For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 ESV
Sola Gracia or grace alone, it is the second of the five solas of the Protestant Reformation that I will cover and is the concept that we are saved by grace alone. So what exactly is grace? I am not big for acronyms or catchy phrases to describe theological terms but I often hear grace broken down as God’s riches at Christ’s expense; but as we see in Romans 3 I would modify that statement, and I think Martin Luther’s revelation regarding Romans 1:17 would agree, God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense. You see in the previous verses it mentions that God’s righteousness is given to the believer, it is the same righteousness that Martin Luther agonized over when reading Romans 1:17b, “For the righteous shall live by faith.” What this means is that through grace we are offered God’s righteousness, as that is the only thing that can truly justify us, because when we are measured against God’s glory in our own merit nothing we do can measure up, no matter how moral and good it may seem to us our actions on our own tend to be self serving in some form or fashion.
The fact that we can never measure up to God’s glory, to His standard, He offers us the gift of grace. He states that He is willing to apply His righteousness to us when He sees if we measure up to His glory and standard. You see when we say that we are justified, it is not the simplistic just as if I had never sinned, another of those pesky catchy phrases. So if you remember what it mean to be justified, it is to prove or show to be just, right, or reasonable.
But didn’t we just get finished talking about how it is faith alone? Well faith and grace are actually two sides to the same coin. Grace as mentioned here is the gift of God’s righteousness bestowed upon us. It is God stating that rather than using our righteousness to measure up to His standard, he will apply His righteousness to us and use that to see if we measure up. Faith is our trust and belief that God will do just that, in other words our faith is the result of accepting God’s grace. You see you cannot have faith without grace and when we receive grace our faith is the proof before God. Thus as stated in Ephesians 2:8 we are saved by grace through faith.