Is there a crisis of grace in today’s churches? Reading through a recent edition of Christianity Today, an Op-Ed article by Mark Galli, focuses on the question – Whatever happened to grace? Galli provides three particular anecdotes as the premise for his article. These three focused on his experience at a mega church where an altar call was given and many people were being baptized. A second where he heard a sermon on Galatians 2:20 and the question of whether or not those in attendance had experienced grace. The third anecdote Galli writes focused on a conversation he had with a professor. This conversation focused on whether or not there is a relationship between the idea of Grace and Works in the Christian life.
Galli then writes:
I pick these three anecdotes for three reasons: First, they are typical of messages I hear in my travels as CT’s editor. Second, these were taught by pastors and teachers of the faith, who one would hope would have a deeper appreciation of grace. And third, they represent what have become the three main alternatives for the simple biblical message of salvation by grace through faith.
Those familiar with the reformation and reformed theology refer to a doctrine known as Sola Gratia or By Grace Alone. Sola Gratia is one of five reformed theological premises that became the hallmark of a Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church. The idea that man is saved by divine grace alone and not of works (Galatians 2:20) is rested in the scriptures and traditions that there is no way sinful man is capable of performing any form of service to earn his or her salvation in the kingdom of heaven.
Works and Grace have become a stain on the conversation of theological studies, conversations, and expression of the Christian faith. Many hold to some form of the traditional thought of the reformers. That is no amount of human effort is able to secure salvation. However, there are those who disagree and state that not only does the Bible reveal the simple message that we are saved by grace, there are plenty of passages within the New Testament that not only instruct us on how to live out our new life in Christ, the Bible teaches we are also obligated to live out our faith through obedience to the teachings and commandments of God.
Galli further expounds on the dismal crisis facing Churches and Christians today:
What I’m hearing time and again, in every corner of the church I visit, is not the soaring message of grace but the dull message of works – that I have to believe a certain theological construct, or have a certain feeling, or perspire in effort before I can be assured of God’s radical acceptance and my future salvation.
The question is very pertinent to the body of Christ and each one of us. Is there a modern crisis in Christian thinking today regarding the simple message of Grace?