All Grace and Grace Alone -- By: William Arp

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 06:4 (Fall 1997)
Article: All Grace and Grace Alone
Author: William Arp


All Grace and Grace Alone

William Arp

One of the great truths which the Reformers declared and defended was sola gratia which means “only grace” or “grace alone.” This phrase emphasizes that salvation is by grace alone. It implies that God saves sinners without reference to their foreseen merits or achievements. He saves them only because it pleases Him to do it. He forgives their sins according to1 the riches of his grace (Eph. 1:7). The New Testament explicitly teaches this truth. Paul clearly teaches this truth. He teaches it perhaps most clearly in his letter to the church in Ephesus when he reminds them that they were saved by grace alone through faith (2:8–10). The purpose of this article is to look at this passage in Ephesians in order to see what Paul is teaching the Ephesian believers about sola gratia. It will consider the context, content, conclusion, and consequences of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone.

Context

Paul writes to the Ephesians to remind them of their relationship to Christ and the results of that relationship in their lifestyle. He wants their conduct to be consistent with their calling. Paul begins by reminding them of their calling (1:2–3:21). God has blessed them with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He then reminds them of their conduct (4:1–6:9). They are to walk worthy of their calling. This means that they must live in a manner that corresponds to their position in Christ. Their calling must affect their conduct. Finally, Paul reminds the Ephesians of the conflict they are experiencing as they attempt to live in accordance with their calling (6:10–20). They struggle against spiritual, not human, enemies.

As Paul reminds them of their calling, he praises God for their salvation (1:3–14). All three persons of the Trinity were involved. They were selected by God, saved by Christ, and

sealed with the Holy Spirit. He then prays that God will enlighten the Ephesians so that they will understand and appreciate their spiritual blessings (1:15–23). He also prays that they will be aware of the power of God at work in their lives. Paul continues by reminding them of their salvation experience (2:1–10). They had not always enjoyed these spiritual blessings. They were lo...

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