Ephesians 2:8-9

How do we dispute the argument of OSAS when someone raises the verse Ephesians 2:8-9:

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

Just because Salvation is a gift from God does not mean we can’t reject or spurn the gift. People apostatize all the time. We have free will.

Where in that verse does it state that a one time acceptance of Jesus as one’s personal Lord and Savior saves anyone? It simply doesn’t. They are reading into the verse what they already believe, not what it states.

Those who hold to OSAS love to cherry pick verses to “prove” their belief, but the verses they choose say nothing of the kind. Nowhere in the Bible is there a verse that says a one time conversion experience is all that is necessary for salvation. On the contrary St. Paul warns us:

Phil.2[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…

Ask them how they explain St. Paul’s words if OSAS is good theology? After all, one verse is as true as another, isn’t it?

The Protestants also argue that this proves their false “faith alone” belief. However, all Saint Paul is saying here is that grace is a gift from God alone, not something that we can make for ourselves. When he uses the word “works,” he is not using it in the “good works” sense, but instead in just the “something you do” sense. Therefore, he tries to tell us that grace can only come from God and not from ourselves.

To all of this I’ll add James 2:24 : So you see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.

When they bring up ‘works of the law’, I was taught that this refers to Leviticus and we are no longer held to that.

We are saved by grace alone but our response to God’s grace is faith working through love.

Just the First Letter of St. John alone should be enough to destroy the entire OSAS theology. Over and over again St. John tells the reader that they MUST obey the commandments of God, and salvation is not some one time event.

OSAS is a very dangerous theology that puts many people in peril. Looking at just one portion of Scripture and ignoring vast swaths of other parts of Scripture is a recipe for disaster.

Eph. 2:8 says by grace you have been savED. Past tense.

The OSAS followers then conclude that’s all there is to it.

In order to do this they must ignore other verses that are in the present tense and also ignore other verses that are in the future tense dealing with salvation.

They actually use one verse of Scripture to deny other verses (many other verses).

Past tense plus present tense plus future tense equals a process. A lifelong process.

This is where (some of) the denial comes in for the OSAS tradition follower.

The other important thing about refuting the OSAS fallacy and the savED aspect of OSAS is, that the past tense in Ephesians 2 primarily concerns Jesus’ work on Calvary.

This is even more evident if you just back up several verses to Ephesians 2:3 -7.

In Sunday school I don’t recall them ever asking us to memorize any of the verses leading up to Eph. 2:8-9 (and certainly NOT Eph. 2:10).

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I was waiting for your post. I knew you would be helpful! :slight_smile:

Who? :blush: Me? (See Luke 17:10) I am an unworthy servant; I have only done what was my duty.

The Bible is FULL of refutations to OSAS. Here is just a brief example:

“Read Hb 6:4-6. Paul writes of “partakers of the Holy Spirit” who have tasted of God’s Power, only to “have fallen away”. He doesn’t make any indication here that they weren’t “true” believers, rather they were believers who “tasted the heavenly gift” [they were saved] and now are not saved. Paul shows us again in Galations 5:4 that in seeking to be justified by the law, the Christians he is writing to can be “severed from Christ” and those Galations have “fallen from grace”. These were Christians who received the Word and the Spirit (Gal 3:1; 4:4-9)) and were “running well the race” (Gal 5:7) and THEN were tempted away from truth and toward going back to circumcision. They were Christians on the Vine of Christ, and then “severed” themselves from the Vine that they were truly attached to.”

Snipped from: The Vine and the Branches: Once Saved Always Saved?

Tell them to read verse 10 and ask them if they’re still saved if they don’t do the works for which they were created.

Hi Boulder257,

How do we dispute the argument of OSAS when someone raises the verse Ephesians 2:8-9:

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

I’m happily reformed in my thinking, but much prefer to use the term “perseverance of the saints” rather than OSAS; by which I mean God by His grace keeps his elect believers safe and secure in faith until their deaths, I see this simply as the truth of what Jesus said in John 6:37-40 (ESV) - “37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

As for the verses and their connection to the above; to me it is harmonious, a beautiful Pauline statement that ones salvation is utterly the work of God alone. Grace alone leads one to faith, which itself is a gift of God, as man apart from grace has no ability to believe; “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” - John 6:44 (ESV).

Put succinctly; those whom God gifts true faith as described here in Ephesians 2 are indeed saved; are true children of God and will inherit the kingdom assuredly, as The Lord himself has promised that those who come to him in true faith will indeed be raised to glory at the last day. This is all God’s gracious doing, “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5 ESV) that no man may boast, but may only ever glory and praise God in gratitude and love.



Hi Cathoholic,

Are you able to clarify a bit for me what you mean in your initial sentence? ( I do apologise if I’ve missed an obvious point!). As far as I can see in Ephesians 2 leading up to the verses in question, Paul simply sets out a bleak picture of the human condition for the Gentiles he is writing to describing their state before God’s grace came to them, the result of which in verse 5 is their union with Jesus’ life; their sins paid for on the cross, buried in the earth forever, and the believers are now raised with him, assured they will share in Jesus kingdom.

