Justification for the Glory of God Alone

Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013 in Justification, Reformation

solas

For 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).

There is great debate over what “that” or “this” is in v. 8, “And that is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” What does “that” refer too?  Grace?  Faith?  Salvation?  The answer is: YES!  All of salvation is a gift of God.  That salvation is all of God—His free gift, by His grace, through faith, for His glory—is important for us to remember in light of this context. Paul is writing “so that no one can boast” (v. 9).  There would be only one way that man could boast in his salvation and that would be if it was by his own work.  But Paul has shattered that in these verses.  Man can not boast of himself in his salvation for it is a gift of God.  He can boast only in Christ alone (1 Corinthians 1:31)!  Grace is not a work, faith is not a work.  Salvation is according to Scripture alone (sola Scriptura) by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solo Christo) to the glory of God alone (soli deo gloria).  That was the rally cry of the Reformation.  But this cry was a passion that hearkened back to the teaching of the gospel for salvation and not the invention or interpretation of men. Salvation truly is by His grace, and for His glory.

Nothing in my hands I bring,
Simply to thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
Helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee.

However, when we examine v. 10 more closely, we see a purpose attached , the reason that God saved us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Paul had already more than hinted this in Ephesians 1:4, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.”

The Reformers had a saying that went along with the solas, “Man is saved by faith alone, but not by the faith that is alone.”  This was their way of stating that justifying faith is never a work, but where it is true in a man, faith (sanctifying) is never without works.  This is what James meant in James 2:24, ” You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”  Works are the fruit of our justification, evidence that had truly been saved in in Christ.  John Gerstner wrote:

If Protestantism thought that a sinner could be saved without becoming godly, it would be an absolute, damning lie. His name is “Jesus” for He saves His people from their sins, not in them. And He saves His people not only from the guilt of sin but from its dominating power as well. If a believer is not changed, he is not a believer. No one can have Christ as Savior for one moment when he is not Lord as well. We can never say too often: “Justification is by faith alone, but NOT by the faith that is alone.” Justification is by a WORKING faith.

Grace is of him, faith is of him, our union with Christ is of him, the works we do are of him, and the intention to do them is of him – all that He might be glorified.  We are created for His glory; we are saved for His glory; and we do good works for His glory.

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