Ephesians 2:8 states “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
The belief that God saves sinners through His grace alone isn’t a new or revolutionary thought. It’s something that is seen clearly throughout Scripture, especially throughout the Gospels, as Jesus was conducting his ministry on Earth. Many groups will agree that it is indeed by the Grace of God that we are saved, but then attach a list of other things that you must also do. When this becomes the case, it no longer becomes grace alone. Whether that be tithes, baptism, or works, it should not be seen as a factor that is necessary for salvation.
Though these things are ways that people show obedience to God, regarding them as things necessary for salvation takes away from God’s grace. Instead of rightfully placing the focus on God and His grace, it is instead placed on what people can do. At the time of the Reformation, it was the selling of indulgences–payments in the form of money–that were meant to absolve one of sins or lessen one’s time in purgatory by the decree of the church. Today there may not be any selling of indulgences (as far as I know), but there are still church groups out there today who add to the Gospel.
Regardless of how it is revised, the Gospel’s truth is this: everybody is a sinner who has fallen short and is doomed for eternity until God, in His grace, sent his Son to do what no one else could do. Jesus came to Earth in the flesh and lived a sinless life only to die a sinner’s death, being resurrected three days later to show victory over this death. It is because of God’s grace that we too have victory over sin and death. All we have to do is repent and turn to God and his divine grace alone for our salvation.
It is God’s grace that is so great as to take on the punishment for our sins while we were actively still living in rebellion to him. It is that grace that cannot be found in any works or have any monetary value. It is that grace alone that saves us! With that being said, works definitely shouldn’t be absent from a believer’s life. A life that has been changed by the mercy and grace of God.
Do not let works become your main goal and think you’re earning favor in God’s eyes. Let it instead come because of God’s grace in your life. John Piper, a theologian, explained this really well, stating, “It is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.”