BibliologyThe 5 Solas of the Reformation by Scott Bushey
The 5 Solas of the Reformation
For the next few weeks we will talk about the solas and how it applies to reformed biblical thinking. It is not just a notion, but highly biblical.
As with TULIP, no one really knows how the Solas were actually coined. Some say that it was based on Aristole’s categories: Aristotle was a Greek philosopher.
One can compare these categories with the SOLAS:
soli deo gloria
Ronald Hanko writes:
“God is so great that we cannot know Him unless He reveals Himself to us. He is so great that we cannot see Him or touch Him (1 Tim. 6:16), and so He reveals Himself to us as our Savior and Father by His Word. We ought not to be surprised about that, since speech is the principal means of communication even among ourselves, who were created in His image.
Nevertheless, that God speaks to men is a miracle. It is a miracle, in the first place, that the infinite and eternal God should speak of Himself and His own glory in our limited and imperfect speech and yet make something of Himself truly known to us. It is God whom we know and with whom we have fellowship through His Word.
In the second place, God’s speaking to men is a miracle because, just as with human language, that speech of God to us is more than just a means of communication. It is the means by which we have fellowship with God, know Him, and love Him. As a man knows and loves the voice of his beloved wife above all others, so really do we know and love God through hearing His voice (Song of sol. 2:14).
In the third place, God’s revelation of Himself through His Word is a miracle because the Word is not mere sounds in the air, nor marks upon a page, but living and abiding (1 Pet. 1:23). It is a Word that we not only hear and read, but that takes on visible form and becomes a tangible revelation of the living and unseen God (1 John 1:1) so that though God is forever unseeable, we do see Him in the person of His Son, the Word made flesh.
Finally, the Word is a miracle because it is an act of the greatest possible condescension and mercy that God should speak to us. Since we have fallen into sin, would it not be more fitting that He withdraw Himself and hide Himself from us? Yet He speaks, and speaks peace.
That God speaks in mercy as our Father and Savior is possible only because of the inseparable relation between the Word made flesh and the Word written and read and preached. Neither can exist without the other. Only through the written Word do we know the living Word; there is no other possibility, whatever those who speak of direct revelations may claim. Nor is the written Word understood and received unless one also knows and receives it through that living Word made flesh.
There are errors to be avoided on both sides. On the one hand, we must avoid all talk of knowing and believing Christ apart from the Scriptures, as though, now that the Bible is complete, we can have fellowship with Him, hear Him, and see Him apart from those Scriptures. On the other hand, we may never forget that to read the Scriptures and not find Christ in them (John 5:39-40) is to read them without understanding and in vain.
So that these Scriptures may never be doubted or forgotten, they have been given to us in written form and preserved in that form by God from the earliest times. It is by these Scriptures alone that God is pleased to make Himself known in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. “They are they,” Jesus says, “which testify of me” (v.39). Let us then give the more earnest heed to them (Heb. 2:1).”
~Ronald Hanko; Doctrine According to Godliness, pp. 9-11
God’s word is truth; Truth is infinite. Lies are finite. The truth is absolute. Lies are restricted and conditional.
Jesus said it best, “I am the way, the truth and the life’. It is mankind’s only constant. It is pure and undefiled. It is the only thing pure. It gives life.
The antithesis to truth is lies; Christ, the word is truth and the devil is lies.
John 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
It is the responsibility of every believer to mine for gold; to pursue truth, to find the field and buy it. God’s word is always under attack by the devils. Over time, we see the creeds that have piled up in response to these lies. God uses His bride to define what His truth states. It is never a thing of individuality. Men are corrupt, alone. In numbers, they are safe-generally. The bride is not one person, but many.
Our rule of faith is God’s holy word.
William Goode writes:
Goode endorses the doctrine of God’s word is the rule of faith that His church and it’s people follow.
“Rule of faith” or in the Latin, ‘Regula Fidei’ is essentially taken form the Apostle Paul’s statement in Romans chapter 12:6
6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
The portion that says, ‘portion of his faith’ is where the church gets the idea ‘rule of faith’. In the Greek, the word ‘portion’ is akin to an analogy.
356. ἀναλογία analogia; from 303 and 3056; proportion: —proportion(1).
John Hendryx of Monergism.com illuminates what this actually means:
“The “analogy of faith” is a reformed hermeneutical principle which states that, since all scriptures are harmoniously united with no essential contradictions, therefore, every proposed interpretation of any passage must be compared with what the other parts of the bible teach. In other words, the “faith,” or body of doctrine, which the scriptures as a whole proclaim will not be contradicted in any way by any passage. Therefore, if two or three different interpretations of a verse are equally possible, any interpretation that contradicts the clear teaching of any other scriptures must be ruled out from the beginning.”
Chapter 1 of the WCF states:
“I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence, do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of his will, which is necessary unto salvation; therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal himself, and to declare that his will unto his Church; and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing; which maketh the holy Scripture to be most necessary; those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people being now ceased.”
