Ephesians 2:8-10: Proof for Justification by
Faith Alone? An Examination

By Matt1618

Ephesians 2:8-10 and Protestant Views
Protestant and Catholic Views on Justification
Ephesians 2:1-10
Response to the Specific Protestant Apologists


The passage of Ephesians 2:8-9 is one of the most often used proof texts by those Protestants who believe in justification by faith alone. In this paper I want to examine the text to see whether this belief is justified. This passage does speak about the wonderful effects of God's grace, and how our being put in his grace is due to Him. Now, what most often is that Protestants will have people focus on verses 8 & 9, but downplay verse 10, while Catholics try to have us focus on verse 10, and seem to downplay verses 8 and 9. In this paper, I will look at these three verses, but also look at the larger context of Ephesians 2. Ephesians 2:8-10 is not an island by itself, isolated from the rest of Ephesians 2. This larger context will help us to understand what Ephesians 2:8-10 is speaking of. There are also other passages in Ephesians that need to be considered as well. I will do that in this paper. In this paper I first show what leading Protestant apologists say about this passage, and look at their use of this passage to prove Justification by Faith Alone. They will also give other Scriptures to buttress their views. I at first will present that view uncritically. I will then look at what Protestants who believe in justification by faith alone, see as the grounds of our justification. I will then look at the Catholic view of justification through official documents, which does include the use of other Scriptures. Then I will actually look at Ephesians 2 itself with other passages within Ephesians that reflects Paul's view of justification/salvation. Then I will critique the comments of the Protestant apologists take on Ephesians as a whole, and their whole view of justification. I will also take a look at other Scriptures that they use in conjunction with Ephesians 2, that must be taken into account, when we assess what is the correct view of how we are justified before God.

Ephesians 2:8-10 and Protestant Views

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-- 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Paul in Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us several things. Paul first tells us that faith is the means that we are saved, v. 8. It is not because of our works (v. 9), in and of themselves, that we are saved. The source of our salvation is God himself. He does call us his workmanship (v. 10). So even though our own works are not a source of our justification/salvation, God is the source of all the good works that we do.

Now, before we take an extensive look at the passage in and of itself, I want to take a look at the take of some Protestant apologists on this passage in books which include their examination and critique of the Catholic view of justification. Here I will present their views uncritically, the critique will come later on. I will italicize the parts the authors italicize.

First I refer to James White, in his book The Roman Catholic Controversy. After quoting Galatians 3:10-11, he then goes on to explicate why he sees the Catholic position as wrong, and he uses Ephesians 2:8-10 as proof of the Catholic view of justification being wrong:

The impossibility of the Roman Catholic position is clearly seen: faith plus works nullifies grace. Grace plus works is dead. But does not the Bible say that Christians are to do good works? Of course But the only one who can do good works is the one who has already been justified! As Paul taught the Ephesians, (then he quotes Ephesians 2:8-10, then explicates on this that):

Salvation is the gift of God, not just the bare plan of God, or even just the bare grace of God that prompts us to move toward God, but all of salvation is of God. Were this not the case, we would certainly boast! The purpose of God is clearly presented: we have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works, not by good works, not with the help of good works, but that we might perform good works! First comes full salvation from God, then, as a result the works prompted by the Holy Spirit. No human merit, even that supposedly produced by human works performed in a state of grace, will ever stand before the judgment throne of God. Only the righteousness of Christ, apprehended by faith, will avail. [1]

So here he argues that Ephesians 2 shows that the Catholic position is wrong. According to White, Ephesians 2 acknowledges that a believer produces good works, but our salvation can not be as a result of our good works. Our works will never be any grounds of our salvation by God. If we say anything about our works having anything to do with our salvation, we apparently, according to White, are boasting.

Next, we'll take a look at Ron Rhodes' use of the Ephesians 2 passage. First he explicates on his overall view of grace and how Ephesians 2 affirms the Protestant view of grace, and explicitly denies the Catholic view:

True grace is sometimes hard for people to grasp. After all, our society is performance-oriented. Good grades in school depend on how well we perform in school. Climbing up the corporate ladder at work depends on how well we perform at work. It is free! We cannot attain it by a good performance. Ephesians 2:8,9 affirms, "By grace you have been saved through faith: and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Titus 3:5 tells us that God saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy. [2]
Rhodes also uses this verse to contradict the Catholic use of Philippians 2:12 against faith alone, (we will look at this passage later) which says that we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling. He writes to ask Catholics who use Philippians 2:12 as proof that works are some grounds of salvation, the following:
Did you know that the same apostle Paul who wrote Philippians 2:12 also wrote Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, ' it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast? [3]
So he also uses this passage to disprove the Catholic interpretation of Philippians 2, which we will look at later.

Next, Norman Geisler in his book Roman Catholic and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences uses Ephesians 2 to speak about the fact that some Catholics will say what Paul is condemning not good works done in grace, but 'works of the law.' Some Catholic apologists will say that "works of the law" are people trying to earn salvation by keeping the Mosaic law. This is supposedly what Paul is condemning, according to Catholic apologists (I do not subscribe to this view that he is critiquing, though some do). Against this, Geisler uses Ephesians 2 as a proof text against this Catholic view. Geisler argues:

