How to Tell if You are Truly “Saved by Grace through Faith”
From conservative Baptist to flamboyant Charismatic, the enthusiastic confession of “I am saved by grace through faith” is the most common scriptural reference used in any conversation about salvation. Well over 95% of professing believers everywhere have this handy little snippet at the forefront of their collection of religious mantras, just in case they need to convince themselves and others that they are “saved.”
Taken from Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are you saved, through faith…” has become the foundation brick, the centerpiece and the Rosetta Stone through which all other Scriptures are filtered.
The problem is that the abundant misuse of this Scripture has provided the fertilizer for the growth of a massive, bald-faced lie. Our notion of being “saved by grace through faith” is the tall redwood among the other trees of apostasy that you will find sprouting up on the Christian landscape.
It’s not that Paul was lying, but rather that we were lied to by our leaders as to the context and interpretation of this verse. The majority of these leaders were not being malicious when they taught us this lie; they merely chose to parrot their training rather than think for themselves.
Be that as it may, the lie has taken deep root and the world (and the church) now believe that they have no responsibility whatsoever to obey the commandments of Yah. They think that their salvation is completely independent of their deeds.
They have a very rude awakening coming – and, yes, I’m going to prove it in this post.
This Salvation Mantra is not the “Be All, End All”
I freely admit to having a serious irritation with people who use this verse to affirm their salvation, so be warned that you may encounter an intensity in this post.
Not only do I feel anger because a single phrase mantra is being used as the “be all, end all” to any argument on the topics of grace and salvation, I’m also a little peeved for all the times that I (and others who believe along the same lines I do) have been slapped in the face with this slogan, only to realize that a single phrase counter-slogan is not available.
Due to the deception involved, explaining any opposing viewpoint requires quite a bit of detail and most of us do not have that detail committed to memory. This poses a problem in both Facebook conversations and face-to-face discussions. So we’re left sitting there, heads hung in shame and hands in our pockets, knowing that something is so “messed up” with the understanding of this verse, and there is nothing we can really do or say about it in short order.
All this aside, the main goal of this post is not to win an argument, but to stop the lies. We need to find out the truth about what it means to be “saved by grace through faith” rather than just spout what we’ve been told, further perpetuating the deception.
We absolutely MUST dig deep into Scripture and find out what it actually says.
Now, understand as you read this, my goal is not to make you feel bad, but if true conviction comes in the process . . . please, let it do its work!
And as you gain this renewed perspective of what it means to be “saved by grace through faith,” I hope you become SO grateful for what the Father has offered you, that you will demonstrate your allegiance to the Kingdom of Light with actual obedience to the commandments, not just the flimsy mental assent that even demons are capable of. (James 2:19)
The Sum of the Error
The error taught by the “pulpit masters” can be summed up like this:
For by grace (undeserved mercy) are ye saved (from hell) through faith (belief in the form of mental assent); and that not of yourselves (you didn’t do squat and you don’t need to do anything): it is the (free) gift of God: Not of works (obedience to the law), lest any man should boast (so just forget about obedience, leave that to the Jews).
This is the standard belief regarding the relationship between a believer’s salvation and grace. Granted, it’s rarely spoken of with such bluntness, but when the rubber meets the road, this is at the forefront of everybody’s minds.
Let’s take a closer look at some key terms in this passage and see if this definition is on point.
A Sober Look at “Undeserved Favor”
The study of the word “grace” [Greek “charis” – G5485] is rather lengthy and involved, but when one undertakes that study, you will find either “undeserved favor” or “divine enablement” at the core of the definition. People go back and forth as to which definition is correct, but all you have to do is look at the surrounding scriptural context, and you will be able to see which definition is more appropriate.
While discussing the topic of salvation, “undeserved favor” tends to be the prevailing definition. There’s nothing wrong with this definition, but “the devil is in the details,” as they say.
For as long as I can remember, “the gift of grace” has been explained something along the lines of the following allegory:
Imagine that you’re a little kid and your father comes to you with something hidden behind his back. It’s not Christmas. It’s not your birthday. He says, ‘Kevin, come here. I have something for you.’ As you walk over to him, he reveals what he has hidden behind his back, and it’s a brand new video game console with 3 of the coolest video games out on the market! You leap in excitement and joy! You don’t know what you did to deserve your father’s favor, but you gladly accept this free gift given to you by your father! This is what God’s grace is like!”
Maybe you didn’t hear “the gift of grace” explained exactly like that, but it was probably something fairly close. Something that places us in a role where we are not so “unlovely” – not exactly evil.
But the above example is not grace, it’s just a dad doing a generous deed for his child who is already part of his family. To understand grace this way is gross error.
In order to have an accurate picture of the grace shown to us, we need to understand exactly who we were before we received this grace and where we came from.
A Tale of Two Kingdoms
There are two kingdoms – the Kingdom of Light and the kingdom of darkness and they are violently opposed to one another. While the Kingdom of Light will soon overcome the kingdom of darkness entirely, we do not see the fullness of that victory just yet.
Let me give you another analogy. This analogy will not be a perfect parallel to what we know happened in the Word, but it doesn’t need to be perfect to demonstrate my point.
Imagine if the kingdom of darkness took your son (or daughter) and beat him before your eyes. They didn’t just beat him – they really put “the hurt” on him, torturing him and committing the most inhumane atrocities upon his person for an extended period of time before they finally shot him, ending his life.
The sound of the gunshot was actually a relief – anything to stop the suffering . . . anything to stop the primal, uncontrolled screams that echo in your mind even after it was over.
