Sola Gratia

(Thread begun by RandyP )

Sola Gratia is one of the five pillars of the reformed faith, Sola Gratia (by grace alone), Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone), Solus Christus (through Christ alone), Soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone), Sola Fide (by faith alone). As such the understanding of sola gratia as the reformers define it requires the full and equal cooperation of the other four members.

Gratia is best thought of as a gift received that is unearned and unmerited. Think of it as a debt that has been paid in full by someone other than the debtor. Nothing that the sinner has done deserves this forgiveness/payment of debt, in fact what the sinner actually deserves is the exact opposite. Gratia relies totally upon the good will of the Great Giver. This points the redeemed sinner directly toward the Solus Christus and Soli De Gloria pillars of reformed faith and highly influences the truer understanding of Sola Fide.

Primary Evidences:


  1. kjv@Ephesians:2:1-10 @ And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
  2. kjv@Romans:5:15 @ But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many.

Dissenting Views:

Though it does not call the concept "Sola Gratia" per se, the Roman Catholic Church does concur that God's grace alone is the preliminary and absolute necessity for man's salvation. They differ as to the means of justification that follows however, that is where the more objectionable Protestant Sola's of Fide and Scriptura become a much more divisive issue. The Church actually affirmed the doctrine of sola gratia twice: first in 529 at the Second Council of Orange, and again in 1545 at the Council of Trent.

Council of Trent (Session VI) - “The holy council declares first, that for a correct and clear understanding of the doctrine of justification, it is necessary that each one recognize and confess that....all men had lost innocence in the prevarication of Adam (Rom:5:22; 1 Cor 15:22), having become unclean (Isa 64:6), and, as the Apostle says, by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:3)...” (, Chapter I)

Council of Trent (Session VI) - "...we are therefore said to be justified gratuitously, because none of those things that precede justification, whether faith or works, merit the grace of justification." (Chapter VIII)

As gratia moves forward upon those touched by God's grace, the traditionalist would then insist upon a "works plus faith" repentance/baptism/communion process resulting in justification.

Council of Trent states - “Having, therefore, been justified and made the friends and domestics of God�they, through the observance of the commandments of God and of the Church, faith cooperating with good works, increase in that justice received through the grace of Christ and are further justified, as it is written: He that is just, let him be justified still (Rev 22:11-12; cf. 1 John 3:7).” (Chapter X)

Reformed Response:

kjv@Romans:11:6 @ And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

kjv@Romans:4:4-5 @ Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

kjv@Romans:3:24 @ Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

kjv@Titus:3:7 @ That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

kjv@Galatians:5:4 @ Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

Commentary:

Baptist Confession of 1689 - “Christ, by HIS obedience & death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are justified; and did, by the sacrifice of himself in the blood of his cross, undergoing in their stead the penalty due unto them, make proper, real, and full satisfaction to God’s justice in their behalf;….their justification is only of Free Grace, that both the exact justice & rich grace of God might be glorified in the Justification of sinners.

Martin Luther - “The law saith do this, and yet it never will be done; but grace says believe on Him,—and behold it is already done!”

Puritan pastor Richard Baxter - "As we paid nothing for God’s eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love, and nothing for His Spirit and our grace and faith, and nothing for our eternal rest . . . . What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference between our deservings and our receivings. O, how free was all this love, and how free is this enjoyed glory . . . . So then let “Deserved” be written on the floor of hell but on the door of heaven and life, “The Free Gift”."


Comment Board:SolaGratia

Further Resources:
dict:torrey grace
http://www.biblicalcatholic.com/apologetics/a134.htm
http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/03/sola-gratia/
http://livinginchrist.org/Media_Library/growing-in-the-grace-of-god-in-depth/ - Pastor Bob Hoekstra's 31 part series "Growing In Grace"

Child Threads:
SolaFideVerses
SolaScriptura
SolusChristus
SoliDeoGloria


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