Sola Gratia - Grace Alone
The religions of man often like to bring grace into the equation. Human works always play a role in obtaining salvation in these man made formulas. An appeal is often made that although works (human actions) must be involved before salvation can occur, it is still "grace alone" that saves because it is God alone who is the ultimate source of power for these works. They say that God (in the end) therefore gets the glory for the works we do to save ourselves.
While it is true that for the Christian, God's grace empowers us for Christian service (sanctification), the Bible makes it abundantly clear that the works we do play no role whatsoever in our salvation (justification) (Romans 4:4,5). In contrast, Rome confuses justification with sanctification for in their scheme, only when a man is fully sanctified will be be declared right with God (or justified). Yet Romans 5:1 declares that justification is a past tense event for the believing Christian - having been justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2 8, 9 also declares, "For by grace you have been saved ï»¿through faith. And this is not your own doing; ï»¿it is the gift of God, not a result of works, ï»¿so that no one may boast." According to the Bible, for grace to truly be grace, works cannot be mixed in. Romans 11:6 says, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace."
In contrast with all man made concepts, the Protestant Reformers heralded the message of "Sola Gratia," or Grace Alone. There was no confusion as to the meaning of the term. Sola Gratia meant grace at the start, grace to the end, grace in the middle, grace without fail, grace without mixture, grace without addition, grace that allows no boasting, grace that precludes all glorying but in the Lord. All false concepts of grace would seek to eliminate at least one of these clauses, but the biblical Gospel stands firm. Unless Grace alone is understood in this manner, man will always have some room for boasting.
The Reformers understood that man's only contribution to the table of redemption is in fact his sin. Man's will is not a deciding factor (Romans 9:16) because it is inseparately linked with his heart which is desperately wicked and while still in the flesh, he cannot submit to God (Rom 8: 7,8). It takes a new heart - a regenerated or born again heart - to enter or even see the kingdom of God (John 3). As Martin Luther said, ""If any man ascribes salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knows nothing of grace, and he has not learnt Jesus Christ aright." Even though we are justified by simple faith, without any human works or human merit involved, even this faith is the gift of God and not a reason for which to boast, for any boasting of man robs God of His glory. The works we do are the fruit and not the root of our salvation. The fruit is necessary to affirm that the faith is genuine, but Jesus Christ is the Savior who saves through faith alone - plus nothing! Only when Sola Gratia is properly understood does Soli Deo Gloria (the fifth sola) maintain its integrity. The issue has never been the necessity of grace but the sufficiency of grace. All man made religion believes grace is necessary but cannot embrace grace's sufficiency, and because of this, stands in opporition to the only Gospel that saves.
Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria. It is because saves us by His Grace Alone that all the glory for it goes to God alone. - JS