By Faith Alone

Sola fide is the teaching that justification is received by faith only, without any mixture of or need for good works, saving faith is always evidenced, but not determined, by good works. Saving faith leads to good works. Doing good is not the cause of but the fruit of our faith in Jesus. Christians are called to act on what we believe. Having faith in Jesus Christ should cause us to follow his example. We will naturally want to do good once we have been saved through the love and grace of God found in Jesus. Not to gain any reward, but in genuine response and gratitude for what God has done in our lives.

Doing good is the expected result of hearts powered by the love and grace of God. Doing good can be a number of things. Ranging from holding a door open for someone, letting someone in front of you at the grocery store, helping a stranger change a tire, visiting the elderly and sick, feeding the hungry, supporting a needy child, saying hi and thank you, listening, giving up your seat. There are many things both small and large that we do because of what Jesus did on the cross and what God is doing in and through our lives.

Nothing we could ever do will earn us salvation. Jesus did that for all on the cross. We are not saved by our good, but by the goodness of Jesus. Jesus forsook heaven because he loved us so. It is not the intention of God that any should perish. We are saved to do good. Accepting the love and grace of God and committing to the way of Jesus should compel us to extend and point to the very same for others.

Brennan Manning: Justification by grace through faith is the theologians learned phrase for what Chesterton once called “The furious love of God.” The central affirmation of the reformation stands: through no merit of ours, but by his merit we have been restored to a right relationship with God through the life, death, and resurrection of his beloved son that is the good news of the gospel of grace.  

How we live our life begins with what we believe, having faith in Jesus should show in our actions every day. We need to let our faith inform everything we do. Our faith should influence what we do and how we do it. Our life should be transformed into a more Christ-like life. When friends, family, and strangers look at us, they should wonder why we live as we do. People should be drawn to us because our faith in Jesus Christ has transformed us into the men and women of the Kingdom of God. Both our individual lives and our church should operate in such a way that if we were to go away people would miss us.

John Calvin said, “If our life doesn’t express Christ, we not only revolt our Creator with wicked deceit but we also renounce our Savior.” The way to affirm Jesus is to live as Jesus lived. Our life will glorify God, because we are living the life God created us to live.

According to the teachings of Martin Luther, faith is not a human response, but the work of God. Faith is the righteousness of God accomplished in us through word and sacrament. Through faith in Jesus we are made into a new creation, the old is gone. In the founding document of the Reformation, the 95 Theses, Luther wrote, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17) He willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).”

The Sola fide doctrine sometimes called the material cause or principle of the Reformation because it was the central doctrinal issue for Martin Luther and the other reformers. Luther called it the “doctrine by which the church stands or falls”

I need to work on living my faith, on expressing Christ to the world in word and action. My hope is that the church will express Christ and His Kingdom to the world in a vibrant and life-changing ways. The church needs to stand up as both witness of the word and alternative to the world. We do this in community and with God. May God lead us in his ways and in being the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world today and for the rest of our days.

How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus today?

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2 Comments

  1. Two thoughts: First, I really like “People should be drawn to us because our faith in Jesus Christ has transformed us into the men and women of the Kingdom of God.” I think the thought that we have been transformed into, and now live our lives as Kingdom citizens stands in opposition to the way many believers today approach life – as belonging to this world and endeavoring, by faith, to obtain God’s help in being more successful in it. To me these are two very different outlooks.

    You mention that “According to the teachings of Martin Luther, faith is not a human response, but the work of God.” I must admit to not quite understanding what that means. Isn’t the whole purpose of the gospel message to bring about a human response of faith? I realize that Eph 2:8-9 teaches that even our faith is God’s gift. But isn’t the point of NT teaching that we must respond to God’s gift for it to be effectual in our lives?

    • I see faith as a gift. Its not something we can have on our own. Yes. We can respond, but our response is made possible by what God is already doing in our heart and soul. I have been led from Mormonism to Buddhism and at last to true Christian faith. If God wasn’t working in me and leading me along the way I am not all that sure I would be where I am now. I have said ‘If it wasn’t for the Buddha I wouldn’t be a Christian.’ But, that is wrong. It was Jesus using his sneaky ways to bring me to true faith in him.
      It is a key part of reform theology that faith is the work of God. To respond to God’s gift means we have already been given that gift. Faith is part of the grace of God found only in Jesus Christ.
      I can only speak from my personal experience, what I have read (the Bible and other books), and the conversations I have had with my pastor and others. I do not claim to have all the answers. I do thank you for reading my blog.

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