10/18/2017 in: Bible Study Articleson
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people
SOLA GRATIA – GRACE ALONE
Three of the five solas are so intertwined that it’s hard to distinguish their nuances. The Reformers believed that salvation is through faith alone, by grace alone, in Christ alone. These three solas operate synergistically & describe how man can be made right with God.
Grace is throughout all the Bible’s pages, from Genesis to Revelation. It is at the heart of the gospel and an essential part of God’s character. In it’s simplest terms, grace can be defined as getting something you do not deserve. Of the five solas, this is the least disputed, but often the most overlooked.
While oft agreed upon, that is not to say it has been without dispute in Church history. The most memorable dispute occurred between Pelagius and Augustine. Pelagius believed man was not entirely affected by the Fall, and was able to perform good works that pleased God, thus earning salvation. His teachings denied the need for God to provide grace in order to be saved. In his view, man was good enough to earn his own salvation & Jesus was more a model to be followed. With the help of Augustine’s rebuttal, the Church found Pelagius to be a heretic & excommunicated him. Church counsels throughout the centuries continued to stomp out any attempted resurrection of this heresy.
During the Reformation era this heresy once again raised its head through the teachings of Jacob Arminius, albeit in a modified form. Arminius’ view is often labeled as Semi-Pelagianism. It teaches that while man is tainted by sin, he is not unable to cooperate with God’s free offer of grace. This is the battle that the Reformers waged, hence the cry sola gratia.
The Reformers taught that man is totally depraved and wholly incapable of choosing God. This is all a result of Adam’s fall in the Garden, which brought about spiritual death for all humanity. Therefore, it took a work of God to redeem and make us spiritually alive. God’s grace is the only reason we have salvation. Protestantism has held this view throughout subsequent centuries.
WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
So, why does any of this matter? Because it is core to the gospel! Your understanding of this doctrine comes as a direct result of your understanding of the Fall and man’s depravity. The doctrine of grace alone draws us back to what Adam lost for all humanity: communion with God. To restore this lost fellowship God sent his son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin. Being a perfect judge, God cannot overlook sin, thus Christ’s sacrifice. Like the common Christian acronym for grace says, it is truly “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.” We get everything we do not deserve because Jesus bore our sin. That is why this doctrine matters!