Reformation and Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)

Grace is tough to swallow for many in the modern era, not just Americans even though we, in the States, excel in our desire for control.  Americans are so preoccupied with being masters of our own destiny that National Car Rental has a series of ads making sport of this modern tendency.  We are control freaks (or enthusiasts), makers of our own future, rugged individualists who can make the world our oyster by hard work, turning coal into diamonds with human power and ingenuity.  Somehow the idea that we’re beholden to someone else–God no less–for our eternal future is unsettling for many.  The Biblical truth that had always been there in Scripture, rather forgotten by medieval bishops caught up in their own power structure, was brought back into the spotlight by Augustinian monk Martin Luther in the Reformation.  That truth?  Salvation is by grace alone and it simply cannot be earned.  Sola Gratia (Grace Alone.)

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

The human lust for being in control of one’s own destiny doomed Adam and Eve, ended up mastering Cain, expanded evil to the point of destruction in the Flood, caused the fall of the Tower of Babel, gave birth to Ishmael, and ultimately is why Jesus had to die on the Cross (John 3:14-21Hebrews 9:27-28). 

We want control over our own destiny?  Hell.  There’s our destiny and about all we can accomplish with respect to eternity.

But God gives grace.  And it’s God’s grace alone that saves.  We couldn’t live without it.

This emphasis on the beautiful gift of God’s grace alone is pure and holy. 

If there’s nothing we can do to earn it, though, unintended consequences arise when humanity views it through a sinful eye.  Among these are:

  • Laziness regarding charitable works.  Why do it if it’s not gaining me anything? 
  • Despair.  What if God hasn’t chosen to give me grace?  Am I completely out of hope?
  • Pride.  God gave me grace because He loves me, with the emphasis on ME. 
  • Uncertainty.  Am I going to be saved?

The short response to all those unintended consequences is

It’s not about you.  It’s about Him.” 

We do works of love because God created us to do them.  It’s a response to God’s first loving us!  We can trust that our God who loves His Image in humanity so much that He’d send His Son to die (and give us eternal life just for being His Image bearers!) will do so wherever He finds a willing heart to receive this gift.  When we see that it’s actually about His Image and about Him, Jesus didn’t die because you and I are such good people.  Jesus died because He created us … in His Image … and that’s what’s worth eternity, not anything we bring to the table.  It’s out of our control and that’s a good thing.  Sola Gratia. Grace Alone saves.


The 5 Solas of the Reformation began on October 26, 2017 and can be found in the archives. 

  1. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone);
  2. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone);
  3. Sola Fide (Faith Alone);
  4. Solus Christus (Christ Alone); and
  5. Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone Be Glory).

Categories Articles and Devotionals, Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on October 28, 2017

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