Summary: An application sermon with concise background on the reformation; Sola Fide - Faith Alone.
“Sola Fide” Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7
There are two kinds of magnets, steel magnets and soft iron magnets. The steel magnet receives its magnetism from the load stone, and has it permanently; it can get along very well alone in a small way; it can pick up needles and do many other little things to amuse children. There is another kind of magnet, which is made of soft iron, with a coil of copper wire round it. When the battery is all ready, and the cups are filled with the mercury, and the connection is made with the wires, this magnet is twenty times as strong as the steel magnet. Break the circuit, and its power is all gone instantly. We are soft iron magnets; our whole power must come from the Lord Jesus Christ; but faith makes the connection.
Good works flow from a connected relationship with God by faith. Works and Faith do not go hand in hand, as though they are two rails of a train track. No, works flow naturally from a life of faith; works are the product, not the partner of genuine lasting and purely biblical faith.
Faith connects us to the source and His power flows through us unto others.
This morning we will discuss the great doctrine of the Reformers, “Sola Fide,” that is; faith alone. We will briefly discuss the history and origins of this most important of biblical doctrines and then see what it means for us today. The reformation era – the 16th Century – of the church is a great field of treasure for our lives today; it is but waiting to be explored, that we may come to know its riches.
The fire that was the protestant reformation was sparked by Martin Luther on October 31, 1517. Luther was a Catholic priest living in Wittenberg, Germany. He had grown weary of the abuses of the Catholic Papacy as well as theological and biblical variances within the Church.
Luther’s famous document, “The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences”, commonly known as The Ninety-Five Theses, were the primary catalyst for the Protestant Reformation. Luther used these theses to display his displeasure with some of the Church’s clergy’s abuses, most notably the sale of indulgences. Luther was the first in a long line of reformers who taught, wrote, and lived in the sixteenth century. Many of the reformers were martyred for what they lived, believed, and taught.
Luther’s popularity encouraged others to share their doubts about the Church and to protest against its ways; it especially challenged the teachings of the Church on the nature of penance, the authority of the Pope and the usefulness of indulgences. They sparked a theological debate that would result in the Reformation and the birth of the various Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist sects within Christianity.
As a Congregational Church, this is our heritage and it is at a great price that we have received it. The primary things that the reformers spoke against were the abuses of the Catholic clergy in the selling of indulgences and the abuses of the Papacy. During this period in Europe the Papacy was ripe with scandal.
Their chief objective though, was not as much against the Church of Rome, as it was in favor of freeing the Word of God – the Bible – from the captivity of the Church body, the Dogma which was indeed at war with the content of the very Bible that it sought to explain, and to give it to the people.
The chief aim of the reformers, the central theme of the reformation, wither it be found in Germany, Geneva, or England, was the elevation of the Word of God, its availability to common people rather than merely the very wealthy, the clergy, or the most highly educated, and the stripping away of works from faith.
Sola Fide, faith alone according to the grace of God alone as it has been revealed in the Bible alone was their cry. Opponents to the doctrine of Sola Fide during the time of the reformation cited primarily that it went against the teachings of the Roman Church and its Pope. Sola Fide flew in the face of papal authority as it undercut so many of the corrupt practices of the Church in that era.
In that era, during the late medieval and early renaissance period, the selling of indulgences was rampant and regularly abused by Catholic monarchs who were allowed to sell indulgences to raise money to finance the crusades and by the Church who used the selling of indulgences to finance building projects such as Saint Peters Basilica, the central seat of authority of the Catholic Church.
Indulgences though, had been available for purchase from at least the third century, very early in the life of the Roman Church. The biblical basis for indulgences was non-existent. Many local priests even offered to pray for the souls of loved ones who were in the imaginary, non-biblical, place of purgatory.