Summary: This morning, we come to faith alone. This was the material principle of the Reformation. The question at hand was, “How is one made right with God?” The theological term for this is “justification.”
Sola Fide - Faith Alone
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
Screen Door on a Submarine
I love that song! Just as it is silly to think about a screen door on a submarine, it is equally absurd to talk about a living faith without loving deeds.
This morning, we continue our series Foundations of the Faith.
Two weeks ago, we studied 2 Tim 3:15-17 and affirmed that we believe that the Bible is the inspired, sufficient, inerrant, infallible, immutable, invincible Word of Almighty God.
Jason K. Allen writes:
“The Bible holds authority over all other religious books, church traditions, councils, or popes. The scriptures are the standard, the benchmark, the plumb line for the church.”
It is Scripture alone that is our norm for Christian faith and practice.
Last week, we studied Ephesians 2:1-10 and discovered we were dead, defiant, and doomed…but God made us alive with Christ Jesus. This was simply an act of grace - unmerited favor. We didn’t deserve it. We couldn’t earn it. Instead of judgement for our sins, Jesus demonstrated amazing grace by dying in our place, for our sins, to take the punishment we deserved, in order to make a way back to a relationship with God.
This morning, we come to faith alone. This was the material principle of the Reformation. The question at hand was, “How is one made right with God?” The theological term for this is “justification.”
The way you answer this question makes all the difference. Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants would all agree that being made right before God involves faith. But as Protestants, we assert that it is by faith alone that we are made right before God.
James Montgomery Boice defines justification as “an act by which God declares sinners to be righteous by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”
Terry Johnson reminds us that it is a judicial act of God:
“It’s a declaration, not a process, a new status, not a new nature, it the verdict of the judge, not the works of the accused.”
Remember, the equation is Jesus + Nothing = Everything. The Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and Catholics would all disagree with this equation. To them, it is Jesus + good works (missions, confession, church attendance) = everything.
“There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. (Romans 3:24-25)
John Stott sees in these verses:
The source of our justification - the grace of God.
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
We are justified freely by grace through redemption. Redemption is the language of the marketplace. It means to buy back or to ransom.
The ground of our justification - the work of Christ.
God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.
The big theological term for this is “propitiation.” This means a substitutionary sacrifice which satisfies the wrath of God.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus lived a life we couldn’t live - He kept the law perfectly. He died a death we couldn’t die. He died in our place, for our sins, to atone or pay our penalty.
His righteousness was imputed (given) to us. We have no righteousness but His.
How was this done?
The writer of Hebrews wrote, quoting Leviticus 17:11:
“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)
Charles Spurgeon wrote:
“Oh! how sweet to view the flowing of my Saviour’s precious blood. With divine assurance knowing He has made peace with God.”
The means of our justification - faith.
—to be received by faith.
What is faith? Hebrews defines faith as:
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I love Sinclair Ferguson’s definition of faith - “The receiving and relying on Christ and His righteousness. It is
Christ-directed, not self directed. It is Christ-reliant, not self-reliant.”
Last week, we saw that even our faith is a gift of God and doesn’t earn us any merit.
It isn’t faith in faith but faith in a Person - Jesus.
In the hymn we sang earlier:
“Nothing in my hands I bring / simply to the cross I cling.”
Now that we have established that salvation is by faith alone we need to look at a passage a Scripture that seems to contradict that.