Hebrews 1:1 says: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;”
So, our rule of faith is God’s holy word. You might ask, “Scott, is this passage not saying that God spoke in days past through prophets and now speaks through Christ alone?” Yes, it does. All of the words in the canon are of Christ. Christ is God. We are not to take this idea and distort it to imply that we are to only follow what Christ says in just the New Testament-that would be silly. In John 1 it says:
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
This is an unavoidable fact that the word has always been, prior to His becoming flesh and the whole canon are the words of Christ-the canon is the word documented. It is at the crux of our analogy of faith.
Calvin expounds a bit on the idea:
FORMERLY BY THE PROPHETS . . . . . . NOW BY THE SON;
THEN TO THE FATHERS, . . . . . . BUT NOW TO US;
THEN AT VARIOUS TIMES . . . . . . NOW AS AT THE END OF TIMES”
Since scripture is our rule of faith, we use it accordingly:
2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,”
All scripture! Notice the word ‘inspiration’ is used. The men God chose to deliver the canon to breathed in,‘inspired’ God’s actual breath. God breathed out and men breathed in, ‘inspired’. In His breath is life. You recall how God breathed into Adam and he lived. The same can be said of this description of breathing. God’s word gives life. It regenerates the dead man, just like it did Adam in creation.
Having established a few things in relation to the canon and God’s word, this brings us to the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
Gregg Strawbridge writes:
“Sola Scriptura: The Scripture Alone is the Standard
The doctrine that the Bible alone is the ultimate authority was the “Formal Principle” of the Reformation. In 1521 at the historic interrogation of Luther at the Diet of Worms, he declared his conscience to be captive to the Word of God saying, “Unless I am overcome with testimonies from Scripture or with evident reasons — for I believe neither the Pope nor the Councils, since they have often erred and contradicted one another — I am overcome by the Scripture texts which I have adduced, and my conscience is bound by God’s Word.” Similarly, the Belgic Confession stated, “We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein…Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God… Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule” (VII).
As the Scripture says,
Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Thy law….I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, And give thanks to Thy name for Thy lovingkindness and Thy truth; For Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name….You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them; and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (Psalm 119:18; Psalm 138:2; II Tim. 3:14-17)”
The Protestant view of sola scriptura is amplified by C. Hodge:
“Again, Protestants admit that as there has been an uninterrupted tradition of truth from the protevangelium to the close of the Apocalypse, so there has been a stream of traditionary teaching flowing through the Christian Church from the day of Pentecost to the present time. This tradition is so far a rule of faith that nothing contrary to it can be true. Christians do not stand isolated, each holding his own creed. They constitute one body, having one common creed. Rejecting that creed, or any of its parts, is the rejection of the fellowship of Christians, incompatible with the communion of saints, or membership in the body of Christ. In other words, Protestants admit that there is a common faith of the Church, which no man is at liberty to reject, and which no man can reject and be a Christian.”
The doctrine of sola scriptura does not mean that scripture is open to private interpretation;
2Pet. 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
and even though we have this passage it does not undermine the doctrine of Sola Scriptura:
John 16:13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
When Jesus used these terms, He was speaking to the church.
Solo vs Sola
For example, solo scriptura is not biblical. One needs to understand this distinction. It is scripture alone, but that identification is attached to the Body of Christ who has validated truth. God’s word states:
Psa. 55:14 We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.
Prov. 11:14 Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
Prov. 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, But he who heeds counsel is wise.
Prov. 15:22 Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.
2 Peter 1:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
Keith Mathison writes:
“The revisionist doctrine of “solo” Scriptura has become so entrenched in the modern church that many Protestant Christians today will sympathize more with the sentiments of the liberal and sectarian clergymen quoted above than they will with the teaching of the reformers. The doctrine of “solo” Scriptura, however, is as problematic and dangerous today as it was in previous centuries. It remains unbiblical, illogical, and unworkable.
The fundamental problem with “solo” Scriptura is that it results in autonomy. It results in final authority being placed somewhere other than the Word of God. It shares this problem with the Roman Catholic doctrine. The only difference is that the Roman Catholic doctrine places final authority in the church while “solo” Scriptura places final authority in each individual believer. Every doctrine and practice is measured against a final standard, and that final standard is the individual’s personal judgment of what is and is not biblical. The result is subjectivism and relativism. The reformers’ appeal to “Scripture alone,” however, was never intended to mean “me alone.”
Example: How did the church canonize God’s word? Was it canonized based on an individual or the church?
Matthew Winzer writes: “The slogan is in the ablative, “by Scripture alone,” which intends to state the fact that Scripture alone is the norming norm, but also assumes that there is a normed norm in the confession of the church. The abuse of the slogan has been labeled “solo scriptura” because it taken the Scripture alone as the norm without any confession of the church.”
Any Latin expert will tell you that the term ‘solo scriptura’ itself is flawed; grammatically, it is incorrect.
How are errors in the church, in doctrine rooted out? By individuals or by the church body?
