“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sola Gratia - Part 2 - Our Condition

Why is sola gratia so disliked, or misunderstood by the majority of Christians today? Because it reduces our self-esteem to ashes, and everyone knows that we, (I speak specifically of those in the US, my cultural milieu) are the ‘can-do’ folks – we believe that we can do anything we put our mind to, including having a hand in our own salvation, and therefore, the doctrine of sola gratia is a stench in our nostrils. While this doctrine forces us to admit that we cannot do anything to save ourselves, most within modern evangelicalism have been taught, or believe that there MUST be something within us that merited God’s grace.

It is a mighty hard pill to swallow that it is God’s unmerited grace that brings us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ! Robert Schuller is so offended by this doctrine that he openly refutes it and speaks of its awful affect on mankind – but that is because Robert Schuller believes, at the end of the day, that the most important thing in all the world is our self-esteem.

Rather than spar with others who want to defend the pastors who preach against sola gratia, let's just examine what the Bible says about man’s condition. Let's just see if it says somewhere that we add to God’s grace, or that we somehow merit it.

I will be honest with you – there is not a dearth of Scripture that supports sola gratia – there are actually so many Scriptures that support it, that I pared the list down to reduce the size of this post.

So, let us look at some of the Scriptures that speak of man’s condition:

In Psalm 51:5 David speaks of his inherent wickedness: Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

And then there is Paul’s statement in Romans 3:10 - 12 – in which he quotes from Psalm 14 and 53 -- as it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.

Ephesians 2:1 – 3 -- And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 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 — 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.

These, and many other Scriptures make it abundantly clear that it is sola gratia that we are saved. We place too little import on the effects of Adam’s fall. It was totally disastrous, sending mankind from a state of grace into a position of inherent sin. We are not sinners because we sin – we sin because we are inherently sinners.

Not only are we inherently sinners, but we are dead to God – we are dead in our trespasses and sins – we are not simply sick, needing a hand up from God, but dead without a hope of 'helping' ourselves! (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). Jesus did not set a vial of medicine outside the tomb of Lazarus and tell him – “Lazarus, drag yourself out here and take this medicine that I provided!” No, rather, Jesus went to the tomb – HE directed the stone be rolled away, HE prayed, HE called Lazarus, and when Lazarus was regenerated by God, he then came out.

For crying out loud, Lazarus could not even unwrap himself! Now, with that in mind – why in the world do we somehow believe that we, who were dead in our trespasses and sins, stinking to high heaven, wrapped in the death clothes of sin, could drag our way to Jesus until we could grab on?

My friends we were as dead as a doornail in our sins, just as Lazarus was, and it was God’s grace that put life in the rotting corpse and regenerated it; providing faith upon which we walk out of the tomb towards our Savior’s voice who calls us! WOW! Why would ANYONE want to deny that?


David Norris said...

Robert H Schuller believes that possibility thinking is second only to the resurrection in importance. What blasphemy!

Ray said...

My favorite Schuller thought is the one that says that Jesus died on the cross for our self-esteem! (I am paraphrasing).

Just the title of his books are enough to tell you that he is off the trail -- "Self Esteem: The New Reformation"...

I am amazed by the number of Christians that I encounter that find nothing wrong with these ideas!