Contend Earnestly: Five Solas of the Reformation - Sola Gratia - Part II

Monday, April 09, 2007

Five Solas of the Reformation - Sola Gratia - Part II

God’s Basis for Bestowing His Grace

So, if we are completely dead because of sin, if we are God haters, ungodly and doing the devil’s will, then on what basis does God give His grace?

God is not some sort of beggar with a sign on His grace that states, “free, take one” and then He stands by hoping and ringing His hands hoping that someone will take His offer. He is the almighty El Shaddai, the Creator of Heaven and Hell and it is based upon His will that decides who gets this grace and who does not. Not ours. Just think of how God chose Israel, or how God chose David, Moses or Jeremiah. Was it because of who they were or because God decided to show them kindness? Did God look down the "portal of time" and see that Jeremiah would be a prophet to Israel and do the work of a prophet, then decide: Now that's a prophet! I must choose him do be a prophet. Or was it that Jeremiah was a "fortified city" (Jer 1) and did the work of a prophet of God because God predestined and foreknew him? I don't think that Jeremiah 1:5 could be any clearer:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

What about Israel? Why did God choose them as His nation?

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
Deut 7:6,7

I will not completely exegete Ephesians 1, but I encourage you to take a look at this powerful passage on God’s election, more in depth, when you have time.

When you take a look at this passage as a whole you can see that it is not the Ephesians who are praised for anything at all, but all praise is given to God because it is from God.

Notice some things in spoken of in Ephesians 1:

Grace to you and peace from God (v2)
He chose us (v 4)
He predestined us (v5)
To the praise to the glory of His grace
He freely bestowed (v6)
According to the riches of His grace (v7)
He lavished on us (v8)
He made known to us the mystery of His will (v9)

In these there is also listed the reasons that these things were given to those chosen, is it because of anything we did? The obvious answer is, NO. It is not because God looked down the “portal of time” to see who would choose Him and then in turn He elected them.

Look here:
Verse 5: according to the kind intention of His will
Verse 9: according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
Verse 11: according to His purpose who works all things after the
counsel of His will

God freely gives according to His purpose and will and counsels nothing besides Himself for this choosing. Did you catch that? God only counsels God! Who can counsel God? Next time we will take a look at Romans 9 and wrap up Sola Gratia.


Ted Timmis said...

The doctrine of sola fide is just plain wrong. What does Jesus say about works and salvation?

In John 6:52, Jesus instructs us to receive his flesh and blood through the Holy Eucharist (celebrating the Lord's Supper).

In Matthew 5:19-20, Jesus states, "whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

In John 3:21 (right after John 3:15), Jesus states: "whoever lives the truth comes to the light so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God." Back to Matthew, Jesus states: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven." Again, in Matthew, Jesus states: "For who ever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, sister, and mother." Sounds like salvation requires one to do the will of the father.

OK, but does the will of God mean doing good deeds for salvation? As Jesus states in John 5:28: "the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life..."

As James states, "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" James 2:17

Thus, Jesus asks us to do many things for salvation:

Love God, Luke 10:27

Deny self interest before Jesus, Mark 8:34, Luke 14:25

Acknowledge Jesus before men, Matt.10:32

Be baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Matt. 28:29

Confess and repent of sinfulness, Mark 1:15

Love your neighbor, Luke 10:27

Love your enemies, Luke 5:43

"Turn the other cheek" Matt. 5:38

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Luke 7:32

Be forgiving of others, Matt. 7:12

Endure sacrifice, Luke 9:23;

Be charitable, Matt. 5:42, 10:21;

Be trustworthy, Luke 16:10;

Be courageous, Luke 12:2-8

Be productive, Luke 19:12;

Don't love money, Matt. 16:13;

Don't store up earthly riches, Luke 18:25

Don't commit abortion (As Jesus states: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me" Matt. 25:40; See also, Mark 9:37; Mark 10:14; Luke 10:48, Psalm 1:39; Jer. 1:5; Psalm 139 (You knit me together in my mother's womb. . . Your eyes saw my unformed body).

This is what it means to be a Christian. Against this, Protestants will cite St. Paul when he says that one is saved by faith apart from the law. Romans 3:21-25 This is true! St. Paul was saying that dietary proscriptions, circumcision and other aspects of the law do not bring salvation; he did not say that salvation comes from faith apart from good works, righteousness, sacraments and obedience to God.

Ted Timmis said...

As stated in Wikipedia, "Sola scriptura (Latin ablative, "by scripture alone") is the doctrine that the Bible is the only infallible and inerrant authority for Christian faith, and that it contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness" This doctrine is unscriptural and incorrect.

First, one must remember that Jesus established the church when he handed Peter the keys to the kingdom. The New Testament had yet to be written. Secondly, it was several hundred years before the cannonicity of the books and epistles of the New Testament was established. Many books such as the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Peter, the Epistle of Clement, and the Didache were rejected. It was the Catholic Church which decided which books were cannonical. On this basis alone, sola scriptura is invalid.

But the scriptures themselves refute this doctrine. Thus, St. Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:15 that the church, and not scripture, is the pillar and foundation of truth.

Moreover, St. Paul states "hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter."

In addition to the teachings of the Church, there is also sacred tradition. Thus, it was sacred tradition which give us the doctrine of the Trinity which states in part that Jesus is both fully human and fully devine. True, the doctrine of the Trinity is supported by scripture but this doctrine was only fully articulated through sacred tradition.

Tripp said...

Ephesians 2:8-9 "8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

This is not "sounds like", it says clearly - "not a result of works"

We are saved by grace though faith alone, but not by faith that is alone. Faith is evidenced by good works.

So yes, do these things, seek Christ, but don't think you're saved cause you did well enough.

The righteousness that gets us into the Kingdom is Christ's, not our own.

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