Sola Fide cannot be understood in a vacuum. It needs a runway. We need to understand where it’s coming from and why it’s here. Paul provides that.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17)
The righteous shall live and stand before God by faith.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” (Romans 1:18)
This is critical. Sola Fide is necessary because the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness. Not just Hitler, but me and you as well.
“as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’” (Rom. 3:10-12)
Man, in his natural state, is opposed (with all his might) to God. Apart from grace, we are not good. In events like the Vegas shooting, the world is baffled. They want to know “why”. What’s wrong with him?
It’s in his nature.
People are made in the image of God. What’s “off” is that He is fallen. We don’t want to admit that what’s “off” in him is also “off” in all of us. We stand as rebels against God. We also stand condemned, and He could execute judgment right now. The only reason that He doesn’t is His own good pleasure.
How do we fix it?
There are 3 different ways people try to resolve this problem.
- Suppress the truth– (Rom. 1:18) We can suppress the truth by either pretending that God does not exist or by pretending that we’re not that bad.
- Do good works– We can try and work our way to heaven. The Catholic Church, especially during the time of the Reformation, was teaching a salvation (and sanctification) of works. They taught that God gives people a “nudge” in the right direction. Christ and faith alone can not get you there. Martin Luther found this didn’t match with what he read in Romans (3:26; 4:7-8).
- Christ– We can place our trust in the person and finished work of Jesus. He took our sins and exchanged them (Phil. 3:9). Our shame has been covered by a robe of righteousness. The robe alone gets me into heaven. If Jesus isn’t enough, then I don’t get in.
- If I’m part of it, it will fail. God demands absolute perfection. Nothing less will do.
- If I’m part of it, I will boast. (Eph. 2:9) Salvation apart from works guarantees that all pride and boasting is excluded.
Is this too good to be true?
There are things that are not as good as you make them out to be. Is Sola Fide one of them? Is it too good to be true? No way!
However, is it too good not to change everything about my life? You bet!
But it won’t save you.
We aren’t saved because of faith but by faith. It’s not the size or strength of our faith. It’s the size and strength of the object of our faith.
Stop working and start believing.
-(sermon by) Daniel Gillespie
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