobedience and receive complete and unfettered freedom and privilege? Well, some of you do, and that’s a shame. But let me just tell you, Yahovah don’t play that. He has purchased us with the blood of His son. Shaul wrote to the Corinthian assembly: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price…” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) We’ve accepted that gift. We now live in His house. He has house rules. Therefore, we are compelled to live in His house under His rules. His rules are contained in Torah. Thus, we must be Torah observant, even as believers in Y’shua Messiah. If we elect to not obey His rules—His Torah—well, that’s a story for another day.
If there is anything to be gotten from this exercise, it is the absolute necessity of sound biblical exegesis that include contextual analysis—context, context, context. If we were simply to take verses 8 and 9 of this 2nd chapter of Ephesian, from a purely plain reading perspective, we could very easily walk away having an unshakable impression that sola gratia is the name of the game today and that Torah observance by believers in Jesus Christ is not only unnecessary, but completely in opposition to the sacrifice of the Saviour and the doctrine of grace. Employing bible sound bites to explain and support Christian doctrines is a prescription for destruction; at the least, a prescription for living an unfulfilled and potentially sinful life.
- Wikipedia—Sola Gratia
- The Aramaic English New Testament (AENT)
- Friberg Greek Lexicon
- Jamieson, Fausset and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
- Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts
- Michael Rood
- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon