No Man Can Serve Two Masters


There’s only one way to eternal life and it’s through the only way God provided—His Son Jesus Christ. But even knowing and embracing that truth, we can still be falsely assured that we have the Son yet truly headed for destruction, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:14).

The popular gospel message preached today is that we have the Son if we have confessed Him as Lord and believe some facts about Him—essentially that salvation is by faith or belief in Him. But the true saving gospel is the message the Son Himself preached to the world. It matters not what millions or even billions of people say but only what one Person said. What He said is the truth and the final word. He told us what we must do to have Him and eternal life. We must listen to Him.

Now, the latter half of this writing isn’t intended to give inordinate attention to the devil but is simply addressing necessary issues so that we’re not ignorant of his devices. The more covertly he’s allowed to operate under the radar without detection, the more successful he is. Therefore, our souls depend on discussing and recognizing his sinister activity so that we won’t fall prey to him.

The Creator preached the message of salvation

The true message of salvation is known by what the Creator preached in the beginning in a mystery, and what the Creator preached again when He came into this world and revealed the mystery. The Son of God is the Creator: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Jhn 1:3); “God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9); “For by him were all things created” (Col 1:16); “by whom also he made the worlds” (Heb 1:2); “for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev 4:11).

Within the creation account narrative itself, the Son of God interjected the message of salvation but kept the understanding of it hidden from us in a mystery: “according to the revelation of the mystery [mysterion 3466], which was kept secret since the world began” (Rom 16:25); “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery [mysterion 3466], even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1Co 2:7); “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery [mysterion 3466], which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Eph 3:9); “Even the mystery [mysterion 3466] which hath been hid from ages and from generations” (Col 1:26).

The Creator Himself came into this world and revealed to our understanding the message of salvation He had hid in a mystery: “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries [mysterion 3466] of the kingdom of heaven … I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world” (Mat 13:11, 35); “the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery [mysterion 3466]” (Rom 16:25); “How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [mysterion 3466]; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery [mysterion 3466] of Christ)” (Eph 3:3-4); “that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery [mysterion 3466] of the gospel” (Eph 6:19).

The true message of salvation preached by the Creator

In the beginning, the Son of God preached the message of salvation but hid it from our understanding in a mystery—the creation of the sun and the moon contained a figurative message, “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night … And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness” (Gen 1:16,18). The message contained in these heavenly bodies before man had even been created is that there would be two rulers over humanity and one would be greater than the other. Salvation is about which lord or master is ours.

About 4,000 years later the Son of God became a man and preached this same message of salvation—faithfulness to Him as our Lord and Ruler: “No man can serve two masters” (Mat 6:24); “Who then is a faithful and wise servant” (Mat 25:45); “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Mat 25:21); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46); “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luk 16:11); “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luk 17:10); “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am” (Jhn 13:13).

The apostle John began his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word [Message], and the Word [Message] was with God, and the Word [Message] was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (Jhn 1:1-3), “And the Word [Message] was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jhn 1:14). When the Son of God became a man, He exemplified the message He preached in the beginning. His life and preaching embodied that same message to such an extent that John spoke metaphorically of Him as the Message.

Later in his Gospel, John recorded Jesus foretelling of His Advocacy for us at His Father’s right hand: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever … But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit [breath]” (Jhn 14:16, 26 NIV); “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit [breath] of truth” (Jhn 15:26 NIV); “Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you” (Jhn 16:7 NIV). The message the Son of God preached in the beginning, “the greater light to rule the day” (Gen 1:16), is the same message He later preached of His Rule and Advocacy at the right hand of God.

Because of His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He is now “the greater light,” our Ruler or Advocate at the right hand of God in heaven: “Sit thou at my right hand” (Psa 110:1); “he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mar 16:19); “being by the right hand of God exalted” (Act 2:33); “who is even at the right hand of God” (Rom 8:34); “set him at his own right hand” (Eph 1:20); “Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col 3:1); “sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb 1:3); “who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb 8:1); “sat down on the right hand of God” (Heb 10:12); “is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2); “is on the right hand of God” (1Pe 3:22); “am set down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3:21); “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev 22:3).

The message of salvation has been detoured

The entire issue of salvation preached by the Son of God since the beginning is which lord, master, or ruler we’re serving. And since “No man can serve two masters” (Mat 6:24), if we’re not serving the Lord Jesus Christ, then we’re serving the devil and his cohorts. But to impede people from being ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore maintain his rule over them, the devil diverts the message preached to anything else. As long as people aren’t hearing the message of faithful service to the Lord Jesus Christ as Advocate at God’s right hand, they’re not being ruled by “the greater light” but by “the lesser light.”

