Sola: Grace

What Does Sola Grace Mean?

We are saved entirely by God

“And are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23–24 ESV)

Justification by faith is the hallmark of the Reformation. Notice here we are justified by his grace. What is the difference? Faith is the means by which God declares us righteous. It also is a gift. “Justified by grace” means that God declares us righteous without anything in us contributing or inclining him to do so. God is the giver and we are the receivers.

What keeps grace from being sentimentality or God just being nice to us? How God did it. He didn’t wink. He didn’t overlook anything. He sent his Son Jesus to die for us. The cross is God taking sin on and overcoming it. But at an infinite price. “Sin is violent lethal rebellion against God; and biblical grace is God’s violent, raw, and bloody response.”[1] Jesus’ blood brings God’s grace to us and pays the price God’s holiness required so that God’s grace could apply to us. There is nothing nice and sweet about grace, at least not God’s grace.

We remain saved by God’s grace

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:2)

Assurance of salvation was absent from the medieval church. How can I know if I have done enough? Work hard enough? The answer from the church was that if your life was good enough you would in the end be justified.

Luther was terrified of dying. How could he know that he had done enough? Worked hard enough? Been morally good enough?

But then Sola Grace stepped into his understanding. If I am saved by grace apart from anything I do to earn it or deserve it, then my assurance is not based on my performance but on God’s grace to save. I enter salvation by his grace. I remain in salvation forever by his grace. It is God’s grace from first to last. Herein is our assurance.

“What an astonishing thought it will be, to think of the immeasurable difference between our deservings and receivings–between the state we should have been in, and the state we are in. What depths of gratitude will we feel to look down upon hell and think, ‘Yonder is the place that sin would have brought me; but this is where Christ has brought me!”[2]

Only in heaven will we truly appreciate salvation by grace, if we could gaze into hell and realize that is what I deserved but eternal life is what I have, forever, and ever, and ever. Sola Grace.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

© 2017 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.

[1] Carl Trueman as quoted in Grace Alone, p. 11.

[2] Richard Baxter, Aim High, p. 33f.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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