This is the end of the series on the five solas. We’ve not sought to lay these theological foundation stones in any particular order, but this one is one of the most important next to Christ alone.
The title is obviously borrowed from that grand old hymn of the same name. It was written by slave trader turned theology student John Newton in 1779. The original song has 13 vv.
Grace, like many other things, is a very long and broad subject. However for our purposes here in staying w/ the subject as it applies to the five solas, I want to look at it as grace applies to salvation.
The gift is salvation as a whole.
The gift is offered but we receive or appropriate it by faith.
God’s grace for salvation is to all, but not all will believe it and receive it.
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
Contrary to some, I do not believe God’s grace is irresistible.
To assert that God chooses for some to believe and that they cannot resist violates the free will of man w/ which God created him/her.
Since the fall of man, the temptation has always been to be on the throne of our own lives.
Why did God even give Adam and Eve a choice in the first place if He was just going to arbitrarily make some believe?
The fact that God allows us to choose does not diminish or minimize His grace; rather, it amplifies it.
When God loves, revealing His inmost being in the fact that He loves and therefore seeks and creates fellowship, this being and doing is divine and distinct from all other loving to the extent that the love of God is grace. Grace is the distinctive mode of God’s being in so far as it seeks and creates fellowship by its own free inclination and favour, unconditioned by any merit or claim in the beloved, but also unhindered by any unworthiness or opposition in the latter—able, on the contrary, to overcome all unworthiness and opposition. It is in this distinctive characteristic that we recognise the divinity of God’s love. (Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God, Part One).
God’s grace is the manifestation of His love (John 3:16).
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus, therefore, is the embodiment of God’s love and grace.
God’s grace is to all and the fact that some do not receive it proves it is not forced.
Defining grace and salvation
Defining grace and salvation
What are we saved from or what are we saved for or unto? To better understand what grace has done for us, we must understanding what it means to be saved.
Salvation in the broader sense is to reverse the effects of the fall. The fall didn't just bring sin into the world; it also brought everything that sin embodies and all of sin’s effects with it.
1). Disobedience - now disobedience was a natural part of all mankind's DNA.
2). Depravity - man’s disobedience naturally flowed from his depraved nature that was the consequence of his disobedience. Left to his own depravity, man will destroy himself.
3). Deficiency - man no longer measured up to the standard God has set for him. Mankind was unrighteous no matter who good he/she was.
4). Destitution - Mankind moved from abundance to now to obtaining through the sweat of his brow.
5). Disease - a body now cursed w/ sin susceptible to infections, viruses, and cellular abnormalities.
6). Destruction - sin is the impetus of all forms of malevolent destruction, including but not limited to fleshly appetites that destroy both mind and body. However, not all destruction is bad.
7). Death - both spiritual and physical. But death also seeks to manifest in many areas of our lives.
The best way to understand what a word means is its usage. The Greek σώζω therefore is translated "to save, deliver, make whole, preserve safe from danger, loss, or destruction.
Therefore, to be saved means my spiritual DNA has been re-written w/ a new code--the code of righteousness and obedience. It also means I'm no longer deficient b/c my acceptance w/ God no longer depends upon me but on Christ.
Being saved means I'm made whole and preserved from the curse of poverty and disease and that no matter what my need or lack is God will supply it according to His own riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
And finally, being saved means that death is not the final answer in my life for I have been delivered from its clutches and preserved from its dangers. This includes being delivered from the second death, or God's eternal judgment on all sin and disobedience.
This passage is a neg/pos showing forth the contrast between the law and its results and the free gift (grace) of God.
Vv. 6-11 - If Christ's death made us acceptable to God, how much more shall His life ensure our reconciliation to Him?!
What shall we conclude about saving grace? It is the love gift of God that reverses the effects of the fall.
We conclude that it is by grace alone that we are saved. The law was given that man might recognize he was lost and reach out for a savior.
Grace searches us out; it looks for us even before we know we are lost.
Grace saves us; it releases us from our past, refreshes our spirits and re-unites us w/ the God who created us.
Grace secures us; once we are in its loving clutches, we cannot get out or be taken out; for to do so would prove that we were never in its grasp in the first place.