As I mentioned previously, we’re currently working through five important truths in our teaching time (Credo) on Wednesday nights. These central beliefs are usually known by their Latin phrases: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), and soli Deo Gloria (for God’s glory alone). Collectively known as “solas,” these central beliefs serve as non-negotiables for the Christian faith. Last month we learned a little about sola scriptura and solus Christus. (Scripture alone is our sole authority; Christ alone is the mediator between God and humanity.) We’ll now tackle the remaining three.
Sola gratia affirms that salvation is utterly undeserved. Since Adam, every person who has ever lived has been in total rebellion against our holy creator God. As the examples of Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1–3), Uzzah (2 Sam 6:5–7), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11) suggest, God deals severely with sin. There is no reason—save the grace of God—that you or I should not face the swift justice that these biblical figures experienced. Indeed, by the debt of sin we have accrued, every one of us deserves nothing but death and Hell (Rom 6:23). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved!” (Eph 2:4–5). The good news of the gospel is that even when we were God’s enemies, God showed his love by sending his Son to bear the Father’s wrath toward sin (Rom 5:6–8). From beginning to end, God’s grace is a gift which God lavishes upon those who trust Christ.
Sola fide insists that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin on the cross is to be received by faith alone (Rom 3:24). The righteousness that God requires (and which humans have fallen short of) is supplied by Christ, who became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). This righteousness is achieved not by works—the keeping of the Law, good citizenship, church attendance, etc.—but instead by faith, so that no one can boast. This ensures that God’s gift of grace is indeed a pure gift, and in no way rests on human effort. Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to those who, like Abraham, look away from themselves to trust in God who justifies the ungodly (Rom 4). In this way, God is magnified as a glorious Savior, who accomplishes every aspect of our redemption in spite of our wickedness.
And so, appropriately, all of these truths have as their goal the great glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria). God’s radiance and renown are the purpose of our lives (1 Cor 10:31), and practically, this means that we aim to represent God as the great Savior he is in our lost and dying world. May we at Gainsville always strive to this end, giving thanks for the gift of reconciliation that is ours in Christ!