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Living In Grace

A Christ inspired work dealing with American Christian Culture in the New Century.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sola Gratia-The Grace that Saves

Grace, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is the unmerited Divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.

All other world religions are man’s efforts to reconcile himself to God(s),  others, work out their karma, or any other various prescripton that fallen man has invented to to assuage his guilt.  They all have this in common and to some varying degree employ our ability to appease these unseen forces.  The great difference in historic Christianity and all else is our belief that God alone is able to save: It is only by His grace that we can truly live again and have a right relationship with Him.  One of the most important distinctives of the Reformation was the concept of Salvation by Grace Alone:  Dr. R.C. Sproul states it so:
“ Monergistic regeneration means that regeneration is accomplished by a single actor, God…all forms of semi-pelagianism assert some sort of synergism in regeneration…usually God’s assisting grace is…dependent on human cooperation for its efficacy. “

Augustine, when debating the original Pelagian heresy, said:
“…he  ( Pelagius ) says grace is bestowed according to worthiness.  For when he speaks about people deserving reward because they make a good use of their free will, so that they merit the Lord’s grace, he asserts in fact that a debt is paid to them. “ The Grace of Christ and Original Sin 1:34

John Calvin, who relied heavily on Augustine, stated that:
“ the human will does not obtain grace by freedom, but freedom by grace. “  Institutes II.III

It should be known that all we add to our redemption is our sin and the inability to change.  We are sinful creatures not only prone to badness, but infected with the disease that touches every aspect of our lives: From our thoughts, motives, deeds, relationships, etc  we are wholly incapable of any meritorious work that would commend us to God  ( Rom 3:9-18 ).  Our righteousness is filthy and our sins drive us like a ship torn by the wind ( Isaiah 64:6 ) and we are very much dead and unable to will ourselves any differently (Ephesians 2:1 ).  Paul rightly said, “  For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. “ ( Rom 7:18 ) when he described his condition with regards to the power of his will.

We are completely sinful, totally depraved, and unable by any device of our own to come to a Holy God. The disciples, in Matthew 19:24-26, when confronted with the difficulty of human ability or merit to enter Heaven exclaimed, “ who then can be saved? “  Jesus replied to them that with man it was impossible but that with God all things were possible.

This grace was a foundation of the Gospel that was preached by the Apostles and the early church.  These first Christians, mostly of Jewish descent, were well acquainted with trying to earn their salvation through the works of Law.  Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, knew that in the flesh he had nothing to boast of                  ( Philippians 3:3-7 ) and that all He had was counted as loss.   Paul could boast, not in himself, but because he was justified as a gracious gift from God and that through the redemption he now had in Jesus Christ he could stand. 

It is this free grace, at least to us, that saves as it is not  based on our works and any other message is a false gospel.  Grace and faith are inextricably tied together in Ephesians 2:8 as it is the grace of  God that even allows the gift of faith to manifest itself in our heart.  This grace was given us in Christ ( 1 Cor 1:4 ) and it is through His blood that we have redemption ( Ephesians 1:7 ).  If we were in any way able to earn our salvation or even add to it the Christ would have died in vain. 

It quite simply is foundational to Historic Christian belief that salvation is by grace alone.  That is the Gospel message: that God saves undeserving sinners by His grace through the riches found in Christ Jesus.  If you are trying to earn your salvation it is a futile effort as your works will never absolve you from your sin nor commend you to a holy God. Seek Him today while He may be found and may He grant you repentance unto salvation.

For further reading click below

Proverbs 3:34

Zechariah 12:10

John 1:17

Acts 20:24

Romans 6:14

Jonathan Edwards Treatise on Grace

Justification by Grace

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