Summary: This morning we are going to continue our series Foundations of the Faith by studying sola gratia - grace alone. When it comes to our salvation - we were present but not voting!
Sola Gratia - Grace Alone
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
Present but not Voting
The philosopher Jeremy Bentham left a vast sum of money to a hospital in London. He had but one stipulation - he had to be present for the hospital board meetings.
For nearly 100 years, his embalmed body would be wheeled out for the annual meeting. He would be listed as “present by not voting.”
We no longer is brought out for the meetings but he was put on display some time ago, with his head, that had fallen off, sitting at his feet.
This morning we are going to continue our series Foundations of the Faith by studying sola gratia - grace alone. When it comes to our salvation - we were present but not voting!
Last week, we studied 2 Tim 3:15-17 and affirmed that we believe that the Bible is the inspired, sufficient, inerrant, infallible, immutable, invincible Word of Almighty God.
Jason K. Allen writes:
“The Bible holds authority over all other religious books, church traditions, councils, or popes. The scriptures are the standard, the benchmark, the plumb line for the church.”
It is Scripture alone that is our norm for Christian faith and practice.
By the way, this week marks the the anniversary of the death of William Tyndale. William Tyndale was tied to a stake, strangled & burned. His crime? Translating the Bible into the English language.
His last words words were, “God, open the King’s eyes.” He had said that a plow boy with the Scriptures in his own language would be more powerful than any council or pope with their traditions.
The three major branches of Christianity - Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox all agree - Christ, faith, and grace are necessary for salvation.
Remember, it is that little Latin word “Sola” that separates us from other faith traditions.
From Scripture alone, we learn that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone.
This morning, we will see that it is grace alone that saved us. It is is not grace plus something else.
When talking about grace, we need to avoid two extremes - legalism and antinomianism. Basically, legalism is what Paul was combating when he wrote the book of Galatians.
After Paul had moved on from Galatia, a group known as a the Judaizers came in and started teaching that Paul was only half right. Yes, yes, salvation is through grace and faith and Jesus but they also had to become Jewish. They needed to be circumcised, follow the Jewish dietary laws, and observe Jewish traditions.
Paul writes in no uncertain terms that this was not an addition to the Gospel he preached by was another gospel altogether! Paul’s equation is Jesus plus nothing equals everything. The Judaizers were trying to add something to the pure grace of the Gospel and Paul was astounded that they would even consider this:
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (Galatians 6:9)
On the other side of the coin, is the idea of antinomianism - against the law. These false teachers taught that since we are saved by grace we are free. Really free! Free to do anything and everything we want to do. We can sin all we want. “God will forgive us…it’s his job.” We still hear that idea today.
Paul answers these critics forcefully in his letter to the Romans:
“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2)
If you add anything to grace, it no longer is grace. If you presume upon grace, you make a mockery of God love and Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross.
Martin Luther wrote that understanding grace alone is the hinge on which all the other solas turn.
We are going to spend our time this morning in Ephesians 2:1-10.
To Ephesus with Love
The letter to the church at Ephesus has been called the crown jewel of Paul’s theology. It is the most contemporary of his writings and sounds like it could written about today’s events. It is relentlessly relational and profoundly theological.