The Protestant Reformation about 500 years ago was supposedly an enlightenment that the statement “the just shall live by his faith [emuna 530]” (Hab 2:4), “the just shall live by faith [pistis 4102]” (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38), is to simply believe and only believe. But the Hebrew emuna and Greek pistis translated as “faith” means “faithfulness” which agrees with what was preached in the beginning—faithfulness and loyalty to the “the greater light.” The Reformation wasn’t a return to the message from the beginning but the beginning of a new message! It transferred the message preached to an entirely different context—from “faithful service to the Lord” to “faith or belief in the Lord.”

Within the context of faithful service to the Lord, water baptism is the point of change in lord, master, or ruler over our lives. We repent of our sinful past and commit ourselves to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ—to serve and obey Him faithfully to death. God breathes His breath into our hearts and His Son becomes our Lord and Advocate at His right hand. We live daily obeying Him, submitting to Him, and agreeing with Him. And when we die in faithfulness to Him, we’re assured of being raised to eternal life at His return.

On the other hand, in the context of faith or belief in the Lord, an altar-call or sinner’s prayer is the point of “salvation.” We repent of our sins and make a confession of faith or belief in Jesus Christ. At that moment we’re born again as new creatures with eternal life inside—our spirit person changes from spiritual death to spiritual life. We’re saved right now and assured of going to heaven after we die.

Christians today call themselves “believers” but the apostles and early Christians called themselves servants: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:1); “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ” (Col 4:12); “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ” (Phl 1:1); “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (Tit 1:1); “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas 1:1); “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2Pe 1:1); “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ” (Jde 1:1).

Christianity has become a “Jesus” religion. By quoting Paul’s statement out of context, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom 10:9), salvation has become simply confessing Him as Lord and believing facts about Him.

However, Jesus said that we must serve Him as Lord and do what He said: “No man can serve two masters” (Mat 6:24); “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not” (Mat 7:24,26); “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luk 6:46). And Paul agreed, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Rom 6:16). We’re not servants of whom we confess as Lord but of whom we obey as Lord! Therefore, what he said later, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus” (Rom 10:9), wasn’t merely a confession but a commitment.

Although it’s good and necessary that we’re taught to believe the facts of Jesus Christ’s divinity and humanity, virgin birth, life and ministry, miracles, death, burial, and resurrection, hardly anything is being taught about His position and function today at the right hand of God. This isn’t by mistake but by design. Principalities and powers—the devil and his minions—don’t want the message preached about Christ’s position at the right hand of God with all power and authority over them: “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (Eph 1:20-21); “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it … If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col 2:15,3:1); “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1Pe 3:22).

We wrestle not against flesh and blood

Paul revealed that flesh and blood isn’t what we’re ultimately struggling against, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles [methodeia 3180] of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:11-12). The “rulers of the darkness” are “the lesser light to rule the night” (Gen 1:16) preached in the beginning. Paul had used the same Greek word methodeia earlier when speaking about the deceptions of men, “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait [methodeia 3180] to deceive” (Eph 4:14). The devil rules over flesh and blood people and uses them as instruments to spread his wiles and deceptions.

The devil not only wants us to believe there is no God but also that there is no devil! He’s not trying to make himself known but exactly the opposite. His strategy is for us to forget all about him, live as though he doesn’t exist, and assume people just act from their own initiative. He gets us fighting with each other rather than against him.

He uses people, including ministers of churches, as his instruments, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2Co 11:14-15). We’re quite naïve if we think this isn’t even more of a problem today than it was in the churches established and overseen by the apostle Paul himself. If wolves ravished the church in Ephesus as soon as he left, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock” (Act 20:29), then they’re certainly wreaking more havoc almost 2,000 years later.

The devil understands salvation better than we do. He knows that as long as he’s ruling over us, then we’re on our way to destruction, “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” (Mat 7:13). And he knows very well what to have his ministers teach in churches to keep people under his rule yet think they’re on their way to eternal life, “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life” (Mat 7:14).