When condemning works for salvation Paul does not limit himself to 'works of the law' but sometimes simply refers to 'works' or 'works of righteousness' (cf. Eph. 2:8-9), Titus 3:5-7). Contrary to the Catholic view, the Ephesians passage is clearly aimed at Gentiles with no suggestion of works of the Jewish law such as circumcision. Nor does the Jew-Gentile conflict diminish the fact that he is speaking to Gentiles about 'works' other than those unique to the Jewish law. And the argument offered by some Catholics that the boasting (since they boasted about works of the law) is implausible for many reasons. First, unbelieving Jews are not the only ones who boast in their good works; pride is a condition of all fallen creatures, not just Jewish ones. Furthermore, in this context Paul explicitly addresses the issue of gentiles who were "alienated from the community of Israel" (Eph. 2:11-12), not Jews. Likewise, Titus 3:5-7 does not refer to 'works of the law' but simply 'works of righteousness.' The fact that the tense being applied to salvation refers to the past does not help the Catholic explanation that this refers only to what Protestants call justification, not to sanctification. Paul is speaking to people who have already been saved and therefore his words would naturally be in the past tense. [4]
This echoes Rhodes who similarly argued against the Catholics' attempt to supposedly divert Paul's argument in Ephesians to works of the law:
In an effort to deal with verses that argue against works salvation, some Roman Catholic scholars have made an artificial distinction between works and works of the law. Works of the law are not necessary for salvation, it is argued, while works are necessary. This distinction is a false one. Indeed, the verses in the New Testament where the apostle addresses the issue of works cannot be limited to 'works of the law, but rather simply deal with 'works.' Any way you look at it, the apostle Paul argues against any kind of works (see Romans 2:14; 3:21-24; Ephesians 2:8,9). [5]
Geisler earlier had written:
Catholic theology makes works a condition for progressive righteousness (=sanctification). In other words, one can not receive a right standing before God by which one has the divine promise of salvation (eternal life) without engaging in works of righteousness. But this is precisely what Scripture says is not the case: It is not because of any righteous deeds that we had done but because of his mercy, he saves us Titus 3:5). It is not from works, so no one may boast, wrote Paul (Eph. 2:9) [6]
So here we see from Protestant apologists own words that Ephesians 2:8-9, not only proves the Protestant view that justification is by faith alone, but also explicitly refutes the Catholic view.

Protestant and Catholic Views on Justification

I will deal with these Protestant objections in the course of the paper, but I believe that even in order to look at who is right on Ephesians, not only must we deal with the larger context of Ephesians 2, in what exactly Paul is teaching, but we must also take a look at what exactly justification does. In my opinion it is a superficial look at the passage to just tangle on these verses in Ephesians 2 unless we understand exactly the Protestant and Catholic positions on justification. Only then can we see whose view Paul is reflecting in this passage. How are we saved according to the Catholic and the Protestant? Of course we are not denying that there is some agreement on both sides, but the view of justification does have some important differences that must be assessed. Now it must be acknowledged that there are some Protestants who will not subscribe to the faith alone position presented here in this manner. When I use the term 'Protestant' view, I am not indicating all Protestants, but use the term here to indicate a specific Protestant position. As they believe in Sola Scriptura, Protestants will come to different views of justification. Those of the Pentecostal 'holiness' persuasion, Anglicans, Church of Christ, Assemblies of God will have different views than those I am presenting here. But the view I present here represents many of the critics of the Catholic position. Reformed Protestants (Presbyterians), Baptists, others who agree with popular Christian radio programming, have this view. Most often the attack on the Catholic position will come from those who present the views I am representing here.

Protestant View of Justification
James White quotes from the Baptist Confession of Faith in his book:
Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth, not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for anything wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing Christ's active obedience unto the whole law, and passive obedience his death for their whole and sole righteousness, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith, which faith they have not of themselves; it is the gift of God.

Faith thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. [7]

White then quotes the Westminster Shorter Catechism when giving a statement on what justification is (in Baltimore Catechism fashion):
Q: What is justification?
A: Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
White goes on to summarize by saying that:
Justification is said to be an act of God as judge wherein He declares the believer righteous. It is therefore a legal, forensic declaration on the part of God concerning the believer.. Justification is an act undertaken by God and it is not based on anything done in or done by us as believers. It is an act of sovereign grace because it is something God does not something we do. This viewpoint is God-centered, not man-centered. This is not merely a plan that we work to gain something from God. It is God's work, and when God does something, He does it well. [8]
Justification is based solely and completely upon the merits of another, Jesus Christ. How can God, as a just and holy Judge, declare a sinner to be sinless? How can He rightly release the guilty prisoner? Because the Perfect Substitute has intervened. The basis of justification is the perfect work of Jesus Christ. [9]
White also writes:
Justification involves the imputation of the righteousness of Christ both His perfect life as well as His perfect, all-sufficient atoning sacrifice to the believer. On this basis the believer is called "righteous." God is the one who imputes this righteousness to the believer. Imputation is another one of those words that should cause the believers heart to swell with praise, for it is an act of grace beyond comprehension, and without that term there would be no salvation, no peace with God. Imputation is different from both "infusion" and "impartation." How? If you infuse something into someone, you are making a change in that person. If you impart something to them, you are simply giving something to them to keep or hold. When God imputes the righteousness of Christ to us, He is again acting as sovereign judge, crediting us with the work of another: Jesus Christ. He is not merely handing us something, for we could drop such a precious gift or in some other way fail to properly handle it. He is not infusing something into us, making a change in us as a person. Instead, as judge, He imputes to our account the righteousness of another, so that He can properly and rightly look at us and say, This person is righteous. He is free and has peace with me. [10]
He then goes on to say that Faith is the only instrument of appropriating that justification. It is a gift given by God. But notice the difference that we will see, justification involves God not looking at the people themselves, but at Jesus Christ's perfect work, ignores any sins and faults come judgment time, and only recognizes Jesus' perfect righteousness. That becomes the basis of justification.

James Buchanan, an author of the 19th century who also proclaims the Reformed view of justification writes the following when talking of believers appropriating God's righteousness:

This righteousness, --being the merit of a work, and not a mere quality of character, --may become ours by being imputed to us, but cannot be communicated by being infused; and must ever continue to belong primarily and, in one important respect, exclusively to Him by whom alone that work was accomplished. [11]
He also emphasizes in a separate section that justification is based totally on imputation, not infusion (His emphasis italicized):
It is affirmed, secondly, that the righteousness of Christ, to be available for the benefit of His people, must become theirs by imputation, and not by infusion. Most of the leading errors on the subject of Justification may be traced to obscure or defective views in regard to the nature or import of imputation, and have arisen from supposing either that it consists in the infusion of moral qualities, in which case Justification is confounded with Sanctification or that, in so far as imputation may be distinguished from such infusion, it is founded at least on the moral qualities which thus become inherent, in which case Justification has for its immediate ground a personal, and not a vicarious, righteousness. [12]
Here he again says that justification is imputed, not infused. Justification does not indicate a change in the person, which is termed an error. Sanctification is never a cause of our justification.

