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Salvation by grace through faith is at the heart of the Christian religion. “For it is by grace, you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
(Ephesians 2:8-9). The statement has three parts— salvation, grace, and faith—equally important. The three together constitute a basic tenet of Christianity.
Salvation is “the act of being delivered, redeemed, or rescued.” The Bible tells us that, since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, each person is born in sin inherited from Adam: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Sin is what causes all of us to die. Sin separates us from God and destines each person to eternal separation from Him in hell. What each of us needs is to be delivered from that fate. In other words, we need salvation from sin and its penalty.
The grace of God is His undeserved favor bestowed on those He has called to salvation through His love (Ephesians 2:4-5). It is His grace that saves us from sin. We are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Being justified, we are vindicated and determined to be sinless in the eyes of God. Our sin no longer separates us from Him and no longer sentences us to hell. Grace is not earned by any effort on our part; otherwise, it could not be called grace. Grace is free. If our good works earned salvation, then God would be obligated to pay us our due. But no one can earn heaven, and God’s blessings are not His obligation; they flow from His goodness and love. No matter how diligently we pursue works to earn God’s favor, we will fail. Our sin trips us up every time. “By the deeds of the law, no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20 KJV).
The means God has chosen to bestow His grace upon us is through faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Salvation is obtained by faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in what He has done—specifically, His death on the cross and His resurrection. But even faith is not something we generate on our own. Faith, as well as grace, is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). He bestows saving faith and saving grace upon us in order to redeem us from sin and deliver us from its consequences. So God saves us by His grace through the faith He gives us. Both grace and faith are gifts. “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Psalm 3:8 ESV).
By grace, we receive the faith that enables us to believe that He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and provide the salvation we cannot achieve on our own. Jesus, God in the flesh, is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).
The Lord died for our sins and rose for our justification, and He forgives, freely and fully, those who accept His gift of grace in Christ—and that acceptance comes through faith. This is the meaning of salvation by grace through faith.
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