Sola Gratia

No. 57 - 12th November 2017

The other day I was reminded of a nursery rhyme we used to chant when I was a child. “Pussy Cat, Pussy Cat where have you been? I’ve been to London to see the Queen”. Well, it got me wondering what would happen if I decided to go to London to see the Queen. I don’t imagine I would even get past the Palace gates. I mean, why would she want to see me? I’m not rich or famous or powerful. I’ve got nothing that she needs so there’s absolutely no reason why she would be interested in me. If by a long stretch of the imagination she did agree to meet me, that would be incredibly gracious of her. That’s what grace is. It’s doing something purely out of the goodness of your heart, and for no other reason.

I’ve been looking at the five pillars of the Protestant Reformation, and the third pillar was Sole Gratia. By grace alone. It follows the same argument as with the Queen. If I decided to get back in touch with God, no amount of bowing and scraping would achieve it. He’s not interested in how much money I’ve got. I’m not even a good enough person to impress him in any way. There is absolutely no reason why God should give me any time at all. And the fact that he does, is by Grace alone. Out of the goodness of his heart. He’s an astonishingly gracious God.

This is what Martin Luther kept coming back to. The realisation that his salvation rested entirely on God’s decision to re-establish the broken relationship with human beings. As Luther looked around at all the different ways that people were trying impress God, he realised that it was all meaningless. If God didn’t want to know me, that would be the end of the matter. Nothing I could do, or offer Him, would make the slightest difference. But the fact that God actually wants to spend time with me, is at the heart of the Reformation. That’s where it all starts. Sole Gratia. By the Grace of God he wants me in his family. My reaction is “Wow! That’s amazing”. Or as the slave trader John Newton put it, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see”. By Grace alone.

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