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Works Of Man And The Works Of God

The Scriptures teach us that neither our own meritorious works nor works of the Law will earn us entrance into heaven...

Ephesians 2:7-9 That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through the faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Salvation is clearly the gift of God's grace, as it is not from us. Paul is not claiming that "faith" is not of ourselves, clearly we must believe and have personal faith... he is explaining that the "gift of God" is not of ourselves. The "gift" is because of God's grace and our "obedience to the faith". There is something we must obey to be saved. Yet, there are many people who claim that requiring obedience for salvation is the same as working our way into heaven on our own merit. When Paul refers to works in this passage, notice the type of works he classifies. He clearly points out that we cannot gain God’s grace by works that we can boast about, “lest any man should boast.” He does not exclude works altogether, but rather works of our own merit and works of the Jewish Law is what he is excluding. It is impossible for Paul to be excluding every type of work, because salvation in itself is a “work of God”.

Can we somehow claim that hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, and baptism are works of ourselves? No, not according to the Bible…

John 6:27-29 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal." Therefore they said to Him, "What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?" Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent."

Jesus clearly said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom He has sent." We must "believe in Him" which is "the work of God". While it is a work of God, WE must do it. The commandments we are required to obey in order to be saved are works of faith, or the works of God.

Now think about Noah... he and his family had to build this massive boat… no doubt a lot of manual labor, but did they work their way into heaven? No, they did a work out of faith, or a work of God…

Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

Consider Romans 10:17... So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Then 2 Corinthians 5:7... For we walk by faith, not by sight:

We learn how Noah heard God (“being warned of God”)…

and he obeyed (“moved with fear” and “prepared an ark”) upon “hearing” those words ("the word of God")…

and ("by faith, not by sight") because he could not see these things (“things not seen as yet”) of which God was warning him.

He had faith that what God was telling him was true… he “believed” God and he “obeyed” God.

God TOLD Noah and his family WHAT THEY HAD TO DO TO BE SAVED, just like God tells us in the Scriptures that there is something we must do to be saved. Had Noah not built the ark, would he and his family have been saved? Obviously not! If we do not OBEY what God has commanded us to do, will we be saved? The answer is obvious!

"Believing" includes trusting in Jesus to guide us in the way of salvation. Jesus tells us that “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved.” (Mark 16:16a) However, many people believe baptism is a work of ourselves and to require this of salvation is to somehow earn our way into heaven. But what do the scriptures say…

Titus 3:5-7 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of generation and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

The apostle Paul tells us that God saved us, "not on the basis of deeds", which are works of our own righteousness, but He saved us "according to His mercy". And how did He save us? " the washing of generation and renewing by the Holy Spirit".

Now let's compare what Paul wrote with what Jesus said during His ministry…

John 3:3-5 Jesus answered and said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

The word "washing" is from the Greek word "baptizo", which is also translated as "baptism". The word "generation" or "regeneration" is from the Greek word "paliggenesia", which is translated as "new birth" or "born again". The "washing of generation" is "baptism"… there is little argument among scholars about this translation. Notice how Jesus explains being "born again" as the same as being "born of water and the Spirit"… while the inspired apostle Paul affirms what Jesus taught when he explains being “born again” as the "washing of generation and renewing by the Holy Spirit".

We compared what Paul wrote vs. what Jesus wrote... let's now compare how Paul again affirms what he previously wrote. When Paul wrote to Titus he explained... Titus 3:5(a) “He saved us, not out of works of righteousness that we did,” Then he wrote to the Philippians …

Philippians 3:9 And be found in Him, not having my righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God based upon the faith.

Paul explains how we are found "in Him" (in Christ). To Titus he wrote "not out of works of righteousness that we did". To the Philippians he wrote "not having my righteous which is of the Law". Paul affirms twice how the works we do for salvation are not of ourselves. Then Paul tells us how the works we do are... "through the faith of Christ"... and "the righteousness which is from God based upon the faith."

Clearly "believing" and “baptism” are not works of ourselves whereas we earn our way into heaven. Both are "works of God" and according to His mercy. These works of God that we are commanded to obey are how we are "justified by His grace". (Romans 3:24 and Titus 3:7).

We have confirmed that "believing" and “baptism” are not works of ourselves whereas we earn our way into heaven. Both are "works of God" and according to His mercy. These works of God that we are commanded to obey are how we are "justified by His grace". (Romans 3:24 and Titus 3:7). We also considered Ephesians 2:7-9 and how it is misused and misinterpreted by the majority. Let us now consider Ephesians 2:9-10 and how this passage is also misinterpreted by the majority…

Ephesians 2:9-10 Not of works, so that no one might boast; For we are his workmanship; Created in Christ Jesus on the basis of good works which God foreordained that we should walk in them.

The majority of Bible translators will substitute the words “for” or “unto” in the place of “on the basis of” implying that we are “created in Christ Jesus” to do good works. While this statement is true, as Paul verifies for us in Romans 7:4, it is not the point of Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2:10. This poor translation is due to doctrinal bias by those who do not believe we have to obey any commands of God to be saved… particularly those who claim baptism is not required for salvation.

The manuscripts use the Greek word "epi" which actually means "upon" or "on" or "by", and the word "upon" is appropriately phrased as "on the basis of" or even "as a result of". Many people will interpret this Greek word "epi" to mean "in the direction of", "toward", "resulting in", “for” or "unto". The problem with this is there is already a Greek word for "resulting in" and "unto" and that Greek word is "eis". It is used quite frequently in the Bible.

Now let's see how we could paraphrase the difference between the two word meanings using Ephesians 2:10…

Translated incorrectly... "Created in Christ Jesus resulting in good works"…

Translated correctly..."Created in Christ Jesus on the basis of good works"…

The latter translation is based on the manuscripts and would be the correct translation. Using the correct translation we further affirm we are saved on the basis of these good works... which are the "works of God". What Paul is communicating here in this passage is that the works that save us are not works from us, works whereby we earn our way into heaven, works that we can boast of or brag about, or works of the Law…

Romans 3:27-28 Where is the boasting then? It is eliminated. Through what law? The Law of works? No! But through the law of faith. For we conclude that a person is justified by faith without works of the Law.

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that no person is justified out of works of the Law, but through the faith of Jesus Christ, we too have believed in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not out of works of the Law.

These "good works" are “faith, repentance, confession, and baptism (immersion) and are works of God's righteousness, works of faith. God foreordained these specific works that are to be done by everyone that will come to Him through Jesus Christ. Christ is the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Hebrews 5:9)

If we could somehow misinterpret Ephesians 2:7-10 to mean that we do not have to obey these works that Jesus taught and commanded, and the apostles taught and preached... then there are some serious contradictions in the Bible. Even Paul would be contradicting his own words because he preached and taught obeying the gospel, which is obedience to the faith, and includes hearing, believing, repentance, confessing, and baptism... as well as faithfulness and perseverance. We clearly know the Bible does not contradict itself.

The works unto salvation are not a matter of boasting and merit, but are simply the obvious submissive responses of a humble believer desiring to be recreated by God in Christ. We must obey the "works of God" to be saved.

God bless you!

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