Matt Mcmahon writes:
“Sola Scriptura should not be used as a “me and my bible” hermeneutic which allows “each individual Christian” to maintain their own theological view point on a given doctrine. That is not what the Reformers intended, and it is not what the doctrine of Sola Scriptura teaches. If you believe that Sola Scriptura means “each individual Christian should, on an individual level, use the Bible alone in understanding and determining the corpus of biblical truth” you have completely missed the idea and point of the doctrine itself.”
Solo Christo-Christ alone:
1) Do you know, without a shadow of a doubt that if you died today, you would be translated to Heaven to be with God through all eternity?
2) If you stood at the gate of heaven and God were to ask you, ‘why should I let you into my Heaven?’, what would you say?
If you ask 100 Christians, the majority will blow the answer to these 2 questions. Most will respond with , ‘No one can really know for sure’ or ‘I think so’. ‘I’ve been a good person’ or ‘I’ve done more good than bad’. These examples show that the person is not understanding solo Christo and possibly remain in their sin.
What exactly does ‘Christ alone’ mean?
You can immediately see the difference in the Latin here; sola vs solo. In this however, it is solo Christo, Christ alone, and nothing else.
2Cor. 3:4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
In essence, alone, we are inadequate. Our adequacy is from God alone, through Christ alone.
We err not like the Romanists who say that it is Christ, plus our works. We err not like the synergists who say that men must repent and be born again as if these things catalyze the grace of God and are a result of us doing these things, insinuating that Christ is off to the side waiting feverishly that possibly some men will choose Him-possibly leaving heaven empty! No, we attribute everything to the grace of God in Christ alone.
What is utterly different of our faith from all others is that we acknowledge our impotence when it comes to a Holy God; In light of God’s glory, majesty, holiness, perfection, we see this problem. All other religions place most of the oneness on the person. It is the persons righteousness that is the justification. Even those whom subscribe to the work of Christ err often in that it is still Christ plus the work of the individual as if to imply, the work of Christ was not enough, God sacrificing His own son in hope of reconciling men back to Himself. Ultimately, this is a skewed vista. In the covenant of redemption, God the Father, gave God the son a peoples as a gift. This gifting was not a secondary response to God seeing outside of time men falling, hence the Father responding accordingly to fix the system. No, it was the primary plan to begin with. This covenant happened on the front end, not a s a result of.
Christianity brings grace to the front where all others place it behind the person. It is secondary.
The Shorter Catechism states:
“Quest. 21. Who is the Redeemer of God’s elect?
Ans. 21. The only Redeemer of God’s elect is the Lord Jesus Christ,(1) who, being the eternal Son of God, became man,(2) and so was, and continueth to be, God and man in two distinct natures, and one person, for ever.(3)
(1) I Tim. 2:5-6.
(2) John 1:14; Gal. 4:4.
(3) Rom. 9:5; Luke 1:35; Col. 2:9; Heb. 7:24-25.”
Chapter 3 of the Westminster Confession of Faith reads:
“V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to his eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of his will, hath chosen in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of his free grace and love alone, without any foresight of faith or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving him thereunto; and all to the praise of his glorious grace.
VI. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only”
Chapter 11 says:
“I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.”
Chapter 14 says:
“II. By this faith, a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word, for the authority of god himself speaking therein; and acteth differently, upon that which each particular passage thereof containeth; yielding obedience to the commands, trembling at the threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come. But the principle acts of saving faith are, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.”
“All the passages in the Holy Scriptures that mention assistance are they that do away with “free-will”, and these are countless … For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because “free-will” can do nothing.”
– Martin Luther, Bondage of the Will, pg. 270
If any man doth ascribe of salvation, even the very least, to the free will of man, he knoweth nothing of grace, and he hath not learnt Jesus Christ aright.
– Martin Luther
“…human will does not by liberty obtain grace, but by grace obtains liberty.”
– John Calvin
Our good works are a result of Christ’s sacrifice. To get this wrong is to get the gospel wrong and can be the difference between life and death.
What is faith?
Someone please explain it to me like I am a 6 year old:
What came first, the chicken or the egg?
1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.
2.belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
What does the scriptures say faith is?
Heb. 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Matthew Henry writes:
“Here we have, I. A definition or description of the grace of faith in two parts. 1. It is the substance of things hoped for. Faith and hope go together; and the same things that are the object of our hope are the object of our faith. It is a firm persuasion and expectation that God will perform all that he has promised to us in Christ; and this persuasion is so strong that it gives the soul a kind of possession and present fruition of those things, gives them a subsistence in the soul, by the first-fruits and foretastes of them: so that believers in the exercise of faith are filled with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Christ dwells in the soul by faith, and the soul is filled with the fullness of God, as far as his present measure will admit; he experiences a substantial reality in the objects of faith. 2. It is the evidence of things not seen. Faith demonstrates to the eye of the mind the reality of those things that cannot be discerned by the eye of the body. Faith is the firm assent of the soul to the divine revelation and every part of it, and sets to its seal that God is true. It is a full approbation of all that God has revealed as holy, just, and good; it helps the soul to make application of all to itself with suitable affections and endeavours; and so it is designed to serve the believer instead of sight, and to be to the soul all that the senses are to the body. That faith is but opinion or fancy which does not realize invisible things to the soul, and excite the soul to act agreeably to the nature and importance of them.”
