God's Free Grace & Favor

Observe carefully, my brother, this order (Extra Nos first, then Intra Nos), for everything depends on it. However cleverly this factious spirit makes believe that he regards highly the Word and the Spirit of God and declares passionately about love and zeal for the truth and righteousness of God, he nevertheless has as his purpose to reverse this order. His insolence leads him to set up a contrary order and, as we have said, seek to subordinate God’s outward order to an inner spiritual one…should you ask how one gains access to this same lofty spirit they do not refer you to the outward gospel but to some imaginary realm, saying: Remain in ‘self abstraction’ where I now am and you will have the same experience. A heavenly voice will come, and God himself will speak to you...[1]

As I have been working on a new book for publication, I have been thinking much about my Christian life, the errors and heresies I learned and then taught others. I have been amazed at the Grace of God to forgive me my many sins and for the Pastors He provided to help teach true doctrine and destroy much of the bad theology I grew up in and later espoused. To God Alone be the Glory and Honor for He is faithful to correct, rebuke, reprove and instruct in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16 KJV). Paul also told Timothy to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth…” (2 Tim. 2:15)

Tomorrow, Oct. 27th, my church (Faith Lutheran LCMS – Mountain Home) will be celebrating the Reformation when God used Luther to bring to light many false teachings and bring back the true Gospel to His People so they would no longer be under the burden that somehow their obedience plays in their justification. Three Solas came out of the Lutheran Reformation (in the Calvin version there are 5 Solas):

Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)

Sola Fide (Faith Alone)

Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone)

That salvation is found completely outside of us is essential to understanding the Power of God unto salvation.

First, it is through Grace, not merit. You do not earn salvation by being a good person, doing your job right, helping those around you, not lying, cheating or stealing or coveting (those are fruits of regeneration). Grace is a favor that you don’t deserve. None of us deserve this grace of God and THAT is exactly why it is called grace: unmerited favor. Not one person who has ever lived or will live deserves the goodness of God towards them. We all deserve eternal damnation and apart from grace, we will get what we deserve.

Second, that saving faith was gifted to you. Faith is not something you pump up in yourself. It is not some feeling that your get yourself excited for. Neither is it blind trust in something nor a mathematical equation you calculate to see if it works. Faith is a gift. Faith is a treasure given the Means of Grace (Preaching of the Word, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper). You do not activate your faith, nor does everyone have that faith that they just need to move over to Jesus. God gives this faith alone. It also means that that faith is alone. Works never saved anyone. Works never justified anyone. Paul Speratus’ hymn states it quite well:

(You may listen here)

Salvation unto us has come

By God’s free grace and favor;

Good works cannot avert our doom,