But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” – Ephesians 2:4-5

The Bible is replete with illustrations of God’s loving grace. I would like to bring four specific stories to light that are prime examples of how we are saved through God’s grace alone. First, in Genesis there is the story of how Adam and Eve sinned against God. After disobeying God’s direct command they tried to cover over their sin and shame using plant leaves. However, they did not realize the true cost of their sin; they would have to die. Upon passing judgment on the first people, God bestowed upon them not only a way to cover their shame, but also a prototype of how he would eventually redeem them. He covered them with animal skin. Implied in that statement is that an animal had to die and shed its blood in order to provide the skin. This was a clear foreshadowing of the idea that though the shedding of blood, Christ would clothe them with righteousness.

The second story comes from the moment when God was making a covenant with Abraham. The author of Genesis records the sacrificial animals of the covenant were split in half. The next step to solidifying the covenant would have been for Abraham and God to have passed between the split animals; however, Abraham fell asleep. Due to Abraham’s inability to fulfill his end of the covenant, God allowed both a “smoking fire pot and a flaming torch” to pass through the animal halves sealing the covenant without Abraham’s participation. In this instance the fire pot represented “Israel’s misery in the iron furnace of Egypt”[1] and the torch represented God’s presence. Here again the grace of God saves apart from anything that humanity had done.

The third story centers on Moses and the Ten Commandments. Unlike in most modern depictions, the Ten Commandments were not given with five written on each of the two tablets. Rather, the entire list of the Ten Commandments was written on each tablet. One tablet was for the people to keep reminding them of the requirements of their God, and the other one was for God to solidify the binding nature of the covenant. However, in practice, both of the tablets were kept in the Ark of the Covenant in the holiest of holies in the temple of Jerusalem[2][3]. This represented the Jews understanding that they were incapable of maintaining the covenant and required God’s help both in its maintenance and in forgiveness for breaking it. Yet again, man is unable to maintain his end of the bargain and so must resort completely to God’s grace for salvation.[4]

The final story and the story to which all others point is described in Colossians 2:13-14:

And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses. He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.

The debt we could not pay, the debt that required eternal separation from God, was nailed to a cross and expunged. There is no way through any means of our own that we could have paid or survived that debt. And so God in His infinite grace and mercy cancelled it through the death of His Son which paid it for it in full. This was all accomplished by God with no help on our part.  All of this points to one thing: God’s grace does it all!

[1] Matthew Poole’s Commentary on Genesis 15:17

[2] 1 Kings 8:9

[3] Hebrews 9:3-4

[4] Dr. Bruce Waltke, “Understanding the Old Testament: Lectures 5, 6”