This fall, we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. In the Pastor’s Corner, we will be exploring the 5 “Solas” that arose out of Reformation thinking. (“Sola” is a Latin word meaning “alone.”) Then, in the final article, will be a reflection from the Roman Catholic perspective. Two weeks ago Pastor Ron Olson, explored Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone). Last week, Pastor Mary Wiggins explored the phrase Sola Fide (Faith Alone). This week I examine Sola Gratia (Grace alone).
By PASTOR ED KVAALE
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)
Sola Gratia (by grace alone) is the Biblical teaching that we are saved by the grace of God alone and it is deeply entwined with the concept of faith alone discussed last week by Pastor Mary. For me, the seminal passage of Scripture for both concepts is found in Ephesians 2:8-9: “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.”
I think Christians intelligently agree with this concept: we know the right answer, but at times we do not seem to believe it, at least based upon the motivation for our actions. We often find ourselves doing works hoping to impress God and others or to feel better about ourselves and our spiritual standing with God. Yes, our faith leads to good works, as stated in the book of James, but we cannot earn favor or merit through those works. We cannot earn more favor from Jesus, no matter how hard we try, rather the grace of Jesus leads us on a lifelong transformative journey whereon He makes us more like Himself, but we are no better than others since Jesus alone has done this work in our lives, it is none of our doing. Our salvation, our works, is wholly dependent upon the grace of Jesus; there is no place for pride.
Martin Luther put it well when He said in The Bondage of the Will, “God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another — God alone”.
I need God’s grace, you need God’s grace, your family and friends, and even your enemies, need God’s grace. Let us humble ourselves anew through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to surrender in faith to the gift of grace Jesus has so graciously lavished upon us. Let us also grow daily more like Jesus: to forgive and love others as Jesus has loved and forgiven us. We have received more grace than we ever deserved. Let us ask Jesus that we may in turn give the grace He has given us back to others! Let that be our prayer. Thank you Jesus for your grace to your children!
Ed Kvaale is the pastor of Bowman Assembly of God