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The Five Solas—Sola Fide

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How does a person get right with God? Can you gain God’s approval by being living a ‘good’ life? Many people think so. Can you gain God’s approval by attending Church, or Synagogue, or Mosque ? Many people think so. Can you gain God’s approval by keeping the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on the Mount? Many people think so.

For Martin Luther, the question, How does a person get right with God? became all-consuming. Consider Martin Luther’s attempts at pleasing God.

1. One of his fellow monks told Luther that a man becomes right with God through confession. Doesn’t the Bible say that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins? So confess your sins and all will be made well. So Martin did just that. He ransacked his mind attempting to find every sin no matter how trifling. After making a mental list he would go to the confessional and pour out his soul to his confessor. So scrupulous was he in confessing every known sin in his life, he would keep his superiors in the confessional for hours on end dredging up every idol word he had said, or foolish thought that had entered his mind. But confession and absolution still left him troubled. How could he be sure that he had confessed every sin? His spiritual gloom was not eased by confession.

2. Another well-meaning monk told him, “Martin, you can find peace with God through self-denial. Doesn’t Jesus say, ‘If any man will be my disciple, he must deny himself?’” And so Luther sought to deny himself with vigorous asceticism. He would fast for days on end, taking nothing but water. He cast aside his blankets, shivering in the cold of his cell. He would flog himself bloody. Luther would later write, that “If ever a monk could to get to heaven by his monkery, it would have been I.” Yet, Luther still did not feel right with God. His despair deepened.

3. A third friend told Martin that he needed to go on a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the Vatican, and venerate all the relics that could be found in the city’s various churches. So Luther went to Rome. Listen to what Martin writes: “When I got to Rome, I ran around like a madman visiting all the churches, and places of note. I said a dozen masses, and I almost regretted that my mother and father were not dead that I might had availed myself of the opportunity to draw their souls out of purgatory by offering masses and good works on their behalf.” But his trip to Rome left Luther even more frustrated then ever. His sense of guilt before God grew worse and worse.

It was not until Luther began to teach the Book of Romans at the University of Wittenburg that he came to understand how a man is made right with God. He came to a passage of Scripture that would change his life. It was Romans 1:16-17. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”" (Romans 1:16-17, ESV). That verse set him free! Luther would later testify: “It seemed to me as if I had been born again and as if I had entered paradise through newly opened doors.”

There is only one way that a person can be right with God. In Hebrew 11:6 we learn that, “without faith it is impossible to please Him.”

There are only two ways to live. One way, by far the most common, is to live by sight ... to believe in only the things you can see. This way does not please God. The other way, far less commonly taken, is to live by faith ... to base your life primarily and ultimately on what you can not see, but trusting that it is true because God says it is true. That is the Christian way, the Bible way. It is the way that pleases God.

In last week’s sermon I shared with you the first of the five Solas that came out of the Protestant Reformation that Martin Luther sparked. It was Sola Scriptura. The second Sola of the reformation is the sola that changed Luther’s life: Sola Fide—Faith Alone! This morning, I want you to see the ingredients necessary for a life of faith, drawn from the life of Abraham.


    • Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went." KJV
            1. responding to God’s call means abandoning our past and walking in faith with God toward a new future
                1. for Abraham, this meant leaving the security of ...
                    1. his homeland
                    2. his extended family
                    3. his friends and neighbors
                    4. his job and associates
            2. faith that is not willing to give up everything for Christ’s sake—including one’s right to themself—is not true faith
                1. faith does not always mean giving up family and friends and community and personal goals
                2. but true faith must be willing to give up those things if it means following God with all your heart
                  • Luke 14:26-27 "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." KJV
                3. we see this kind of commitment fleshed out in Abrahams’ life making him an example for us
            3. in this Hebrews 11:8 we learn about three characteristics of faith


    • Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called . . . “
    • “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, KJV 1900)
            1. God called Abraham to a life of faith just as he call us to a life of faith
                1. the Scriptures teach us that it is always God who initiates a relationship with the lost, not the other way around
                  • John 6:44 "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." KJV
            2. it was not Abraham who went looking for God, but God who went looking for Abraham
                1. Abraham did not decide out of the clear blue that he would worship the one and true Almighty God, Creator of the universe
                    1. he was an idolater
                    2. he worshiped the numerous false gods of his day
                2. when Joshua was recounting the story of faith for the people of God, he spoke of Abraham’s past:
                  • Joshua 24:2-3 "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac." KJV
                3. God called Abraham out of his sin, idiolatry, and rebellion, just as he does with each of you who name the name of Christ, Jesus
            3. the gospel of Christ has the same power to call us out of darkness and into light as it did for Abraham


    • Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out ... obeyed; ... “
            1. verse 8 reveals Abraham’s obedient response to God’s call
                1. he heard
                2. he obeyed
                3. he went
            2. Abraham went at God’s command even though he did not know where he was going
                1. Abraham had no clue concerning his future, but he responded to God in faith and that caused his to act in obedience
            3. obedience and faith always go together
                1. some have tried to separate them as though you can have one without the other as though obedience is unnecessary if you have faith
                2. but such alienation of obedience from faith has no root in Scripture
                    1. it is an attempt to accommodate the pragmatism of modern Christianity that goes heavy on talk but light on walk
            4. faith is never a passive attitude or merely a state of mind
                1. faith involves the deep affection of the heart and mind toward Jesus Christ, and goes forth in obedience
                2. there is no room in biblical teaching to claim to have faith without it springing forth in some measure of obedience
                  • James 2:17 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." KJV


    • Hebrews 11:8 "By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out ... obeyed; and he went out, ... “
            1. the remarkable issue in this verse is that Abraham launched out on a journey that would never take him back to the comforts of his homeland
            2. we discover that in this passage that with the call of God comes the sustaining hand of God
              • ILLUS. If this had been you, how might you have responded? Would you have wanted to discuss the situation with God? “Now God, I’m not so sure about leaving Ur. You now that I’ve got lots of business opportunities here. My family is here, too. Where is it exactly that you are sending me? Can you tell me a little about it? What are the people there like? What kind of business opportunities will there be? What can I expect?”
            3. there is no indication of such a conversation between Abraham and God—in fact, the text suggests something altogether different
                1. there seems to be no hesitation, no bargaining, no floundering, and no reconsideration
                    1. God called
                    2. Abraham obeyed
                2. the word translated called in verse 19 is a present participle
                    1. I’m sure you all wanted to know that
                    2. it means that the translation should be, when he was being called
                    3. in other words, as soon as he understood what God was saying, he started packing
                    4. it was instant obedience—it may have taken several days, or even weeks or months, to make final preparations for the trip, but in his mind Abraham was already on the way
                    5. from then on, everything he did revolved around obeying God’s call
                      • ILLUS. B.F. Westcott, in his commentary on Hebrews, writes that, “Abraham obeyed the call while it was still sounding in his ears.”
                3. now, I don’t know about you, but when I’m going somewhere, I usually like to know where I am going
                4. but God’s call seldom reveals many details about the future
                    1. the God who saves us owes us no explanations
            4. the God who calls us to embrace Him by faith is the God who sustains us through the same faith
                1. think about Abraham’s situation for a moment
                    1. he had no Scripture to guide him
                    2. he had no revelation of God’s character or nature as we do in the Bible
                2. with the slimmest grasp of God, Abraham found the Lord faithful to His own character
                    1. this is what Abraham is commended for


    • Hebrews 11:9-10 "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." KJV
            1. why did Abraham step out in faith?
                1. he believed the promise of God and continued on in obedient faith
                2. he persevered even when it appeared that God was not keeping His promises
            2. Abraham made it to the place that God had promised to give him, lived in the land his entire life as an alien and foreigner
                1. the only thing he owned was a cave for burying the dead and the piece of ground surrounding it
            3. but he anticipated something much more
                1. verse 10 tells us, For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God


