googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: The Five Solas Part 3: Sola Gratia

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Five Solas Part 3: Sola Gratia

Sola Gratia means “grace alone.” In my last post on this series, we talked about Sola Fide (faith alone) and how we receive salvation simply by believing and not by works. In that post, I mentioned how faith is sometimes viewed as a work – that is, we believe God must save us because we believe. More simply put, it is the mistaken belief that we “earn” our salvation by believing.

Sola Gratia is the simple understanding that salvation is only available by the grace of God. “Grace,” by definition, means “unmerited favor.” God is not obligated to save us. In fact, God, who is perfectly just, would be justified to condemn us for our sins. He makes salvation available only because of His love for us. Furthermore, He only loves us because of who He is – not because of who we are or because of anything we’ve done.

To understand this fully, we need to consider the Biblical description of the condition of man before Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Consider these verses:

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:5

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jeremiah 17:9

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Isaiah 64:6

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Romans 3:10

Because of our hard heartedness, we have become like potsherds that strive against our Maker (Isaiah 45). The Potter who shaped the clay surely has the right to undo it. Likewise, how can we fault God, who made us, if He should decide to destroy us for our rebellion? But here is where the grace of God is shown:

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

The holy God, who would be just to pour His wrath on us because of our continuous rebellion against Him, instead sent His Son to suffer the wrath in our place. The chastisement of our peace was upon Him (Isaiah 53:5). Now that’s grace!

Another interesting verse to consider is Romans 6:23:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Ask yourself this: what are “wages”? Normally, wages are something you earn. They are what you deserve after you’ve worked for someone. But Romans says the “wages” of sin is death. The thing we “earn”, the thing we “deserve” for our work, is death. And what is a “gift”? A gift is given only by the grace of the giver. You don’t work for it. You don’t deserve. You only receive it.

That’s God grace for us. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. Our works have only earned us death. But instead, He gives us the gift of eternal life.

Sola Gratia – grace alone!

Further reading:

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