He goes on to quote Isaiah 64:6, a famous quote that Protestants will often use to say that our own righteousness, even if done by the power of the Holy Spirit, are filthy rags.

Considered as fruits of our sanctification, and as evidences of our meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light, they cannot be too highly commended; but considered as the ground of our Justification, or as forming any part of our TITLE to that inheritance, they are to be utterly rejected, and treated as 'dung', and 'filthy rags' with reference to that end; for they cannot be regarded as such, without dishonor to the redeeming work of Christ; [13]
According to Buchanan, our best works are only filthy rags. Now, this does not say that the Protestants deny that works are important, because all the above apologists indicate that sanctification and good works will follow. For example, Buchanan writes the following:
The first of these is the reality and necessity of Good Works in the case of every true believer. In Scripture they are not only required of all believers, but recognized also as being truly acceptable to God and even rewarded by Him. [14]
So we see that justification, though it directly brings about sanctification and good works, is never tied into either one of them, as to our right standing before God. God does everything and we play no part in that justification except faith, which is the sole means of appropriating God's perfect righteousness. Now, this supposedly gives believers assurance of their own salvation, and supposedly gives greater glory to God because we have no part in our own justification except believing. The lives we lead after our justification, plays no part in that justification. That is because God only looks at Jesus Christ, he ignores our filthy rags. That is a quotation from Isaiah, and Protestant apologists say since our own works are only filthy rags, they can never be any of the grounds of justification before God.

These apologists all believe in the eternal security of believers, in that if one is in God's grace, one can not lose their salvation. Rhodes quotes Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30 indicates that believers are sealed unto the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit (see also Ephesians 1:13). This seal, which indicates ownership, authority, and security cannot be broken (even by the believer himself). The seal guarantees our entry into heaven.[15]
This is representative of the thought of those who believe that since the grounds of justification is Christ's perfect righteousness being imputed, one can not unseal that justification by any action we do. Of course they would argue that if anyone truly believed in Christ, they would not want to commit such sins.
Catholic View of Justification: The Catechism
Before I respond to the arguments that have been presented, I want to give the official Catholic position on justification. Of course the most official take on justification is the Council of Trent's look at the issue. The Catholic Catechism also looks at the issue. But, as the Council of Trent is in reaction to the 'Reformation' view, which proclaimed that Faith Alone was the sole instrument of justification, it is better to quote from Trent as that presents the Catholic view in a manner dealing with the Protestant perspective.

In its 6th session, 7th chapter the Trent fathers proclaim what justification is:

This disposition or preparation is followed by justification itself, which is not only a remission of sins but also the sanctification and renewal of the inward man through the voluntary reception of the grace and gifts whereby an unjust man becomes just and from being an enemy becomes a friend that he may be an heir according to hope of life everlasting (Tit. 3:7). The cause of this justification are: the final cause is the glory of God and Christ and life everlasting; the efficient cause is the merciful God who washes and sanctifies (1 Cor. 6:11) gratuitously, signing and anointing with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13), the meritorious cause is His most beloved only begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who, when we were enemies (Rom. 5:10), for the exceeding charity wherewith he loved us (Eph. 2:4), merited for us justification by His most holy passion on the wood of the cross and made satisfaction for us to God the Father, the instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which no man was ever justified finally, the single formal cause is the justice of God, not that by which He Himself is just, but that by which He makes us just, that, namely, with which we being endowed by Him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph. 4:23), and not only are we reputed but we are truly called and are just, receiving justice within us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to everyone as He will (1 Cor. 12:11) and according to each ones disposition and cooperation.

For faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said that faith without works is dead (Jm 2:17, 20) and of no profit and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity (gal. 5:6, 6:15). This faith, conformably to Apostolic tradition, catechumens ask of the Church before the sacrament of baptism, when they ask for the faith that gives eternal life, which without hope and charity faith cannot give. Whence also they hear immediately the word of Christ: If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [16]

Justification is tied into sanctification as the cause. Baptism is the entrance into the divine life and we are truly righteous, not merely declared righteous. To maintain that justification, we must keep the commandments.
But when the Apostle says that man is justified by faith and freely (Rom. 3:24; 5:1), these words are to be understood in that sense in which the uninterrupted unanimity of the Catholic Church has held and expressed them, namely, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation and root of all justification, without which it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6) and to come to the fellowship of His sons; and we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification. For grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the Apostle says, grace is no more grace (Rom. 11:6). [17]
Faith is foundational to our justification.

In the Catholic Catechism, the definition of justification quotes Romans:

The Holy Spirit is the Master of the interior life. By giving birth to the justification entails the sanctification of his whole being: Just as you once yielded your members to impurity and to greater and greater iniquity, so now yield your members to righteousness for sanctification. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the return you get is sanctification and its end, eternal life (Rom. 6:19,22). [18]
So we see that Catholicism teaches that justification is a true cleansing from sins. Grace purifies one from sin, not merely an effect, but a cause of one's justification. Trent affirms:
Against the subtle wits of some also, who by pleasing speeches and good words seduce the hearts of the innocent (Rom. 16:18) it must be maintained that the grace of justification once received is lost not only by infidelity, whereby also faith itself is lost, but also by every other mortal sin, though in this case faith is not lost, thus defending the teach of the divine law which excluded from the kingdom of God not only unbelievers, but also the faithful [who are] fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liers with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners (1 Cor. 6:9, 1 Tim. 1:9) and all others who commit deadly sins, from which with the help of divine grace they can refrain, and on account of which they are cut off from the grace of Christ. [19]
Trent says here that one can lose justification by sin, when one sins mortally and quotes Paul freely, which shows that one can be disinherited by disobedience.

So we see that the fact that justification is defined by sanctification, not merely an effect of sanctification, but ones life with God is dependent upon so maintaining that sanctification. It is grace however that enables one to refrain from mortally sinning.

