“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Coincidental meetings and strings of connection illuminate God’s sovereign movement to fulfill His good purpose for our lives. He is active in our everyday lives, personally connected to the unique language of our hearts and minds, and surrounding us in creation as we walk throughout our days. “By grace you have been saved by faith” expresses God’s omnipotent plan for our lives, purposed to bring glory to His name through Christ Jesus.
Grace is all-inclusive and free for all. Faith is activated by the one who knit us together in the womb and has chosen us as His own. “Faith is the act of our soul that turns away from our own insufficiency to the free and all-sufficient resources of God,” John Piper wrote. “Whatever goodness faith sees, it sees as the fruit of grace.”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/kieferpix
What Does Paul Mean by, “Saved by Grace?”
“It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land … it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess …” (Deuteronomy 9:5-6).
God doesn’t choose to use people to further His good purposes based on their merit, but on His goodness and mercy. In the Old Testament, God worked through dysfunctional kings and prophets who had fears and hang-ups. In the New Testament, He chose Paul -who persecuted Christians - to establish churches and record a bulk of the New Testament.
We often fall victim to the misconceived notion we have to be better than the rest to be used by God. However, every person He chooses to accomplish big things, through both testaments of Scripture and beyond, were and are flawed. Saved by grace means Grace is free. No one is required to work earn it or retain it. It is an all-inclusive, no-strings-attached, free gift from God.
“Our faith is a gift of God. It is a divine creation. It is the work of grace when we were dead. It is not ‘from ourselves,’” John Piper explains. “Therefore, our faith is the mark of being chosen by God. He chose us to give us faith.” God’s character exudes His grace in that He chooses to show us kindness through salvation, even though we don’t deserve and could never earn it.
The Greek translation of saved conveys saving, safety, and rescue from danger or destruction. Our state without salvation is dangerous and destructive. Even in Christ, we are subject to the elements of this fallen world. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible points out “sincere righteousness flows from a transformed heart.”
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Cecilie Arcurs
Other Bible Translations of Ephesians 2:8
You are saved by God's grace because of your faith. This salvation is God's gift. It's not something you possessed. - Common English Bible
God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. - God's Word Translation
Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! - The Message Bible
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. - New Living Translation
"for by grace" - for by grace is not meant the Gospel, nor gifts of grace, nor grace infused; but the free favour of God
"through faith" - salvation is through faith, not as a cause or condition of salvation, or as what adds anything to the blessing itself; but it is the way, or means, or instrument, which God has appointed, for the receiving and enjoying it, that so it might appear to be all of grace; and this faith is not the produce of man's free will and power, but it is the free gift of God...it is not of our desiring nor of our deserving, nor of our performing, but is of the free grace of God (John Gills Exposition)
Why Does Paul Mention This Topic to the Ephesians?
This divine phraseology turned Jewish theology upside down. Jesus came to fulfill the Scriptures, not to change them. What the old law was missing was the Savior who freed them from the legalistic structure of laws. Faith fueled by grace with an authentic and obedient seeking of Christ naturally produces good works.
In the beginning chapters of his letter to the Ephesians, Paul is explaining “God’s eternal plan to unify all things in Christ, and how the church is to understand its call and identity- who it is, how it came about, and what it’s mission is within this plan” (NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible). Early Christians were tossed back and forth between their newfound faith in Christ and the legalistic remnants of the Jewish faith. For Gentiles, unaccustomed to Jewish traditions and laws but fully welcomed into new faith in Christ, confusion threatened to replace the freedom of grace with the guilt, shame, and futile attempts to earn grace by works. In order to clarify, Paul highlighted grace through faith. Neither grace nor faith are the work of human hands or accomplishment, but of our divine Father in heaven, and sacrificial death of our Savior Jesus Christ.
Grace by faith leveled the playing field between Jews and Gentiles. Both require faith in Christ to achieve salvation, and grace is the overarching source that bridges the separation we all experience from God upon birth, regardless of heritage or history. “God initiates our salvation, his love and mercy motivate it, and his grace grounds it” (NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible).
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/ktsimage
How Can Christians Apply This Verse Today?
Christ followers illuminate grace and bring glory to God by seeking Christ first in everyday life. When God is our go-to for provision, healing, wisdom, want, and need, our lives become authentic representations of what it means to be saved by grace through faith. The following are just four highlights:
1. Be Quick to Forgive
Paul instructed the Colossians to forgive as quickly and completely as Jesus forgave them (Colossians 3:13). Our natural inclination is to seek apology, hold grudges, build walls and seek revenge and justification for our anger. Instead, grace by faith choses to forgive. Before the apology is received, when injustice is still looming over the situation, and we don’t feel like being kind, we choose to forgive forward. Only someone who has been forgiven in that way can exude and extend that type of peace.
Anyone in Christ has received forgiveness, reconciliation, restoration, peace and freedom in salvation. “Though we are saved by God’s unconditional, electing grace (Ephesians 1:4; 2:5), through the free gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8), the works our faith produces prove our faith is real (James 2:18),” wrote Jon Bloom.
2. Paying Grace Forward
One sunny day at the pool, my daughter came to me with a small notebook, which to my mothering eye-roll contained a list full of things her younger sister had done wrong in the last hour. She thought informing me would be wise, but she failed to take the plank out of her own eye first.
God created us to pay grace forward. It’s who we are. When we give the amount of grace we’d like to receive, we are actively recognizing our human limitations and propensity towards sin. We acknowledge our desire for future forgiveness and grace on account of our own imperfections, and therefore submit the authority of our lives to allow the grace of God to flow through us, by faith in Christ.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/seb_ra
“To answer before listening- that is folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
The world as of late has had crash course in listening, and discerning which voices speak wisdom and truth. Grace saved by faith listens whole-heartedly. Listening doesn’t stop at the ear, it transcends the heart of who we are. True listening, with the intent to genuinely understand, changes our perspective and matures our minds and hearts. Listening is a breeding ground for compassion and kindness, empathy and understanding. The Message paraphrase of Proverbs 18:13 reads, “answering before listening is both stupid and rude.”
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your souls and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
Love lives saved by grace. Love gives us the freedom, through faith, to embrace our God-given purpose, to enjoy the blessings of this life and to endure the extreme hardships we face. Love empowers us, is in us, and flows through us as we seek Love, daily.
God is love. He is Grace. Embracing His love for us allows us to genuinely love others, spotlight His grace and glorifying His name. In all we do, amidst the communities we’ve been placed, love points to the gospel …the greatest expression of love for all time.
Each day we wake to breathe, our purpose is to bring glory to God. Beginning each day pouring over His Word in prayer prepares our hearts for what God only knows is in store. Each day we come to Him for the day’s portion of grace, and He faithfully gives us all we need. Like the manna He provided for the Israelites in the desert, we can rely on God to daily provide what we need. Grace, provision, patience, joy, peace, freedom, forgiveness, mercy, justice, defense, love, compassion, empathy, beauty … saved by grace … in faith.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Comstock
Meg writes about everyday life within the love of Christ as an author, freelance writer, and blogger at Sunny&80. Her first book, “Friends with Everyone,” is available on amazon.com. She earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters. Besides writing, she leads a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. She lives in Northern Ohio with her husband, Jim, and two daughters.