Thursday, June 28, 2012

Reformation Solas in the Early Church - Part 2

Sola Gratia

But when the Lord Jesus came, He forgave all men that sin which none could escape, and blotted out the handwriting against us by the shedding of His own Blood.  This then is the Apostle's meaning; sin abounded by the Law, but grace abounded by Jesus; for after that the whole world became guilty, He took away the sin of the whole world, as John bore witness, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world.  Wherefore let no man glory in works, for by his works no man shall be justified, for he that is just hath a free gift, for he is justified by the Bath.  It is faith then which delivers by the blood of Christ, for Blessed is the man to whom sin is remitted, and, pardon granted.
Ambrose (Letter 73, to Irenaeus, a layman)

After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of blessings, he has not kept to the same order: for he does not say, the wages of your good deeds, but the gift of God: to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about.  And so there was superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for the better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them more than before, and that through His Son.
John Chrysostom (Epistle to the Romans, Homily 12, Rom 6:23)

And he well said, "a righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you.  For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other.  But what is that other?  That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God.  This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift.  And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence.
John Chrysostom (Homily on Philippians 3)

Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison.  Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned.  Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison.  If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor.  For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift.  This is what happened in the case of the Jews.  Look how it is.  All human nature was taken in the foulest evils.  "All have sinned," says Paul.  They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law.  The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them.  A letter from the King came down from heaven.  Rather, the King himself came.  Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins.  All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift.  But those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace.  They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification.
John Chrysostom (Discourses Against Judaizing Christians, Discourse I:6-II:1)

Part 2 of 4 beginning here.

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