Sola Gratia


by Mike Ratliff

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB) 

“Sir, I understand that you are called an Arminian; and I have been sometimes called a Calvinist; and therefore I suppose we are to draw daggers. But before I consent to begin the combat, with your permission I will ask you a few questions…. Pray, Sir, do you feel yourself a depraved creature, so depraved that you would never have thought of turning to God, if God had not first put into your heart?”

“Yes,” says [Wesley], “I do indeed.”

“And do you utterly despair of recommending yourself to God by anything you can do; and look for salvation solely through the blood and righteousness of Christ?”

“Yes, solely through Christ.”

“But, Sir, supposing you were at first saved by Christ, are you not somehow or other to save yourself afterwards by your own works?”

“No, I must be saved by Christ from first to last.”

“Allowing, then that you were first turned by the grace of God, are you not in some way or other to keep yourself by your own power?”

“No.”

“What, then are you to be upheld every hour and every moment by God, as much as an infant in its mother’s arms?”

“Yes, altogether.”

“And is all your hope in the grace and mercy of God to preserve you unto His heavenly kingdom?

“Yes, I have no hope but in Him.”

“Then, Sir, with your leave I will put up my dagger again; for this is all my Calvinism; this is my election, my justification by faith, my final perseverance: it is in substance all that I hold, and as I hold it; and therefore, if you please, instead of searching out terms and phrases to be a ground of contention between us, we will cordially unite things wherein we agree.” – From the writings of Charles Simeon, a recorded conversation between him and John Wesley on December 20, 1784.

I personally have little use for Calvinists who treat the Gospel as if it is something unpalatable or off limits or to be shared only with a small group of people. No matter if we are Calvinists or Arminians who differ on some doctrinal points, I will consider all my brother or sister in Christ those who profess sola gratia, by grace alone. On the other hand, those who trash the Gospel by making it totally subordinate to men with God a helpless bystander will witness me raising my Monergistic flag. Monergism states that salvation is by grace alone and any addition at all to God’s grace is to destroy its graciousness, its very nature as a gift. Continue reading