Basics of Salvation
What do we mean when we say that salvation is by God’s grace?
Salvation is a gift of God (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-10). This means it is by God’s grace that we can be forgiven of our sins. “Grace” indicates that God is willing, because He is merciful, to save us from our sins even though we do not deserve it. Grace means that God is giving us a gift we never could have earned, and for which we never could have done enough.
Because sin brings death, we could never deserve to have eternal life. Yet God has acted on our behalf so that we can know His will for us and we can understand how He wants us to be reconciled back to Him. Salvation, then, is not a matter of just being good enough, for we could never be good enough to do that. It is not a matter of just doing a bunch of tasks so that our slate is wiped clean. Grace means that God is giving us what our works could never provide.
Does this mean God doesn’t want us to do anything? No. In fact, grace teaches us to act upon His will (see Titus 2:11-14). When we understand what He has done for us, we should want to do what He tells us to do. While our works do not save us, the works that He tells us to do go hand in hand with the grace that He offers. Baptism, for example, is something God tells us to do, and He tells us that it is an act in which we are buried and raised up to walk a new life (Romans 6:3-5). We have earned nothing, but that doesn’t give us the freedom to ignore what God says.
There is a warning about grace. Grace does not give us permission to keep on sinning (Romans 6:1-2). Some try to turn grace into a license to do what they want, but this is clearly not right (Jude 3-4). If we will appreciate the gift that God offers, we need to appreciate the way of life He desires for us.
Thank God for His grace! We would still be dead in sin without it (Ephesians 2:1-4).