There may be no clearer passage in the New Testament showing that salvation is a gift that we receive by faith. It cannot be earned by doing good deeds. From beginning to end salvation is a work of God on our behalf. All of this revolves around the cross of Christ and his taking the punishment for our sin.
Even dedicated believers need to be reminded of this fact because our hearts naturally veer off course, into a sort of legalism where we feel like we need to “do stuff” to earn God’s attention and love. Without this understanding of salvation sola fide (“by faith alone”), our entire Christian life will be affected–because this is the core of our understanding of the grace of God, the devastating effects of sin, and the inability of humans to merit salvation.[The end of this message got cut off. Yes, we’re still struggling to learn the fancy new recording equipment! So if you’re a techy and you’ve been looking to use your skills for God, we need you!]