Is faith random? Is the faith I have in the assurance that my car will start the same as my faith in Christ?
What we possess, is it ‘faith’ in faith?
What about the demons?
James 2:19 You believe that 1aGod is one. bYou do well; cthe demons also believe, and shudder.
Their belief causes them to shudder. When was the last time you shuddered?
What’s the difference in types of faith?
Faith in Christ is supernatural; it is more than a computation. It is more than logic. It is more than rationalizations. At the root of belief and faith is God. The Lord imparts, supernaturally, life giving truth to the elect. Look at how Jesus says this happens:
John 3:3 “Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Think about that; unless one is born again, from above, one cannot SEE the kingdom of God; or the things of the kingdom, or understand spiritually what the message the scriptures convey. Without the rebirth, it is no more than letters and numbers.
Once the new birth is given, the scales are removed from the eyes.
John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.” This is clearly a spiritual seeing.
A blind man now sees:
John 9:1 “As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, “aRabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 “We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. 5 “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” 6 When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went away and washed, and came back seeing. 8 Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, “Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?” 9 Others were saying, “This is he,” still others were saying, “No, but he is like him.” 1He kept saying, “I am the one.” 10 So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is He?” He *said, “I do not know.”
John 9:13 They *brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. 14 aNow it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 aThen the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they *said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
John 9:18 aThe Jews then did not believe it of him, that he had been blind and had received sight, until they called the parents of the very one who had received his sight, 19 and questioned them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but how he now sees, we do not know; or who opened his eyes, we do not know. Ask him; he is of age, he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be 1Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue. 23 For this reason his parents said, “aHe is of age; ask him.”
John 9:24 So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “aGive glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “aI told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” 28 They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but awe are disciples of Moses. 29 “We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, awe do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. 31 “We know that aGod does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. 32 “1Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 “aIf this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “aYou were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out.”
Scales fell from the apostles eyes:
13 But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to bYour 1saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he ahas authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen 1instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for aI will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” 17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “bBrother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened.
Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, 20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, 1saying, “He is the Son of God.”
Look again at John 3:
“Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus equates the movement of the Holy Spirit with the wind; blowing around. No one knows where it came from or where it goes….
Once the miraculous event occurs, the scales fall of, we can see; understanding is brought to light.
2 Cor 5:7 for we walk by faith, not by sight….
The natural man walks by sight alone; the spiritual sight is fueled by spiritual faith. Faith is the gas that removes the myopia and gives accurate vision.
You’ve heard these statements: “I can’t believe my eyes!” ‘What did I just see?’. Faith validates what we see. It causes the ascentia to be justified. Just because we can’t explain what we understand, does not necessarily mean what we believe to be true is false, God’s spirit bearing witness with our spirit.
Heb. 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. 4 By faith aAbel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying 1about his gifts, and through 2faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. 5 By faith aEnoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 7 By faith aNoah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, 1din reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Regeneration vs conversion.
Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
The order of salvation is then: election, calling, regeneration, conversion, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, and glorification.
Once we are regenerated, the Holy Spirit applies truth and we ascend to the facts. As we discussed in earlier classes, this is known as ascentia. Most people ascend to certain beliefs. Like I described earlier, most all of us have an level of ascentia when we consider the dependability of our cars. We all believe that the key we have on our keychain has a key on it that will surely open the door to our homes when we arrive later today. There are people out there who have this same type of faith in Christ as well. It is not a saving faith; it is human wrought belief. It is sans the Holy Spirit! There was not the John 3 regeneration. The John 3 regeneration miracle makes the regenerate a piggy bank of truth. You’ve heard the term, garbage in, garbage out? Well, in the same way, the Holy Spirit makes the person a computer of spiritual truth. From that moment on, you are uploading; until glorification, you are in the upload mode; In relation to downloading, think witnessing.
Saving faith vs Human faith
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name:
John 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
Once God gives faith to the person, that person takes that faith (fiducia) and ascends to the facts, as those facts become evident (they may not be onboard immediately, i.e. an infant with seed faith) via the Holy Spirit, he is then converted and justified. Most of this is spontaneous and immediate-but not in every case.
Is faith a gift or is it the faith we already have, reinvented or rejuvenated?
It is a gift.
Eph 2:8 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. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
1 Cor. 12:4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same aGod who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith 1by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of 2healing 1by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the 1effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
Not to sidetrack the class, this is not exactly the faith that all believers have; this ‘gift’ spoken of here in 1 cor is an additional measure of faith for kingdom work:
Rom. 12:3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are bone body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, 1according to the proportion of his faith;
Each of us has been given ‘measures’ of faith.
