Why Sola Gratia Does Not Lead to Antinomianism
Grace is the best thing going. Grace gets the job done. Grace employs the means to achieve the intended end. Grace is the work of God to facilitate the salvation of His chosen people. Stated another way, “Salvation is all of grace, all of God.”
The Bible calls the heralded message of divine truth, “the Gospel of grace (Acts 20:24) and “the Gospel of God (Mk 1:14).” The announcement is that God alone saves His beloved elect by grace alone, evidenced by faith alone, in Christ alone, for the glory of God alone, according to the Scriptures alone. This is the glorious Gospel summary recovered by the Protestant Reformers.
Sola gratia means “grace alone,” and grace alone means God alone is working all things for the salvific good of His predestined, adopted children (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5). Misguided theologians will twist how grace works and even what grace accomplishes. Simply put, God’s grace never leads to perfectionism nor to lawlessness. Neither Perfectionism nor Antinomianism (without or against the Law) is the product of the Holy Spirit’s gracious work of sanctification.
Sanctification, that is, the Holy Spirit’s work in making the regenerate soul to be holy is the will of God and the work of God; therefore, it would be nothing less than blasphemous to say, “God’s grace leads to lawlessness.” Rather, it leads to holiness.
Grace is the means by which holiness manifests in the chosen object of God’s mercy being prepared for glory (Rom 9:23). God the divine Potter is taking salvaged, albeit broken clay pots and transforming them into the holy likeness of His perfect Son, Jesus Christ, the icon of God (Rom 8:29; Col 1:15).
God is holy. God’s Law is holy. The natural man, the sinner, is not holy. Thus, salvation is unto holiness. This is why man cannot work his way to right standing before God (righteousness), nor can he improve His lot by his own will or ability (Jn 1:13; Rom 8:7). God must cause people, His people to walk in His statutes (Ezek 36:27). Just as He caused them to be born again of the Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3).
Religious men squabble over the type and volume of their helping God in salvation. They are deceived by the doctrine of demons that inevitably promotes man-centered endeavors to justify oneself or increase piety (in this case pseudo-holiness). The inquirer implores, “What must I do to become holy?”
The answer to these questions is the scandal of the Gospel. God’s grace sends a very simple message to both the sinner and the saint, “I will do it.”
The flesh of men is utterly repulsed by the sovereignty of God in salvation. The serpent’s lie to man has always been centered on Genesis 3:5, “You, too, shall be like gods.” This is why the deluded man insists on his own free will. This man must be in control…even in control of God’s salvation of him.
Free will says, “I will allow God to die for me on the cross, and I will co-pilot my program of holiness production,” God laughs at puny man with his penumbral god complex. He laughs at the arrogant in derision. While He chuckles at His babes pretending to be something they observe but who have no means to achieve in reality. His Spirit of grace will teach the latter to know the truth.
In the resurrection to life, those in Christ, who is the resurrection and the life, will receive glorified bodies to conjoin with their regenerate souls. Sin, which is lawlessness, will be no more. The Spirit of grace, who is the God of all grace, will complete His good work in every single one of His beloved redeemed people (Phil 1:6). Not even one of them will be missing from the flock of God in the fold of eternity in the new heavens and the new earth.
Men who cheapen God’s glorious grace into a doctrine of permission of sin are an abomination in the eyes of God. Likewise, men who authoritatively put other men under the Law — as a means for either justification or sanctification — are pretending to be like gods but they are simply the blind leading the blind into the pit.
Christian do not be afraid of these who charge you with being an Antinomian because of the surpassing riches of God’s grace. Your trust is in Him, who alone can make you holy. God is not a failure in the work of His sanctifying grace. He began the good work of grace in you, and He will finish it. God alone will be glorified for the works He alone can accomplish. This is why sinners balk, even scoff at the glorious working of God by grace. Grace does not allow any man to boast of anything. The natural man is offended that God is God.
Recipients of God’s grace revel in the grace of God, who is the God of all grace. Those who have no taste for these Gospel revelations only prove the doctrine of salvation by grace alone. They reject what they despise for lack of grace. God denies the reprobate any design to be gods. Their imaginary free will decides nothing in the determination of salvation.
Will a man rob God of His sovereign will? May it never be. Does God’s free grace lead to Antinomianism? That is utterly impossible, for God is holy and He leads His holy nation of royal priests on the holy path (Jesus is the way!) to the holy land, heavenly Zion, the New Jerusalem where righteousness dwells. There, the Law of Christ, the Law of love, prevails in perfection. And all God’s pilgrim children said, “Are we there yet?”
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 16, 2021