Faith, Grace and Works
There are many people who seem to place the writings of Paul above the rest of Scripture. Some even claim that what Paul says trumps everything else in Scripture including YAHUAH and YAHUSHA’s words. These people preach and teach that faith alone is all that is required for eternal life, and they use the hard to understand writings of Paul to do this.
There is NO doubt that no one besides YAHUSHA has ever or will ever follow the law (Torah) perfectly. But does that mean that we can say we don’t have to even try to keep YAHUAH’s commandments?
Something we often hear is, “YAHUSHA kept them all for me, so I don’t have to.” We would encourage such people to take Paul down off of a pedestal and apply the whole Word of YAHUAH to their lives instead of just relying on Paul’s writings for instructions on how we live our lives and walk out our faith.
Some of the most common scriptures used are in Romans 3 so we would like to explain what Paul is actually saying in these verses. First we have to understand who he was writing to. He wasn’t writing it to us in our modern westernized society. He was writing to the believers in Rome sometime around 56 AD. These believers were comprised of Jewish and former gentile believers who were grafted in. We know at this time Paul had not been to Rome to personally start a church there, so it is likely these people heard the gospel somewhere else and brought it back to Rome.
Before we read this letter to the Assemblies in Rome and apply what it says to our lives today, we have to first understand what it meant to its original audience and why Paul would have written it to them. So what was going on with these believers in Rome in 56 AD?
There were many gentiles that heard about YAHUSHA and that he had performed miracles, healed the sick, and raised people from the dead. They were told his message from someone who knew it, and they believed in him. They liked what they heard and they placed their faith in YAHUAH and what YAHUSHA had done, but because they were not raised learning and reading the Tanakh (Old Testament) they didn’t know the commandments and laws like the Yashar’e’liym (Israelites) did.
The Yashar’e’liym (Israelites), who knew the Tanakh and Torah because they grew up learning it and spent every Sabbath in the synagogues reading it, also heard about YAHUSHA and all the things he had done. They believed in him too, and they recognized Him as the prophet that Moses spoke of in the scriptures, and they knew that He had fulfilled all that was written about Him by the Prophets.
Once former gentiles were grafted into Yashar’el (Israel), the natural born Yashar’e’liym (Israelites) started noticing that the former gentile believers were not following the Torah as they were. The Yashar’e’liym (Israelites) let this go to their heads, and started boasting about how good they keep the Torah and how they were better than the former gentile believers because of this. They were openly stating that they were more righteous than the former gentiles because of their keeping of the Torah. This is the point that Paul is addressing in Romans 3. We are going to go verse by verse starting in verse 21 and break down exactly what Paul is really saying.
21 But now apart from the law (Torah) the righteousness of YAHUAH has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
In this verse Paul is simply stating that before YAHUSHA’s sacrifice the only way a person could see YAHUAH’s righteousness is by looking at the law, words that were written down or verbally passed down from generation to generation, but now because of the sacrifice of YAHUSHA we have more than just the words to see his righteousness, because the words were made flesh, which the Law and the Prophets predicted would happen.
We have YAHUSHA’s living example to look at to see exactly how to live out our righteousness.
22 This righteousness is given through faith in YAHUSHA The Messiah to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,
In this verse Paul is affirming that this gift is available for anyone, not just for Jews/Yashar’e’liym/Israelites or Gentiles, but for anyone who believes.
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of YAHUAH,
Here Paul lets them know that none of them are any better than anyone else because they have all sinned.
24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by YAHUSHA.
Again, here he confirms that this free gift is available to ALL.
25 YAHUAH presented Messiah as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
YAHUSHA was the final and ultimate Passover Lamb, slain to cover the PENALTY of sin for everyone, past, present and future. His sacrifice did not take away sin. Sin is still here; it has not been taken away, but for those who believe in him, the PENALTY for that sin is now taken away.
26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in YAHUSHA.
He, YAHUAH, fulfilled his promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3), Paul in verse 25 and this verse is using a Midrash on Psalm 143 to show how YAHUSHA’s death relates to YAHUAH’s righteousness.
27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith.
Here Paul is singling out those who are bragging about how good they keep the law (Torah).
28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Here Paul is still singling out the boastful law keepers and he flat out tells them that it does not matter how good they keep the law, that how good they keep the law is not going to get them into the Kingdom.
What Paul does not say, is that the law is not a part of it or that the law is no longer needed. This verse DOES NOT SAY “faith apart from the law”. There is a VERY key word there that changes the entire verse away from what most people interpret it to say. WORKS makes this verse fit the context of what is going on with the believers in Rome.
The Yashar’e’liym (Israelites) were all about how good they were keeping the law, WORKS. Paul is telling them that Faith is more important than bragging about how good they kept the law, NOT that the law is not important.
Let’s take a look at Ephesians 2 for a moment.
For by grace, you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of YAHUAH; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in YAHUSHA for good works, which YAHUAH prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
In these verses, Paul shows us how Grace, Faith, and WORKS are all tied together. Verse 10 is my favorite though. Paul very clearly says that we were created for good WORKS that YAHUAH has already prepared for us so that we can walk in them. What are the good works we are supposed to walk in that YAHUAH already created for us?
His commandments, statues and ordinances, all found in the Tanakh or Old Testament.
Ok, back to Romans 3 where we left off.
29 Or is YAHUAH the YAHUAH of Jews only? Is he not the YAHUAH of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too,
This verse is self-explanatory.
30 since there is only one YAHUAH, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.
Again Paul is showing how YAHUAH see’s everyone who believes as equal.
