Recently I made a joke telling a friend that an action they were in the process of committing was a sin (even though we both knew I was joking). His response was, “saved by grace..” When he said it, it sort of struck me a little odd – what does saved by grace actually mean?
What he meant is that he is not saved by the actions he makes. So, what I was joking with him about has no bearing on his salvation. He means that it is by the ‘grace of God’ that he is saved, not by living a certain code. He is taking passages in the New Testament dealing with Gentile circumcision and broadly applying to all facets of life (not a slam on his viewpoint, just a definition).
I guess, while I agree with “saved by grace,” I struggle with the way that phrase is often lived out. Usually, when a person uses that phrase it comes off as, “well I’m saved by grace so this action or that action that I am in the midst of committing are cool.” Or they are a way of rejecting any sort of moral code imposed by a church or denomination. “Saved by grace” means that any sort of regulation imposed upon me is at its core legalism and not Biblical.
Ironically, saved by grace is a phrase found in the letters from Paul. In these letters, we find him giving directions moral/lifestyle commands. So those very people who quote Paul and say, “saved by grace, I can do this or that…it’s unbiblical to say this or that” really aren’t living lives that justify the Bible, they’re using the Bible to justify their lives.
I’m not even going to get into the whole process of its not about what I do that leads me to salvation. Because these same people all point to the moment of decision where they decided to get saved, say a prayer, etc. That looks like they’re doing something to be a part of their salvation. Perhaps saved by grace isn’t a license to live life however you feel like it should be lived!
My point is to say that when we start to say I'm saved by grace, I can do anything I want - they're missing the point of the passage as a whole. Saved by grace is pointing to the fact that salvation is a gift to us-the gift of life. To cut it down into just being a verse used to justify your lifestyle, is fail to understand this concept.