“Salvation by grace alone” is a sweet sounding phrase in the ear of the Christian. Here’s a nice explanation of this truth by Charles Hodge:
Another decisive fact is that salvation is of grace. The two ideas of grace and works; of gift and debt; of undeserved favour and what is merited; of what is to be referred to the good pleasure of the giver, and what to the character or state of the receiver, are antithetical. The one excludes the other. “If by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” Rom. 11:6.
Nothing concerning the plan of salvation is more plainly revealed, or more strenuously insisted upon than its gratuitousness, from beginning to end. “Ye are saved by grace,” is engraved upon almost every page of the Bible, and in the hearts of all believers.
(1.) It was a matter of grace that a plan of salvation was devised for fallen man and not for fallen angels. (2.) It was a matter of grace that that plan was revealed to some portions of our race and not to others. (3.) The acceptance, or justification of every individual heir of salvation is a matter of grace. (4.) The work of sanctification is a work of grace, i.e., a work carried on by the unmerited, supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. (5.) It is a matter of grace that of those who hear the gospel some accept the offered mercy, while others reject it. All these points are so clearly taught in the Bible that they are practically acknowledged by all Christians. Although denied to satisfy the understanding, they are conceded by the heart, as is evident from the prayers and praises of the Church in all ages and in all its divisions.
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015