Justification from Scripture Alone

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2013 in Reformation

solasFor by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

The Apostle Paul’s concern in the opening chapters of Ephesians is our glorious salvation, a salvation that he summarizes in these verses.  “For” is the logical conclusion to the argument he began concerning salvation at the beginning of the letter. Ephesians 1:3-14 shows that salvation is the work of the entire Godhead – the Father planned it, the Son accomplished it and purchased it, the Holy Spirit applied it and sealed it.  Paul concludes the chapter in praying that the Ephesian believers would gain a deeper understanding of this wonderful working of God’s saving grace.

In chapter 2 he turns to man and the effect of sin in his life to demonstrate that there is nothing man can do or would do for his salvation.  He is dead in sin and the passions and the affections of his heart, his mind, and his will are continually against God.  “But God…” (Eph. 2:4ff). Those glorious words are a testimony that salvation is all of God. He intervened. He burst into the deadness and life exploded! Darkness at that very moment became light. The mind, the heart, the will; the passions and affections; all was changed.

Paul’s conclusion, “For by grace you have been saved” (v. 8). But how does this demonstrate or speak to sola Scriptura? Consider the words of the following confession:

Charleston Confession of Faith:

1.1 The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, 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 they are not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and His will, which is necessary unto salvation.

1.6. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelation of the Spirit, or traditions of men.

This confession (along with the 1689 London Baptist Confession) sets forth the Scriptures as God’s redemptive history. Everything man needs for salvation is contained therein, sola Scriptura.

Immediately following the Fall we find the first promise of redemption in the protoeuangelion, Gen. 3:15 – “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” The Old Testament displays this redemptive history by way of covenant (Covenants – Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic – New Covenant), all pointing to and fulfilled in Christ.

That is what Paul suggests by “for,” his summary of salvation. It is according to God’s plan according to Scripture. The promise of salvation to all the nations as established in the Abrahamic covenant is shown by Paul as fulfilled in Eph. 2:11ff , where Jew and Gentile are at peace through Christ, one people, the people of God.

That is what the Scriptures teach concerning salvation.  All the nations will be blessed by the glorious gospel of God, sola Scriptura.

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