Any loving parent would be driven to the point of absolute rage-filled insanity at the prospect of having to sit there and watch something like that happen.
But before your son dies at the hands of his captors – before the pistol is raised to his head, your son looks at you and says, “Please! Please forgive them, Father!” [BANG!] . . . and the blood He sheds in front of your eyes cries out “Mercy!” and “Favor!” to those who would choose to follow in the sinless footsteps of the sinless One who gave His life.
You and I belonged to the people who killed the Messiah in like manner. By extension, we drove the nails. And the Father of the murdered Son gave us grace in the form of “undeserved favor.” We had done nothing … no works … to deserve this grace.
Our hearts were black as death. We were killers. We were enemies of the Kingdom of Light. We killed His Son!
You see, the grace that was “shed abroad” opened the door for us to enter into the Kingdom of Light. It did not give us the entitlement to enter into that kingdom, prance around like spoiled brats and continue to live in defiance of its laws. (1 John 3:4)
This “undeserved mercy” saved us from being destroyed by the Father whose firstborn we had slaughtered!
How dare we make this about a choice as to whether we should obey or disobey the laws (Torah) of His Kingdom! This shouldn’t even be up for debate!
We OWE OBEDIENCE to the Father because of the Messiah’s selfless sacrifice which allowed us an entry into the Kingdom “by faith.” The very least that we can do is submit to and obey the rules of the kingdom that we were invited into!
What does that even look like? Let’s look at the “faith of Abraham.”
What is “the Faith of Abraham”?
If we want to live up to the claim of being “saved by grace through faith,” we need to live our lives “through faith.”
Again, what does that mean?
It means that we need to have the same faith as our father, Abraham.
” . . . just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.’ Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
In this epistle, Paul was quoting Genesis 15:6:
The connection should be obvious, but what does “believe” really mean?
The Hebrew word for “believe” – “Aman” – means “to support, confirm and be faithful to.” This is not the same as “giving mental assent,” or just believing with your mind.
The demons “believe” this way, and I challenge you to find ONE who has any hope of salvation.
You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!
Prior to being declared righteous, Abraham had already PROVEN his faithfulness by leaving his homeland while not knowing where he was going.
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
Leaving your home at the command of YHWH and not knowing the destination is a PHYSICAL ACT. It was not mental assent.
Abraham had PROVEN his faithfulness by rejecting the riches of Sodom, pledging his allegiance and support to the Most High, relying on Him to meet his needs.
But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.'”
Rejecting the riches of Sodom and choosing to trust YHWH was a TANGIBLE CHOICE. It was not mental assent.
These physical deeds of obedience and loyalty were acted upon BEFORE the Father showed Abraham the stars and Abraham “believed.”
But it was because of Abraham’s “aman” – his support and faithfulness to the Father involving acts of obedience – that YHWH declared Him “righteous.”
It wasn’t because he said, “That’s really cool, YHWH! I believe what you just said!” when the Father showed him the stars and told him about his descendants.
No, Abraham supported, confirmed and was faithful to YHWH through His acts of obedience and it was because of this that he was considered “the friend of God.” (James 2:23b)
And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
This is the kind of “Faith” you need to have in order for you to be considered a child of Abraham.
This is the kind of “Faith” you need to have in order to be considered “righteous.”
The Messiah asked the question.
Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?
I believe that He asked that question because He knew that there would be little faith left.
Taking another look at “Saved by Grace through Faith”
So let’s take another look at this misunderstood passage, inserting what we know to be true from this study.
For by grace (undeserved mercy and favor) are ye saved (from the wrath of a Father whose son’s blood you have on your hands) through faith (…fulness resulting in obedience to the law of the Kingdom that you’ve been granted access to); and that not of yourselves (you were killers and did nothing to deserve it): it is the gift of God (as long as you are walking in faithful obedience) : Not of works (what could you really do in the kingdom of darkness to earn this?), lest any man should boast (How can a killer boast in the presence of the Father of a son they just killed?).
I hope you can see that this passage actually means the exact opposite of what we have been taught.
So, how do we act as a result of His “undeserved mercy and favor”?
Now, we have a choice. What do we do with this grace that was shown to us? Paul (the same guy who wrote the epistle to the Ephesians) had a great idea.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin (disobedience to the Torah – 1 John 3:4), that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin (disobedience to the Torah – 1 John 3:4), live any longer therein?
Do we then make void the law (Torah) through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (Torah).
So we see that it is our deeds that establish the law as the result of our active faith. Of course, there is the alternative – but I don’t recommend it.
For if we sin (transgress the Torah – 1 John 3:4) willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (transgressions of the Torah – 1 John 3:4), but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
This is going to be the fate of those who think they will enter the Kingdom with an attitude of “Wow! I sure am glad that curse doesn’t apply to me!”
Let’s do one more recap, to drive it home:
- By Grace – The Father honored the request of His sons blood and granted us the OPPORTUNITY to become citizens of the Kingdom of Light
- You have been Saved – From the wrath of a Father whose Son we had just killed
- Through Faith – Through embracing the sacrifice of his son and living in obedience to the commands in order to prove ourselves
- It is the Gift of God – Believe me, He did not have to do this
- Not of Works, lest any man should boast – As a member of the enemy kingdom who killed his son, could you do anything to earn this gift?
He gave us an opportunity through no works of our own, whether or not we take that opportunity and PROVE ourselves faithful, like our Father Abraham, remains to be seen.
I hope this cleared up what it means to be “saved by grace through faith.”
The next time someone throws this little christian slogan up in a Facebook conversation when you talk about obedience, righteousness and salvation … feel free to put this link up, in response.