Three Implications for Grace Alone! Today

I have been preaching on the five Solas of the Reformation. We studied Scripture Alone! on November 6 and Grace Alone! this past Sunday.

My goal has been three-fold: first, to highlight doctrines that are essential to evangelical faith; second, to help people understand and appreciate their spiritual heritage; and third, show that these beliefs were not just under attack in the 1500's, but in many respects are still current issues, even within so-called Evangelicalism.

While evangelicals would certainly affirm the essential nature of Grace, sometimes our behavior betrays that we really don't practice what we say we believe. I shared three indicators of this kind of thing: (interested parties, should there be any, can read the entire sermon at http://www.faithcom.org/resources/textmessages/2005/051113pb.pdf, and also listen to it at http://www.faithcom.org/resources/default.htm.)


1. We show that we don't understand "grace alone" when we present salvation as something that is the result of what we do. We've developed our own vocabulary in relation to the Gospel that lacks biblical root. As a result, when we ask people how they know that they are saved, they are likely to respond with something that they did: "I prayed a prayer" or "I went forward in an evangelistic meeting" or "I turned my life over to Jesus," etc. Semantics? I don't think so. If it were just sematics, there wouldn't be so many people questioning their salvation because they aren't sure that they "really meant it" or "really understood it." Sadly, security for some is in their response.

2. We show that we don't understand "grace alone" when we depend on marketing, techniques, having the right tools, etc., to reach people and help them grow. Our pragmatic approaches to ministry may be popular, but faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. People are not saved because of our cleverness.

3. We show that we don't understand "grace alone" when we think that our access to God is based on how well we're performing.

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For those of you who are in pastoral ministry, I would encourage you to consider either preaching or teaching these five great themes. My own study thus far has been spiritually enriching in my own life, and the feedback I have received from our people has been very encouraging.

2 comments:

Diane said...

Excellent post on the whole--I especially like point #2!

However, I think your #1 point is confusing to most evangelicals. Could you expound a little more on why "accepting Christ" is seen as NOT a work of grace. I have to admit I'm not sure where your thinking is going as I see acceptance of Christ as a response to that very grace God extends to us.

Peter Bogert said...

Diane:

I responded to your comment, and then as I thought about what I had written, I decided that it was better to try to make my point more clearly. (What I should have done was simply post what I said in my sermon :-). So I revised the entry a bit.

Thanks for your comments.