How exactly does grace save someone?


#1

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. (Eph.2:8-9)

What is meant by the word, “grace” here, and how specifically, is grace manifested in a person’s life so that a person becomes saved?


#2

The undeserved merits of Our Lord which we as adopted sons and daughters of God obtain through the Sacraments–the thing which both sanctifies and cleanses us, and enables us to do that which we otherwise could not…:smiley:


#3

It saves us by being present in our souls, making them beautiful – beautiful because it is the beauty of God’s nature that is present. It saves us by strengthening the faculties of our souls (intellect and will) to resist sin and live in accordance with God’s will. When we do that we have overcome sin; we’ve been saved from sin.

Grace means unmerited gift, and there are many graces (gifts) we receive from God. Catholic teaching speaks of two categories of grace:

  1. sanctifying grace
  2. actual graces (these include all the many temporary helps and gifts God grants us to help us in our “acts” - thus the term actual grace.

The grace referred to in the Ephesians passage is sanctifying grace.
**It is God’s gift of a share in His supernatural life and is meant to be continuously present in us. ** (However, we lose it when we commit serious sin; but if we repent and confess, it is restored to our souls.)
2 Peter 1:4 …He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.
1 John 3:9 No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him.
Eph 4:18 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God

Sanctifying grace makes our souls spiritually alive. Prior to the reception of this grace, our souls (tho naturally alive) are supernaturally/spiritually dead
John 10:10 I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

**He infuses this life into our souls to strengthen them, **that is, to strengthen our desire and resolve to reject evil and live according to His teaching. It is the power of His life that enable us to convert our lives – be saved from committing sin.
Eph 1:19 …greatness of His power in us who believe
Eph 3:16-20 …strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, …may have the power to comprehend… Now to him who by the power at work within us…
1 Thess 1:5 for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit
Heb 13:9 …for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace,

It is the source of our sanctification. The more we become imitators of Christ, the more we become holy as He is holy.
We receive this grace in baptism.
Eph 4:24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
1 Cor 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Sanctifying grace is not something that we experience in a dramatic emotional way. I like to compare it to the way nutritious foods work to strengthen us physically. The proteins and vitamins work without us even thinking about it. We don’t feel a thing, but they are crucial to maintaining physical life.

Nita


#4

Hi Nick,

The basic meaning of “grace” (lat."gratia, gk “charis”) is “favor”, in other words “free gift”. Whatever kind of grace we are talking about, we cannot ever merit grace. It is God working in us and through us.

Verbum


#5

The passage I quoted in my OP from Ephesians tells us that we have been saved by grace, through faith. It doesn’t mention anything about sacraments at all! It also says, “not by works”, which means that whatever works we have been enabled to do, have no part in saving us from our sins.


#6

I must respectfully disagree. The passage mentions nothing at all about “strengthening the faculties of our souls (intellect and will) to resist sin and live in accordance with God’s will” or that our salvation is based on our own good works (resisting sin).

Grace means unmerited gift, and there are many graces (gifts) we receive from God. Catholic teaching speaks of two categories of grace:

  1. sanctifying grace
  2. actual graces (these include all the many temporary helps and gifts God grants us to help us in our “acts” - thus the term actual grace.

The grace referred to in the Ephesians passage is sanctifying grace.
**It is God’s gift of a share in His supernatural life and is meant to be continuously present in us. ** (However, we lose it when we commit serious sin; but if we repent and confess, it is restored to our souls.)

Here you seem to be intent upon making the free gift into a good work (but if we repent and confess, it is restored to our souls.) The passage does not allow this, for what is given for free cannot be earned.

2 Peter 1:4 …He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.
1 John 3:9 No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him.
Eph 4:18 they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God

In each of these, it is grace (through faith) that makes the sinner justified (righteous) before God.

