Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)

Romans 4 is such an important chapter because of the key theological foundation laid there. In summary, Abraham was justified as a gift of God’s grace. He was “credited righteousness” by God as a result of his faith in God. And so it is with all who come to salvation in Jesus. We believe God’s promise that in Jesus’ death we have pardon and in his resurrection right standing (justification) and so we are credited righteousness. This is a gift of grace alone. God doesn’t rescue us by our faith or because of our faith, in fact the faith itself is a gift of God (see Ephesians 2:1-8). So we rejoice that it is grace and not wages that we receive from God. This holds us tightly in the best and worst times of life. We will look more deeply at this concept in Romans 5 but, for now, it is important that we not miss it.

500 years ago today, a monk who hated the righteousness of God for a good portion of his young life had enough clarity and conviction about salvation by grace alone that he literally staked his life on seeing the matter more clearly taught and practiced in the church. Luther had no idea where his action would take him, the church or without hyperbole, millions upon millions of people. He simply would not have the Gospel diluted by the teachings of men.

As we consider salvation by grace alone and mark Reformation Day once more, it seems wise to check our own hearts in two respects.

First, have we in any way given up on a practical level of salvation being by grace alone. Do you sometimes see yourself as doing something (or having done something) that wins God’s favor? Do you approach your life as a disciple in a wage earning mentality (I do this and God owes me that)?

Second, the phrase from our text I cannot let go of is at the end of verse 17, “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” How well do I show that I believe God to work like this in my life and in the lives of the people around me? Do I trust Him to call into being things that are not in my life? Do I trust Him to give life to the “least” likely spiritually dead person I know?

Might our clarity and convictions about the Gospel of grace reform us and those around us until our very lives are infused with the Good News about Jesus. Happy Reformation Day!