Most of us can define grace as “God’s unmerited favor.” Grace is given without our merit – without our goodness or our worthiness. It is undeserved and given freely.
John 1:14 says that God is full of grace and John 1:16 says “from his fulness we have all received, grace upon grace”. Grace won’t run out over time; it overflows always…even in heaven.
Romans 5:20-21 says that, “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Grace can meet every sin, and grace reigns in the life of the believer. As Christians, we are not slaves to sin but slaves of God’s righteous grace.
Salvation comes because God can’t help BUT be gracious – “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it (referring to grace) is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). If God were not gracious, then we would have to work for everything. From Ephesians 2:8-9, we make the following observations:
Grace is given to those who are not worthy to receive it, who will never work hard enough to deserve it and who should give God glory when He gives it. God doesn’t save us because of who we are, but despite who we are. That is grace. When salvation comes, grace has appeared (Titus 2:11).
Sola Gratia means no good works can be used to apply for salvation. Only Christ’s righteousness can be applied (II Corinthians 5:21). And this makes grace costly, because it cost the Lord Jesus Christ His very life. It cost the Father sending His Son. Salvation is expensive in that respect. When Jesus said to count the cost in Luke 14:28, He was saying, “Salvation did not come to you in an easy manner, and the requirement to commit to Me will cost you everything. Weigh whether you want to do that or not.”
So, the greatest manifestation of grace is Jesus Christ. It was at the cross that both the justice of God and the love of God is seen. Because God requires a payment for sin (Exodus 34:7; Hebrews 9:22), God could not cease to be who He is – a just God. Jesus, the giver of grace, took God’s wrath as a payment for our sin. God infinitely cares about sin and sent His Infinite Son to pay for is. That is grace.
Therefore, we can say there is no such thing as cheap grace; grace is necessary because of sin. Carl Trueman reminds us that “Sin is violent lethal rebellion against God; and biblical grace is God’s violent, raw, and bloody response.” (Grace Alone, pg. 11)
The only way to salvation is through God’s grace. Sola Gratia. We say “grace alone,” which means “grace is enough.”
God’s grace is bigger than any human sin or weakness (Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 2:1-3). Apart from Sola Gratia, we are “dead men walking.” We are doomed and hopeless without Sola Gratia.
We are still in need of God’s grace, and nothing has changed as far as how we get it. We still are not able to work for it.
The question is never, “Is God gracious?” But “how will I respond to God’s grace?” Sola Gratia puts us in our place – as indebted to the One who saved us. It paints God as Sovereign and us as sinners. We are like John Newton said of himself, “I feel like a man who has no money in his pocket but is allowed to draw for all he wants upon one infinitely rich; I am, therefore, at once both a beggar and a rich man.”