31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
This is our favorite verse of all of these, because it’s where Paul anticipates that some will misunderstand what he is saying and will falsely believe that he is saying that Faith is all you need and that the law is nullified. Let’s replace two words here, nullify and uphold, with their concordance definitions and rewrite the verse using these definitions to get a good understanding of what it is saying.
31 Do we, then, “render idle, inactive, or inoperative, or put an end to or do away with, or abolish” the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we establish, make firm and uphold the authority and force of the law.
Paul is not by any means diminishing the role of the law and as you can see from the verses in Ephesians he even shows how Grace, Faith and Works, all work together. All Paul is saying is that we are all the same in the sight of YAHUAH and bragging or boasting about how good we keep the law is not going to get anyone into the Kingdom.
NOWHERE DOES PAUL EVER TEACH A FAITH ALONE DOCTRINE OR THAT THE LAW HAS BEEN DONE AWAY WITH.
Now we’re going to break down Matthew 7 the same way to plainly illustrate how YAHUSHA feels about us obeying his father’s commandments.
21 ″Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.
This is pretty simple to us; YAHUSHA says that only the people who DO THE WILL OF MY FATHER will enter. He is not saying that following the law is what gets you there, but he defiantly is NOT saying that all you have to do is believe in him and have faith. THE WILL OF HIS FATHER is to obey his commandments.
22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Master, Master, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
YAHUSHA is not saying that people were bragging about keeping the law and how much of a good person they were. These people genuinely thought they were going to get into the Kingdom. They are SHOCKED when He turns them away, and they even say in their defense, “but Master, we believed in you and did miracles in your name”. They were not trying to get in based on their deeds. They are saying that they believed in Him 100% and had faith to even work miracles in his name…
23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
But their having faith and believing in Him was not enough, so He tells them to leave, you who practice LAWLESSNESS. Lawlessness is not abiding by the laws that YAHUAH laid out in the Torah that show us how to live righteously, the same laws that YAHUSHA showed us how to live out by his example.
Finally, we’re going to list scriptures from the front of the book to the back and from various writers, including Paul, that all line up with each other and show that on top of having faith, there is also action required on our part. That action is keeping His commandments that HAVE NOT been done away with or Nailed to the Stake as many people believe.
3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of YAHUAH has truly been perfected. By this, we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6
Anyone who says they know him but does not keep His commandments is a LIAR and the truth is not in them.
So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the ELOHIYM your YAHUAH is giving you for all time.” Deuteronomy 4:40
Nothing here about them coming to an end, it actually says do them so that it will go well for you and your children for ALL TIME.
Oh, that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever! Deuteronomy 5:29
Keep them ALWAYS so that it will be well with us FOREVER.
1 ″Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the ELOHIYM your YAHUAH has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, 2 so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the ELOHIYM your YHAUHA, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Deuteronomy 6:1-2
Keep them ALL the days of our lives.
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law which Moses the servant of YAHUAH commanded you, to love the ELOHIYM your YAHUAH and walk in all His ways and keep His commandments and hold fast to Him and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Joshua 22:5
It doesn’t say ‘til YAHUSHA comes then we don’t have to anymore because he will do it for us.
5 For He established a testimony in Jacob And appointed a law in Yasharel (Israel), Which He commanded our fathers That they should teach them to their children, 6 That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, That they may arise and tell them to their children, 7 That they should put their confidence in YAHUAH And not forget the works of YAHUAH, But keep His commandments, 8 And not be like their fathers, A stubborn and rebellious generation, A generation that did not prepare its heart And whose spirit was not faithful to YAHUAH. Psalms 78:5-8
Keep his commandments, not like a stubborn and rebellious generation.
Depart from me, evildoers, That I may observe the commandments of my YAHUAH. Psalms 119:115
If this sounds familiar, it’s because this is what YAHUSHA was referring to in His quote in Matthew 7:23.
He taught me also and said unto me, Let your heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live. Proverbs 4:4
My son, keep my words and lay up my commandments with thee. Proverbs 7:1
Proverbs 7:2 Keep my commandments, and live, and my law as the apple of your eye. Proverbs 7:2
The following three verses allude to keeping His commandments and LIVING.
The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear YAHUAH and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For YAHUAH will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Every person should KEEP His commandments because each person will be judged based on our acts, DEEDS, WORKS, and not whether or not someone just has faith.
And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good, but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:17
YAHUSHA himself is stating clear as day that if you want to enter into life then KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS. It doesn’t get much clearer than that.
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15
This is a direct quote from YAHUSHA; we choose to keep the commandments, because we love him, not for salvation.
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.” John 14:21
Again, direct from the mouth of YAHUSHA. If you love him keep the commandments.
1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing, and un-circumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of YAHUAH. 1 Corinthians 7:19
This is Paul, saying that what matters is KEEPING the commandments.
For this is the love of YAHUAH that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5:3
How do we show our love for YAHUAH? By keeping his commandments that are not grievous.
And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of YAHUAH, and have the testimony of YAHUSHA. Revelation 12:17
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of YAHUAH, and the faith of YAHUSHA. Revelation 14:12
These last two verses are from a FUTURE event that have yet to happen, and we see that the dragon went to make war with who? The people who only believe in YAHUSHA? NO, it’s the people who KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS OF YAHUAH AND HAVE FAITH IN YAHUSHA.
There is overwhelming evidence in the Scriptures that faith alone is not sufficient. Just believing is not enough. Even the demons believe (James 2:19); there is also action on our part that is required to confirm our faith. Faith + Works = Grace. They are all intertwined, and Faith alone, or Works alone is not enough to get us into the Kingdom. This is the overwhelming message that Paul is teaching and the point that James is making here:
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone may well say, “You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:14-18
Not just Faith, Not just Works, but Faith + Works = Grace.
Faith, Grace and Works