The doctrine of Sola Gratia, or grace alone, flies directly in the face of the works based salvation that the 16th century Catholic church was trying to enforce. Keep in mind that these five points were seen as heresy and those that confessed them as truth were dealt with quite harshly by the church. To speak truth was to speak heresy and heresy was punishable by death. Yet this did not deter the reforms. They spoke all the louder in the face of persecution and torture. They screamed through pain and tears about the wonders of Christ and His sufficient work on the cross. They cited aloud “grace alone” and believed that only through the grace of God could someone come into salvation. The doctrine of grace alone is simple, yet powerful. Simply put, we have been saved through grace and no amount of work or effort on our part was part of the equation. This is not a doctrine that is widely debated within Christian circles due to the very explicit language used in Romans 8 and Ephesians 2. No sound believer will say that they earned their salvation. If they do, they are not a believer. It’s a false Gospel they have their hope in. However, the contention arises when Christians believe they had a small part in the process of salvation when they accepted Christ into their heart. For starters, you can looked as hard as you want and you will never find anything in Scripture about inviting Jesus into your heart. This is actually complete nonsense. If this was possible, it would mean that there is something within our hearts that is not blinded by our sinful nature that actually desires to be saved. We know from Scripture that this is simply not true. We are totally depraved. we are unable to choose, much less desire Christ. Salvation is a gift that is imparted to us, undeserved and unasked for. Grace alone simply means that we offer nothing and Christ gives everything.
Sola fide is the doctrine of faith alone and describes our justification as being through faith. The faith that we have in Christ and His work on the cross is what bring about our justification. This faith is a very special thing. It is a belief, a confidence that is given to us in order that we may trust in the work of Christ. It is vital to remember that this faith is not a work or something that we conjure up in ourselves. Many will attempt to insert their will in this area. They say that they exercised their free will and accepted the gift of salvation in faith. Apart from the fact that free will is not a concept or belief that is found in scripture, this belief supposes that there is something within us that has the ability to choose good over evil. It supposes that we have a little something within us that has the ability to decipher good over evil. This is simply out of our ability to do without the grace of God being imputed to us. The order is very important here. We see the truth and perceive it to be true not because we have that innate ability, but because God have us the grace to see it. I understand and realize that in the moment it does seem as if we change our mind and make a conscience decision. Although we have what I like to call the “illusion of choice” is there, we are not at all responsible for this faith. There is a deeper magic to the salvation story than we are proved to at the moment of conversion. It is only after we grow in the knowledge of who God is and who we are that we come to understand the order in which our salvation was accomplished. Faith is given to us as a gift. We are not saved because we have faith, we have faith because we are of the elect and God opened our eyes to receive His truth. This is the correct way to think about faith. It is not an action that we are responsible for. It is simply God giving the ability to trust in the work of Christ and rely totally on Him for our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith. This is the means and the mode. God graciously gave us the ability to see His truth, gave us a new heart and a desire to follow Him. This is the story of salvation. This is the greatest story.