Part 4 – Sola Gratia
Over the past couple of weeks, we, as a church have been looking at the 5 SOLAS of the Protestant Reformation. Although the reformation happened 500 years ago- the impact of the reformation continues today.
I’d like to suggest to you today that the 5 Solas (found in scripture) solve a tragic problem for you and for me. What is that problem?
We are spiritually dead sinners who are under the wrath of a Holy God.
The two main issues: God’s wrath and we are Dead in Sin.
This is not good news for anyone. We are dead in our sins- and there is a holy God whose wrath will be poured out on sinners.
“The wages of sin is death…” Romans 6:23 (NLT)
If that’s the bad news, is there any good news? And the answer is YES. The SOLUTION to this problem for spiritually dead sinners who deserve God’s wrath is found in scripture; ”The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The good news is that Jesus came into the world to make us spiritually alive and also we find that Christ’s work allowed God to become 100% FOR US in Christ. And that “solves” the dilemma of being spiritually dead sinners who will experience the wrath of the Holy and Sovereign God:
- By Grace alone
- On the basis of Christ alone
- Is received through Faith alone
- So that all things lead ultimately to the glory of God alone
- With Scripture alone as the only final authority teaching us these truths.
One of the most important portions of scripture in the entire Bible.
Romans 3:23-25 English Standard Version (ESV)
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness
Did you catch the power and beauty of that passage?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified (declared right) by his grace . (God turns towards us treating us as just and righteous –because something has happened. What has happened? His GRACE happened! And he defines it as this- a gift.)
We don’t make ANY CONTRIBUTION. IT IS A GIFT.
We are so accustomed to the American work ethic. “You get what you work for.” And a problem is that God doesn’t operate like that. And for some of us- it can be hard to relate to God because we are in this “work-driven mentality.”
Psalm 145:8 shows us why this “work driven mentality” is not the way God operates.
“God is GRACIOUS and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”
The Bible says that God is a gracious God. That means he loves to be gracious to you. God loves to bless people who don’t deserve it. Aren’t you glad for that? I am!
Grace is the heart of our faith. It is the heart of our relationship with God. And when you understand Grace, you’re going to feel closer to God. The more you understand Grace, the more you’re going to be drawn to God - the more you’re going to love God, the more you’re going to be grateful to God. Because it is the way that God brings us to him. It is the way that the spiritually dead sinners who are under the wrath of God can be rescued.
One of the most powerful passages in scripture about Grace is found in Ephesians 2:4-10.
Ephesians 2:4-10New International Version (NIV)
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
So how do we define Grace?
What are some of the traditional or common definitions of GRACE?
AN EXTRAVAGANT & PERFECT GIFT FOR THE UNDESERVING & GUILTY CRIMINAL
You may have also heard Grace explained by the acrostic: “G.R.A.C.E.” (God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense). In my opinion, to put it very simply, grace is God's best idea—it's His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly.
Now, some of us get Grace and Mercy confused at times.
Mercy- not getting what we deserve. What's the difference between grace and mercy?
Grace goes beyond mercy.
The Grace of God reminds us- assures us that we have been saved from death and saved from the wrath of God.
And as we talk about Grace, there are two aspects of GRACE: Saving Grace and Sustaining Grace. Saving grace saves us from our sins. Sustaining grace meets us at our point of need and equips us with courage, wisdom, and strength.
Grace is not a shared venture. Not 1 percent me and 99 percent God- it’s ALL from Him. It is not a reward or a bonus.
Pastor Randy gave me a simple yet effective definition of grace: EVERYTHING FOR NOTHING TO THOSE WHO DON’T DESERVE ANYTHING.
Life in Grace means for the believer.
- God is at work. Saving Grace saved me. Sustaining Grace equips me to do the things He has planned for me.
- Grace brings rest. Often, we find it easier to trust the miracle of resurrection than the miracle of grace. We so fear failure that we create the image of perfection, and we worry that heaven be even more disappointed in us than we are. We tend to be very focused on performance. And as a result, those that are performance-based are often the weariest people on earth. Tring to save ourselves only guarantees exhaustion and disappointment. We scamper and scurry, trying to please God, collecting merit badges and brownie points, and scowling at anyone who questions our accomplishments. God's promise has no hidden language. Let grace happen, for heaven's sake. No more performance for God, no more clamoring after God. No more crawling up the step to reach him in our own efforts. Of all the things you must earn in life, God's unending affection is not one of them. You have it. Stretch yourself out in the hammock of grace. You can rest now.
- Grace gives us the assurance that “I matter to God” We validate our existence with a flurry of activity. We do more, buy more, and achieve more. We wrestle with these things, I suppose, to ask this question: "Do I matter?" All of grace, I believe, is God's definitive reply: "Be blessed, my child. I accept you. I have adopted you into my family." Adopted children are chosen children. To accept God's grace is to accept God's offer to be adopted into his family. Your identity is not in your possessions, talents, tattoos, kudos, or accomplishments. Nor are you defined by your divorce, deformity, debt, or dumb choices. You are God's child. You get to call him "Papa."
God chose you - by His Grace. He chose you - not because He had to - not because he saw some wonderful thing in your future that would add something to the kingdom - not because you worked for I it - He chose you because of His kindness and grace.
Martin Luther recognized how far the church had strayed from a Biblical view of Grace, God used him to redirect the church back to a Biblical view of Grace. We, too, - each of us - should be evaluating our thoughts, beliefs and behaviors to see if they line up with God’s Word.