Protestant Trinitarian pastors are quite confident and relaxed that they’re doing a good job. But the “job” they’re doing depends on who they’re working for. Of course if they’re working for God, then their flocks are headed to eternal life. But if they’re working for the devil, then their flocks are bound for destruction so long as they keep them following their teaching. And since they’re teaching that God is a Trinity of Persons, Jesus is God Himself, man is an immortal spirit living in a body, and salvation is by believing, then it’s obvious who they must be working for. These highly intelligent men are embracing and advancing false views of the most important subjects. How can every one of them be wrong about what’s most crucial? Jesus Christ didn’t teach these things and if they won’t submit to what He taught, what other conclusion can be drawn about them?

One of the most accurate indicators of which “way” we’re heading—destruction or eternal life—is how we’re treated by the devil’s ministers. Since the devil knows who is under his rule and who isn’t, his ministers conduct themselves differently toward both groups. Those under his rule are treated well in church to keep them going the wrong way, all the while assuming they’re heading the right way. On the other hand, since those under the rule of the Lord Jesus Christ are seen as a threat, they’re dealt with in various ways including shunning, discouraging, intimidating, mocking, belittling, reprimanding, and employing an array of setups and stumbling blocks intended to make them fall or at least slow them down.

The devil’s ministers plot and scheme various traps for the godly to be entangled and snared thereby: “And David knew that Saul secretly practised mischief against him” (1Sa 23:9); “The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth” (Psa 37:12); “They also that seek after my life lay snares for me” (Psa 38:12); “They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they mark my steps, when they wait for my soul” (Psa 56:6); “The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me” (Psa 140:5); “Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against Jeremiah” (Jer 18:18); “All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him” (Jer 20:10); “Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom” (Dan 6:4); “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk … But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?” (Mat 22:15,18); “And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words … But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me?” (Mar 12:13,15); “Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him” (Luk 11:54); “And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words … But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?” (Luk 20:20,23); “But their laying await was known of Saul” (Act 9:24); “in perils among false brethren” (2Co 11:26); “by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Eph 4:14); “false brethren unawares brought in” (Gal 2:4); “For there are certain men crept in unawares” (Jde 1:4).

They set up stumbling blocks and snares to cause the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ to fall into sin and fall away. And if they can’t get them out of the way entirely, they’ll at least work at slowing them down from effectively doing God’s work. They have an arsenal of tactics intended to distract them, discourage them, and discredit them.

However, the souls of those in church that simply flow with the system and don’t rock the boat are obviously in danger since they’re treated well by comparison. They’re recognized, encouraged, honored, esteemed, and placed in prominent positions. Sadly, it’s ominous evidence of the way they’re headed. As long as the devil’s system is flowing smoothly, his ministers are confident of the end result.


Our salvation isn’t just about faith or belief. It’s ultimately a spiritual battle that requires depending on God’s strength to overcome the evil spirits bent on destroying us. Jesus Himself exhorted all seven churches in the book of Revelation, “To him that overcometh,” “He that overcometh,” “Him that overcometh” (Rev 2:7,11,17,26, 3:5,12,21). It’s about staying faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ through the deceptions, temptations, and oppositions that come against us. It’s about being ruled by Him and not by “the god of this world” (2Co 4:4).

The devil doesn’t want us to know these things. He wants us thinking that salvation is simply by believing some facts are true. But the main logical conclusion of a salvation that’s by “faith alone” is that ultimately we’re secure no matter what we do or don’t do—the very opposite of what Jesus taught, “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock … And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand” (Mat 7:24,26).

The devil doesn’t want us to know the depths of his involvement in our lives. He wants us thinking that we just make wrong choices and mistakes, and that we’re the victims of circumstance. He wants us thinking that the beliefs and teaching of his ministers is the fruit of their intelligence and academic achievement when it’s mainly out of their loyalty to him. After all, how can they be ministers of God while disagreeing with the teaching of the Son of God? If shown the truth that Jesus Christ taught, the fear of the Lord should compel them to change what they’re teaching. Otherwise, what other conclusion can be drawn?

As long as the devil keeps us from serving the Lord Jesus Christ, he keeps us serving him. This is what the message of “faith alone” is intended to do. It’s meant to detour us from the message preached from the beginning—faithful service to the Lord Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of God. The true message that leads to eternal life is what was preached in the beginning by the Son of God and what He preached again when He came into this world.

God’s Favored People

God’s favor

The Greek charis [5485] typically translated as “grace,” simply means “favor.” Therefore, it should have been translated consistently as “favor” rather than “grace” throughout the New Testament. Why use the generic word “grace” to obscure its more specific and descriptive meaning?

