Just about everyone and their mother’s brother’s cousin’s sister’s best friend’s dog knows the song “Amazing Grace” written by the awesome John Newton.
“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
One little line out of an entire song captures a truth so rich and deep you can ponder it for eons and still not mine every blessing out of it.
Sola gratia, which means “by grace alone,” like the other two solas we’ve discussed thus far in our journey down the line of awesomeness known as the Five Solas of the Reformation, is a foundational pillar of the Christian faith, a doctrine which further helps us see the truth and beauty of the gospel of Christ.
The Reformers believed — and the Bible teaches — human beings are saved by faith alone in Jesus Christ, that the removal of the wrath of God from sinners cannot be accomplished by obedience to the law, but through faith in the perfect covenant-keeping, law abiding Son of God. (Eph. 2:8)
However, this faith believers possess doesn’t come from themselves, but is itself a gift from God, an expression of grace toward the Lord’s chosen people. (Eph 2:9)
Grace can be easily defined as unmerited favor.
Allow me to explain.
Due to the total depravity of man and our constant desire to walk in our own ways and not obey or worship the One True God, we are by nature, law breakers who are absolutely deserving of God’s wrath. (Eph. 2:3)
There are none who are righteous. No one seeks after God, and therefore, we all fall short of His glory, sinning against His greatness, making us vessels only fit for destruction. (Rom. 3:10-12)
Rather than toss all of humanity into the fiery pits, crushing us for all eternity, God chose to save some, giving them what they didn’t deserve — salvation — as an act of grace, while giving Jesus who was innocent what we actually did deserve. (Eph 2:4-7)
This is grace. Human beings not getting what they deserve and instead receiving what they don’t deserve as a free gift in love from the God of all creation.
Therefore, salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
Salvation is a gift that cannot be earned by vain attempts to follow God’s law, which initially serves as a tool of condemnation to drives us to the feet of the Savior.
We’re all born dead in trespasses and sin, totally depraved creatures with a nature that only desires sin and is at enmity with God. We don’t, in our natural state, want anything to do with the Lord. We cannot choose Him because dead men — and women — don’t make choices. (Eph. 2:1-2)
Before we can have faith in Christ and the gospel, we first have to be made spiritually alive, born again, a feat that is, of course, absolutely impossible since we’re, you know, dead. (John 3:3-17)
Raising human beings to spiritual life requires the outside actions of another, which is the Holy Spirit. This work of regeneration and the subsequent faith in Christ that follows are both acts of grace, given freely to us by God without any help or contributions from ourselves.
Therefore, all of salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not something earned through man’s efforts, which truly makes the love displayed on the cross indescribably beautiful.
Up next: solus Christus