What is the significance of "sola gratia"?
Sola gratia is a Latin phrase that means "grace alone." Sola gratia means that salvation from sin and death is provided by God's unmerited favor alone, and we can do nothing to earn it. The concept is expressed in Ephesians 2:8-9 which reads, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
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Sola gratia is one of the five "solas" of the Protestant Reformation. The others are:
1) Sola scriptura: Scripture alone; God gave us His Word through Scripture, not papal authority or sacred tradition
2) Sola fide: Faith alone; salvation is by grace, through faith, not our works (Ephesians 2:8-9)
3) Sola Christus: Christ alone; Jesus is the only way to salvation (John 14:6)
4) Sola Deo Gloria: glory of God alone; everything we do should be for God's glory (Colossians 3:17)
These were foundational beliefs during the development of the Protestant Reformation, and continue to be vital today.
Why is it essential to believe and teach that salvation is provided by grace alone? First, Scripture is clear that no person seeks God of his or her own initiative: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God" (Romans 3:10-11). Instead, God must reach out to sinful humanity (Romans 3:23). Christ died for us while we were still ungodly (Romans 5:8). Further, Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). He actively pursues sinners, calling us to faith in His name.
When a person does accept Christ by grace through faith, Jesus is the One who gives eternal life (John 3:16) and makes us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Once we have become a believer in Christ, God's Spirit provides the power to live for Him and keeps us in the love of God (Roman 8:37-39). Ultimately, Christ also gives us assurance of eternal life (1 John 5:13).
Salvation is by God's grace alone because He is the One who created us, provided a way of salvation for us, seeks us, gives us faith, changes us when we do believe in Him, empowers us to live for Him, keeps us in His love, and will take us to be with Him for eternity. At no point do our good works provide salvation. This is why sola gratia was not only an important belief during the Protestant Reformation, but remains essential to Christian faith and living today.
What is the significance of "sola fide"?
Is salvation by faith or works or both?
What does it mean that faith without works is dead?
Is God sovereign or do we have free will?
Is 'once saved always saved' a biblical concept?
Truth about Salvation