By Grace Through Faith 2 1 j And you were k dead in the trespasses and sins 2 l in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following m the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in n the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in o the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body 1 and the mind, and p were by nature q children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 2 4 But 1 God, being r rich in mercy, s because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even t when we were dead in our trespasses, u made us alive together with Christ— v by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and w seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable x riches of his grace in y kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For z by grace you have been saved a through faith. And this is b not your own doing; c it is the gift of God, 9 d not a result of works, e so that no one may boast. 10 For f we are his workmanship, g created in Christ Jesus h for good works, i which God prepared beforehand, j that we should walk in them.
2 1 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ὑμῶν, 2 ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας• 3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί• 4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει, διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς, 5 καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν συνεζωοποίησεν τῷ Χριστῷ, - χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι - 6 καὶ συνήγειρεν καὶ συνεκάθισεν ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 7 ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσιν τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις τὸ ὑπερβάλλον πλοῦτος τῆς χάριτος αὐτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. 8 Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως• καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον• 9 οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων, ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται. 10 αὐτοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν ποίημα, κτισθέντες ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ ἐπὶ ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς οἷς προητοίμασεν ὁ θεός, ἵνα ἐν αὐτοῖς περιπατήσωμεν.
Sola Gratia! Introduction The 'sola' makes all the difference. Recap Sola Scriptura. Same today; it's the 'sola' gratia that makes all the difference [cf islam, cultural Christianity, even humanism and RAK, and also back in Catholicism] For many of us, sadly, we've come to despise grace. Either because of the flesh - we want to have a reason to be proud, or we're so self-absorbed we just won't believe that God is really 'rich in mercy' (v4). Or, because we've come to associate it with fake, cheap grace [Bonhoeffer], so prevalent in wider church and always has been a danger. Here is possibly Satan's subtlest lie. Create a counterfeit of our greatest treasure, so that we hate it and throw it out [Rolex]. [Stop and consider this before we go any further - do you love grace?][solution to abuse is correct use - Patek Philippe (?) - use it, enjoy it, protect it and pass on to next generation] Sola gratia, v1-7 Not just that he makes it possible to be saved, but that he saves. [lifeboat][treasure benefactor][dead, resus, hospital bed] Solus Christus. [cf the Ark] [God's treasury; the Father's riches given to Christ, and we are beneficiaries as those in him, united to him by the Spirit. Benefactor - trustee - executor - beneficiaries] [the only location of his special grace; and even common grace is really there to call us to Christ] So the big deal is not so much 'justified by grace' - to a catholic, or the human heart. It's that the whole thing, the sanctification as well, is 'by grace'. [Older brother in prodigal son story, Pharisees etc]. v8 by grace you have been saved. v9 not a result of works. Luther: gospel is the treasure of the church, and justification is the treasure of the gospel. Lose it, lose everything. [gospel-centred]. Not the same message each time, but new riches from the same place each time, whatever the text. Application Why are you here? Above all, because God is rich in mercy and wants you here. Not my wish, not your wish above all. His mercy. Hope for the hopeless. Blessed are the poor in spirit. I have not come for the righteous, but sinners. [this includes our struggles with mental and emotional health] Do you live by grace? Notorious irony among 'reformed' Christians is that they don't display the beauty of the grace they talk so readily about. Do you go to the throne of grace, the great treasury, as a beneficiary in Christ? Limitless withdrawals. Some proofs - faith, hope, love, thanksgiving. Humility of character! Frequent, ready repentance - both personal and to others. Apologising, since you're humble. Culture of grace - eg in your home. Approachability. Way of relating to those different to you. Love enemies etc, 'sons of your father'. Other Christians, those who keep messing up. [Older brother again] Forgiveness. Way of receiving 'dis-grace' from others; people who attempt to punish us, wound us, control us, scare us. [cf men with happy homes can handle almost anything; Christians who know and live on grace can handle anything]. The future; trust in future withdrawals? Goodness 'stored up' (Psalm 31) How we respond to things we can't fix or control [take up your cross and follow me]. Some things God leaves unfixed for his glory [Lazarus left dead] Sola fide, v8 the means. Not itself a merit, but itself a gift. [lifejacket is given] Luther: At last, by the mercy of God, meditating day and night, I gave heed to the context of the words, namely, “In it the righteousness of God is revealed as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live.’” There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is that by which the righteous lives by a gift of God, namely by faith. And this is the meaning: the righteousness of God is revealed by the gospel, namely, the passive righteousness with which merciful God justifies us by faith, as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Here I felt that I was altogether born again and had entered paradise itself through open gates. 15 In light of Luther’s durchbruch, if we were to use but one word to characterize the Reformation, it might be rediscovery, that is, a rediscovery of the evangel, the gospel. It is right to conclude, then, that the Reformation was an evangelical reform at its root. Soli deo gloria, v8b-10 his grace and initiative his gift of faith his Son his good works prepared Matthew Barrett et al: Yet the following are differences yet to be resolved: 1) Is justification the action of God alone, or do we who receive it cooperate by our response to God’s offer of grace? 2) Does God, when He justifies us, simply impute to us the merits of Christ, or does He transform us and make us intrinsically righteous? 3) Do we receive justification by faith alone, or only by a faith enlivened by love and fruitful in good works? 4) Is the reward of heavenly life a free gift of God to believers, or do they merit it by their faithfulness and good works?15 For all the progress in mutual understanding represented by the Joint Declaration, says Dulles, at least for its part, Rome continues to affirm over against the Reformers the second answer to each of these questions. Dulles observes first that, according to the Council of Trent’s “Decree on Justification” (1547), “human cooperation is involved” in justification. “Secondly, it taught that justification consists in an inner renewal brought about by divine grace; thirdly, that justification does not take place by faith without hope, charity, and good works; and finally, that the justified, by performing good works, merit the reward of eternal life.”16 Nothing in the Joint Declaration may be interpreted as contradicting Trent or any subsequent magisterial teaching. Justification is not just one doctrine among many. Nor is it an isolated sola—one of the “five points” of Protestants. The judgment of Roman Catholic theologian Paul Molnar is exactly right: “For all the supposed agreement of the Joint Declaration, the fact remains that Roman Catholic and Reformed theology are still separated in practice by this most basic way of thinking about our relationship with God.”20 At stake is solo Christo—whether we are saved solely by the merits of Christ or whether, by our grace-empowered cooperation, we can truly merit everlasting life. It is a question about whether God is just and merciful; whether fallen human beings are spiritually dead or only morally weak; whether Christ’s obedient life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection are sufficient for the redemption of sinners; and whether the triune God should therefore receive all the praise and thanksgiving for salvation from beginning to end. It is therefore a question, too, about whether the church is the mother of Scripture, able to promulgate new doctrines and forms of worship, or whether the church is the daughter of the Word, rescued and ruled by a Word that it does not and cannot speak to itself. Conclusion The way in is the way on. Never move beyond grace. Colossians 2.6. Grace ALONE. Luther said this was the treasure; we lose it, all we have is residue. A transforming sight [cf grand canyon, northumberland coast, newborn baby] Metal is moulded by warming it. 2 Corinthians 3.18. Otherwise, moulding it ultimately breaks it. The Lord's Supper No longer an altar, but a table Not bread only, but the wine Not a repeated sacrifice, but a commemoration, an anticipation, and a participation Drama that we physically participate in, and by it receive real Spiritual nourishment and grace from the Lord Jesus. We come to the great treasury table together.