For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
In the Greco-Roman culture of Paul’s day, the language of “grace” and “faith” indicated a particular relationship, the friendship between a patron, or benefactor, and a client, or beneficiary. The patron freely extended his favor and friendship to an individual or a group. Those who trusted him and welcomed his gift entered freely into friendship with him. He became their friend and they became his. Their concerns became his concerns and his concerns became theirs, because they were now friends.
Through Jesus Christ, God freely extends His favor to us, inviting us into friendship with Him. We enter into this friendship through faith in the Lord Jesus, entrusting ourselves into His hands. Now we belong to Him and He belongs to us. Our concerns become His concerns and His concerns become ours. “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,” Peter says, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7).
This friendship we have with God through Jesus Christ is a participation in the life of God. It is the life of the age to come. It begins for us in this present age but also transcends this age. It is life that is both now and forever, just as God is both now and forever. In a word, this friendship with God is salvation.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith,” Paul says. This salvation is not a contract or an obligation but a relationship with God, a divine friendship that lasts forever. No loopholes, just love.