The Dynamics of Salvation By Grace Through Faith Leading to Good Works Explained

This is a dry, meaty, theological article intended for those of you who are deeper studiers of the Word of Elohim and want to understand how the deep things of YHVH relate to one another. The Word of Elohim does not contradict itself. Only the twisted and contorted humanistic philosophies of men turn the Bible into a confusing jumble of incongruent concepts. Make no mistake, the fault for this is not with Elohim, but rests squarely with carnal men and the false teachers among them. In this article, we show how both the Old and New Testaments are totally congruent on the subject of salvation, works, righteousness and faith as demonstrated by the life of Abraham and the writings of Paul. Please enjoy. — Natan

What is faith and how does it relate to salvation and the good works of Torah-obedience? Is a person saved by faith and grace alone, or by a combination of faith, grace and good works? Moreover, what is the nature of faith, how does it grow therefore deepening one’s spiritual relationship with YHVH Elohim? We will primarily study the example of Abraham, the father of the faithful and then see how Paul, the apostle, relates this to the basic salvation model of salvation by faith through grace leading to good works as stated in Ephesians 2:8–10. We also learn about the dynamic nature of faith as it relates to one’s relationship with the Creator.

First, let us define the word faith. The Epistle to the Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What does this mean? Faith is a biblical Hebraic concept and is rooted in the rich, concrete, and practical nature of the Hebrew language. 

In Hebrew, the basic word for faith is emun from the root verb aman. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (or TWOT) says this of aman: “At the heart of the meaning of the root is the idea of certainty. And this is borne out by the NT definition of faith found in Heb 11:1.” The TWOT goes on to state that the basic root idea of aman is “firmness or certainty.” In the qal form (the simple or plain form) of the Hebrew verb, aman expresses the concept of “support” and is used in the sense of the strong arms of the parent supporting the helpless infant. The idea is also seen in 2 Kings 18:16 where it refers to pillars of support. In the hiphel (causative) form of the verb, aman basically means “to cause to be certain, sure” or “to be certain about.” This verb form is used in Genesis 15:6 where we read that “[Abraham] believed in[ Heb. aman] YHVH; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary in its notes on Genesis 15:6 states of aman “It suggests total submission in the sense that one places his total confidence and seeks all his guidance and attitudes in God. In the same vein, when one responds amen to a blessing, he avows that he will be guided by the thought expressed in the blessing.”

The Jewish Torah scholar, Samson R. Hirsch in his commentary on Genesis 15:6 states, “Aman is not belief, by which word one robs this central idea of Jewish consciousness of its real conception. Belief is an act of the mind, is often only an opinion, is always only believing something to be true by reason of judgment and the assurance of somebody else. In making religion into a belief, and then making the cardinal point of religion believing in the truth of these quite untenable to the intelligence, religion has been banned from everyday life and made into a catechism of words of belief will be demanded as a passport for entry into the next world.” He goes on to say that to believe in the words of another is never expressed in the Hebrew word aman/believe in; it is not a mere submitting our theoretical mind to the insight of another, but rather is placing the full confidence, setting our whole theoretical and practical hold, or guidance, our strength and firmness on Elohim. Hirsch stresses the practical nature of aman. When Scripture says that Abraham believed in Elohim, Hirsch states that he had given himself over completely and unconditionally to the direct guidance of Elohim, who had raised him above the sphere of conditions on earth, where things are bound by the cause-and-effect laws of nature, to look at a concrete existence directly proceeding from the will of Elohim. This faith caused Abraham to believe YHVH’s promises which for them to come to pass would require supernatural intervention.

So what was the nature and dynamics of Abraham’s faith, so that Moses included Genesis 15:6 in the Torah, and David seems to reference it in the Psalms 32:1–2, and Paul uses it as the basis for his entire theology regarding a believer’s faith in Yeshua and salvation (see Romans chapter four)? The answer to this question is grounded in the living and dynamic faith Abraham had in YHVH. This is something worth studying, for it gives us insights into how to mature spiritually and to grow in one’s own faith walk and relationship with YHVH.

Abraham’s walk of faith is first mentioned in Genesis 12:1 where YHVH tells Abraham to leave his home in pagan Babylonia and to trek across the desert to a distant land that Elohim would show him. At the same time, YHVH gives him the hope of physical blessings (verses 2 and 3). Abraham takes that first step of faith and leaves Babylon for this remote country (verse 4). The dynamic we see here is that Abraham took the first step of faith to obey YHVH, and after the first step of faith was taken, YHVH revealed to him which land he would give him (verse 7). This was a giant step of faith for Abraham to take. He was an old man living in perhaps the most cosmopolitan city of the time. He was well-known, and a mighty prince such that his reputation even extended hundreds of miles from Babylonia all the way to Canaan (Gen 23:6). Additionally, he was a brilliant military leader and strategist as evidenced by his defeat of the five Babylonian king and their armies (Gen 14) with his own private army of 318 men. Abraham was willing to leave much behind in Babylon—his reputation, his family, and any material possessions that were not transportable and follow YHVH. Abraham’s walk of faith confirms James statement later that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:17). If Abraham had not left Babylon for Canaan (a difficult journey on foot of hundreds of miles), he would not have become the biblical giant of faith that we know.

