Sola Gratia: Grace Alone
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ– by grace you have been saved– (Ephesians 2:4-5)
During this year of celebrating the 500 anniversary of the Reformation, we hear a lot about the grace of God. "Grace alone!" is one of the mottos of the Reformation.
Grace is one of those words that is used so often and in so many ways that, more often than not, it is misunderstood. People find grace in a dancer's performance. But this is different than asking someone to say "grace" at the table.
In the Bible, God's grace is His favor towards us. His grace comes to us in Christ, that is, because of Christ's death for us on the cross as our substitute, which satisfied God's demands because of our sin. It is on Christ's behalf that God is favorably disposed toward mankind.
When Jesus was born the angels said, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." (Luke 2:14) Why was that? When our first parents Adam and Eve sinned God had mercy and promised salvation by a second Adam. (Genesis 3:15) In His boundless love God sent His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, into our flesh and laid on Him our sin, giving Him into death on the cross so that we might not die eternally. (1 John 4:10)
This is important in our understanding of how we are saved. In Christ the sin of all people is forgiven. In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself. (2 Corinthians 5:19) God sent His beloved Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
St. Paul writes, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." (Romans 3:23-24)
Martin Luther lived in a time when the church had pretty much forgotten about the grace of God. Most people lived in terror of their sins and in fear of the coming judgment of Christ. The end result was that they could not love God. Even Luther came to feel this way.
But that very grace of God, which was almost unknown in Luther's day, came to light again, and the truth of Christ began to shine and warm the hearts of people so that they repented and believed in Jesus. In Him they received a gracious God. And so do we.
Prayer: All glory be to God on high, and thanks for all His favor. Amen.