Now, with the definition of justification given on both sides, let us go back to Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:1-10

Now we can go to the whole context of Ephesians 2, as the verses 8-10 are in the midst of Paul's teaching on the issue of God's grace. Tearing verses away from the context does an injustice to Paul. As noted before, Protestants who focus on verses 8-9, and sometimes will take into account verse 10, still ignore the larger context. Catholics, when they look at the issue will often overlook this context. Here is Eph. 2:1-10:

1 And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God-- 9 not because of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
This whole background to the verses 8-10 tells us a lot. First, Paul explicates that He made us alive (v. 1), when in the past we were dead in trespasses and sins, v. 1. Before Christ came, and before being made alive in Christ, we were dead because sins separated us from Him. We once lived according to the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind. By our actions, we were by nature children of wrath. So thus, ontologically we were truly unclean. Both Catholics and Protestants use this verse (v. 3) to show the effects of original sin. Apart from Christ we walk according to our passions. Protestants will sometime use this verse to show that man is totally depraved. Man is totally incapable of responding to God. Now Catholics will just say that apart from God we are in a spiritually estranged state, but not depraved. It is not the purpose of the paper to go into that debate, just point out that the state we are in apart from God, is one is truly estranged from God because of sin. As Paul writes in verses 1 & 3, trespasses and sins controlled us, we walked in the passions of our flesh. We did not have God's grace to counteract those passions. One is not 'declared' sinful, but is ontologically unrighteous before God. That is the state from which we begin our life when estranged from God.

God, who is rich in mercy (v. 4) makes us alive together with Christ by grace (v. 5). How is He rich in mercy, by just turning away from how sinful we are and instead looking at Jesus Christ's perfect righteousness, as the Protestant apologists & Confessions say? No, He did not declare us alive, He made us alive. By what? His grace. So verses 4 and 5 show us that there is a real ontological change, not a mere declaration of a change. This is a change of being into an ontologically righteous person. Thus, infusion of grace, in order to make us truly righteous, is specifically implied.

He also raises up with Christ in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (v. 6). He does not declare us raised up with Christ, we are actually raised up to be with Him. We are now in the heavenly places. We now reign with him. We are not just filthy rags that somehow have a relationship with God in spite of being filthy rags, but someone who is intimate with God the Father based on us reigning with God. Notice that He really breaks the power of sin over believers. Thus, He does not merely make a forensic declaration of breaking that bondage, God actually breaks that bondage.

That is the background to the verses we are keying in on here. Remember grace is what makes us alive together in Him. It detached us from the bondage of sin, according to verse 5. That explicitly coincides with both Trent and the Catechism.

Then we go to verse 8: For by grace you have been saved by faith. We remember that when Paul wrote that we are saved by grace in v. 5, he wrote that this grace made us alive, and separated from the bondage of sin (similar to when Paul wrote: He who has died has been justified (freed) from sin (Rom. 6:7). He has thus already laid down the transformative nature and power of grace. Grace is not a covering, or a mere imputation of Christ's righteousness to our account. Nonetheless, it is not our own doing. This transformation is a gift indeed given to us by God. It originates from God and is not our own doing, as Paul writes in v. 8. We do not work our way to heaven. We can not approach God through boasting, as he writes in v. 9. This shows that foundational to our relationship with Christ is our total reliance upon Him to transform us. We can not transform ourselves by our own power. Thus, we can not boast. Thus, when it says, it is not of works, lest anyone should boast, it says we do not work to earn salvation. It is God's gift to us that ontologically transforms us, not us transforming ourselves. If we did it by ourselves, then we could boast. If we approach God through our own boasting and self-reliance, we are condemned (v. 9). When Paul condemns work salvation schemes, he condemns those who approach God through boasting (Rom. 2:17, 23, 3:27, Rom. 4:2). However, Paul never condemns works when done through God's grace as achieving salvation. In fact, elsewhere he says that grace empowered works are necessary to achieve salvation (Rom. 2:4-13, Gal. 6:8-9, 1 Tim. 6:18-19, etc). Nevertheless, the point here by Paul is that we must approach God humbly and be utterly reliant upon His mercy and grace, before we can approach Him for salvation. We are saved through His power alone. We do not boast about ourselves. But God raises us up to be sons called to holiness.

In v. 10, Paul continues this outlook on salvation. He writes that we are His workmanship. Our work in his grace is His work in our lives. In v. 10 here, Paul does not write, OK, now I move on to sanctification, and thus, now we do good works to prove that we are already saved, or something to that effect. Verse 10 is not some new category from which Paul digresses from the whole section on salvation. Instead, he now states the kind of works which do profit unto salvation, as opposed to that which does not. We are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, according to Paul. Now in His grace and under His mercy, and in His power, we shall now walk in Him. This is what profits unto salvation. It is by grace that we are saved. It is not by works done under our own power. The gift of God which profits to salvation is thus not only faith as mentioned in v. 8, but works empowered by grace as well.

Just so we do not ignore what follows, we'll see how Paul continues his thoughts on the subject, Eph. 2:11-16:

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called the uncircumcision by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end.
Paul is not finished yet. He says 'Therefore', completing his thoughts on this. This is not some new subject he is bringing up. He is writing to a Gentile audience. He has let them know about the Jewish law and commandments which had not brought the Jews salvation. The Gentiles had been separated from God. The Jews were the only ones who had a direct relation to God, circumcision being a thing that they must do, according to the command of God (Genesis 17). The Jews isolated themselves from the Gentiles and unfortunately for the most part did not share the truth of God with them and isolated themselves from them. The Gentiles did not have hope in God, and were divided from the Jews, who had access to God. However, Jesus Christ, and His blood breaks down the wall of hostility between them. The Jews, could not keep the law and commandments apart from grace. Prior to the revelation of Jesus Christ, grace was not fully given. In Jesus Christ now we are new creations, and He breaks down the hostility that the Gentiles had with the Jews, and also gave them access to God. The law itself could not provide power (see Rom. 7:6). However, in Jesus Christ we are new creations (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Jews and Greeks both, who were now called in Jesus Christ, now have equal access to God, and there is no more hostility. They both have access to not only the faith of Abraham, but God Himself. As new creations in Christ, both Gentiles and Jews are now both made alive in Christ (going back to v. 5-10), and we are His workmanship.

Paul develops more of his thoughts in Ephesians that build upon this. About the Gentiles being formerly lost, controlled by passions (Eph 2:1-5, 11-14) and Jesus' blood breaking down walls and creating a new man (v. 15), Paul elaborates more in this very same letter, 4:17-24:

17 Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; 18 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; 19 they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. 20 You did not so learn Christ! -- 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus. 22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Christ takes us away from the former bondage to sin. The Gentiles were totally alienated from Him, and for the most part, the Jews followed in that alienation, as witnessed to by prophet after prophet castigating people over their unfaithfulness. He does not impute His righteousness to ours. Here in the new creation, the ignorance that was the norm, is done away with in Christ. Christ makes us put on a new nature. It is Christ's grace that is the source but Paul writes 'Put off your old nature', meaning we do have to put this effort into doing so. Now, Paul writes that we are created after God's likeness in true righteousness and holiness. Our righteousness is not filthy rags covered over, but true righteousness and holiness.

Is Paul only talking here about trying to be sanctified, but not directly tied into salvation? No, Paul is writing about salvation, Ephesians 5:1-6:

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3 But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5 Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
We must remember that Paul is writing this to Christians, not those who have not heard of the faith. As children of God we are to put on the new man. As children who love our Father, we are to walk in love. Does this mean we are guaranteed salvation, as put forth by the Protestant confessions of faith and apologists? On the contrary Paul writes that if we fall back into those sins, we can get disinherited. No impure man, or covetous man will inherit the kingdom of God. If anyone tells you that you will inherit the kingdom of God if you still practice those things, you are deceived. Paul explicitly denies those who argue that one is guaranteed salvation (As we saw Protestant apologists so assert). This passage further explicates the meaning of Ephesians 2.

Remember, the 'Reformed' Protestant view was that justification was totally God's act, we played no part in our justification except receiving Christ through faith alone. We were too depraved for God to make us ontologically truly righteous. That is the why the best God can do is cover us over with Christ's imputed righteousness, which He will look at, not ours. Although works and holiness are an important effect of God's grace, it plays no part in our own justification. We cannot be truly holy in his sight, even empowered with God's grace, because we are too soiled with sin to stand before God's judgment. Since God looks at Christ's righteousness instead of ours, and is not dependent upon our own holiness for our justification, we cannot lose our salvation. The gift of God to us is faith alone, not works in relation to our justification. Absolutely none of those concepts are here in Ephesians 2. Perhaps in isolation verses 8 & 9, some of that might be perceived, but not when those verses are looked at in context of Ephesians 2 and following. Most of these tenets not only are not found in the verses themselves, but also not found in the surrounding context.

Faith is instrumental to our salvation, but right after v. 8 & 9, v. 10 says that our works are indeed God's gift to us, but we play a part in that salvation. The passage in verse 9 that speaks to saved not through works, means works done on our own power. Works done on our own power take us back to our prior state, where we gave in to the nature under the power of lusts. Outside of Christ, we were unable to respond to Christ because we just gave in to our natural lusts, but with Christ's grace we were made alive. Absolutely no hint of an imputation at all, but through God's grace we are made holy, (2:5-7, 4:23-24), not declared holy. No forensic language at all. Thus, we are truly made righteous, and our cooperation plays a part in this. When he writes how we are saved he speaks of works right after speaking of faith, and nowhere says 'well in v. 8 where I say faith, I'm talking about salvation, in v. 10, I'm speaking only about sanctification.' I'm talking about the same thing. The 'we are his workmanship' in v. 10 is a part of God's gift of salvation.

In relation to maintaining justification, nowhere is there any idea of a salvation guaranteed. In fact, not only is the inheritance not guaranteed, but in the very same book, Paul writes that one is deceived if one thinks that sin can not cause us to be disinherited (Eph. 5:3-6). We are new creatures, made alive (Eph. 2:5, 8-10, 15, 4:23-24).

Now, how does this fit into Trent's view of justification? Well, Eph. 2:4, which spoke of our natural inability to keep God's law outside of grace, is affirmed in Trent, which is one part of the 'Reformed' Protestantism that is affirmed by Trent as well. The Church teaches that on our own power we can not keep the law. The Church says works done on our own power do nothing, but through the power of God's grace, we can do works that are objectively pleasing to God that keeps us ontologically righteous. But it is all from God, v. 5 which says we are made alive, shows this, but v. 10 shows this as well, when our works in God's grace is an effect of God's workmanship. Trent specifically quotes from Ephesians 4:23, which shows that we can truly be righteous. As children we are called to be new men made in Christ (Eph. 2:15, 4:23-24) obedient and can keep the Commandments (Trent Session 6 chapter 7). Paul writes of committing sins that will cause us to be disinherited, Eph. 5:2-3. The whole reason that God sent Christ was to do away with that state of being of separation from Him, (Eph. 2:1-3). His love came to take us out of that state and He made us alive (4-5). Paul in writing to Christians warns them that if one falls back into those sins, we are cut off, (Eph. 5:3-6) reflecting Trent (section 6, chapter 15). These elements shown by Paul in Chapter 2, 4, & 5, reflect Trent perfectly, and is totally against the 'Reformed' view.

Response to the Specific Protestant Apologists

White quoted from the Baptist confession of faith which speaks of the pardoning of sins achieved through the means of faith alone, where Christ's righteousness is imputed to our account. Of course this is nowhere at all found in Ephesians 2:8-9, or anywhere else in Ephesians.

White affirmed:

1) Grace plus works nullifies grace.
2) God does everything and to include us in our salvation takes away from God righteousness.
3) Salvation is a gift of God only.
4) Our works would never stand the judgment of God.
5) Imputation of Christ's righteousness is God's means of declaring a sinner sinless. He ignores our sins and never brings it into judgment because he looks instead at the perfect substitute, Jesus Christ.

1) Grace is God's action in us, not just Him looking away from our sin. Paul writes that God makes us righteous, makes us alive (Eph. 2:5). That is why in verse 8 where he says that the gift of God is faith, Paul did not stop there. In v. 10 He says we are his workmanship. If we work in God's grace, that is not doing away with grace, but proclaiming God's grace is greater when it is lived out in our lives.

2) To say that God makes us righteous (v. 5-6, 10, Eph. 4:23-24) and he enables us to be truly holy does not take away from God, but shows him to have greater power than saying God is unable to truly undo Adam's sin, as White infers.

