Sola gratia is Latin for “grace alone”. It is the belief that our salvation is by God's grace alone. It is a similar idea to the doctrine of sola fide, in that it reinforces that we cannot earn favor with God through anything we do. However, it goes to a more fundamental level and states that while we are saved through faith, even our faith is not from ourselves, but only made possible by God's grace.
Grace is unmerited favor. It's when you get something good that you don't deserve. As we are totally depraved, we deserve nothing but hell from God, but because He is gracious, He loves to give us good gifts anyway. The greatest of these undeserved gifts was His son, Jesus Christ. Romans 6:23 We can never earn salvation—it's only possible by grace. Ephesians 2:8
More than just grace providing an avenue of atonement in Christ's death, it provides us the ability to accept this gift. In our depraved flesh alone, not only do we not deserve salvation, but we are unable to turn from our sins and choose to have the faith to accept him. God has to take another step and give us the ability to place our faith in Christ through the Holy Spirit's leading.
- Most other denominations believe that God offers the grace to choose whether to accept his gift or not to all men and women but still leaves them the free choice to accept His gift or not.
Regardless of view is followed, it is clear that we can only come to Christ because of God drawing us to Him. John 6:44, 65
Like grace is the basis of our saving faith, it is also the basis of Christian living. Titus 2:11–14 We are to live godly lives, but we can only do so because of God's grace. 1 Corinthians 15:10 Our need for God's grace does not end at salvation but continues throughout our lives. We are to grow in grace. 2 Peter 3:18
Two main errors are made in regards to living by grace. The first is thinking that we can live the Christian life in our own strength. This is a recipe for failure. We must always rely on God's grace. We can do nothing without Him. John 15:5 However, if we trust in Him and rely on His grace, it will always be sufficient. 2 Corinthians 12:9
The other error is thinking that because we are saved by grace, we can live however we want. This thinking likely even rejects the repentance needed for salvation in the heresy of easy believism. True salvation requires a change of direction and results in a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17 We are dead to sin and to live unto God through His grace. Romans 6
Because we did nothing to earn our salvation, nor really anything in our lives, we should not boast about anything. 1 Corinthians 4:6–7 God saved us for His own glory. Ephesians 1:5–6 Failing to give the glory to God for His gracious goodness to us emphasizes man and leads to strife. Luke 22:24 Furthermore, it is setting yourself up in opposition to God, who will not share His glory. Isaiah 42:8 Finally, as already stated, we always need more grace. No man has arrived. To receive more grace which we continually need, we must humble ourselves and submit to Him. James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5–6