Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him Whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England... Who can duly adore that love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the debts of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of me, and His compulsion is our liberation." [1] Such did C. S. Lewis describe his conversion to Christ. And the issue we will explore this week is, how do we understand the grace of God in salvation? Is salvation a cooperative affair between men and God, or does God take all the initiative to save us? Did C.S. Lewis cooperate with God or did God compel him by His grace? Did you cooperate in your own salvation, or were you saved by grace alone? 
[1] C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, pp. 228-229.

Our meditation this week will be on the Reformation principle of Sola Gratia, grace alone, and our primary text will be Ephesians 1:3-14, where this principle shines! So with a quieted soul and a hungry heart, read Ephesians 1:3-14 twice. 

1. In verse 3 Paul begins with an exclamation of praise: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Before we look at why he praises God, let's think for a minute about praise. What is it? Where does it come from? Is Paul giving us a command or an invitation to bless God? What do you think?

2. According to verse 3, why does Paul praise "the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"?

3. What do you think Paul means by "spiritual blessings"?

4. What is the significance of being blessed "in the heavenly places"? Why might that be better than being blessed in the earthly places?

5. What is the significance of these blessings being "in Christ"? 

6. Now here is the question of the day! How many spiritual blessings can you find in verses 3-14? Write them down here and make a brief note about what you think each of them means.

This will take some time, so take your time!

7. What is the foundation for all these spiritual blessings in Christ? In other words, what attribute of God is the basis for these things? Write down the texts that reveal this.

8. What do you learn about the grace of God in this passage? Is it free or is it constrained? Where and how is it expressed?

9. How would you describe the grace of God? What is it?

10. To what end does God bless us with all of these spiritual blessings in Christ? (Consider verses 6, 12, and 14.)

11. In light of this wonderfully rich passage, how are we saved? Is this a cooperative work with God or is it His work alone? 

12. One last question for consideration: If God blesses us with every spiritual blessing in Christ in order to bring praise to His glory, what is the big picture of what He is trying to do? What does it mean to praise His glory? What does He want for us?

Lord willing, I will see you on Sunday!

Dan