Abraham’s literal journey because of his faith in Elohim’s promises teaches us that faith is not just mental assent or theoretical in nature, but is active and backed up by action as indicated by the Hebrew word aman, which describes the faith of Abraham (Gen 16:5).

Next we pick up Abraham’s faith journey in Genesis chapter 15. Here YHVH again reveals himself to Abraham and this time the focus of YHVH’s blessing on Abraham is not physical, but spiritual in nature, for YHVH states in verse 1 that he will be Abraham’s spiritual shield and great reward.

Little-by-little, Abraham is learning to walk with and to trust in YHVH. This is a process that has nothing to do with merely a theoretical belief system, but has everything to do with action. Biblical faith is a walk, not a thought! A thought can occur without subsequent action, while a walk requires not only thought, but action as well. 

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Romans 1–6: Natan’s Commentary Notes

This blog posting is lengthy and contains a lot of spiritual meat. Sorry for the major download all at once. This is actually a small fraction of my commentary notes on Romans chapters one through six. I actually have 74 pages of notes on this section of Scripture alone.

During the work week, due to my heavy work schedule, I have little time for ministry, and barely time for my own personal devotions. Since the major ice storm we had back in February, my tree service business has nearly tripled, I have doubled my employees and purchased additional equipment to handle the demand, and we are still majorly backlogged with work. I have been working 10 to 13 hours a day during the week and many hours on Sunday to keep up with it all. Thank Elohim for the Shabbat, or else l, like a mindless fool, I would probably be working then too—literally working myself into an early grave, no doubt! Thank you Yah for the fourth commandment. KEEPING YOUR TORAH-LAWS IS NOT A BURDEN BUT A JOY AND RELIEF! HalleluYah!!!

Sadly, from a few small and petty-minded murmurers and complainers out there among the modern day children of Israel, I am sometimes criticized when I post such a long piece. For those of this childish and ungrateful demeanor I have two things to say: If you don’t like it, switch the channel and go back to eating baby food. And while you’re at it, take a long walk on a short dock! This is not the place for you. Don’t bother to comment. I’ll just delete it!

For the rest of you, YHVH bless and keep you and may he make his face to shine upon you and grant you his glorious shalom! Amein.

Romans 1:1, Paul, a servant. Servant is the Greek word doulos literally meaningto tie or to bind, a bond servant, a slave, a man of servile condition, one who gives himself up to another’s will, devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interest.” Of doulos, Strong’s Expanded Concordance says that this word refers to one who was in permanent relation of servitude to another one whose will was completely subject to the will of another… The focus is on the relationship, not on the service. This word also refers to a slave, which was originally the lowest term in the scale of servitude. This word if found 127 in the Testimony of Yeshua and is used numerous times to refer to those whose service is used by Messiah in extending and advancing his cause among men (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the NT). The disciples of Yeshua applied doulos to themselves with regard to their relationship of service to their Messiah (Ro. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Phil. 1:1; 2 Tim. 2:24; Tit. 1:1; Jas. 1:1; 2 Pet. 1:1 and of other ministers of the gospel (Col 4:12; 2 Tim 2:24; Jude 1:1) and of all who obey Elohim’s commands who are his true worshippers (e.g. Lk 2:29; Rev 2:20; 7:3; 9:2, 5; 22:3, 6). Do you view yourself as a servant-slave of Yeshua your Master, who purchased or redeemed you with his precious blood from the death penalty hanging over you brought on by your sins?

Romans 1:5, Grace…for obedience.

What Is the Full Definition of the Word Grace?

If one were to ask most Christians what is the meaning of the word grace, they would say something like “free and unmerited pardon.” While this is not an incorrect answer, it is only half of the answer. The other half of the answer will take the typical Christian into spiritual territory where they may not want to do.

Grace is the Greek word charis. The word grace has several subcomponent meanings. It is the removal by Elohim from the individual of guilt caused by sin—the wiping clean of the slate containing a man’s past sins. It is a divine and unmerited favor or pardon of Elohim toward sinful man. 

Grace also indicates favor on the part of the giver (Elohim) and thankfulness on the part of the recipient (man) and is to be distinguished from mercy which is the pardoning or removal of the penalty or consequences of sin. 

