Summary: The concept that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone is a solidly Biblical teaching. Last week, we looked at grace, this week we will examine the idea of faith alone. Both grace and faith are exclusive and must stand alone.
Through Faith Alone
1. I had a good time visiting Dale and Katie Daniels and Mary Ann Bolinger in Warsaw/Winona Lake area. I went from there to Luke’s house. But the GPS had me go too far south and then took me back north. It got me there, but it was complicated and probably added 15 minutes to my trip.
Too much information can be worse than not enough; important things get buried.
The 5 Solas describe Biblical doctrines that had been piled over by accumulated traditions and church rulings. The Reformers brought them out of the mothballs, honed them and put the emphasis upon them. They still define much of what it means to be a Bible-oriented Christian, an evangelical believer.
2. Over the centuries, increment by increment, the church developed a belief that the benefits of Jesus death were deposited with church leaders. Grace would be rationed out through sacraments. Only the official priesthood could officiate such sacraments. This is called sacerdotalism, and results in a spiritual monopoly of sorts. This lead to the belief that there was no salvation outside the Catholic church.
3. Under such a system, the grace you accumulated through sacraments, religious deeds, good works, etc., was balanced against the sins you committed. Almost everyone was thought to have a deficit, and so you would pay off that deficit by suffering in purgatory until your debt was paid. Friends & relatives could purchase indulgences, religious objects, to help shorten your time in purgatory.
4. The difference between Rome and the Reformers was not so much the objective base for salvation — Jesus’ atoning death — but how salvation is activated for us.
Main Idea: The concept that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone is a solidly Biblical teaching. Last week, we looked at grace, this week we will examine the idea of faith alone. Both grace and faith are exclusive and must stand alone.
I. The WORDS We Need to Understand
A. Justification often means to be declared RIGHTEOUS (not guilty) by God.
1. We refer to this definition as forensic or legal righteousness.
2. Other terms: counted as righteous, vindicated.
3. Both Greek and Hebrew words (tzedek and dikaios) can be translated either as just or righteous.
4. “Just as if I never sinned.
5. Roughly equivalent to saved (when we are justified, we are also saved).
1. In English, the word “faith” means many things. Narrowing for today.
2. Believe (NT same word), trust, rest, depend upon, take at one’s word.
3. I proposed to Marylu in a restaurant atop a skyscraper across from Lake Michigan, the pinnacle. When I asked her to marry me, she had to decide if she trusted me, if she love me enough to change her life for me.
4. It includes the idea of repentance (a change of mind, a turn or return to God)
5. Punctiliar — may build, but crosses threshold in a split second.
6. Durative results — genuine faith happens at a point in time, but has the lasting result of what we call “faithfulness.”
7. Genuine saving faith is distinguished from counterfeit faith by faithfulness.
8. Issue: not how much faith you have, but, rather, is all the faith you do have directed toward the proper object, the Person & work of Jesus Christ.
II. Sampling the OLD Testament Precedent for Justification By Faith
A. ABRAHAM (Genesis 15:4-6)
1. We call this IMPUTED or assigned righteousness.
2. When Abraham believed God, He was given GOD’S righteousness.
Vs. 6, “ And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.”
Some Jews understood imputed righteousness in the first century.
From the Dead Sea Scrolls (I QS 11.2-22):
“For is man master of his way? No, men cannot establish their steps, for their justification belongs to God, and from his hand comes perfection of way…And I, if I stagger, God's mercies are my salvation forever; and If I stumble because of the sin of the flesh, my justification is in the righteousness of God which exists forever…”
B. HABAKKUK (Habakkuk 2:4)
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”
C. Isaiah and the synonym REST (Isaiah 30:15)
For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
Illustration: Two chairs: a broken kitchen chair (Auntie Jo) and the others; I wouldn’t sit in one, but would the others because I had faith in the others.
III. A Sampling of Justification By FAITH Alone in the New Testament
1. Parable of the TAX Collector and Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14)
2. Direct STATEMENTS (John 5:24)