3) There is nothing in verse 8 that says that the gift of God is only that we have grace. The fact that boasting is denied does not mean that works have no part in faith. The believer must believe that the works one does is a gift of God, it is God's power that made us alive and able to reign with God (v. 5, 7). There is nothing in that section that says, 'well in v. 8 where faith is involved, that is God's gift, but us working in his grace is not a gift of God. Salvation is involved in the whole section of 2:1-10, and verses 8-10, but nowhere does Paul write that the works in v. 10 is only dealing with sanctification, and not involved in salvation.

4) Ephesians 2 does not say that our works would not stand before God. That is White's false supposition. We do know that through God's grace we are made alive v. 5, we are his workmanship (v. 10). Why would God's workmanship not stand God's judgment? Is God's work in our lives so insufficient that it would not stand God's judgment? In fact we see that God makes us truly holy in his sight (Eph. 4:23-24). Paul encourages us to holiness, and right after that says that if we fall into the sins in Chapter 5 of fornication, impurity, idolatry we would be disinherited, but if we don't fall into those sins, our works would thus stand such judgment. Of course elsewhere all judgment to heaven or hell is based on the works we do (Rom. 2:6-13, 2 Cor. 5:10, Matthew 25:31-46). Not everybody is sent to hell if judgment is based on works, as White presumes.

5) Justification is supposedly by our righteousness not being infused, but by imputation. According to Paul though, God's grace makes us alive (v. 5), since it makes us alive, it is ontologically making us righteous (v. 6). We are his workmanship (v. 10), not receivers of imputation. We are new creations (v. 15), not old creations covered over with somebody else's righteousness. Then in 4:23-24, we are called & made truly holy with our cooperation with God. This is infusion.

Rhodes says that v. 8 shows that Faith is a gift, and ignores v. 10. He says that this passage shows that we can't achieve salvation by good performance. Of course the Catholic view is not that it is our own performance, that is what left us out of God's grace, and unable to deal with our nature of sins (Eph. 2:1-5). By his grace He makes us alive, and we do not boast, but we are his workmanship, and this is a our salvation.

Next, he quotes Ephesians 2:8-9 to cancel out Philippians 2:12-13, which says to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Let's give more of this passage, Phil. 2:12-16:

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
Catholics oftentimes will just quote Phil 2:12, which says work out your salvation with fear and trembling. If salvation was guaranteed there would be no need to fear and tremble. Indeed it is an important text that in and of itself shows that the Protestant interpretation of Ephesians 2 is impossible. However, v. 13 shows how we can work it out. It is because it is God at work within us. Thus, it is God's grace that enables us to do so. Again, God's grace is an active force within us, not a looking away from how horrible we really are. He calls us to be blameless and innocent, children of God (v. 15). We can only do so if we don't grumble or question (v. 14). Paul shows this here when he writes For it is God at work in you both to will and to do for his good pleasure (v. 13) . In fact it is God's gift that he transforms us to be able to so work at God's good pleasure. It makes absolutely no sense to say because God enables us to do things, that it is no longer His gift to us. In the Catholic view, it is a Father who rewards his Son because the Father keeps to His promises.

Moving along to v. 16, is obvious that if through Paul's labors people received their forensic justification as a past tense event, it would be impossible for Paul to worry about laboring in vain. At least they would have salvation. If believers just get fewer rewards in heaven, they still get into heaven!!! That certainly would not be in vain. Of course Paul's labor would be in vain only if they did not achieve salvation because they did not work out their salvation, (v. 12), or did not remain innocent and fell in with the world in sins (v. 15). The only way that Paul's statement in v. 16 makes any sense at all, is if salvation is at stake. The Philippian believers must hold fast to the word of life in order to thus achieve salvation in the day of judgment, and thus render Paul's efforts not to be in vain. The same is true for us.

Philippians 2:12-16 is a playing out of Paul's words in Ephesians 2:10. Of course we have seen there is plenty of context surrounding Ephesians 2 itself to show that Paul's view of salvation more accurately fits the Catholic view. The further context of Philippians 2 shows that it is impossible to do away with the fact that works are a part of salvation, and our own holiness is the basis for God's judgment on whether we get to heaven or hell.

Geisler had put forth that the Catholic view limited Paul's mention of works in Ephesians 2 to that of 'works of the law', and that was incorrect since there is no mention of 'works of the law'. Well, I have shown that there is no need for the Catholic to limit Paul's denial of works in Eph. 2:8 to only works of the Mosaic law. Catholics can say that Paul's condemnation of works of the law has nothing to do with 'ceremonial works of the law', and still be fine. The works that Paul says we are not saved by, are works done by our own power. Those works done by our own power only lead to our own damnation because that would leave us in the same state of wrath that Paul mentions in Ephesians 2:1-3. The Catholic view is that we are His workmanship, v. 10. In Christ we are new creations (Eph. 2:15), not old creations just covered over with an imputed righteousness. It is precisely because of God one can 'put off your old nature'..and 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:22-24) Notice it is we who do this, but it is only through God's power. It is God at work within us both to work and to will for His good pleasure.

Even with all that said, the view that Geisler gives here in Ephesians 2:8 that Paul is saying nothing about works of the law as ceremonial laws, is actually incorrect. Right after his statement of one not being saved by works (though mentioning that we are His workmanship), Paul goes on to speak of circumcision and uncircumcision (v. 11), a reference to the ceremonial law. That is the Mosaic law that Paul elsewhere in Galatians 2:16, and Rom. 3:28-30 says that one will not be saved by. Paul mentions in Ephesians 2:15-16, that the law of commandments and ordinances are abolished is precisely such things as circumcision, which gave people no power to keep them. So Ephesians 2:8 is at least in some fashion mentioning works of the Mosaic law, though as we have seen, we have no need to narrow Ephesians 2:8 to that meaning of works and still defend the Catholic position.

Geisler quotes Titus 3:5a, not even the whole verse as part of proof that we are not saved by works done in righteousness, again, not quoting the verse in context. He doesn't even give us the whole verse. Titus 3:4-7 gives us the context.