“The only point in the interpretation of these verses of any doubt, relates to the second clause. What is said to be the gift of God? Is it salvation, or faith? The words ??? ????? only serve to render more prominent the matter referred to. Compare Rom. 13, 11. 1 Cor. 6, 6. Phil. 1, 28. Heb. 11, 12. They may relate to faith (?? ?????????), or to the salvation spoken of (??????????? ?????). Beza, following the fathers, prefers the former reference; Calvin, with most of the modern commentators, the latter. The reasons in favour of the former interpretation are, 1. It best suits the design of the passage. The object of the apostle is to show the gratuitous nature of salvation. This is most effectually done by saying, ‘Ye are not only saved by faith in opposition to works, but your very faith is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.’ 2. The other interpretation makes the passage tautological. To say: ‘Ye are saved by faith; not of yourselves; your salvation is the gift of God; it is not of works,’ is saying the same thing over and over without any progress. Whereas to say: ‘Ye are saved through faith (and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God), not of works,’ is not repetitious; the parenthetical clause instead of being redundant does good service and greatly increases the force of the passage. 3. According to this interpretation the antithesis between faith and works, so common in Paul’s writings, is preserved. ‘Ye are saved by faith, not by works, lest any man should 120 boast.’ The middle clause of the verse is therefore parenthetical, and refers not to the main idea ye are saved, but to the subordinate one through faith, and is designed to show how entirely salvation is of grace, since even faith by which we apprehend the offered mercy, is the gift of God. 4. The analogy of Scripture is in favor of this view of the passage, in so far that elsewhere faith is represented as the gift of God. 1 Cor. 1, 26-31. Eph. 1, 19. Col. 2, 12, et passim.”
“8. Reflecting on what he has just now said about grace, and repeating the parenthetical clause of verse 5b, the apostle says, For by grace59 you have been saved.… For explanation see on verse 5. He continues: through faith; and this not of yourselves, (it is) the gift of God …
Three explanations deserve consideration:
(1) That offered by A. T. Robertson. Commenting on this passage in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, Vol. IV, p. 525, he states, “Grace is God’s part, faith ours.” He adds that since in the original the demonstrative “this” (and this not of yourselves) is neuter and does not correspond with the gender of the word “faith,” which is feminine, it does not refer to the latter “but to the act of being saved by grace conditioned on faith on our part.” Even more clearly in Gram.N.T., p. 704, he states categorically, “In Eph. 2:8 … there is no reference to διὰ πίστεως [through faith] in τοῦτο [this], but rather to the idea of salvation in the clause before.”
Without any hesitancy I answer, Robertson, to whom the entire world of New Testament scholarship is heavily indebted, does not express himself felicitously in this instance. This is true first because in a context in which the apostle places such tremendous stress on the fact that from start to finish man owes his salvation to God, to him alone, it would have been very strange, indeed, for him to say, “Grace is God’s part, faith ours.” True though it be that both the responsibility of believing and also its activity are ours, for God does not believe for us, nevertheless, in the present context (verses 5–10) one rather expects emphasis on the fact that both in its initiation and in its continuation faith is entirely dependent on God, and so is our complete salvation. Also, Robertson, a grammarian famous in his field, knew that in the original the demonstrative (this), though neuter, by no means always corresponds in gender with its antecedent. That he knew this is shown by the fact that on the indicated page of his Grammar (p. 704) he points out that “in general” the demonstrative “agrees with its substantive in gender and number.” When he says “in general,” he must mean, “not always but most of the time.” Hence, he should have considered more seriously the possibility that, in view of the context, the exception to the rule, an exception by no means rare, applies here. He should have made allowance for it.60 Finally, he should hare justified the departure from the rule that unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise the antecedent should be looked for in the immediate vicinity of the pronoun or adjective that refers to it.
(2) That presented, among others, by F. W. Grosheide. As he sees it, the words “and this not of yourselves” mean “and this being saved by grace through faith is not of yourselves” but is the gift of God. Since, according to this theory — also endorsed, it would seem, by John Calvin in his Commentary — faith is included in the gift, none of the objections against theory (1) apply with respect to theory (2).
Does this mean then that (2) is entirely satisfactory? Not necessarily. This brings us to
(3) That defended by A. Kuyper, Sr. in his book Het Werk van den Heiligen Geest (Kampen, 1927), pp. 506–514.
Dr. Kuyper is, however, not this theory’s sole defender, but his defence is, perhaps, the most detailed and vigorous. The theory amounts, in brief, to the following: Paul’s words may be paraphrased thus, “I had the right to speak about ‘the surpassing riches of his grace’ for it is, indeed, by grace that you are saved, through faith; and lest you should now begin to say, ‘But then we deserve credit, at least, for believing,’ I will immediately add that even this faith (or: even this exercise of faith) is not of yourselves but is God’s gift.”