Sanctifying grace makes our souls spiritually alive. Prior to the reception of this grace, our souls (tho naturally alive) are supernaturally/spiritually dead
John 10:10 I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Eph 2:5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)

**He infuses this life into our souls to strengthen them, **that is, to strengthen our desire and resolve to reject evil and live according to His teaching. It is the power of His life that enable us to convert our lives – be saved from committing sin.
Eph 1:19 …greatness of His power in us who believe
Eph 3:16-20 …strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, …may have the power to comprehend… Now to him who by the power at work within us…
1 Thess 1:5 for our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit
Heb 13:9 …for it is well that the heart be strengthened by grace,

It is the source of our sanctification. The more we become imitators of Christ, the more we become holy as He is holy.
We receive this grace in baptism.
Eph 4:24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
1 Cor 6:11 But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

Sanctifying grace is not something that we experience in a dramatic emotional way. I like to compare it to the way nutritious foods work to strengthen us physically. The proteins and vitamins work without us even thinking about it. We don’t feel a thing, but they are crucial to maintaining physical life.

I agree that sanctification does strengthen us. But as far as what it is that makes us saved, it is all a free gift. We have been saved by grace through faith.


#7

I agree.


#8

If you are speaking of the Eph passage in your opening post, I know it doesn’t. But your question was “how…” I was responding to your question. The passage itself does not speak about how the grace operates to save us.

Here you seem to be intent upon making the free gift into a good work (but if we repent and confess, it is restored to our souls.) The passage does not allow this, for what is given for free cannot be earned.

??? I said it is God’s gift. One doesn’t earn a gift.
But, having been given a gift, if one mangles and throws it out, the giver may require some actions on the part of the receiver before restoring it to him again. (analogy of the repent and confess)

In each of these, it is grace (through faith) that makes the sinner justified (righteous) before God.

I agree. But it is grace working IN us, in our souls (intellect & will). The passions in the world that corrupt (that Peter speaks of) are the disordered passions in each one of us born into this world. These are interior. By the strengthening God’s grace gives to us, these passions can be resisted and overcome and lose their power to corrupt us, that is, lead us to willfully sin. The initial reception of grace does not immediately eliminate these passions from within us. It would be wonderful if it did, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

You know, we really do have to become righteous before God will say we are righteous. He neither pretends or lies. Anyone who thinks they can appear before God with sin in them (envy, greed, hate, etc.) and God will say they are righteous anyway really needs to do some self examination. That is equivalent to saying God is a liar.

Nita


#9

Hi Nita! I do believe the passage (Eph. 2:8-9) does mention HOW grace operates to save us. It tells us:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

The gift given for free (by grace) is faith in Jesus. The bible tells us that sin is what separates us from God and His kingdom, and that righteousness is attained by faith. This faith by which we are made righteous is not from ourselves, it is given to us by God as a free gift–not by works, so that no one can boast.

??? I said it is God’s gift. One doesn’t earn a gift.
But, having been given a gift, if one mangles and throws it out, the giver may require some actions on the part of the receiver before restoring it to him again. (analogy of the repent and confess)

All of us mangle it and throw it out. All of us are sinners. No one is righteous in themselves. Our righteousness is only in Christ, on the basis of faith. It sounds as though you are trying to find a way of distancing yourself from those who are unsaved by your own actions. This passage from Ephesians tells us that it isn’t our own actions that make us saved, for we have been saved by grace, which by definition, is free.

I agree. But it is grace working IN us, in our souls (intellect & will). The passions in the world that corrupt (that Peter speaks of) are the disordered passions in each one of us born into this world. These are interior. By the strengthening God’s grace gives to us, these passions can be resisted and overcome and lose their power to corrupt us, that is, lead us to willfully sin. The initial reception of grace does not immediately eliminate these passions from within us. It would be wonderful if it did, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

But fortunately, we have been (past tense) saved by grace, through faith.

You know, we really do have to become righteous before God will say we are righteous. He neither pretends or lies. Anyone who thinks they can appear before God with sin in them (envy, greed, hate, etc.) and God will say they are righteous anyway really needs to do some self examination. That is equivalent to saying God is a liar.

I agree. But the WAY we have become righteous is by grace, through faith.


#10

I don’t disagree with the Eph statement. But it is certainly not the only verse in Scripture that pertains to our salvation.

I think part of the problem may be that we use the same words but have different meanings/definitions for them.

  1. What is your definition of “faith”?

  2. Also, how do you describe/define this “grace” spoken of in the Ephesians passage? What does this free gift/grace consist of?

Nita


#11

Hi Nick,

There’s another thread going on in this forum titled:

“Works salvation----the real question”

It’s addressing the same issues you’re raising. If you haven’t checked it out yet you might like to. I’ve been responding on both and am having trouble remembering what I said where :confused: !!!

