We have been considering in this New Year foundational principles and truths that will help you experience life as God intended, a life of goodness and blessing and delight.
These principles were re-affirmed to us 500 years ago during the period of church history called the Reformation. But understand, all of these ideas originate with God. They are contained within His Word. They emanate from His character.
These ideas have historically been called the Five Solas. And if you will embrace these truths and seek to live in light of them, then you are going to experience more of God’s wisdom and insight and presence and peace in the year ahead. Here are the five Solas and summary statements for the two that we have covered already:
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
God’s Word is your supreme and divine authority for truth. You let God rule in your life through the instruction and the teaching and the guidance of His Word.
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
You are saved / justified through faith alone in Jesus Christ, not by your works or heritage. And just as you come into God’s family by faith, so you live as a follower of Christ and take on the characteristics of God and His family by faith.
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone
Today we are focused on Sola Gratia – Grace Alone. When I was promoting this Sunday’s worship on facebook this week, I said this was the Happiest and Most Beautiful truth of all. And I mean that.
This week, I was thinking, if you embraced these principles and sought to live in light of them in the year ahead, what would they bring into you life?
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone = Strength
Sola Fide – Faith Alone = Peace
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone = Joy
Let’s consider the principle of Sola Gratia:
Sola Gratia / Grace Alone
You are saved by the grace of God alone. God does not bring you into His family because of your merit, but because He loves and values you. This is huge! Nothing could be huger!
God made you. God knows you. And God loves you. And because He loves you, God wants to draw you to Himself and to give you the kind of life that He has called abundant and good.
I want you to know, that God revealed Himself as gracious right from the beginning. This was not a new development when Jesus arrived on the scene as some might say.
When the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God’s love, there were painful consequences.
This helps us learn what is good versus what is not, but God still made provision for their daily and eternal needs and He promised that He would make a way for sin and evil to be destroyed.
He said to the serpent which tempted and misled Adam and Eve, “you will strike the heel of humankind’s offspring, but He will crush your head!”
Later, when God revealed His own character through His Law which described to His people what life lived with Him would look like, He wrote that law on two stone tablets and gave them to Moses.
Then God openly declared His character to Moses, and we have that recorded in Exodus chapter 34:
5 “Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with Moses and proclaimed His name, the Lord. 6 And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet He does not leave the guilty unpunished.” – Exodus 34:5-6
God has always been gracious.
Yes, He deals with sin in such a way that we learn that there is nothing good apart from Him. In fact, we find that everything that is not of God is not good. And that includes us when we go our own way.
But gracious God does not want for anyone to be separated from Him and His goodness. So that is why there is the Gospel – a plan, a message, a redemption.
Let’s look into the New Testament and see how God inspired the Apostle Paul to unpack this for us in the book of Ephesians:
1“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” – Ephesians 2:1-3
What I especially want us to take note of here is that my sins and your sins, our sinfulness, is exactly the same as the worst sin by the most evil people in all history.
In fact, rebelling against God’s sovereign love and preferring your own way, your own thoughts, your own desires, your own choices over God’s holy and perfect character and will is the same offense of the fallen angel Satan, who does not want God to rule over him and prefers himself to God.
So many people do not understand the seriousness of their sin.
And God is saying here, when you walk away from Me, when you refuse Me, when you prefer yourself, what you deserve is that kind of existence.
Life without God. Life without love. Life without anything that is good.
But let’s look at what God says next through His Word:
4 “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2:4-5
But God is gracious! God is loving! God is merciful!
And so through Christ His Son, crucified for our sin, showing in His resurrection that it is the power of sin that was put to death, God has made a way for you and I to come into His life eternal even while we are still sinners, struggling with all these destructive tendencies toward evil and selfishness.
And God did this not because we were so awesome that He couldn’t bear to let us go, not because He needs us, but simply because that’s who He is. He is gracious and forgiving. He wants you to experience His love. And so God sends Jesus His Son to save us.
6 “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” – Ephesians 2:6-7
Now, I’m telling you, you really should be getting excited over this.
Because God is saying, not only has He forgiven your sins, but in saving you He has joined you with Jesus, and He has raised you up with Christ, which means two additional realities.
One, He has credited you and considers you with the righteousness of Jesus. We talked about that last week.
And two, God has given you right now in part and then in eternity He will give you in fullness the gift of victory over sinfulness.
There will be a day, when you will not sin. You will not be selfish. You will not choose anything that is not of God and His will.
You will have the character of God. You will be like Christ, who lives in perfect conformity to the will of His Father.
And that’s not all! God is seating you with Him in heaven.
That means you will dwell eternally in His kingdom, and that could be the new heaven or the new earth as detailed in the books of Isaiah and Revelation, or any other place because everything will be under His dominion.
And wherever you are in the coming years, millennia, ages, God will be doing two things – He will be displaying His grace by the virtue of you being in His presence, and He will continue to express His kindness in bestowing upon you gift after gift, delight after delight, blessing upon blessing, the incomparable riches of His grace.
I know I’ve referenced this before, but you have to love what God said through Isaiah in the Old Testament, and then again through Paul in the New Testament:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.” – Isaiah 64:4; 65:17; Romans 2:9
Can I tell you something we do know? There are 100 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. That’s where our home is. Our sun is 1 star in 400 billion in this galaxy. There’s a whole lot of vast worlds out there.
And then beyond our galaxy, we believe based on how we can observe that there are 240 billion other galaxies in the known universe. 400 billion times 240 billion total star locations that we think we know of.
Now I can’t really understand that vastness. But all I’m saying is that God can prepare more for us to see, do, experience and enjoy than you and I can possibly fathom. And He is saying to you that for eternity you are going to be immersed in His grace, His goodness, His blessing.
Why? Back to His Word again:
8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” - Ephesians 2:8-10
Okay, God really wants you to get this.
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone.
He loves you, He saves you, He blesses you because that’s just who He is. He’s Your Father. He delights in giving good gifts to His children.
You see why I said this principle truth would bring you joy?
But there’s one more thing that He says here. Let’s don’t miss it as we finish.
God says through Paul, “I’m all about grace. You don’t have to earn My love, My favor, My salvation. I offer it to you through Jesus. Just believe it and receive it. And then realize that I’m the One who made you able to believe it and receive it. So even your accepting is My divine work. It’s not you.”
And oh, by the way, since I’m always giving you this grace and pouring it into your life and shaping your character so it’s like Mine, understand you can be gracious, too.
You are God’s handiwork, created through Jesus to do the good works that God prepared for you to do.
I got two phone calls this week that were heartbreaking. Both were from people who had been deeply hurt by someone else.
You know what that feels like. It’s part of life in this broken world.
You get blindsided. Someone takes advantage of your best intentions, and then they abuse you. They’re too caught up in themselves to consider you. And when you try to point that they’re hurting you, then they tell you it’s your fault. You’re the one with the problem.
That really hurts. Even though it’s partly true, because we’re all a part of the problem because we’re all sinful and broken.
But what is so painful is when you love and you do your best, you do the right thing, and someone doesn’t even care.
Understand - God knows. He sympathizes with you. He knows how you feel.
Receive this truth. Because of God’s grace alone you are saved, you are loved, you are redeemed and blessed.
And Live this truth.
God’s grace given to you, dwelling in you, is always part of the answer to every person, every problem, every pain.
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone.
This is the Happiest and Most Beautiful Truth of All.
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