This is post #2 in the Sola series. See previous post on Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) to get most of the historical background that you will need for this post.
Jesus was never abandoned in the Roman Catholic Church. Salvation was not abandoned. Jesus was just added to and there were multiple ways to forgiveness. Here’s a couple of examples…
- Pope Urban 2 granted immediate remission of sins to any who fought and died in the crusades.
- Pope Leo 10 granted the forgiveness of sin through the sale of indulgences.
The sale of indulgences was the situation to which the Reformers responded with the calls of grace, faith, and Christ alone (these are tied tightly together, and we will cover them in this order). Salvation had become a commodity that could be bought or sold. Grace alone is the specific response to the sale of forgiveness.
So what does Grace Alone mean?
Human beings have no claim upon God. God owes us nothing. Therefore, if God does not save any sinners then he is fair and just. If God does save some sinners, then he is gracious. Apart from grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved since in our lost condition human beings are not capable of winning or even seeking out God’s salvation. So, by declaring salvation to be by grace alone the Reformers were denying that human methods, techniques, or strategies in themselves could ever bring anyone to salvation.
What does the Scripture say about salvation being by grace alone?
- Romans 3:24, “[all] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”
- Romans 9:16, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.”
- Romans 11:5-6, “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
- Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”