My church certainly teaches the importance of striving for sanctification in daily life, and indeed, of walking in tune with God, seeking to walk in those works he has prepared us to do, my point is simply to state that my church, and indeed, the numerous other Protestant congregations I’ve had the pleasure of either being a part of, or of visiting , have most certainly stressed sanctification.



The apostle is referring to the reason for our salvation and its condition: removal from guilt and the remission of sin. It is when we are baptized that we initially receive the grace of justification and sanctification for our interior renewal. This grace of forgiveness and reconciliation had been merited for us by Christ in strict justice and not by any preceding merit of ours through natural works outside the system of grace. The ongoing and dynamic process of justification and sanctification begins here in our journey of faith. By the merits of Jesus Christ - the First Principle of all human merit - we are transformed interiorly from the state of being born a child of Adam into the state of being reborn in the Spirit. What initially happens here, however, isn’t a single event in our life of faith which is now complete and irrevocably insures us with the attainment of our salvation.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
2 Corinthians 2, 15

What Paul has in mind here is the ongoing process of being made holy and righteous as opposed to habitually living in the state of sin like those who are perishing in their obstinacy. Our baptismal commitment marks the next life-long stage of our justification and sanctification. Here the person who already is in the initial state of grace may merit - by right of friendship, but not in strict justice - as a reward more grace and an increase in sanctification and charity as they grow towards a more perfect image of God in the conduct of their lives through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed daily (cf. 2 Cor 4:16). Sanctification is the essence of justification. In order for us to be just before God we must be inherently holy and righteous. We couldn’t be the “aroma of Christ” unless our righteousness personally belonged to us by the infusion of divine grace into our souls. To be just in God’s sight is to be intrinsically holy by the power of the Spirit who dwells in our souls. Thus on the occasion of a mortal sin (i.e., the act of adultery or bearing false witness against our neighbour), we risk forfeiting the salvation Christ achieved for us, since our souls would no longer be in the state of sanctifying grace. For this reason we must repent of our post-baptismal sins to be restored to friendship with God. “Look to yourselves that you lose not the things which you have wrought: but that you receive a full reward” (1 Jn 2:8).

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is past and the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.
*Romans 13, 11 *

Paul certainly didn’t believe that justification is a static, one-time event in the lives of Christians which happened in the past and was made complete. For him it was an on-going process which required human collaboration with the work of God and involved transformations of the soul. In his Letter to the Romans, the apostle is concerned that we continually apply the Gospel truths in our daily lives to ensure that we finally receive what we hope for. Apparently, some members of the Roman church had reverted back to their pre-baptismal sinful habits and behaved unworthily as disciples of Christ. So Paul is exhorting these lapsed members to conform once again to their renewed way of life and persevere in grace so long as it isn’t too late. Their particular judgment can arrive at any moment upon death, so it’s time for them to “wake up” and stop deceiving themselves so that they won’t lose the salvation they are hoping for. There was no need for any grave exhortation if the Roman Christians had already been assuredly saved by their initial profession of faith when they were baptized. By putting on the armour of light is meant that we continue to persevere in grace so that we may walk in the light as He is in the light. Unless we do walk in the light, the salvation which Christ formally gained for us in strict justice shall not be applied to us instrumentally for our lack of merit and entitlement to a reward. (cf. 1 Jn 1:7).

*“And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For ‘cannot he that falls arise again, and he may attain to God.’” *
St.Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 10 [c.110 A.D.]



I will try to respond to your post 16 later.

In your post 15 you are mixing up “the elect” with people who are “born again” or “born of water and the Spirit”. John 6:37-40 is talking about God’s prevenient grace upon the elect.

But you cannot conclude from that passage, that someone who is in Chist today, cannot reject being in Christ tomorrow or next week or next year.

It is inappropriate to use a Bible verse to deny another Bible verse. All the verses need to be harmonized.

The OSAS tradition (no matter what title you want to re-name it as), does not harmonize all the verses.

OSAS just doesn’t work Lincoln7.

By works Paul usually means the legal requirements of the Mosaic law: the works of the law (ergon nomou) such as following ceremonial and dietary prescriptions and observing the Sabbath. James, on the other hand, refers to works performed in charity and grace (ergon agathois) through faith in Jesus Christ (cf. Jas 2:24). For him a true and living faith means acting in conformity with the love of Christ in communion with him in our relations with our neighbour. Unless we do act in charity and grace at appropriate moments, our faith - intellectual acquiesce, which even the demons possess deprived of God’s grace - shall not be of use or of any benefit to our souls. Paul refers to both of these works: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God - not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Eph 2:8-10).

The initial grace of justification and forgiveness by no preceding merit of ours allows us to further receive actual graces to our credit as we continue to bear fruit with the help of God’s grace, which increases our justification and sanctification simultaneously. Paul had this “progressive justification” in mind when he wrote: “Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit” ( Phil 4:17). All the graces we receive from God proceed from His mercy and love through the merits of Christ. God does not owe us anything, for without the inspiration and assistance of His grace, we can do nothing that truly pleases Him. Christ has merited grace for us so that we can be created in him for good works. Thus good works performed in charity and grace are absolutely necessary for us to be reckoned as just and to attain the salvation Christ has formally achieved for the entire world by his perfect act of charity.“If our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God … because we obey his commandments and do whatever he asks” (1 Jn 3:22-23).

