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'Sola Gratia' (Grace Alone)

OPINION by Pastor Chuck DeVane, guest column | October 23, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Pastor Chuck DeVane

Special to The Sentinel-Record

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

-- Ephesians 1:3-6, ESV

"Sola Gratia," or Grace Alone, is the second of the five pillars of the Great Reformation. "Grace," alone, has a singular definition and two divine applications.

Grace means unmerited favor, or unearned gift, and when grace comes from God, it can be common or saving.

That God puts food on our tables, music in our ears, and SEC football on Saturdays, is owed to common grace.

Saving grace is much more specific. Let's take an open and honest look at a key text in the debate about saving grace, or "grace alone."

Grace alone is a blessing given by God

The theme of "blessing" is strong in the Bible. It is akin to the concept of inheritance and attune with the doctrine of grace.

The father does the work, the father gains the wealth, then freely gives it to his children when he dies. It is a blessing, it is grace.

So when did God die? Not in 1966, as printed in the infamous headline of The New York Times. No, it was long before that. In the person and work of Jesus Christ, God died 2,000 years ago. The inheritance, or the "spiritual blessing" given to the children of God, is salvation by grace alone.

It is grace that brought Jesus from heaven to earth and from the cross back to heaven; we did not deserve it. It is grace that brings the gospel to our ears, through godly parents and preachers; we cannot earn it. It is grace that grants repentance and faith; we cannot produce it. Salvation from the Father to the children of God is a spiritual blessing received by grace alone!

Grace alone is a choice made by God

Salvation by saving grace alone is a gift that belongs to our sovereign God, who gives it to whomever He wills. Your will, in spite of popular opinion and populist preaching, has nothing to do with it, as this text makes plain.

God elects, or chooses, the people He saves. We choose our elected officials, we choose where we live, we choose what we eat, and by God we choose our own God, or so we think. God thinks differently. He, before creation, chose to save some by grace alone, "according to His will," not ours.

God predestines the paths of His elect. Accidents happen when we lose control.

God never loses control, so there are no accidents with God. Who chose your birth parents and place, your friends and associates, the people who come and go in your life? It is God, "He predestined us" by grace, and by grace alone.

God adopts us. Do those adopted choose the parent, or does the parent choose the adopted child? This is why becoming a child of God, salvation, is by God's saving grace, and God's grace alone.

Grace alone is a change in the child of God

So then, how does a person know if they have been chosen by God, predestined for salvation, and adopted into the family of God? There will be a family resemblance, of course, between the Father and the child.

Holiness is a saving grace that harbors a love for God in Christ, the things of God like the church, the word of God or Holy Scripture.

Holiness is a lifestyle that longs to worship and serve God. Holiness is a will freed to obey God and bring others to God, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

Blamelessness is a saving grace that secures our standing before God.

It is a place of no punishment, because of the cross of Christ, where God took the sin of all of his children, mixed it with love and wrath, and took it away from us by bestowing it upon "the Beloved," the Lord Jesus Christ, who saves us by grace, and grace alone.

Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]

Print Headline: 'Sola Gratia' (Grace Alone)

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