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.