(How Are We Saved By Faith?) Bible Question
“My friend tells me that we are saved by faith only (according to Ephesians 2:8). Would you please explain this verse?”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; andthat not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” – Ephesians 2:8, 9 (New American Standard Bible)
The basic meaning of this passage is that we cannot “work” our way to heaven. No one can be good enough to deserve to be saved. So God devised the plan of salvation based on His grace and the blood of Jesus. There are really two parts to this. . .
God’s part = Grace
Our part = Faith
Everything that God does for us is a matter of grace (the blood of Jesus, the gospel, etc.). Everything we do in response to the grace of God is a matter of faith (repentance, baptism, etc.).
The only time “faith only” is found in the Bible is in James 2:24, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”. That should be clear enough that a first grader could understand it. Yet, some refuse to accept what God says. Yes, we are saved by faith. But not by faith only. If we were saved by faith only, we would not be saved by grace. If one of these is “only”, it rules out the other.
Actually, of course, faith leads us to obey the Lord. Notice Mark 16:16, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” Are we saved by baptism only? No. Are we saved by faith only? No. But faith leads one to be baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3, 4).
When Philip went down to Samaria, he preached Christ: “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike” (Acts 8:12). You will find that same pattern throughout the book of Acts (8:35 – 38; 16:30 – 34; 22:16; etc.). People heard the gospel of Christ, they believed in Him and thus were led to be baptized. That was salvation by “grace through faith”. It still is.
Faith is a work (John 6:29), but that doesn’t earn us salvation. Baptism is commanded by the Lord, but our obedience to that command doesn’t earn us salvation. We cannot obey perfectly enough to go to heaven. We cannot do enough to deserve it. That is the point of Ephesians 2:8. If we are saved, it must be by the grace of God.