Sola Gratia (grace alone) is easily the most important of the five solas. Sola fide (faith alone) may have been the rallying cry of the Reformation and the most well known of the five solas, but it is based on sola gratia. We are saved by grace through faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “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.” It is God’s grace that saves us and not our faith. Faith is simply the way that God has chosen to appropriate his grace. This is a very important distinction. Our salvation does not depend upon our ‘own doing’ whether that means our own works or own our faith or even our own decision to confess Christ. Note the past tense. We have been saved. Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “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.” We have been saved by God’s love, mercy and grace. To try to earn our salvation in any way is to deny the grace of God. Galatians 5:4 says, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
We are all sinful creatures standing before a holy God. Romans 3:23-24 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Even though we are unrighteous, we are declared righteous (justified) by the grace of God. It was while we were sinners that Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). In both Ephesians 2 and Romans 3 Paul uses the term gift. He uses it again in Romans 6:23 which says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God’s grace is a gift. It is not earned in any way. Otherwise, it would not be a gift. We cannot earn God’s favour.
Grace is the essence of the Christian gospel. We have no other message than the message of grace. Grace is unique to Christianity. No other religion is based on grace. They are all based on people earning the favour of God or the gods by devotion or works. Grace is so fundamental to Christianity that many songs have been written about it. John Newton’s Amazing Grace is probably the best known song about God’s grace, but there are many others. Also, Christians have written books about grace. Philip Yancey’s What’s So Amazing About Grace is an excellent book on the subject. I am also writing a book about grace, but I have no idea when it will be published.
Because our salvation is based on God’s grace and not our works, our faith or our decisions we can have assurance that we have been saved. We may fail in our efforts, but God’s grace will never fail us.