            1. one of the temptations Christians face is that of being overly attached to the world around us
                1. the Apostle James does not mince words in describing this condition
                  • James 4:4-10 "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." KJV
                    1. OK, James, tell us what you really think, would ya!
            2. though he lived in tents, Abraham longed for and looked forward to a city with eternal foundations
                1. tent pegs, guy-lines, and animal skins flapping in the breeze were constant reminders to this man of faith that there was more to come
                2. God did not call him out of Ur just for a plot of ground, but to enter an eternal city whose builder and maker is God
            3. like Abraham, every true believer has the promise of an inheritance
              • 1 Peter 1:3-4 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you," KJV
                1. it is in seeing the unseen—just like Abraham—that gives us the motivation to keep pressing forward in faith, regardless of the difficulty or even the dangers in the way
                  • ILLUS. Throughout this political season, we’ve heard both President Obama, and Governor Romney say that “Americans are nervous—about the potential for more terrorism, about the economy and our sixteen-trillion-dollar debt, and about the direction America is headed.” I hear that and I think, “No, I’m not nervous about any of those things.” Am I concerned? Yes. Do I have an opinion about all of those things? Yes. Am I nervous or scared? No. My God is bigger than all those things. My God is in control. My primary allegiance is to my Heavenly Father, His Kingdom, and His agenda. Everything else is superfluous.


    • Hebrews 11:11-12 "Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable." KJV
            1. faith is no simple, positive-thinking state of mind
                1. it’s hard to be positive when sand is blowing through your tent flaps and you own nothing upon which you can erect a permanent home
                    1. such is the case with Abraham
            2. faith does not call us to abandon reason to follow our feelings
                1. faith exercises reason based on facts that God has given us even when they are contradictory to the world’s wisdom
                    1. this is what Abraham does
            3. both he and Sarah realized the impossibility of having a child through their own procreative efforts
                1. the writer reminds us that she was past age of childbearing
                2. if it was going to happen, it would only take place at the supernatural intervention of God
                3. and that’s exactly what happens
            4. their reasoning married faith so that they counted on the faithfulness of God to sustain them



            1. Abraham could not stay in Ur and live the life of faith
                1. if he was going to follow God he was going to have to make a break with his past and start life over with God
            2. the life of faith has some specific ingredients, which are pointed out in this text as reflected in the life of Abraham
                1. Abraham is a composite of this pattern of faith
                2. he reveals the totality of the true faith life, all the ingredients that constitute it
            3. one of those specific ingredients is separation from the world
                1. when any person comes to Jesus Christ, God demands of him a pilgrimage from his old pattern of living into a new kind of life, just as Abraham’s faith separated him from paganism and unbelief and started him toward a new land and a new kind of life
            4. the believer’s commitment to a life of faith has not changed
              • 2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." KJV
                1. becoming a Christian means changed allegiances
                2. salvation brings separation from the world
                    1. the Lord works in the believer’s heart the total willingness to leave behind everything that is not pleasing to Him
                    2. He cannot lead us into new ways of living until He leads us out of the old
                3. we should respond, “I don ’t know what You are going to do with me, Lord, but I’m going to drop all those old things. I don ’t know what You ’re going to substitute for them, but I ’m going to let them go.”
            5. that is the attitude of the faith pilgrim


            1. the 11th chapter of Hebrews asks a crucial question that demands and answer: “If faith is so great, why do so few people live it?”
                1. one reason? Most people would rather do anything, than take a risk
                  • ILLUS. In baseball, even the quickest of players can’t steal second base while keeping a foot on first base. The only way to advance is to risk.
                2. faith is like that—it requires letting go of earthly security so that you can attain heavenly blessing
            2. taking risks, means being vulnerable
                1. that may affect our finances, our friends, our future, our feelings, our occupation, where we live and a host of other considerations
                2. the human tendency is to want to be safe and secure ... to hedge our bets ... to insure ourselves against loss
                3. many will fail at faith because they are afraid to risk all for Jesus
                    1. it’s why the “rich young ruler” failed to follow Jesus
            3. Abraham discovered that the rewards of faith were worth the risk of faith
                1. because he was willing to have faith and be obedient, God blessed Abraham and called him friend
                    1. it’s a title given to no other person in the Bible


            1. faith looks to the integrity of God, and His trustworthiness, to do what He has promised
            2. faith is believing that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do
              • Hebrews 11:6 "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." KJV
            3. faith is not a good guess based on the best human estimate of the possibilities, but a reliance upon the faithfulness of God who has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ
                1. when God spoke to Abraham, he listened;
                2. when God promised Abraham, he trusted;
                3. when God commanded Abraham, he obeyed

There are only two ways to live. One way, by far the most common, is to live by sight ... to base everything on what you can see. The other way, far less commonly taken, is to live by faith ... to base your life primarily and ultimately on what you can not see. That is the Christian way, the Bible way, that is the way that the people of God have always lived. It’s the way I want to encourage you to live.

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