There are certain crystallizations of Biblical truth, which if thoroughly understood, believed, and made a part of one’s world-view, will enable Believers to easily assess other truth claims. These are not substitutes for knowing the greater body of Scripture – but useful digests; a sort of theological short-hand.
That God has spoken in His Word, the Bible, and that having done so has provided us with an ultimate authority on truth from which to proceed is our very first place to go. This is what the Reformers referred to by advancing the slogan: Sola Scriptura. But, by God’s grace, they did not stop there. They went on to help us get a grasp of some of the central truths taught in the Bible, in a form that once again is extremely helpful in weighing the most important issues of life – those which impact our souls and their eternal destiny.
This brings us to our second great slogan in cult proofing our kids and ourselves – Sola Gratia – by GRACE ALONE.
Once again, the basic message is exceedingly simple. And, it is inestimably profound. One is delivered from their guilt before God and thus saved from His just wrath – by one means ONLY – by His grace. By God’s unearned favor poured out in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and applied to those who believe by the Holy Spirit.
Grace, by definition is unearned. And in this regard, the Reformers coined this slogan so as to pit it in direct opposition to the idea that one can MERIT – can be good enough in any way to deserve and thus obtain salvation because of earning it. Grace is grace, when it is given to the undeserving. This is how the Apostle Paul unpacks the issue for us in 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.” Those last words expound the key concept. If one’s salvation is earned by some one, or mass of works – then salvation ceases to BE by grace, at all.
Every cult or false religion proceeds precisely on this point. “Good people go to heaven.” Be a good enough person (though no one can say exactly HOW good one has to be to out-weigh their sin) and you’ll be fine. The false premise upon which this is built is obvious – no amount of doing good things in one place, mitigates the evil done in another. A person is not less guilty of murder, because when they DID kill their victim, at the same time they didn’t kill all the people they could have. The two ultimately are not related. It is a logical fallacy. No number of good things, no matter HOW good, somehow erase the guilt of my sin. It can no more do so any more than all the times I do drive under the speed limit somehow builds up a bank of miles per hour I can trade off against the ones I spend when I DO go over. No system of justice works like that anywhere. And yet when it comes to salvation, millions are ready to sign on the dotted line. And every false religion and cult adopts this point of view in one way or another.
Beloved, salvation is by grace alone. It is a gift. It is unearned in any way, shape or form. It must be received as a gift and as a gift only. Nor is it given to those somehow more deserving than others. It is given to the very lowest of human debris. It is given to us in the preaching of the Gospel. Unearned. Undeserved. Never forget that, and no cult, no man-made religion will ever suck you in.
It is in the Scripture alone, that we are told authoritatively that salvation is by grace alone. Sola Scriptura. Sola Gratia.