Nita


#12

#13

The passage I quoted in my OP from Ephesians tells us that we have been saved by grace, through faith. It doesn’t mention anything about sacraments at all! It also says, “not by works”, which means that whatever works we have been enabled to do, have no part in saving us from our sins.

Yes, and as it has been asked: “What is faith?” At least, “What is faith according to your understanding of it?” Notice, first of all, that sola fide (the proposition that we are saved by faith alone) is here refuted with sola gratia.

Faith is the supernatural gift from God which enables us to transcend merely the empirical and soar above the world of natural reason to heights unknown… Faith–a living faith, that is–works itself out in love. (Jas. 2:20; Gal. 5:6) God’s grace, then, becomes manifest both in our belief and in our deeds… Catholic theology (which you are by no means coerced to agree with) holds that since we could never merit our own salvation (no matter how much we tried), Christ did it for us. Therefore, when we walk according to the faith given us, it is not us, but him. (Gal. 2:20) Our faith is not our own; it is, as the verse from Ephesians said, “the gift of God.” Therefore, when we believe, it is not our merit, but Christ’s, who believed long before us and now gives us his belief. When we love and act upon this love, it is not our merit, but his, for he loved “to the end,” and gave us this love as adopted sons and daughters.

Grace is, most of all, what unites us to Christ in everything we do, be it big or small. In grace through faith, we allow Christ to work in us and through us. When we act according to his Will, our actions are united with his, our sufferings with his Passion, our triumphs with his Resurrection–and his merit becomes our own.

Grace cleanses and sanctifies us, allowing him to dwell in us and work through us, making us new creations in him. It is somewhere in this restoration and in this union with our Savior that salvation is found (without being unnecessarily complex). Salvation is from sin and death–but it is more than a negation of these, but a real bond between man and God, between myself and Christ.

And as for the Sacraments, I’d like to point out that I too see nothing in particular in this passage referencing them–but Scripture is to be viewed as a whole, not in fragmented parts. I think Sacramental grace is simple in many ways: For instance, when we are brought to the baptismal pool (or when we come, depending on age; I wasn’t baptized as an infant, being brought up in the Baptist church) it is not the bringing/coming that matters so much as God coming to meet us there. Sure, he moves our parents/us to draw nigh, but it is he who comes to fill the gap. Christ speaks of being born of “Spirit and water”; remove the Spirit, and what’s left? Just water. The Sacraments are about God, inspired by his unending love for us, coming to meet us and touch us. This is the ultimate grace! The grace that both heals and saves… In Baptism, we are made new and cleansed. In the Eucharist, strengthened and nourished, in Confirmation, empowered, so as to continually become more renewed in the glorious image of Our Creator.

Grace is amazing, and will give you a headache if you try to focus only on its theological nature. Grace will make your heart sing when you begin to look at it in terms of the greatest love imaginable.


#14

Beautiful Truthinator.

Nita


#15

My emphasis] No, no, no - no way :eek: :slight_smile: Grace makes righteous - in no sense whatever does it presuppose any. That’s the whole point - there is no way at all in which sinners can deserve grace; God justifies sinners, no one else, because nobody else has need of justification - nobody else exists: only sinners.

God takes the unrighteous as they are, just as they have come to Him through His Son Whom He Loves, & makes them, unrighteous as they are, righteous in & through & for Christ, Who is their Righteousness. They do not in the slightest deserve grace - therefore, grace is what they receive; not because of anything in them, but sheerly & merely because of Christ. He is their Sole, Sufficient, Mediator, & His Mediation & His Atoning Work keep them & make them acceptable to His Father. Of themselves & in themselves they are entitled to nothing but damnation.

So:
[LIST]
*]our deadly unrighteousness is exchanged for the Life-giving Righteousness of Christ
*]our sin for His Holiness
*]our death for His Life
*]our rebellion for His Obedience
*]our hatred of God for His Love
*]our pride for His Humility[/LIST]- all good is in Him, all depravity in us. He took our evil & sin on Himself, & paid our debt in full & more than in full; so He has reconciled us completely to His Father. Where we come in is, that what He has done, must have its effects - & as we live in time & space, it is effective in time & space.