In translation work, it’s easier for subjective bias to creep into Paul’s doctrinal letters but not as easy in the four Gospels and Acts. This is because the historical narratives of the Gospels and Acts many times force a context which binds the translators’ hands so to speak. But doctrinal writings, unfortunately, can allow them more freedom superimpose their own doctrinal bias by fudging certain words. Some of the biggest culprits are rendering the Greek pneuma as “spirit” rather than “breath,” pistis as “faith” rather than “faithfulness,” pisteuo as “believe” rather than “trust,” and charis as “grace” rather than “favor.”

Many have noted an inconsistency in the gospel message Paul preached as compared with what Jesus Christ Himself preached. In his two books “The Gospel According to Jesus” and “The Gospel According to Paul,” John MacArthur made an unsuccessful attempt to reconcile this issue. But the true cause is simply translator bias in Paul’s letters. Christ’s parables about faithful servants set a context in which there’s no doubt as to the message of the gospel. But rather than being true to Christ’s message and rendering pistis as “faithfulness” in Paul’s doctrinal teachings, the translators cloaked it with “faith” instead. Now they can claim that Paul taught we’re saved by believing some facts are true rather than being faithful servants to the Lord as the Lord Himself taught.

In the King James Version, charis is translated as “favour” several times in Luke and Acts: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour [charis] with God” (Luk 1:30); “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour [charis] with God and man” (Luk 2:52); “Praising God, and having favour [charis] with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Act 2:47); “And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour [charis] and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house … Who found favour [charis] before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob” (Act 7:10, 46); “And desired favour [charis] against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him” (Act 25:3). However, in the epistles charis isn’t translated “favour” even once! Why not? It’s because the doctrinal genre of the epistles allowed the translators this liberty.

This word is used 78 times in the Greek Septuagint and more than half of its occurrences speak of someone being favored in the eyes or the sight of another. These quotations are from the KJV but they contain charis in the Septuagint: “But Noah found grace [charis] in the eyes of the LORD” (Gen 6:8), “My Lord, if now I have found favour [charis] in thy sight” (Gen 18:3), “that I may find grace [charis] in thy sight” (Gen 32:5), “These are to find grace [charis] in the sight of my lord” (Gen 33:8), “if now I have found grace [charis] in thy sight” (Gen 33:10), “let me find grace [charis] in the sight of my lord” (Gen 33:15), “Let me find grace [charis] in your eyes” (Gen 34:11), “And Joseph found grace [charis] in his sight” (Gen 39:4), “and gave him favour [charis] in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Gen 39:21), “And God Almighty give you mercy [charis] before the man” (Gen 43:14), “let us find grace [charis] in the sight of my lord” (Gen 47:25), “If now I have found grace [charis] in thy sight” (Gen 47:29), “If now I have found grace [charis] in your eyes” (Gen 50:4), “And I will give this people favour [charis] in the sight of the Egyptians” (Exo 3:21), “And the LORD gave the people favour [charis] in the sight of the Egyptians” (Exo 11:3), “And the LORD gave the people favour [charis] in the sight of the Egyptians” (Exo 12:36), “and thou hast also found grace [charis] in my sight. Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace [charis] in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace [charis] in thy sight” (Exo 33:12-13), “For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace [charis] in thy sight?” (Exo 33:16), “for thou hast found grace [charis] in my sight” (Exo 33:17), “If now I have found grace [charis] in thy sight” (Exo 34:9), “wherefore have I not found favour [charis] in thy sight” (Num 11:11), “if we have found grace [charis] in thy sight” (Num 32:5), “she find no favour [charis] in his eyes” (Deu 24:1), “If now I have found grace [charis] in thy sight” (Jdg 6:17), “in whose sight I shall find grace [charis]” (Rth 2:2), “Why have I found grace [charis] in thine eyes” (Rth 2:10), “Let me find favour [charis] in thy sight, my lord” (Rth 2:13), “Let thine handmaid find grace [charis] in thy sight” (1Sa 1:18), “for he hath found favour [charis] in my sight” (1Sa 16:22), “I have found grace [charis] in thine eyes” (1Sa 20:3), “if I have found favour [charis] in thine eyes” (1Sa 20:29), “Wherefore let the young men find favour [charis] in thine eyes” (1Sa 25:8), “If I have now found grace [charis] in thine eyes” (1Sa 27:5), “I have found grace [charis] in thy sight” (2Sa 14:22), “if I shall find favour [charis] in the eyes of the LORD” (2Sa 15:25), “I may find grace [charis] in thy sight” (2Sa 16:4), “And Hadad found great favour [charis] in the sight of Pharaoh” (1Ki 11:19), “And Esther obtained favour [charis] in the sight of all them that looked upon her” (Est 2:15), “she obtained grace and favour [charis] in his sight” (Est 2:17), “she obtained favour [charis] in his sight” (Est 5:2), “If I have found favour [charis] in the sight of the king” (Est 5:8), “If I have found favour [charis] in thy sight” (Est 7:3), “if I have found favour [charis] in his sight” (Est 8:5).

