Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sola Gratia - Part I

Sola Gratia
By Bob Hendren

Part I

Few words have stirred the heart and history of Christianity like ‘grace’. Believers in Christ rejoice to be able to sing “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” God’s amazing grace is much more than a word. It is a living demonstration of the love God has for sinful man. Grace for God is not just a concept; for Him it means nothing less than the death of His Son for sinners (John 3:16). What does this great word actually mean and how can God’s grace become a reality in the life of the lost? First, let us examine the word itself.
‘Grace” is an English translation of the Greek word charis. Charis is derived from the verb chairo, ‘I rejoice.’ Related is the noun chara, ‘joy.’ In Secular Greek prior to the First Century charis meant ‘what brings delight,’ ‘charm,’ ‘that which pleases.’ In later Hellenistic Greek the word came to be almost a technical term for ‘demonstration of a ruler’s favour.’ (Cf. Hans Conzelmann, Article ‘charis,’ TDNT, Vol. IX, pp. 372-402.)
E. De Witt Burton, in his monumental commentary on Galatians in the International Critical Commentary remarks that charis is used:
In a sense found neither in classical Greek nor in the LXX, but apparently
occurring in the N.T. first…: “Favour towards men contrary to their desert” (p. 424).
“The law was given through Moses, and grace and truth appeared through Jesus Christ” is a fairly literal translation of John 1:17. God has always been a gracious God, but His grace is brought to focus in Jesus Christ.
Grace cannot be over-emphasized. Not if the emphasis is Biblical. Man’s need for God’s grace is so acute as to make human-centered schemes of salvation truly criminal in their power to delude the pride of man. Man does not want to believe he needs a salvation so absolute as to be utterly dependent upon God’s grace, but human pride is devastated by the teaching of grace found in Holy Scripture.
Critics of Paul, for example, found his grace emphasis difficult to comprehend. Twice in Romans he alludes to this criticism. In 3:8 he mentions those who alleged his preaching was an invitation “to do evil that good may come.” In chapter 6 he expands on this misunderstanding by asking, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Paul’s grace emphasis was so strong that thoughtless persons saw it as an invitation to moral permissiveness.
Perhaps the greatest attack on the concept of grace is answered by Paul in the Letter to the Galatians. Grace was supposed to be ‘man-pleasing’ and soft (Galatians 1:10). Paul shows that grace was far from pleasing men, for in stressing God’s grace he had seen the ruin of his own highly successful religious career in Judaism. Paul strongly recognized that grace was not just one religious option among many. For men to leave grace for legalism was not a human possibility if one wanted salvation, for to leave grace was to leave God! (See Galatians 1:6.)
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  1. I hope Bob would forgive me listing this's an old one, but the only one I have.

  2. It looks just like him still.

    Bob is in Florence Alabama. He is an elder at the Magnolia Church of Christ and does some teaching for the University of North Alabama.

    He is on the road as I type to journey to Milwaukee. . . I will show him this site and you guys can get reconnected.

    Bobby Valentine