Salvation has to be from grace - every other work of God (such as creation) is from grace, so what basis can there be for salvation to come on any but gracious terms ? Salvation through grace is a form of contingency - it is a sovereignly free Divine act, just like any other of the works of God. Grace is utterly free for us, because it cost God nothing less than everything. We can’t pay for it at all, because there is no cost that needs paying, no price outstanding: God made man has paid it. So salvation is through grace alone; if we are to have it, it must come to us freely & unconditionally. Otherwise we cannot have it at all. :smiley: :slight_smile:


#16

Hi Gottle
Guess I didn’t say it properly. Will try to clarify.
We do have to become righteous - but I didn’t mean to imply that we are the ones who do it; it is accomplished by the power of God’s grace in us, and us cooperating with that power. As Scripture says “Nothing unclean” shall enter heaven.

I thought I had made it perfectly clear in my posts that it is grace alone that saves us. We neither merited the restoration of that grace for mankind nor did we do anything to earn it. Which should be VERY obvious since Catholics baptize babies who are incapable of doing any work, including making a profession of faith!! We believe that saving grace is infused in the soul at Baptism. At Baptism our souls truly are made righteous; that is, nothing unrighteous - sin - remains. Unless we die immediately tho, most of us end up sinning again.

If one willfully remains in unrepented sin, his soul is not righteous; it is sinful. God is truth; He is not going to look at a soul still full of sin and say it is righteous. We must become righteous and it is God who has the power to accomplish it. We just have to cooperate with Him for He is not going to force it on anyone.

You speak of all the “exchanges” that take place. I agree that they MUST take place. For example: “our sin for His holiness”. I am presuming you mean that literally. (At least I do)
*Mt 5:48 You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.*Sin has to be removed from our being before we actually ARE righteous. If we choose to stay in our sin, then it has not been exchanged for Our Lord’s holiness.

God does not accomplish this work of perfecting us without our consent and cooperation. (eg. when temptation arises and He gives us grace to resist, we have to cooperate and actually choose not to sin. He leaves us with free will.)

You say “…what He has done must have its effects…”. I agree - if you mean it must have the effect of converting us to live according to God’s will. If it doesn’t, one may find that the grace he has been freely given will be “taken away”. (Mt 13:3-12)

Nita


#17

For the nature of faith (how we might recognize saving faith in a person), I think James Chapter two (verses 14-24) shows us what saving faith would look like, since James is dealing with the nature of faith in that passage.

As for the nature of grace, we can be certain of the following:

  1. By definition, grace is a free gift. It cannot be based upon our own worthiness in any way.

  2. It is absolutely necessary for salvation. All of us need it since we have nothing but sin to bring before God.

  3. Not everyone wants grace; lots of people do not see themselves as lost sinners and will have nothing to do with grace, or with God.

  4. Lots of people who never wanted grace will receive it and thus become saved by grace, through faith. I was once an atheist who never wanted anything to do with God, or His grace. I was given His grace even though I hated God. It was by grace that I finally began to see that I was a lost and miserable sinner that needed Jesus.


#18

Oral teaching is fine as long as it is teaching what the apostles had been teaching. See Gal. 1:6-10

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.


#19

Sola fide is refuted with sola gratia? Not unless there is some way that faith (saving faith) can be attained without grace. As Scripture says, “there is no one who seeks God” and, “all of us, like sheep, have gone astray.” The way grace is manifested in our salvation is that without grace, no one would want what is good (God), no one would see their need for mercy, and we would all remain focused only on the trivial concerns of our daily lives.


#20

Here again, it seems as though you are giving your own good works some kind of role in your salvation, as if grace is not completely free after all:

it is accomplished by the power of God’s grace in us, and us cooperating with that power.

So, if I understand you correctly, you could be saved while another person is condemned…because your cooperation with that power was sufficient (you were good enough in some ways), while the condemned person’s cooperation was not sufficient (the condemned person just wasn’t quite good enough). This emphasis on your own goodness (your cooperation) takes the credit and all of the glory away from God and His free gift, and places YOUR GOODNESS at the very center of what has supposedly saved you. It is a complete nullification of grace. Either grace is a free gift (no cooperation demanded) or grace has some non-grace meaning that demands your own goodness in order for it to be useful.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.