Grace removes guilt, mercy removes misery. But grace is also the divine influence or enablement upon the heart of man (see Strong’s Expanded Concordance). But grace is not only unmerited divine favor, but is also the divine enablement or empowerment to walk righteously before Elohim. It is “the merciful kindness by which Elohim, exerting his holy influence upon our souls, turns men to the Messiah, keeps, strengthens, increases them in faith, knowledge affection, and kindles them the ability to exercise righteous virtues (see 2 Cor 1:12; 4:15; 6:1; 12:9; 2 Thess 1:12; Acts 11:23; 13:43; 18:27; Rom 6:14; Gal 5:4; Col 3:16; 1 Cor 15:10) according to Thayer’s Greek -English Lexicon of the NT

So in summary, we see that grace is not only the unmerited divine favor that wipes away our past sins, but the divine empowerment or enablementto obey Elohim by walking in a state of righteousness and virtue, so that one does not sin (i.e. not transgress the Torah-laws of Elohim; see 1 John 3:4) thus incurring upon oneself the penalty for or wages of sin (i.e. death) and hence the need, once a gain, for unmerited divine favor or pardon.

Romans 1:6, Called of Yeshua the Messiah.

When It Comes to Salvation, Who Invites Whom?

Many Christian evangelists talk of “choosing to follow Jesus” or “inviting Jesus into your heart” or “making a decision to accept Jesus.” To often, the emphasis is on the person of their own initiative of calling on or making the choice to follow Yeshua. While this idea may not be totally incorrect, it, sadly, places the emphasis on the wrong person, can feed carnal or humanistic pride, takes the focus off of where it should be placed and is largely an unbiblical message. Let us explain.

The word called in the Greek is kletos meaning “an invitation to a banquet, invited (by Elohim by the proclamation of the gospel) to obtain eternal life or salvation in the kingdom of Elohim through Messiah Yeshua.”The writers of the Testimony of Yeshua use this and other similar Greek words to express the idea of a calling going forth from YHVH Elohim to call those to salvation. In fact, the idea of YHVH choosing us (and not us him) is a prominent theme (nearly 50 occurrences) in the apostolic writings. The gospel accounts reference Yeshua speaking of a calling at least several times (e.g. Matt 9:13; 20:16; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32). Luke in the book of Acts speaks of a divine calling of believers to Yeshua (Acts 2:39) and to believers into the ministry (Acts 13:2; 16:10) as does the Paul in nearly 30 places in his epistles (e.g. Rom 1:7; 8:28; 1 Cor 1:1, 9, 24, 26; 7:15, 17, 20, 24; Gal 1:6, 15; Eph 1:18; 2 Thess 2:12; 2 Tim 1:9). Likewise, Peter makes reference to YHVH callingpeople into his kingdom (1 Pet 1:15; 2:9, 21; 5:10; 2 Pet 1:10) as does Jude (Jude 1:1) and John (Rev 17:14; 19:9). 

This same idea is carried forth in the words chosen, election and elect—words which occur in the Testimony of Yeshua another 46 times. These words derive from the Greek words ekloge and eklectos meaning “picked or called out ones(called out of the world for a place in the kingdom of Elohim).”

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“Faith without works is dead” explained

James 2:20–24, Faith without works is dead. James is referring here to the works of faith, not the works of the law. No man can live a good enough life to be saved by his Torah-obedience or the works of the law (Rom 3:20, 28; Gal 2:16; 3:11). 

At the same time, faith in Elohim is more than just mental ascent—“a knowing in your heart.” It has to be backed up by action (and we’re not talking about the works of the law). For example, when Elohim told Abraham to leave Babylon or to sacrifice Isaac, he obeyed by leaving that country and moving to Canaan. 

Moreover, many were healed in Yeshua’s ministry because they had faith in the Master and backed that faith up with corresponding action, which was the evidence of their faith. This faith-action continuum had nothing to do with Torah-obedience per se, but had everything to do with “putting your money where your mouth is” by backing up your faith or belief with action. 

It is this kind of faith that James is talking about here, and this in no wise contradicts the teachings of Paul who said that no man is justified by the works of the law. When Paul declares in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of Elohim, not of works…,” he was correct and not opposed to James. What’s more, Paul goes on to say in verse 10, “For we are [Elohim’s] workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works…that we should walk in them.” These good works (i.e. obedience to the Torah) are the fruits, evidence or proof of our salvation and are the works that back up our faith. 

So, in summary, the Bible teaches that we need the faith (a heart that believes and wants to obey Elohim) to lead us to salvation, as well as the works of faith after we have received Elohim’s free gift of salvation as evidence that we are saved. This fact in no way contravenes the reality of salvation by grace through trusting belief in Yeshua the Messiah, which is apart from the works of the Torah-law.


Are you IN the kingdom, or NOT FAR FROM the kingdom? Big difference!

Mark 12:34, You are not far from the kingdom. Yeshua makes this complimentary statement to the scribe who had correctly and succinctly summarized the message of the Torah (both its letter and spirit intent) in verses 32–33. 