4 but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, 6 which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Geisler only expects us to look at the italicized section of v. 5, but not even the whole verse. He cites Tit. 3:5a as proof that our own holiness can never be any of the grounds of one's justification. True, on our own power outside of his grace, our deeds will not avail before God. However, this view ignores the rest of v. 5, which shows us what salvation entails. Paul gives us the means of salvation in the second part of v. 5: "but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit." Notice the fact that the means of salvation is the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. God renews us we do not renew ourselves. This cleansing is not an aftereffect of our salvation, but the means of it. Paul writes we are saved by the washing, not by the imputation. This is infusion of grace, not an external imputation of Christ's righteousness.

The washing and renewal of the Holy Spirit as the means of salvation reminds us of the cleansing water of baptism as mentioned by Jesus in John 3:5. Even if one does not accept that here Paul is speaking of baptism (which granted is a whole other argument) this still shows us that the Holy Spirit's real cleansing of us is the means of our salvation.

Paul continues to show (v. 6) that the Holy Spirit has been poured out on us that makes this cleansing possible. We become heirs of God. (This reminds us of justification being a Father-Son relationship. See Rom. 8:14-17 & Gal. 4:4-9). This is done so we "might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life". Thus, even though our justification is a past event, it is done so that we might be justified. Justification is put in a future tense, and is a possibility, not a guarantee. We are justified in the hope of eternal life. Thus, we must run the race that Paul himself said he would run (1 Cor. 9:27). We must be renewed in Christ, and put to death the deeds of the flesh (Rom. 8:13, Gal. 5:16, 24) in order to reach the goal of salvation. Geisler's argument that Titus 3:5a shows that we need to do nothing for our justification, and that salvation is only a past term event, is destroyed by the context. Justification is indeed a process, not only displayed in Ephesians 2 through 5, but in his supposed proof text of Titus 3:5, also see Titus 2:11-14.

Buchanan made the same mistake in saying our justification is by God's imputation of Christ's righteousness, but that is nowhere to be found, when we see infusion not only in the whole of Ephesians 2:8-10, but also chapters 4 & 5, even look at chapter 6. Although Buchanan accepts that works are an important effect of our justification, he separated that holiness from justification itself. Paul does not do so. When Paul says He 'makes us alive' Eph. 2:5, it means He makes us righteous. That is infusion. When he writes in the context of salvation that we are His workmanship (v. 10), that is infusion. When he writes that we are new creations (v. 15), not one that has to be covered up with Christ's righteousness, that is infusion, not imputation. When he writes that we are to put off the old nature and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and this nature is created after God's 'true righteousness and holiness' that is infusion, not imputation (4:22-24). It is not Christ's righteousness instead of our own. When he warns that one must walk as children of light, and if one falls into sins of immorality, then one would not inherit the kingdom of God (Eph. 5:3-6) then it shows that our cooperation with God's infusion of grace is essential to our salvation. An imputation of Christ's righteousness is nowhere to be found come judgment time.

Buchanan said it was an insult to think that God making a person righteous through grace, and the person cooperating with that grace somehow can be righteous enough, even with the power of the Holy Spirit. He says that our works are 'filthy rags' from a quotation in Isaiah. Well, since this is an often used quotation from Protestants which they explain why we must be covered over with an imputed righteousness, let us briefly look over this passage. Though this is not related directly to Ephesians 2, it is often used in association with Ephesians 2 to prove that our works, in the view of justification, have nothing to do with our salvation.

The quotation is from Isaiah 64:6, I'll give the verse before and after:

5: Thou meetest him that joyfully works righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways. Behold, thou wast angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved 6: We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (other translations) 'filthy rags'We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. 7: There is no one that calls upon thy name, that bestirs himself to take hold of thee; for thou hast hid thy face from us , and hast delivered us into the hand of our iniquities.
Isaiah is speaking as representing Israel. Israel had turned its back on God and had denied His sovereignty over them. It says in the very previous verse that God meets joyfully him that works righteousness. However, Israel sinned and remains in sin. The iniquities have caused the nation of Israel to be destroyed. Isaiah is talking about a specific occasion. This passage is nowhere quoted in the New Testament, and nowhere does it say that of those who follow Christ, their righteousness amounts to filthy rags.

Even here we see that God does meet those who joyfully work righteousness (v. 5). Obviously then, there are some people who are truly righteous. However, the people of Israel have sinned for a long time, and their righteousness in toto, do amount to filthy rags. Notice that he uses the term 'we, 'us', showing that he is speaking of an apostate Israel corporately. They have abandoned him. The people of Israel have been delivered into the hand of their iniquities. The kingdom has been destroyed. The temple has been destroyed. They have become subjects. This is speaking to a local situation and is nowhere meant to be a categorization of the whole human race. It is certainly not meant to pertain to Christians, who are filled with the Holy Spirit to walk in holiness. This passage is never quoted in the New Testament at all, let alone to be counted as the standard of how filthy the works of Christians are. In fact, if Christian acts were purely filthy in God's eyes, then the apostle Paul is a pile of contradictions.

In Isaiah 56, Isaiah writes that the Lord said 'Keep justice, and do righteousness for soon my salvation will come'. Salvation is dependent upon us 'doing true righteousness', and we are to keep the covenant. The Lord in Isaiah never meant that those who were not hypocrites, and truly relied on His grace, that their works were filthy rags. God lauds those who walk uprightly and speaks of them highly, Isaiah never portrays God seeing those who truly follow Him from his heart as being filthy rags.

Back to Ephesians 2, when we are His 'workmanship', God does not make 'filthy rags'. That is an insult to God's precious work in us. His new creation (Eph. 2:15) is not filthy rags. His saying that we can be truly righteousness and holiness in God's likeness is not filthy rags.

In fact, in us our holiness can meet the standard he sets for us as shown in Paul's epistle to the Romans, Rom. 8:2-4:

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
The law in and of itself gives us no power. Christ was sent to free us from the law, that without his power leads to sin and death (See Eph. 2:1-3). The just requirement of the law is met by us who are in the Spirit. Notice it is met by us, not by Christ's righteousness being imputed to us. In Christ, as new creatures in Him (Eph. 2:15, 4:23, 2 Cor. 5:17) we can do so. If we are new creatures it means exactly that our deeds are not filthy rags.

