We’re in the middle of our Reformation Series for Reformation Month. We began the series with the historical context and timeline of the Reformation. Last week, we looked at the first sola: Sola Scriptura.
This week, we will spend time looking at the second and third of the solas: II. Sola Gratia and III. Sola Fide.
II. Sola Gratia
The entirety of our rescue is a free gift of God. He is not obligated to show mercy to any of us. We do not deserve His grace. What we deserve is swift judgement and everlasting death. Yet, shockingly, God has poured out His love to us through His Son Jesus Christ.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight” (Ephesians 1:7-8).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Our natural religion is a works-based religion. There are only two religions: Sola Gratia and everything else—What do I have to do to make myself right?
“God forgives none because of payment made by them in any form. If we could bring him mountains of gold and silver, they would be nothing worth to him: if we bring him tears in rivers or alms in alps, or resolves, vows, and promises in countless numbers, all will amount to nothing as a bribe of grace. Forgiveness, like love, is unpurchasable by us. God’s pardons are absolutely free. He forgives because he chooses to forgive, out of sheer pity to the sinner, out of clear, unmixed compassion, but with no adulteration of anything like bribe or price. Forgiveness is absolutely free.” — Charles Spurgeon
We do not contribute to our salvation in any form. If we think we can, we are actually offering a bribe to God. How offensive is that to our gracious, loving God! Do not bargain with God.
Do you find salvation by grace or by good works harder? Salvation by grace is offensive to our pride. We want to have a part—even the smallest part—to play in our salvation. Only by the work of the Spirit does a man come to the end of himself and throw it all before God saying, “I don’t know why You love me, but You have loved me.” It is the most humbling reality.
If we’re not careful, we put hope in what we do. So we must remind ourselves it is only by His grace that we have been brought from death unto life.
II. Sola Fide
We are judged righteous in the sight of God purely by faith alone.
“Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified” Galatians 2:16.
Conversion is the sinner turning from self and sin and to God. Faith is taking hold of the free gift of Christ’s righteousness and making it our own. It is not our works that make us righteous, it is faith in what has been done for us through Christ. It is fruit of the Christian life, but not the root.
“Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love. ( Romans 3:28; Galatians 5:6; James 2:17, 22, 26 )” -1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, Chapter 11
The Christian faith is not an empty assent of truths. An assent has no teeth, no reality, no substance to it. We must truly and fully grasp the promises of God through Christ. But we also cannot expect a perfect faith, a perfect belief. This only treats faith as another work. Faith is a gift. It is also an instrument, a tool God has put into our hands to receive the astonishing gift of Christ’s righteousness. Faith is essential in turning to God and it is a gift.
We are saved by faith alone, but that faith is never alone. It is always going to be accompanied by a new nature and spiritual fruits.
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