The translators of the Septuagint used this word for Moses’ statement about God’s favor toward him and His chosen people, “For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace [charis] in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth. And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace [charis] in my sight, and I know thee by name.” (Exo 33:16-17). Our English “cherish” hints at its etymology from the Greek charis. God favors and cherishes His people!

God’s chosen people found charis or favor in His sight, and Moses defined this favor as them being separated from all other people on earth: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Exo 19:5); “For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Num 23:9); “For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?” (Deu 4:7); “And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?” (2Sa 7:23); “For thou didst separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be thine inheritance, as thou spakest by the hand of Moses thy servant, when thou broughtest our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord GOD” (1Ki 8:53); “He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psa 147:20); “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2Co 6:17).

To be favored in God’s sight is to be treated differently by Him in comparison with other people. God sees His chosen people distinctly from all other people. They are His peculiar treasure. He doesn’t reckon them among other nations and doesn’t deal with them like He does with other nations. They are separate and favored by Him.

God’s favored people

Once we recognize that charis is simply favor, then in the context of salvation, it’s about God favoring His people above all other people. Recorded in Acts chapter 13 is the time when Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia and taught the Jews forgiveness of sins through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These Jews then had to embrace this truth to continue as one of God’s favored people, “Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace [favor] of God” (Act 13:43).

God’s favor is what John meant by, “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace [favor] for grace [favor]. For the law was given by Moses, but grace [favor] and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (Jhn 1:16-17). Other translations have, “grace [favor] upon grace [favor]” (DBY), “grace [favor] in place of grace [favor] already given” (NIV), “grace [favor] over-against grace [favor]” (YLT). The Law of Moses itself didn’t bring God’s favor—Jesus Christ did. God’s chosen people were favored under the Old Covenant. However, those alive when the Messiah came had to receive Him for favor in place of favor already given. Rejecting God’s own Son would be rejecting His favor and no longer being favored as one of His people.

When writing to the Galatians, Paul expressed that the Jews are rejecting God’s favor if righteousness comes by the law, “I do not frustrate [atheteō 114] the grace [favor] of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal 2:21). The Greek atheteō translated as “frustrate” is rendered several other places in the New Testament as “reject” or “despise.” He wrote later, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace [favor]” (Gal 5:4). We could say the last phrase as “fallen out of favor.” His point was that Gentiles were now being favored by God as His people, but if they became circumcised with the intent of placing themselves under the Old Covenant, they would be rejecting God’s favor.

Recognizing that charis simply means favor opens our understanding of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in particular because God purposed from the beginning the salvation of a chosen people to Himself, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4). He would favor these people above all other people and save them by sending His Son Jesus Christ to shed His blood for their sins, “To the praise of the glory of his grace [favor], wherein he hath made us accepted [favored] in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace [favor]” (Eph 1:6-7).

God’s only begotten Son was seen figuratively and prophetically in Adam, while His chosen people the ekklesia (church, assembly, congregation) were seen in Adam’s wife taken out of him, “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Gen 2:23-24). Paul quoted from this passage and said it was a mystery that foretold of Christ and the church, “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church [ekklesia 1577].” (Eph 5:31-32). This is what he meant by, “he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world” (Eph 1:4).

The church is a Jewish body

The Greek ekklesia is an assembly, gathering, or congregation of people. This word was used once in the New Testament for God’s people under the Old Covenant, “This is he, that was in the church [ekklēsia 1577] in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” (Act 7:38). The very first time Israel was called a congregation or assembly was during the Exodus on the first Passover, “Speak ye unto all the congregation [‘ēḏȃ 5712] of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house” (Exo 12:3), “And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly [qāhēl 6951] of the congregation [‘ēḏȃ 5712] of Israel shall kill it in the evening” (Exo 12:6). Thus, the true Passover Lamb shed His precious blood for this assembly of God’s people.