Scripture shows us justification by definition is infusion. One important Scripture reflects that fact, often overlooked is, Rom. 6:3-7:

3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For he who has died is freed (justified) from sin.
Here Paul notes that Baptism takes us from the bondage of sin. By baptism, we walk into the newness of life. Christ came so that the sinful body might be destroyed. This is infusion if I've ever heard of it. Thus, we do not have a righteousness that must be covered over with. But not only that, he who has died, is freed from sin. However, much more than that, the verb that he used means more than freed. The Dhouay Rheims version (Also ASV, 1901) uses the word 'justified' instead of 'freed' from sin. Robert Sungenis makes this important point in discussing the word used 'dikao'
Paul chose to use the word 'freed' in Rom.6:7 the same word he used singularly in reference to God justifying the ungodly in Romans 4:5, for example. In other words, in Romans 6:7 Paul understands and is using the term as a synonym for sanctification. Now we can understand even more why the latter usage does not refer to a forensic justification but can and must refer to a transformational justification. The justification entails a separation, or cleansing from sin. [20]
Now, of course since justification is us being truly righteous, since we continue to live our lives in the real world, we run into the possibility of being unsanctified by our actual sins which can separate us from Him. We still live in a real world with concupiscence still active within us (see Romans 7). That is shown in Ephesians 5 which we looked at earlier, but also following the Romans 6 & 8 passages that we looked at (Romans 6:12-16, 8:13-17). Now, as children we walk in the light, but as He is a loving Father, He will not cast us out over every sin. There are sins that lead to death (mortal), and sins that are not (Catholics call these sins venial), 1 John 5:16-17, 1 Cor. 3:13-17.

Finally, Rhodes argument in Ephesian, that we are sealed for the day of redemption (4:30) does not guarantee salvation. Remember, Paul had just warned us that we had to put off the old man with deceits (v. 22) and the old nature (v. 23-24). He wrote about us not grieving the Holy Spirit by not speaking evil, nor being bitter, or slandering others (4:29, 31). Then right after that, he proceeds to chapter 5, which we have seen states if you fall into impurity, passions, and idolatry one will not inherit the kingdom of God (Eph. 5:3-6). So obviously Paul does not mean what Rhodes infers. He is writing about the fact that we are sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism. Early Christians always saw the seal as a reference to baptism with water and the Holy Spirit. That seal can never be lost no doubt and it points us to our future in the hope of salvation. In Ephesians 4:5, Paul speaks to One Baptism, One Faith, One Lord. That baptism has salvific implications. But it does not mean that if we fall back into the sins of our old nature, that we would still inherit salvation. As we have seen, Paul writes that we are deceived if we think that we can still inherit salvation if we commit those sins (Eph. 5:3-6). Paul does not contradict himself by saying the exact opposite in Eph. 4:30.


Ephesians 2 has shown us that God is a provider of grace. Our study of Ephesians 2 has shown us that He takes us out of the bondage of sin. On our own, even if we want to do good, we could not, because we have no power. Those without Christ, are dead in sins. They give in to passions and lust without God's power in their lives. He gives us grace, and what that grace does is makes us alive, not merely 'declares' us alive. We reign with Him. Then God gives us grace, and that grace saves us. The means of appropriating that grace is faith. But not faith only. We can not boast of works done on our own power. But we become God's workmanship, in conjunction with that faith. It is not either faith or works, but faith in conjunction with works, as to how we are saved. He makes us new creations in Him. We are told via God's grace to put off the old nature, and put on the one of holiness. If we fall back into the old nature and its impurities, we can disinherit ourselves.

We looked at the 'Reformed' Protestant view of justification. It indicates that grace is appropriated only through faith alone. It is not even our righteousness infused with grace, but Christ's righteousness applied in a legal, forensic manner to our account. Justification is imputation. Sanctification and works, though important, are never the grounds of salvation. Our works apparently although important, ultimately are 'filthy rags'. This justification can not be lost. The Catholic view is that God takes us out of our bondage to sin, and He makes us righteous. He empowers us to be truly holy. It is infusion. Justification equals sanctification and the responsibility of the Christian is to cooperate with the grace that God provides. If we do not we can disinherit ourselves from the kingdom. Our study of Ephesians has shown that Paul believes that grace is transformative and our salvation is dependent upon cooperation with that grace. Paul's letter in Ephesians reflects the Catholic view. God does not just 'declare' us righteous in a legal, forensic manner, while our righteousness is truly 'filthy rags' as the Protestant asserts, He actually makes us so. Imputation is nowhere to be found in Ephesians. He truly frees us from the bondage of sin. God's grace is not Him looking away from how horrible we are, but a transformative power that enables us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God at work within us, to work and to will for His good pleasure.


[1] James White, The Roman Catholic Controversy, Bethany House Publishers, Minneapolis, MI, 1996, pp. 150-151.

[2] Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 2000, pp. 138-139.

[3] Rhodes, p. 151.

[4] Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie, Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995, pp. 234-235.

[5] Ron Rhodes, p. 140.

[6] Geisler, p. 232.

[7] White, pp. 142-143

[8] White, pp. 143, also .

[9] White, p. 144.

[10] ibid., p. 324

[11] James Buchanan, The Doctrine of Justification, The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, 1867, Reprint 1997, pp. 320.

[12] Buchanan, 323.

[13] Buchanan, 363-364.

[14] Buchanan, p. 354.

[15] Rhodes, p. 140.

[16] The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, 6th session, Chapter 7, English translation by Rev. H. J. Schroeder, (Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Rockford, Illinois), 1978, p. 33-34.

[17] Trent, Session 6, chapter 8, p. 35

[18] Catechism of the Catholic Church, English translation, CCC 1995, p. 483. p. 1995

[19] Trent, Session 6, Chapter 15, p. 40.

[20] Robert Sungenis, Not By Faith Alone: The Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Doctrine of Justification Queenship Publishing, Santa Barbara, CA, 1997, p. 344.

2008 Ephesians 2:8-10: Proof for Justification by Faith Alone? An Examination...by Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Work Completed on: Sunday, November 23, 2008

To All Visitors, Grace of Christ to you

Page created by: Matt1618.
Send email with questions or comments on this writing to Matt1618 matt16182@yahoo.com


Return to Salvation Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page