Romans 6:1 "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin."Calvinism is purely sola gratia (by grace alone). This is true in that even our birth, life, nourishment and faith is by the grace of God, but also by grace God gave mankind abilities. In the Garden Adam was given dominion over all the animals and he was to tend the garden, which was essentially to worship God who stood in the center of the Garden. Those were Adam's abilities. God was to take care of everything else, but he left a decision which Adam was free to make. God bestowed on our forbears the ability of free choice when he commanded, "Do not eat of that one tree!"
If that had been anything other than a free choice, eating of it would be out of the question. God could have put the fruit beyond reach or blocked by stones. He didn't. He wanted Eve and Adam to choose for themselves what their desires were! Free choice is the ability to choose between available options.
Because we are Adam's (mankind) as well, we too have free choice. God doesn't want us to be forced to serve, but seeks it of our own volition. Like all other human attributes free choices are God-given abilities and by it's his grace we have abilities at all!
Because he created us with all that we have and need we must be appreciative. He expects our love in return, contrary to what Dr. David Jeremiah says. That's why we were even created and given a second chance (grace).
So technically everything in life is sola gratia! Even our faith, which is a work, is a gift of God:
1 Thessalonians 1:3 "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith..."
Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God..."Which is it; a gift or work? It is both because God gave us the ability to work and because of that we are to exercise that ability. It is the "tending to the Garden" ability he endowed Adam with in the beginning. So the ability is the gift and the tending is the faith. Tending is the work of faith!
Christians are at liberty to sin. There are consequences of sinning, but God wants us to obey so that we are not imprisoned. It's Satan who enslaves, but God who frees! We can sin all that we want! (Romans 6:1) (Please do not stop reading here.) However, as Christians our "wants" our changed (Romans 6:6). Paul discusses this liberty further in Galatians 5:1.
This is the same liberty which Adam had in tending the Garden. God's desire was to be attended because he was the focal point of the Garden as the root of the Tree of Life. His desire was that Adam kneel there and eat of the twelve fruits of the legal tree, but he still gave Adam the liberty to eat of other fruits. That is grace and was a free gift.
Faith must be induced being freely available. Adam listened to the Voice and was guided in what would please God and displease him. With that gift, Adam put his faith in action. He was to work to please God. When the Voice said "Don't eat of the forbidden tree" in essence he was saying "Love me and me alone!" That was his expectation. Love is not an emotion which binds, but a work which frees. In loving God Adam was doing his job assignment, and because love is a command, "the greatest one", then it is a work.
Salvation has always been by grace, but it was always accepted out of faith. The coupling is "the gift results in works"! Paul reinforced that in Romans 6 above. Christians are to present themselves a living sacrifice and bury the sinful life. Our old man, if salvation had efficacy, meant that our flesh was crucified with Christ. What would keep that from happening? Not trusting Jesus enough to make the sacrifice of our selves. That was having faith!
Calvinists are too comfortable in their sola gratia. Because of grace we were released from the bondage of sin, but because we cut off the flesh and were crucified with Christ, our sins were taken on the back of Jesus (he became sin for us), and our own yoke was removed. Sin is still available and we still sin at times, but we must have steadfast faith to finish the race. When doing right is no longer important to the Christian, they blaspheme God, and like Jesus who cannot be crucified a second time, neither can we!
Our changed heart means that our flesh still has the liberty to sin, but our spirit protects us from it. As Satan and his dark angels go to and fro, it's our work of faith which is the armor which protects us. If we are not serious (sober) and responsive to the Word, then Satan can deceive even the elect to return to bondage just as some of the saved Jews desired a return to bondage in Egypt.
Why? Because sin is pleasurable and the sinning Christian has kept part of the flesh as a souvenir to look back on, and conjure at will. As sin is repeated conjured, Satan takes his son or daughter back into the fold, never to return again! That's not with a sin or sins, but that's with those reprobate... without God having any significance in their lives.
The doctrine of sola gratia, as applied by Calvinists, is damning in that we never ever get a ticket to sin. Indeed we Christians have a reprieve from temptation with the safety of God's armor, our Jobian hedge, to remove the desire which sin offers. We never get a ticket to sin, but if we're faithful, we get freed from bondage. Even the Greatest Command "love God" and the one like unto it, "love others" are done in freedom. They are emotions which we must have and do, and are therefore works.
God, just as with Adam, whom he never forced, never forces us to love him or others. It's what we do when the flesh is buried and crucified with Christ. It's our refreshed spirit doing new good things because we tend to the Tree of Life (Jesus) to please him!