We’re told several times that Gentiles partake of the salvation God provided for His chosen people: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (Jhn 4:22); “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree” (Rom 11:17); “It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.” (Rom 15:27); “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Eph 2:19); “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Eph 3:6); “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col 1:12); “For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (Heb 8:8).

Salvation was provided for the Jews, and the gospel message was sent to them first: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luk 24:47); “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Act 1:8); “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Act 3:26); “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Act 13:46); “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16); “Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Rom 2:9-10).

Christ’s faithfulness

“For by grace [favor] are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9). Here Paul was not speaking of our faith but Christ’s faithfulness. We can be sure of this because he will go on to say a little later, “by the faith [faithfulness] of him” (Eph 3:11-12), “because of Christ’s faithfulness” (NET). He was teaching salvation by Christ’s faithfulness, not by the works of the law, “through faith [faithfulness]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works” (Eph 2:8-9). This corresponds to what he also taught the Galatians and Romans:

We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. (Galatians 2:15-16 NET).

For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. (Romans 3:20-22 NET)

The gift of God

“For by grace [favor] are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8). Calvinists insist that we believe because we’re saved and not that we’re saved because we believe. This is because in their soteriological system it’s necessary to get the cart before the horse to stay logically consistent. Therefore, they must maintain that “the gift of God” in this verse is our faith. But Paul wasn’t even talking about our faith but Christ’s faithfulness. Therefore, all of this wrangling about faith being a gift is a complete non-issue that distracts and wastes our time, “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2Ti 2:14).

Paul himself settled what he meant by “the gift of God” later in his letter: “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace [favor] of God which is given me to you-ward” (Eph 3:2); “Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace [favor] of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace [favor] given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;” (Eph 3:7-8); “But unto every one of us is given grace [favor] according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph 4:7). He stated several times that the gift is God’s favor—His favor toward His people.

Christ pleads in our favor

“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter [paraklētos 3875]” (Jhn 14:16); “But the Comforter [paraklētos 3875], which is the Holy Ghost [breath]” (Jhn 14:26); “But when the Comforter [paraklētos 3875] is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit [breath] of truth” (Jhn 15:26); “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter [paraklētos 3875] will not come unto you” (Jhn 16:7).

Just before His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to His Father, Christ taught His disciples about the Advocate which is the holy breath. Most English translations render the Greek paraklētos either as “Comforter,” “Counselor,” or “Helper,” but the New International Version renders it best as “Advocate.” John later wrote that the paraklētos is Jesus Christ Himself in His role as our Advocate with the Father, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate [paraklētos 3875] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1Jo 2:1).

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the noun advocate as “one who pleads the cause of another,” and the verb advocate as “to plead in favor of.” defines the noun as “a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor,” and the verb “to speak or write in favor of.” As God’s people, the favor we’re shown is that His Son advocates or intercedes for us at His right hand. When we sin and confess it, He advocates on our behalf and the Father forgives us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sinsAnd if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father” (1Jo 1:9, 2:1). Also, when we’re falsely accused and condemned by our enemies, He intercedes and the Father justifies or vindicates us from the charges, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect [chosen]? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom 8:33-34). God’s people are blessed with this favor before Him.

This is also what Paul taught the Ephesians, “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20), “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace [favor] ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:5-6). It’s by God’s favor that we’re saved—the favor of being represented by His Son seated at His right hand. Paul then went on to reiterate this favor by which we are saved, “For by grace [favor] are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]” (Eph 2:8). God’s people are saved by God’s favor through Christ’s faithfulness to die for their sins.


Bible translations have effectively expunged the idea of God’s favor toward His chosen people by rendering charis as “grace” throughout the New Testament. Rather than salvation coming to the world by God favoring His people and sending His Son to die for them, the gospel has become a generalized salvation to everyone that is severed from the promises made to Abraham.

Jesus Christ was talking about Himself as the Advocate through God’s holy breath (Jhn 14:16,26,15:26,16:7). An advocate pleads in favor of another and this is what He does. He doesn’t intercede for the rest of the world but only for God’s people. Therefore, His people are shown favor over everyone else. But the good news is that all nations and ethnicities of people can join themselves to this assembly of people and partake of this favor!

Paul’s statement, “For by grace [favor] are ye saved through faith [faithfulness]; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2:8), is taken to mean that people are saved by God’s grace through faith—through believing some facts about Jesus are true. However, Paul was saying that God’s people are saved by His favor through Christ’s faithfulness to shed His blood for them—that they’re saved by the gift of His favor.