October 14, 2017

Sola Gratia: Salvation by Grace Alone

Ephesians 2:1-9

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

—  Ephesians 2:8-9

Perhaps the most familiar cry of the Reformation is that we are saved by grace alone. Opposing the position that we are saved by grace and good works, the Reformers firmly stated that our salvation comes only by God’s grace.

Consider the darkness of the human heart. If our salvation depended on the good we do, no one would be saved. Our very best works are “like filthy rags,” as Isaiah 64:6 puts it. The Reformers found Paul’s words in Ephesians crystal clear: our salvation cannot be bought or earned by us; as a gift it comes by grace alone.

Grace means “free and unmerited favor.” Salvation is God’s gift to us. Anything I might try to do to earn it would be ridiculously inadequate and completely unnecessary. You can’t earn a gift. As Frederick Buechner put it, “Grace is something you can never get but can only be given.”

John Newton, who wrote the song “Amazing Grace,” was a former slave-trader whose life God turned around. He learned that his salvation could only come by God’s grace.

Where should this amazing grace put us? It should drive us to our knees in awe and praise that God loves us. It should shape our thoughts and actions as we strive to love the one who loved us first.

You know, Lord, how much I like to pay my own way. Help me remember and be continually amazed that salvation is a gift from you. I could never earn it. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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