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The Five Pillars of the Reformation
5.9.2021 – Week 3 – Sola Gratia
Sola Gratia – “Grace Alone”
“We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life. We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.”
– The Cambridge Declaration, Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
What it means:
- Grace – God relates to mankind in salvation by grace, or unmerited favor. Eph 2:8-9; 2 Tim 1:9
- Bondage to Sin – Luther vs. Erasmus: Just how deeply does sin affect us? Luther: It means utter rebellion against God and an unwillingness to change. Jer 17:9; Rom 3:10-18
- Spiritual Death – The Fall left us completely unable to turn to God by our own will. No one chooses to follow Christ without the work of the Spirit. Eph 2:1-3; Rom 9:16
- Transformation – In an act of God’s free grace, He pardons our sins and accepts us as righteous in His sight. The Spirit must call and regenerate us prior to our having faith and repentance. The transformation affects the whole man: mind, will, emotions, etc. John 6:44; Ezek 36:26
What it does not mean:
- Grace + something else = salvation. Human ability, effort, works are needed for God to save us. Faith can even be viewed as a work necessary for salvation.
- God is gracious to all people in this way: universalism.
Application and Discussion Questions:
1) Why do you think this doctrine was so important to the Reformation?
2) Why do many Christians still have a hard time accepting this doctrine?
3) In what ways have we tried to compromise the doctrine of “grace alone” in our Christian lives?
“Unwarranted confidence in human ability is a product of fallen human nature. This false confidence now fills the evangelical world; from the self-esteem gospel, to the health and wealth gospel, from those who have transformed the gospel into a product to be sold and sinners into consumers who want to buy, to others who treat Christian faith as being true simply because it works. This silences the doctrine of justification regardless of the official commitments of our churches.” – The Cambridge Declaration
4) What is the relationship between grace and sanctification?