With variations as to detail this explanation was the one favored by much of the patristic tradition. Supporting it were also Beza, Zanchius, Erasmus, Huigh de Groot (Hugo Grotius), Bengel, Michaelis, etc. It is shared, too, by Simpson (op. cit., p. 55) and by Van Leeuwen and Greijdanus in their commentaries. H. C. G. Moule (Ephesian Studies, New York, 1900, pp. 77, 78) endorses it, with the qualification, “We must explain τοῦτο [this] to refer not to the feminine noun πίστις [faith] precisely, but to the fact of our exercising faith.” Moreover, it is perhaps no exaggeration to say that the explanation offered is also shared by the average man who reads 2:8 in his A.V. or A.R.V. Salmond, after presenting several grounds in its favor, particularly also this that “the formula καὶ τοῦτο might rather favor it, as it often adds to the idea to which it is attached,” finally shies away from it because “salvation is the main idea in the preceding statement,” which fact, of course, the advocates of (3) would not deny but do, indeed, vigorously affirm, but which is not a valid argument against the idea that faith, as well as everything else in salvation, is God’s gift. It is not a valid argument against (3), therefore.
I have become convinced that theory (3) is the most logical explanation of the passage in question. Probably the best argument in its favor is this one: If Paul meant to say, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this being saved is not of yourselves,” he would have been guilty of needless repetition — for what else is grace but that which proceeds from God and not from ourselves? — a repetition rendered even more prolix when he now (supposedly) adds, “it, that is, salvation, is the gift of God,” followed by a fourth and fifth repetition, namely, “not of works, for we are his handiwork.” No wonder that Dr. A. Kuyper states, “If the text read, ‘For by grace you have been saved, not of yourselves, it is the work of God,’ it would make some sense. But first to say, ‘By grace you have been saved,’ and then, as if it were something new, to add, ‘and this having been saved is not of yourselves,’ this does not run smoothly but jerks and jolts.… And while with that interpretation everything proceeds by fits and starts and becomes lame and redundant, all is excellent and meaningful when you follow the ancient interpreters of Jesus’ church.”61 This, it would seem to me also, is the refutation of theory (1) and, to a certain extent, of theory (2).
Basically, however, theories (2) and (3) both stress the same truth, namely, that the credit for the entire process of salvation must be given to God, so that man is deprived of every reason for boasting, which is exactly what Paul says in the words which now follow, namely, 9, 10. not of works, lest anyone should boast. This introduces us to the subject:
Works in relation to our salvation
As a basis for salvation, a ground upon which we can plead, works are rejected. “Not the labors of my hands can fulfil thy law’s demands.” In this connection it must be remembered that the apostle is not thinking exclusively or even mainly of works in fulfilment of the Mosaic law, by means of which the Jew, unconverted to Christ, sought to justify himself. Surely, also by such “works of the law” “no flesh will be justified in his sight” (Rom. 3:20; cf. Gal. 2:16). But in view of the fact that Paul was addressing an audience consisting mostly of Christians from the Gentile world it is clear that he wishes to emphasize that God rejects every work of man, be he Gentile, Jew, or believer in his moments of spiritual eclipse, every work on which any man bases his hope for salvation. If, then, salvation is completely from God, “who spared not his own Son but delivered him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32), every ground of boasting in self is excluded (Rom. 3:27; 4:5; I Cor. 1:31). When the Lord comes in his glory, those at his left hand will do all the boasting (Matt. 25:44; cf. 7:22); those at his right hand will be unable even to recall their good deeds (Matt. 25:37–39).
Now all boasting is excluded,
Unearned bliss is now my own.
I, in God thus safely rooted,
Boast in sovereign grace alone.
Long before my mother bore me,
E’en before God’s mighty hand
Out of naught made sea and land,
His electing love watched o’er me.
God is love, O angel-voice,
Tongues of men, make him your choice.62
59 The original has τῇ γὰρ χάριτι. Note the anaphoric use of the article. This is very common in Greek. See Gram.N.T., p. 762. Some translate: “this grace.”
Gram.N.T. A. T. Robertson, Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research
60 Though Lenski calls Robertson’s statement (“Grace is God’s part, faith ours”) careless, his own explanation (op.cit., p. 423), in which he likewise bases everything on the fact that τοῦτο is neuter but πίστις feminine, is basically the same as that of Robertson.
A.V. Authorized Version (King James)
A.R.V. American Standard Revised Version
61 As to grammar, from the works of Plato, Xenophon, and Demosthenes several instances of the use of τοῦτο to indicate a masculine or feminine antecedent are cited by Kuyper. He also quotes the following from a Greek Grammar: “Very common is the use of a neuter demonstrative pronoun to indicate an antecedent substantive of masculine or of feminine gender when the idea conveyed by that substantive is referred to in a general sense.” The quotation is from the work of Kühnhert, Ausführliche Grammatik der Griech. sprache (Hanover, 1870), Vol. II, p. 54.
62 This is the product of my attempt to translate into English, with retention of meter, the first stanza of the beautiful Dutch hymn “Alle roem is uitgesloten.”
Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 7: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Ephesians. Accompanying biblical text is author’s translation. New Testament Commentary (120). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.”
John 1:12, 13
John 1:9 There was the true Light 1which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His 1own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were 1born, not of 2blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Matt. 16:13 aNow when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say aJohn the Baptist; and others, 1bElijah; but still others, 2Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, aSimon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Luke 10:22 “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
John 14:21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Heb. 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
Heb. 12:2 1fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The author and finisher of our faith is Christ Jesus.
You will notice that all of the solas fit snuggly together like pieces of a puzzle or dominoes. Compare this weeks discussion with last weeks; In Christ alone, by faith alone.
The reformed doctrine of justification by faith alone is unlike all the other claimants of Christianity. It takes the oneness off self and places it rightfully in Christ. The other claimants say that this faith is your faith; in other words, you have a level of faith first and then Christ regenerates you; this is synergistic. The faith we have was given to us. The order of salvation has regeneration first in this miracle; followed by conversion and then justification. Most of these things happen in an instant; but don’t necessarily have to. Unlike Rome’s doctrine, we see God and Christ at the front end; you recall when we discussed the depravity of man and how no man would choose God outside of the regenerative power given to men by the Holy Spirit.
Jonathan Gerstner writes:
“One may say generally of the history of the doctrine of justification that solafideanism (justification – by – faith – aloneism) was taught implicitly, but not explicitly, from the beginning of the church. That is, it was known in the early church that salvation was by faith alone, but not until the sixteenth century was the church called upon to define that teaching more precisely. Those in the church who had quietly apostatized, opposed this essential truth (adheres of Tridentine Roman Catholicism), while the faithful (Protestants) affirmed it. The Reformers defined and refined the doctrine in the fires of controversy.
What Gersner is saying is that in the early church, the doctrine was not yet explained in detail; the early church held to it implicitly, but not explicitly. As conflict and heresy arose, it became needful for the church to address the finer details of the faith; hence our confessions and creeds. If I was to ask you what single person had a direct effect in the church in relation to this doctrine; surely you would say Luther. However, the early church understood it.
So, when we speak of sola fide, we speak of the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
Rom. 3:19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin.
Rom. 3:21 But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.
Wcf ch 11
I. Those whom God effectually calleth, he also freely justifieth: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God.
II. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification; yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.
III. Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction of his Father’s justice in their behalf. Yet inasmuch as he was given by the Father for them, and his obedience and satisfaction accepted in their stead, and both freely, not for any thing in them, their justification is only of free grace, that both the exact justice and rich grace of God might be glorified in the justification of sinners.
IV. God did, from all eternity, decree to justify the elect; and Christ did, in the fullness of time, die for their sins and rise again for their justification; nevertheless they are not justified until the Holy Spirit doth, in due time, actually apply Christ unto them.
V. God doth continue to forgive the sins of those that are justified; and although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God’s Fatherly displeasure, and not have the light of his countenance restored unto them, until they humble themselves, confess their sins, beg pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
VI. The justification of believers under the Old Testament was, in all these respect, one and the same with the justification of believers under the New Testament.
Westminster Shorter catechism:
Quest. 33. What is justification?
Ans. 33. Justification is an act of God’s free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins,(1) and accepteth us as righteous in his sight,(2) only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us,(3) and received by faith alone.(4)
(1) Rom. 3:24-25; 4:6-8.
(2) II Cor. 5:19, 21.
(3) Rom. 5:17-19.
(4) Gal. 2:16; Phil. 3:9.
In James it says,
James 2:24 “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
James 2:26″ . . . so also faith without works is dead,”
You might ask: I’m a bit confused, are we justified by faith or works?
Grace alone to God’s glory alone
Eph 2:8 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.
lyrics by John Newton, 1779
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.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come.
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the vail
A life of joy and peace.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
God reaches down into mankind and saves men through His son Christ Jesus. As discussed in previous classes, no one deserves Heaven. All men have sinned and rightfully deserve hell.
Gen. 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God caused a wind to pass over the earth, and the water subsided.
Gen. 21:12 But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac 2your descendants shall be named.
Gen. 45:8 “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Gen. 48:21 Then Israel said to Joseph, “Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers.
Gen. 50:20 “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
Gen. 50:24 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely 1take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to cIsaac and to Jacob.”
But God….in His perfect wisdom and His perfect mercies, He saves men according to His decrees. He does this by grace alone.
5485. χάρις charis; a prim. word; grace, kindness: —blessing(m)(1), concession(m)(1), credit(3), favor(11), gift(1), grace(122), gracious(m)(2), gracious work(3), gratitude(1), thank(3), thankfulness(2), thanks(6).
