Sola Gratia is one of the five doctrinal “solas” associated with the Reformation: sola Scriptura, sola fide, solo Christo, sola gratia, and soli Deo Gloria. These five “solas” distinguished this historic revival of Biblical Christianity from the Romish errors that had dominated “Christendom” from the 3rd to the 16th centuries A.D. In each of these it is the “sola” that is the necessary criterion for distinguishing the true doctrine from the false. Unfortunately, in the soteriological teachings of many professedly evangelical Protestant churches, schools, and groups, the sola in sola gratia is denied either implicitly or explicitly. This is done by some inconsistently while still maintaining confessional allegiance to sola gratia, or while explicitly professing assent to it.
1. Grace is Alone by Definition - Sola Gratia is Redundant!
There is a sense in which sola gratia is redundant! If grace is not "alone" it is not grace! "And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." (Romans 11:6) The grace of God by definition will not admit of any admixture of debt! "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt." (Romans 4:4)
2. Grace is Alone as Sovereign - God Will Not Share His Glory with Another!
If grace is not sovereign it is not grace, because God will not share His glory with another! "I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images." (Isaiah 42:8) "For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another." (Isaiah 48:11) Grace is depicted in Scripture as reigning as a sovereign: “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21) The God of grace is the giver of every good and perfect gift, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (Jas. 1:17) He actually reigns as the absolute Sovereign, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15) “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” (Rev. 17:14) “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Rev. 19:16) The nature of His grace is determined by His nature. The grace of a sovereign is sovereign grace, and the grace of God is absolute in its sovereign nature. It cannot be otherwise. Therefore, it is also redundant to describe God's grace by the modifiers "sovereign" or "free". If God's grace is not sovereign, then it is not grace at all. If it is not free, then it is not grace, and it most certainly is not God's grace.
3. Grace is Alone as Glorious - Pure Unmixed Grace, Sovereign Non-Contingent Grace is Praised by the Redeemed!
It is only such non-contingent, unmixed, sovereign grace of God that elicits the praise of His people: "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence" (Eph. 1:6-8)
Sola Gratia, Soli Deo Gloria,
John T. “Jack” Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel