5 Solas: Grace Alone Through Faith Alone

5 Solas

Grace Alone / Faith Alone

The Five Solas:

Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

Sola Fide: Faith Alone

Solus Christus: Christ Alone

Sola Deo Gloria: Glory to God Alone

What do we see? What does it mean?

Ephesians 2:1-10 (ESV) And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us (Who is the “us”? See chapter 1:3-4)[1], 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (“made us alive together with is one word)[2]by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show (point out)[3] the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

  • “And you were dead…” This was the big problem with Luther. The RC Church said man obtains God’s grace by doing his best to be holy in addition to the work of Christ.
  • However, due to Luther’s immersion in Paul’s letters, began to dispute this belief.
  • At the Heidelberg Disputation in September 1517, Luther set out some theses that stated his thoughts on Paul’s writings clearly:
  • Thesis 16: “The Person who believes that he can obtain grace by doing what is in him adds sin to sin so that he becomes doubly guilty.”
  • Luther believed in a post-fall “free will” but insofar as it is able to do evil. In other words, the will is free to do evil.
  • Erasmus would write his “Diatribe on Free Will”, and in response Luther would write his “Bondage of the Will”.

Grace “Alone”

  • Grace is: God’s undeserved or unfair favor in kindness to and strength for.
  • The RC Church was teaching that one’s standing with God was in Jesus along with one’s “merit” or “accomplishment” or “works”.
  • A person could do this by attending the Mass, the Lord’s Supper, confession, viewing relics, etc.
  • Another work? Indulgences: The selling of a Papal dismissal of a person’s time in Purgatory.
  • Through Jesus and these works they believed in the “infusion” of Christ’s Righteousness: Jesus’ righteousness was infused into us along with our good works to move us into God’s kingdom.
  • Problem? What does God think of our righteous works?
  • Isaiah 64:6 (ESV) We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
  • The RC Church thought that emphasizing “grace alone” cheapened justice and grace. The believed it would give license for people to sin. (We’ll get to that in a moment).
  • Enter Justification
  • We are not saved by the setting aside of justice but by the fulfillment of justice.
  • Jesus takes all of the Father’s anger toward my sin. Justice is served.
  • By God’s grace, the sinner has their sin removed and Christ’s righteousness “imputed” not merely infused. That is Christ’s righteousness is substituted for the sinner’s sin.
  • “Infusion” says we got some of Christ’s righteousness. “Imputation” says we get all of Christ’s righteousness in place of our filthy rags.
  • Grace is not free. Grace cost God everything. Grace is free to us, but it cost God everything. Grace alone highlights the price paid and the resulting riches for those who will repent and believe.
  • We are saved by grace, kept by grace and finish by grace.

“Grace saved a wretch like me, and grace will lead me home.” – John Newton

Faith “Alone”

  • Faith is: Hebrews 11:1 (ESV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
  • πίστις pístis; gen. písteōs, fem. noun from peíthō (3982), to win over, persuade. Faith. Subjectively meaning firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively meaning that which is believed, doctrine, the received articles of faith.[4]
  • Knowledge of the truth (information lands in the ears/on the senses) / Assimilation of the truth (making sense of the truth) / Personal trust in the truth (putting one’s hope in and acting upon the truth)
  • The RC Church taught that faith was added to good works.
  • In the Reformation, the Reformers asserted that faith stood alone as a result of grace.
  • In other words, we can’t contribute to our salvation at all.

“When the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: ‘I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where his is there I shall be also.’” – Martin Luther

“Here I must take counsel of the gospel, I must hearken to the gospel, which teaches me, not what I ought to do…, but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me:…that he suffered and died to deliver me from sin and death. The gospel wills me to receive this, and to believe it. And this is the truth of the gospel. It is also the principal article of all Christian doctrine, wherein the knowledge of all godliness consists. Most necessary it is therefore, that we should know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” – Martin Luther

Faith without Works…More Biblical Texts

1 Peter 2:10 (ESV) Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Hebrews 9:24-26 (ESV) For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Where Do Good Works Belong?

James 2:14-20 (ESV) What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?

James 2:26 (ESV) For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

“Faith is a living, restless thing. It cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works; but if there be no works, there must be something amiss with faith.” – Martin Luther

  • Faith is not a work. Faith produces work.
  • Works are a product of faith or there is no faith at all.
  • What are works of faith?
  • Extrapolate out “Love God” and “Love Neighbor as Yourself”.

How Does Salvation Work?

  • Grace…the undeserved favor of God to get the gospel to my ears.
  • God puts it into the hearts of his people to want to obey the command to preach the gospel.
  • God’s people overcome great odds to preach that good news.
  • Grace…the undeserved/unfair power of God to make that gospel effective in my soul by taking me from death to life.
  • Holy Spirit makes God’s word effective according to his elective work.
  • Faith…the work of God to take a newly raised to life soul and bring about knowledge of, assimilation of and personal trust in the truth of Jesus’ Christ.

How Do We Obey?

  1. We have confidence before God that he is for me.
  2. We treat each other graciously, not making each other earn our favor, forgiving offenses freely.
  3. We have assurance that we are God’s children, and we don’t have to fear what waits for us after death.
  4. We have to do everything we can do to get the good news to the ears of people who need to hear.
  5. We worship.

Psalm 50:23 (ESV) The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; …

The worship of God’s people is the result of a thankful heart that does not take its rescue for granted.



[1] Parenthesis Mine.

[2] Parenthesis Mine.

[3] Parenthesis Mine.

[4]  Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

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