When reading today’s verse, you may begin to wonder, are we saved by faith alone?
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.-Ephesians 2:8-9, NAB
In most Protestant denominations, they believe in the doctrine of sola fide, or faith alone. This doctrine states that we are saved by faith, not works, just as we learn in today’s verse. So as Catholics, have we gotten it all wrong?
Actually, if we look closer at today’s verse, it tells us that “by grace you have been saved.through faith (emphasis added).” In other words, should it really be sola gratia, not sola fide? Possibly. Catholics do not disagree that because of our faith, we are saved by God’s grace, but this is an incomplete picture. Let’s look at the very next verse:
For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them. -Ephesians 2:10, NAB
Immediately following the verse that defines sola fide comes a verse discussing good works. So are we saved through works? No. As I explained when discussing this topic on other posts (such as here), our works are proof of our faith. If we have faith, we will have works; it is Christ’s plan for us – just as verse 10 describes.
Essentially, faith and works go together like peanut butter and jelly. Our works cannot save us because we cannot earn our way to Heaven; however, James 2:17 also tells us that faith without works is dead. Together, though, our works are evidence of our faith, and because of that faith, we are saved by God’s grace.
The doctrine of sola fide, or faith alone, gives an incomplete picture of Scripture. When reading any verse, it is important to understand it in the context of surrounding verses, and the Bible as a whole. At face value, today’s verse may support sola fide, but in the larger scope of the Bible, that concept falls apart. To understand the whole truth, we have to understand the whole Bible.