However, note that Yeshua didn’t say, “You are in the kingdom of Elohim (i.e. “you have eternal life”).” 

So what was the one thing that was keeping this scribe from being in the kingdom? It was doubtless the same thing that kept the rich young ruler from obtaining the eternal life that he sought (Matt 19:16). After having obeyed the Torah the best that he could, the young ruler still needed to surrender all to Yeshua the Messiah, and to follow him unreservedly (Matt 19:18–22). 

This lesson teaches us that not only is it difficult for humans to surrender all to the Master, and then to follow him wherever he leads, but after having followed the Torah the best we can, we must still humbly recognize that without the righteousness of Yeshua in the equation, our best efforts at Torah-obedience will still miss the mark of YHVH Elohim’s acceptable standard of righteousness, thus leaving us maybe not far from the kingdom, but quite possibly NOTactually in the kingdom of Elohim.


Saved By Grace Unto Good Works

Exodus 24:1, Worship you far off. This verse clearly tells us that man can approach to worship YHVH only on the basis of the blood of the Passover lamb, but not on the basis of his own works of the law, since YHVH had not yet given the full Torah to the Israelites (that would occur later at Mount Sinai in Exod 24:12).

That is not to say that the works of the Torah are not essential in one’s spiritual walk. Rather, they simply are not the basis of our salvation, but rather a guide to lead us in the paths of righteousness once we are saved, and to keep us on the path of righteousness until we die (Eph 2:8–10).

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

not of works, lest anyone should boast.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Furthermore, Yeshua taught that our works will determine our level of rewards in his kingdom (Matt 5:19), though not our initial salvation.

Some have misunderstood Paul’s teachings to mean that since we are not saved by keeping the law, we therefore no longer need to keep the law. This is not what Paul taught! In numerous places in Paul’s writings, he upheld the validity of the Torah in the life of the redeemed believer, and even confessed that he was obedient to the law in his own life.


Was Abraham saved by faith or by works or both?

Genesis 26:5, Because. Based on Paul’s teaching in Romans 4, we see that the Abrahamic Covenant is the model for salvation, which is salvation by grace through faith leading to or resulting in good works or righteousness (Eph 2:8–10).

From this verse, it might appear the Abrahamic Covenant wasn’t a faith-based covenant at all, but a works based one. In other words, Abraham had to do something to be counted righteous or to come into good standing with Elohim—a concept which is commonly referred to as “earning one’s salvation through one’s good works.”

The fact is that in the Abrahamic Covenant, Abraham only had to have faith and believe in YHVH to be justified or to be considered righteous by Elohim (Gen 15:6). It was on this basis that YHVH granted him “salvation.”

But this initial step of faith on Abraham’s part and the righteousness Elohim attributed to him was but the first step in Abraham’s faith walk. From that point, he had to walk out his faith and continue trusting YHVH (see also Gen 19:5).

The apostolic writers present the idea that one’s spiritual journey is a walk, not a one time event that occurs at the beginning of that walk. Our faith walk is more than just mental assent with a few emotions thrown in for good measure. It’s more than just following the golden rule about loving our neighbor in some nebulous sort of way. It involves faithfulness to YHVH’s instructions. James clearly states in his epistle that this is how one demonstrates the legitimacy of one’s faith when he declares that faith without works is dead (Jas 2:18, 20, 26; see vv. 12–26 for context).

Abraham demonstrated his faithfulness by his obedience to YHVH’s Torah or YHVH’s Word or voice. Furthermore, as a result of this obedience, YHVH promised to bless him beyond simply being granted initial salvation or righteousness.

This two-step approach or model still holds true in the Testimony of Yeshua. One is saved or delivered from the wages of their past sin (Rom 3:25), which is death (Rom 6:23) by their faith (initial salvation), and then one ceases from that sin by continuing in the good works of Torah obedience (Eph 2:8–10).

Moreover, Yeshua and the apostolic writers in numerous instances reveal that future rewards (both temporal and eternal rewards) come as a result of one’s good works (e.g. Matt 5:19). The ultimate reward is being granted eternal life and inclusion in the family of Elohim.


Salvation by Works or Grace?

Ephesians 2:8, 10, Saved … good works. Are we saved by faith through grace or by our good works? This verse clearly answers this question. One is saved by the free gift of YHVH’s grace through faith (in Yeshua). Salvation isn’t based on good works (Torah obedience), or else prideful man would boast about how good his is, and that YHVH must have saved him on the merits of his good works. However, once one is saved, and a result of his salvation one will produce the fruits good works, which is Torah-obedience. This is the definition of biblical righteousness (Ps 119:172) and shows us how to walk in the Spirit by loving YHVH with our all and our neighbor as ourself. When we live out this pattern, we become Elohim’s workmanship through Yeshua.