What does “saved by grace through faith” mean?: Understanding Ephesians 2:8-9
What does it mean to be saved by grace through faith? In this blog post, we will attempt to answer this very question!
Ephesians 2:8-9 is a key Bible passage that shows us the very heart of the Christian faith. Apostle Paul states:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”Ephesians 2:8-9
Let us now dive deeper into the meaning of being “saved by grace through faith”. We’ll do this via investigating the three entwining notions contained within this Bible verse – salvation, grace, and faith.
In addition, we’ll also examine the false belief of “saved by grace and works” – a popular misconception held by some Christians today.
What does it mean to be saved by grace through faith? (Ephesians 2:8-9)
In this section, we’ll sequentially explore the biblical notions of salvation, grace, and faith. This will give us the broader context to better expound on the meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9.
1. The nature of salvation
God’s salvation refers to His rescuing us from sin and all its consequences. This includes spiritual death and our eternal separation from Him (Romans 6:23; Romans 10:9-10).
As a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3; Romans 5:19), all of humanity fell into our sinful nature. This has led to our spiritual estrangement from God, our Creator.
The Bible tells us that we can’t fix our broken relationship with God by ourselves. Our inherently sinful nature means that, even with our best intentions, we will fall short of God’s perfect standards of goodness (Isaiah 64:6; Philippians 3:9). In short, God is absolutely holy; we are not.
However, God gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who came to earth to live a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). He sacrificed his innocent life on the cross, paying for the spiritual debt that was actually ours (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus’ subsequent resurrection also proves his divine power over death itself (John 2:18-22).
Thus, through our faith in Jesus, God has given us an atoning path to be forgiven for our sins and reconciled with Him. We receive the loving gift of eternal life in heaven (John 3:16; John 11:25-26).
This is the heart of God’s salvation through Christ.
Check out these Bible verses about Jesus dying for our sins.
2. Grace: God’s unmerited gift
In the context of salvation, God shows us grace by providing a way for us to be saved.
Jesus Christ, who did no wrong, paid the penalty for our sins on our behalf (John 3:16). That is God’s grace to us. Salvation is only possible because He deemed it so.
Our own self-righteousness has not earned us such divine forgiveness (Titus 3:5). Salvation is a holy and priceless gift from God that shows us His undeserved kindness, love, and mercy to us.
In short, without God’s grace, humanity has no hope for heaven. Our flawed efforts can’t achieve a right relationship with Him. Only Christ alone, who is perfect, is able to reconcile us to a state of righteousness before our heavenly Father (John 14:6).
Here are some inspiring Bible verses about God’s love for you!
3. Faith: Our trust in God
Our faith is not simply about intellectual belief alone, though the logic and reason of apologetics may help people with the process of believing.
However, on a deeper level, faith is our spiritual response to God’s grace and gift of salvation (Galatians 3:26). We live by faith as we actively learn to trust God, His character, and His promises (2 Corinthians 5:7; Proverbs 3:5-6).
This trust supernaturally transforms our lives as we pursue Jesus and carry out his teachings (Hebrews 11:1; James 2:14-17).
So… we’ve looked at salvation, grace, and faith. But what does Ephesians 2:8-9 really mean?
Paul brings to light the link between grace and faith in the context of salvation. “By grace you have been saved, through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).
In other words, it is through God’s grace that we are able to receive salvation. And by our faith, we trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior (Romans 5:2). Salvation, grace, and faith all play a crucial part.
Paul also reminds us that such grace is “not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Simply put, again, we can’t earn salvation through our good deeds alone. Instead, we rely solely on God’s love, grace, and mercy (Romans 5:8; Psalm 62:8). Thus, we are kept humble, since none of us can ever claim to ‘deserve’ salvation by virtue of our own self-righteousness (Galatians 2:16).
Here are 4 tips on how to come back to God if you’ve backslidden.
Comparing “saved by grace through faith” to “saved by grace and works”
The biblical truth of being saved by grace through faith in Christ stands against the false idea of “saved by grace and works”.
Some religious traditions teach that, in addition to God’s grace, our good deeds and adherence to religious practices play a role in our salvation.
Above all, this mistaken idea implies that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice somehow isn’t enough, and our own supplementary efforts are also required to be saved.
The erroneous notion of “saved by grace and works” comes from a common misinterpretation of James 2:26.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.James 2:26 (for a broader context, read James 2:14-26)
Some people thus assume that good works are required for salvation. But it’s a mistake for us to take the Bible phrase out of context.
The true meaning of “faith without works is dead” centers on the fact that genuine saving faith in God naturally leads to our greater desire to do good works on earth, for His greater glory.
On the other hand, if someone claims to have faith in God but doesn’t care at all to demonstrate love towards others through their actions, their faith may not actually be genuine.
Why could this be the case?
Well, Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15). And two of his key commandments for us are to sincerely love God, and to also love others (Matthew 22:37-40).
Loving others thus means our genuine willingness to do good deeds for people, not simply ourselves (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 5:14-16; Galatians 6:9-10).
This gives broader context to what James means. That is, “faith without works is dead” insofar as an inner lack of wanting to do any good works points to a lack of truly loving God and the people He created.
In short, James is talking about the practical impact of genuine faith. Our good works are not a prerequisite of God’s salvation. But they are an outward fruit and byproduct of truly walking with Jesus. Above all, our loving deeds are an expression of our trust in God and our spiritual transformation through His grace.