However, we do not earn our salvation by doing good works in charity and grace, as if God were obligated to pay us a just wage for our labours. Our salvation is something we are called to “work out” (Phil 2:12), not “work for”. Good works prompted by grace lead to salvation; they are neither the cause nor the effect of salvation. Jesus has freed us from the works of the law (Acts 13:19; Gal 3:13; 4:4-5), meaning that we could never hope to reconcile ourselves with God by placing Him in our debt unless we were able to observe the law with absolute perfection apart from His grace. And so we have no cause to boast before God and claim anything from Him: “For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God” (2 Cor 1:12). Indeed, the works of the law serve to remind us of just how weak and sinful we naturally are (Gal 3:19) and how dependent we are on divine grace to conduct our lives in a manner pleasing to God and just in His sight. “Therefore, submit to God … Draw near to God and he will draw near to you … Humble yourselves in the sight of God, and he will exalt you” (Jas 4:7-10).

Hence, God has forgiven our sins and removed our guilt in His mercy, through the merits of Jesus Christ, so that we should be inspired and assisted to do good works in grace and charity in collaboration with Him in order to please Him and remain in His grace. And God will reward us with eternal life, in spite of our imperfections, if we persevere in faith to the end (Heb 3:13-14) by being doers of the word, and not hearers only (cf. Jas 1:22). The word is the spirit of the Mosaic law which is the law of Christ written in our hearts,to be obeyed in order for us to be personally righteous (cf. Rom 2:13). Because of our failings, our acts of faith must be those of a repentant faith (Ps 51:7). Our relationship with God the Father is a familial one (Rom 8:14-17; Heb 12:5-11); it is not a legal one (Lk 18:9-14).

The essential meaning of the word faith (emunah) in the Hebrew OT is “steadfastness in love” whether it be God’s towards man or man’s towards God. Our faith in God is measured by how much we love God and our neighbour. We deceive ourselves if we claim to love God while we hate our neighbour by acting in ways which oppose His will and offend Him (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). Belief essentially is much more than an intellectual assent to divine truths by the determination of our will. (cf. Jas 1:26-27; cf. Heb 13:1-5). Paul may say that such Christians whom James refers to have “denied the faith” and are “worse than unbelievers” (cf.1 Tim 5:8). It isn’t a question of not having any faith to begin with, like an unbeliever, but rather of being deficient in faith by freely resisting the outpouring of divine grace through the Holy Spirit. (cf. Eph 4:30). The less we draw near to God, the more He will draw away from us. So we as God’s co-workers mustn’t receive His grace in vain (cf. 2 Cor 6:1).

Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters,of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.
1 Corinthians 15, 1-2



In your post 15 you are mixing up “the elect” with people who are “born again” or “born of water and the Spirit”. John 6:37-40 is talking about God’s prevenient grace upon the elect.

But you cannot conclude from that passage, that someone who is in Chist today, cannot reject being in Christ tomorrow or next week or next year.

I think it perfectly reasonable to conclude that one who is truly in Christ will never be lost. “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” - John 6:39 ESV. - The Lord will lose nothing, he will lost not one of his true sheep, not one of them will fall away totally and finally to destruction.

All those truly born again are God’s elect, the regenerate will persevere until death.

It is inappropriate to use a Bible verse to deny another Bible verse. All the verses need to be harmonized.

Quite so, I have not sought to deny other verses with another. I have simply shown that The Lord will not loose one true sheep from his fold.

The OSAS tradition (no matter what title you want to re-name it as), does not harmonize all the verses.

The term “perseverance of the saints” as used in the reformed camp is much older and more historic than the often used OSAS term. I have not sought to rename anything, I just wanted to clarify what I believe.

On “prevenient grace” as mentioned in your initial sentence, I must disagree that that is what The Lord is referring to in this passage. The initial verse, 37; “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” - John 6:37 ESV, clearly makes it plain that all those given by the Father; those predestined unto life, regenerated by God’s Spirit, will come to faith in Jesus. It does not mention a type of grace that renders man “neutral” so to speak, able to accept or reject, rather it describes the grace of God regenerating a man, gifting him with a new heart that will thus willingly come to faith in Jesus; God’s effectual call of a sheep.

And to tie this in again with the verses in topic on the thread, I think the harmony here is wonderful to see; grace alone calls man to salvation, through faith alone in Jesus as their one mediator, based not on anything in themselves, but solely as God’s gracious gift. Whoever comes to Him in this manner he will never cast out, nor will he ever loose him finally to sin or unbelief or apostasy, but has promised to raise him up at the last day.

OSAS just doesn’t work Lincoln7.

As I have shown above, the elect will be preserved by God in faith, they will not be lost or cast out, but kept safe by God’s hand until death. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” - Philippians 1:6 ESV.

It could all be summed up by one verse - “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Romans 8:30 ESV. The sheep are called, justified, and have the assurance they will be glorified on the last day.

Kind regards


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