All the Solas of the Reformation are inextricably linked: the Scriptures infallibly and emphatically tell us (Sola Scriptura) that salvation is by faith alone (Sola Fide), which is given to us as an unwarranted gift of God by His grace (Sola Gratia), afforded to us only by the finished work of Christ (Solus Christus), so that all the praise, honor, and glory goes to God and to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria).
Sola Gratia: The Spring of Our Salvation
Grace is the unmerited favor of God to sinners who have merited wrath. Grace is stronger than compassion to the needy: it is love to the guilty.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
“Grace is not a ‘thing.’ It is not a substance that can be measured or a commodity to be distributed. It is ‘the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Cor. 13:14). In essence, it is Jesus himself.” Sinclair Ferguson
“But where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:20-21
“Grace, if it is not a gift, is not grace.” Augustine
“Grace is mightier than all our sins, our adverse circumstances, and our human impossibilities. Grace is the heart of the Bible and our salvation.” Joel Beeke
“John Newton, clerk, once an infidel and libertine, a servant of slaves in Africa, was by the rich mercy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, preserved, restored, pardoned, and appointed to preach the faith he had long labored to destroy.”
Epitaph on John Newton’s Tombstone
- Definition: What is grace? Ephesians 2:4-10; Romans 4:16
- Agent: Who gives this grace? John 1:14-17; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Revelation 22:21
- Authority: What does grace accomplish? Romans 5:20-21; Zechariah 4:7; Romans 1:7
For Further Reading and Study:
Communion with God by John Owen (Banner of Truth)
Living for God’s Glory by Joel Beeke (Reformation Trust)
By Grace Alone by Sinclair Ferguson (Reformation Trust)
Going Deeper #3
Working Out What God Has Worked In
“Yea, Paul is so delighted with this, that he makes it his motto, and the token whereby he would have his epistles known, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” John Owen
“[The Prodigal son] is a sinful, rebellious, wayward child of a caring father. He cannot pull down the shutters and blot out the memory of home. No more can we be secure against our heavenly Father.” Sinclair Ferguson
“Satan can attack but never ultimately destroy true Christian faith, because we are preserved by grace. Therefore, he seeks to destroy our enjoyment of the grace of God.” Sinclair Ferguson
The last sentence of the Bible rings out the centrality of grace. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). Paul made it his standard greeting: Grace to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ’s glory shines brightest in grace (John 1:16). The gospel can be summarized in one word: Grace.
Because of the glory and the riches of grace, John Newton wrote about amazing grace. The danger, though, with such a familiar word is that it becomes less wonder-filled. Sinclair Ferguson, in a book about why the grace of God amazes him, writes, “We sing about ‘amazing grace’ and speak of ‘amazing grace,’ but far too often it has ceased to amaze us. Sadly, we might more truthfully sin of ‘accustomed grace.’” What are some of the means God has given us to restore to us the joy of grace?
“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love,
Take my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it from Thy courts above.” (Robert Robinson)
Grace, and grace alone, brought us into justification. Grace, and grace alone, grows us in sanctification. Grace, and grace alone, will one day bring us home to glory. God has given us means of grace, and we are to be diligent in the way of grace.
Hearing the word, singing the word, memorizing the word, praying the word, obeying the word, taking the Lord’s Supper, speaking with friends, and fasting are ways of leaning into grace.
“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
For Further Reading and Study:
Living For God’s Glory by Joel Beeke (Reformation Trust)
Zeal Without Burnout by Christopher Ash (The Good Book)