If living in the Western civilization, you'd basically need to live under a rock to not at least be passingly familiar with the concept of saved through grace, and how it's pulled from Ephesians 2:8.
However, I'm wondering how much of that is taken in the correct context. Here's the verse in full: "For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God's gift. You were not delivered by your own actions; therefore no one should boast. For we are of God's making, created in union with the Messiah Yeshua for a life of good actions already prepared by God for us to do." -- Complete Jewish Bible, Ephesians 2:8-10.
I get how this translation is saying how no one earns their salvation. I don't see the corresponding factor that nothing we do has any merit, or that people are incapable of earning the salvation. Rather, what it's saying is that any good work one does is a result of God's making. If God made us to do good works, then we didn't independently generate those good works. Therefore, we can't take credit for them, because their not of our devising. They were 'already prepared' for us to do, and we were simply doing what we were created to do.
I also think Paul is unto an important idea here: that no one should boast. If in fact people could rack up enough brownie points to 'earn' heaven, then the good works become a chore, almost. They cease to be good because there's an expectation of reward. Which act is the good one? Someone who returns a purse simply because, or someone who returns a purse because there's a $500 reward? If that is applied in salvation: which person is good -- the person who helps the neighbor just because, or the person who helps because that gets him/her 200 points closer to heaven? The good work then becomes motivation by selfish interests.
The other problem with boasting: it's too often tied to pride, and that one person has an ability the other lacks. Given human nature, if salvation was a matter of doing enough to earn it, think of how quickly that would descend to: "I did 300 more good works than you did, so God likes me better." Or "I'm more worthy of salvation than you."
Instead, Paul almost seems to be saying to not worry about the works. They're already prepared for us, and they're taken care of. We're doing what we're supposed to be doing. Just relax and let go.
However, in a way, works do still 'save' people. Not by the concept of works earn salvation, but that good works demonstrate how grace works in one's life. Works are a way of expressing love, gratitude, compassion, light, and show that one chooses a life away from sin.