Third in this series of the 5 Solas is Sola Gratia, Grace Alone. So then, what is grace? One of the ways I have heard grace explained is, “Grace is getting something good we could never deserve.” The analogy I was taught with highlighted the differences between Justice, Mercy and Grace using the example of your neighbor’s 11 year old stealing the keys to the family truck and plowing full speed into your ‘mid-life crisis’ amazing sports car. Justice is having the child charged with the offense and paying back every penny worth of damage. With justice, the child gets the punishment they have earned by their actions. Mercy is telling the child what they did was wrong but not pressing charges. With mercy the child doesn’t get the punishment they deserve. Grace is running to the truck, making sure the child isn’t hurt, not pressing charges and taking them out for ice cream. With grace, not only does the child not receive the punishment they justly deserve, but they get something good they don’t deserve.
The flagship Bible verse for Sola Gratia goes hand-in-hand with the previous piece of the foundation, Sola Fide. Ephesians 2:8, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works so that no one can boast.” This clearly states that both grace and faith are gifts from God by which we are saved. Many people claim that they believe this verse but when asked if they think they’re going to heaven when they die, something like, “Well I’m a pretty good person; I’m not as bad as ‘so-and-so'” comes out. It is by grace we have been saved through faith in Christ Jesus. We cannot earn or buy our way into God’s good graces or into heaven. Romans 11:6, “Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace.”
Romans 3:10-18, “as it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one. There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away; all alike have become useless. There is no one who does what is good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they deceive with their tongues. Vipers’ venom is under their lips. Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and wretchedness are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
This is so that no one can stand before the judgement seat and enter heaven on their own accord. No one can boast and say that they have saved themselves by their own righteousness or power. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” There is only one who has lived a perfect life and that is Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Wages are something that we earn. When we go to work we are paid our wages because we (hopefully) have earned them. In this same way, our sin has earned us death. Not just the physical death but also the eternal separation from God because God cannot tolerate sin (Habakkuk 1:13a). But God was gracious to us and has provided a way to bridge the gap from our sinfulness to Him. Romans 5:8, “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” While we were still His enemy, still dead in our sins, still and always completely unworthy of His love, God sacrificed His only Son that we might be able to be called children of God! The worship song, How Deep the Father’s Love, puts it like this. “…that He should give His only Son/to make a wretch His treasure.” It doesn’t make sense does it? Would any of us, of our own accord, sacrifice our own son to make a wretch our treasure? To have them sit at our table, sleep in our house and receive our love because of our son’s sacrifice? Having had my first born son recently at the time of this writing (January 2018), I cannot make “logical” sense of it. I love my son so much. I cannot imagine having to sacrifice him for an undeserving person and yet, God did with His one and only perfect Son! Nothing except the grace of God could explain it! This illogical love is sometimes a stumbling block for people who have yet to come to Christ. They put human logic on God and expect Him to operate in that same way when God is beyond our logic! How great is it that God doesn’t use our logic to love and show us grace!
By God’s grace, Christ’s sacrifice was enough to cover all sins! He provided the way for us to be brought back into relationship with Him. God is even the one that initiates the pursuit! Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.” God didn’t have to do this. He could have said, “That’s it. There is no hope for you. You can never repay the debt you owe. You could never deserve My love. Tough break” but He didn’t. In His love for us and by His grace He has made a way for us through Christ Jesus our Lord! The grace of God defies all logic and yet it is! In His grace he has chosen us to be set apart for Himself! Ephesians 1:3-6, “Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.” Before the foundation of the world, God knew us and chose us. How much more obvious could it be that nothing we can do or ever did has saved us? Only by the power and according to the will of God have we been given grace! He chose us according to His will to bring Himself more glory! It always comes back to His glorification.
Grace is something, by definition, we could never have deserved or earned of our own accord. By the gifts God has given us, grace and faith, we are saved. Nothing we have done has, or can influence God’s grace so that all of the glory resides with God where it truly belongs.
For His Glory!