“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:4-6)
There are several factors that are involved with one’s salvation. Man cannot be saved without the Word, as it is the Word whereby we read what we must do in order to be saved (Rom. 10:17), man cannot be saved without believing in Jesus as the Savior of mankind (John8:24), one cannot be saved without repenting of sins (Acts 17:30), salvation is not enjoyed without confession of Christ (Matt. 10:32), and one is not saved unless they are immersed/baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26ff; Mark 16:16). We understand these facts that are clearly seen and taught in Scripture, but what about grace? Doesn’t Ephesians 2:5 say very plainly that we are “saved by grace”? This has led to some stating that we are not saved by grace, although the Bible clearly states that we are, but have also led some to teach that we are saved by “grace only” and there is nothing else needed to be saved.
To better understand the Biblical doctrine of “grace” and how it saves mankind, as stated in Eph. 2:5, let us look at the definition of the word “grace.” Grace is simply defined as “unmerited favor.” The grace that comes from God is the unmerited favor given to those that stand at odds with God. Essentially, everyone that has reached an accountable age has needed this favor from God, as Rom. 3:23 tells us “All have sinned.” In every dispensation if time (patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian) man has depended upon the grace of God, but how does God give grace to mankind?
When discussing Eph. 2:5, there is a phrase that both sides of the argument often miss. The text does say that we are saved by grace (unmerited favor), but if you will read the words before this statement and the words after this statement you will find where man can access the grace of God. As Chapter 2 begins by reminding the reader that we were “dead in trespasses and sins” (v.1-3), we begin to read how we are made alive (“quickened”), which verse 5 tells us we are “quickened us together with CHRIST, (by grace are ye saved)” and verse 6 tells us we are “raised together and made us to sit together in heavenly places in CHRIST JESUS.”
When discussing this great passage, we must understand that it is by the grace (unmerited favor) of God that Jesus was sent to this earth because we were dead in sins and needed this gracious gift of Christ that was offered to make atonement for my sins! The only question that remains is how do we access this grace? We access the grace of God by doing the same thing the original readers of this letter were told to do prior to receiving this letter. Acts 19:1ff. Is the account of Paul coming to the city of Ephesus on his missionary journeys and finding a group of people that were baptized with the baptism of John, but he takes the opportunity to teach them of the baptism of Christ and it is in Acts 19:5 we begin to understand how the Ephesian brethren accessed the grace of God. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:5). We can access the grace of God when we do as they brethren at Ephesus did, obeying the Gospel, having the unmerited favor of God which is remission of sin through Christ Jesus.