We are saved by grace alone through faith alone. I don’t know how much easier that could possible be, and yet thousands of Christians struggle with the concept. I hear fairly often from people who believe that salvation consists of both justification and sanctification. They do not seem to be able to grasp the marvel and goodness of God that saves us simply because He loves us.
Sola gratia is the teaching that salvation comes by divine grace or “unmerited favor” only, not as something merited by the sinner. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God for Jesus’ sake. The words sola gratia really express the idea that we have no claim upon God or salvation whatsoever. God owes us nothing unless it is punishment for sin.
Here is the crux of the matter, apart from grace no one would ever be saved since in our lost condition, we have no ability, capacity, or desire to be saved. The idea that we can cooperate with God in our salvation is foolish and unworthy of our Christian heritage. By insisting on grace alone the Reformers and all Bible based Christians ever since have denied any human methods or strategies of earning salvation through their own good works or efforts.
Jesus died for our past sins, present sins, and future sins. My sanctification is my growing in trust towards the God who loves me and is expressed through love towards God and my fellow man. But, there is no merit in my sanctification. The children of Israel were tested in the wilderness and it was where they grew spiritually to trust (they never learned the lesson) in the love of God to do all He said He would do for them.
They were already redeemed, freed from Egypt, based upon the grace of God. He brought the plagues upon the Egyptians, He passed them over when their doors were covered in the blood of the Lamb, and He destroyed the Egyptian army in the waters of the Red Sea. They were set free because God remembered His covenant of love with Abraham and fulfilled His word to the children of Israel.
What I am saying is that their salvation was when God led them out of Egypt and their testing in the wilderness didn’t make them any more saved than they already were when God brought them out of slavery. It is the same with us. We were redeemed at the cross because of the grace of God and we accept that wonderful substitutionary sacrifice by faith.
Our walk with Jesus adds no merit to God’s grace. Mormons teach that after all we do then God makes up for our shortfall by grace. No, a thousand times no—that is wrong! And it is just as wrong to believe that somehow our walk with God (sanctification) adds merit to the cross.
The Protestant view of salvation is that it is offered as a free gift by grace alone, but the cost was astronomical because it meant the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross. Cults, sects, and other groups believe that salvation is grace plus the law. These groups believe the same as historical Protestantism that we are justified by faith alone but then add that in order to retain their justification they must have perfect obedience to the Ten Commandments or some other code of conduct.
Now here we need to pay attention because this is important for our understanding of grace alone. We were born with a sinful nature and thus we are all under condemnation and the wages of those sins is death. That sinful nature of the first Adam judicially was condemned and crucified by faith in the cross. Now we are born again and are released from the condemnation that the sinful nature of the first Adam brought upon the World.
How is this possible? Jesus, our great substitute for sin and punishment, bore all the sins of the world upon Himself at the cross. As a result God no longer imputes (keeps account of) our sins. They are cast into the deepest part of the sea, and remembered no more. This is the good news of the New Covenant (See Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Protestantism teaches that Jesus holy character is imputed, which means that judicially we are declared righteous by faith alone and released from all fear of judgment. Most cults and sects believe quite differently than historic Protestantism. They believe that Christ’s holy character is infused or imparted to them. They are to be made righteous through obedience to the Law of God through good works, striving, and dedication. These works of the law must be maintained and kept up if they hope to obtain perfect righteousness.
Let me summarize for a moment. For Protestants we are saved by God’s grace, through faith alone. Our Christian life is expressed through trust in God’s word (the Bible alone) that teaches us to trust His love that keeps us and leads us in our daily walk. For sects or cults they believe that they are saved by grace but not alone it is to be combined with their efforts, obedience and law keeping. They see salvation as a combination of law and grace.
Now lets look at some Bible verses.
“And when He saw their faith, He said unto them, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Luke 5:20 (See also Luke 18:10-14)
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18
“Then they said unto Him, ‘What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent.” John 6:28
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” John 5:24
“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” John 6:47
“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:28
“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” Acts 10:43
“But to him that works not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Romans 4:5
And the list could go on and on (see Galatians 3 for example), but this post is getting long. Let me finish off this blog with Galatians 2:16,“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
For some of you who are still struggling under the idea that somehow you are not good enough or dedicated enough because you haven’t lived up to all the laws and dictates of your church teaching—stop worrying. If you have placed your trust in the saving grace of God you are good with God.
He knows your walk is full of pitfalls, and He knows we fall and trip over our sins but He is always there to pick us up and continues to lead us. He loves us and wraps His arms around us because we do struggle and He longs to comfort and support us on our spiritual journey.
You are loved unconditionally. Please don’t let anyone steal that from you with doctrines of works, moral justification, or legalism. You are set free by grace alone, by faith alone, by Christ alone—stand firm.
* Please take the time to read some of the stories of Christians who are experiencing persecution for their total commitment to Christ. They need our support and prayers.. http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…