So far we’ve looked at 2 “slogans” from the Reformation period. Sola Scriptura points us back to the ultimate authority of Scripture above a persons, experiences, writings or groups – be they Synods, Councils, Denominations, Popes or anything else. Everything and everyone but Scripture, can err. Then secondly we looked briefly at “Sola Gratia” – that salvation comes to fallen mankind solely through the grace of God as a gift. Forgiveness of sin and eternal life are NEVER the product of any human merit whatsoever. Else, (as Paul notes so well in Rom. 11:6) “otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”
Thirdly then, we want to consider the idea of “Sola Fide” – that salvation is through FAITH ALONE. And in this one consideration, we have THE sticking point of the Reformation itself. Indeed, once again, EVERY false system falls at this point. If we lose this reality, we lose the Gospel. Fallen human beings are justified (declared righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us) solely on the basis of believing the Gospel. Once again, as Scripture declares: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8–9)
Beloved, we cannot make this point strongly enough. The Bible emphatically, undeniably, and unequivocally posits our justification before God as through the means of faith, and that, in direct opposition to human works, or effort. It does not mean the Redeemed will not exert effort in following Christ – we invariably will. It does mean however that we do not obtain our right standing with God by any of our efforts. We obtain it by faith alone.
Let me make one brief comment before we close, since many fear that to call men to believe the Gospel, to repent of their sin and cast their hope upon Jesus alone is somehow “a work” – look again at the passage just quoted. However one may conceive of faith – the Bible says it does not qualify as a “work” – and thus pits faith specifically against works here. The eye sees, but it exerts no effort to see. It simply drinks in the light and images proposed to it. Faith is like that. It sees the truth of the Gospel, and believes it. There is no merit to be assigned for only believing what is true, and no effort in believing what is evident. Thus no merit accrues to the Believer, and the Believer has done nothing to save themselves – but to believe what is true and declared under the command of God to be believed.
Through the authority of the Scripture, we come to know the person and work of Jesus Christ, and are called upon to Believe it. By God’s good grace alone. We are saved BY grace, THROUGH the agency of faith. A fire hose can put out no fires. Water is needed for that. Faith is the fire hose through which the saving grace God sends extinguishes the fires of Hell within our fallen souls. Keep to this, and no cult or false religion will suck you in. Look to some other means, and you will lose your own soul.