The apostle Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).
Can anyone deny that we are saved by the immeasurable gift of the grace of God? Clearly, without God’s grace, we could not be saved. However, are we saved by “grace alone,” as many teach today. God’s word does not even suggest the idea.
Paul’s inspired words plainly teach that we must meet God’s grace with faith in order to be saved. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).Not because we deserved it, but because God loves us, He sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for us (John 3:16a). This is God’s grace. This same famous passage goes on to teach us that we must believe in Him in order to be saved (John 3:16b). This is where faith enters the picture.
Yet, if we do not have to do anything to be saved, because we are saved by grace only, as so many teach today, then where does that leave faith?
Just as Noah met the grace of God with faith, in that he prepared the ark when God told him what to do to save he and his household, we must have the same kind of faith (Heb. 11:7; Gen. 6:8, 22). Abraham met God’s grace with his faith when he obeyed God’s call to go to the place he would receive as an inheritance (Heb. 11:8). These, as well as the rest of that great cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11, all testify to us today that we must do something to be saved—we must meet God’s grace with our faith.
Some of you may agree with all that I have said up to this point, but suggest that “through faith” implies we simply have to believe in Jesus to be saved. While this is true, I think we would likely disagree as to what it means to believe in Jesus. Do we simply have to believe that He lived, died and rose again in order to be saved … or is there more to it? Can we believe that He was and then deny what He taught and still find salvation in Him through faith? This is why the gospel is the power of God to salvation to all believe it (Rom. 1:16).
Some of Jesus’ last words while on this earth plainly taught what one must do to become His disciple—to meet His Father’s grace with faith. Jesus told His disciples, before He ascended to His throne on the right hand of God, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16; consider also Gal. 3:26-27).
Likewise, Matthew records it this way, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19-20). How can anyone suggest they believe in Jesus, but deny some of His final instructions to His disciples? How can anyone deny the importance of baptism, for instance, as it relates to discipleship and salvation and still say they believe in Jesus? Was it not Jesus himself who condemned those who say “Lord, Lord” but do not do the things He says (read Luke 6:46)?
The point is we are not saved by “grace alone” … just as we are not saved by “faith alone” or “baptism alone!” We are saved when we choose to meet God’s grace with the faith that comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:13-17).