Martin Lloyd Jones writes:
“Let us remind ourselves once more that grace means “unmerited, undeserved favor.” It is an action that arises entirely from the gracious character of God. So the fundamental proposition is that salvation is something that comes to us entirely from God’s side. What is still more important is this: it not only comes from God’s side, it comes to us in spite of ourselves—“unmerited” favor. In other words, it is not God’s response to anything in us. Now there are many people who seem to think that it is—that salvation is God’s response to something in us. But the word grace excludes that. It is in spite of us. The Apostle, as we have seen, has already been very much concerned to say this…Listen to him: “Even when we were dead in sins, [God] hath quickened us together with Christ,” and then, instead of going on to the next step—in parenthesis “(by grace ye are saved)” (Eph 2:5). Here, he puts it a little more explicitly. Salvation is not in any sense God’s response to anything in us. It is not something that we in any sense deserve or merit. The whole essence of the teaching at this point and everywhere in all the New Testament is that we have no sort or kind of right whatsoever to salvation, that the whole glory of salvation is that though we deserved nothing but punishment and hell and banishment out of the sight of God to all eternity, yet God, of His own love and grace and wondrous mercy, has granted us this salvation. Now that is the entire meaning of this term grace.”
Why is God gracious with undeserving people?
This is a deep question; most writers will address ‘grace’ itself but not why God was gracious to begin with. In light of ‘grace alone’ we acknowledge that God did not act graciously because of anything in us:
4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
‘Kindness’. Again, why was he kind?
Before creation the Godhead existed. No needs. The Godhead is glorious. You recall in the book of Revelation that the glory of the Lord will be our light. Think about Moses; he couldn’t see the glory of the Lord fully-it would have destroyed him! Why did God act graciously to sinful men if he didn’t need to? This again brings us back to the Covenant of Redemption. The Godhead decrees that the Father would give the Son a gift, the elect. God covenanted with the Son in that the Lord would give the Son a holy people for Himself; Christ agreeing to die in the place of sinners. Having fulfilled the requirements of the Covenant of Works by living a sinless life as the God-man, suffering under the humility of the cross and dying; and God resurrecting Him from the dead on the third day. Christ now actively sitting, in the flesh at the right hand of the Father continually intervening for the elect, ultimately reflecting an amplified glory back to the Godhead. So, it was for the amplification of the Glory God has always had. God acts graciously to Glorify Himself.
Is all grace, saving? No. One must make the distinction between those things related to the Covenant of redemption and the elect and what the Westminster divines call ‘common operations of the Spirit’. Those graces that are related to the Covenant of Redemption are graces that are saving and only directed to the elect of God.
Is grace common? No. Nothing God does is common.
Well, you might say, “Scott, you just quoted the divines where they used the term, ‘common operations of the Spirit’. I did. In my opinion, it is a misnomer of sorts. I prefer ‘common providences’ or common benevolences. As well, keep in mind that over the ages the term ‘common grace’ has suffered. The way the divines understood it is not the way the masses understand it today.
Were you aware that there are strains of Calvinism? There is a thing out there at present called, The New Calvinism. In this new Calvinism is mysticism. It is an offshoot of Roman Catholicicsm. It is sneaky and you need to be aware of it. Some of these ideas have even infiltrated the ranks of the PCA-do not be fooled, it is liberalism to the core and should be avoided like the plague. Some of the distinctives of New Calvinism is an overt amout of grace, out of balance with God’s law. Contemporary worship. Pragmatism. Tolerance for the sake of peace.
Back on point:
Grace is never common.
We are saved by grace alone. Is that the same grace that God dispenses on the reprobate? Of course not. It couldn’t be. Is this grace the same grace that Christ speaks of?
Matt. 5:44, 45. “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you; that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”
This grace Christ is speaking of is not saving grace but a form of benevolence. The grace spoken of in Eph 2 is saving grace. Again, why is God gracious? For His glory alone, of course, and that is at the crux of the issue.
God, outside of time, with no needs, never existing as we would define it, God is with no beginning and no end, decides to give the son a gift of the elect in the covenant of redemption. Not with the creature in mind, but the son, solely, ultimately to bring more glory to Himself. You might ask, why does God need more glory? Does it need amplification? Isn’t God as glorious as he will ever be? Is glory seen in levels or how would one measure the immeasurable? Think of it in light of expanding His glory. Christ dying on the cross, God in the flesh, allows us to see manifestations of that glory; it takes Gods glory to a place where it may not be as visual. Think Moses, again.
Everything the Lord does is to amplify His glory. In the Larger Catechism we can see that all the decrees of the Lord are to His glory:
Q. 12. What are the decrees of God?A. God’s decrees are the wise, free, and holy acts of the counsel of his will, whereby, from all eternity, he hath, for his own glory, unchangeably foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time, especially concerning angels and men.
Q. 46. What was the estate of Christ’s humiliation?
A. The estate of Christ’s humiliation was that low condition, wherein he for our sakes, emptying himself of his glory, took upon him the form of a servant, in his conception and birth, life, death, and after his death, until his resurrection.
You get that? In Christ’s humiliation, He empties Himself of His glory to ultimately magnify His glory.