Sola Fide: The Law of Faith
We continue our series on “Foundations.” The Latin word sola means “alone” or “only” and the essential Christian doctrines represented by these five Latin phrases accurately summarize the biblical teaching on these crucial subjects: sola scriptura—Scripture alone, sola fide—faith alone, sola gratia—grace alone, sola Christus—Christ alone, and sola Deo gloria—for the glory of God alone. Each one is vitally important, and they are all closely tied together. Deviation from one will lead to error in another essential doctrine, and the result will almost always be a false gospel which is powerless to save.
Understanding A Law of Faith
"A law of faith"is God's law but must not be misunderstood as a law whereby men seek justification from works, but rather a law summoning men to faith.
Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Abraham believed God and it was credited to his account and thus making Abraham an example of the law of faith. The Hebrew חָשַׁב means to account, impute, i.e., keep accounting records.
Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
To not understand the law of justification by faith is to not understand the holiness of God. Salvation through Christ was God's idea not man's.
Our justification is not what we do, but is a response to what God did. That response is to believe.
God did not expel Adam and Eve from His presence b/c He was angry w/ them; He did so b/c they could not stay in His holy presence. No where in the fall narrative will you find the word angry for God was not angry w/ man.
As long as even the minutest part of our righteousness remains we still have some ground for boasting—you know acceptance by God on the basis of the way I look, dress, or things I do or not do.
However, what I do reveals what I believe and who I am.
There is a fine line between the doctrine of justification by faith, and the reality of faith's evidence by works.
Even the great reformer Martin Luther did not understand this and even thought the book of James should not be canonized. However, James is not stressing justification by faith; rather, he is shedding light on the reality that faith speaks! What we do reveals what we believe.
Works, or corresponding actions, are faith’s way of expressing itself; they are the very life of or faith.
Dead at the end of v. 26 means useless and ineffective.
Believe is a verb! It's not those who feel or those trying, but those who believe, and what they believe is evidenced by what they do.
What does it mean to believe? πιστεύω - to believe something to be true and, hence, worthy of being trusted—‘to believe, to think to be true, to regard as trustworthy. It also means to "entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence (BDAG).
So if believing is trusting, then trusting in Him is to give ourselves to Him. The more I trust, the more I give.
For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
This means I trust Him w/ my past, my present, and my future. It means I trust Him w/ my finances, my marriage, my happiness, my health, etc. The more I trust Him, the more areas of my life I will give to Him.
To trust Him and give things of my life over to Him is to walk in obedience to His word.
God has always wanted mankind to trust Him. The first sin was b/c of unbelief. Israel incurred the wrath of God b/c of unbelief. Some will spend eternity in hell apart from the presence of God and loved ones not b/c God sends them there, but b/c of their unbelief.
This is the law of faith--"believe me and anything you need I will supply."
Everyone can believe and have faith.
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Justified by Faith Alone
Martin Luther said the doctrine of justification by faith is "the point of belief which determines (not politically or financially, but theologically and spiritually) whether the Church stands or falls."
Thus the theological foundation of Sola Fide—Faith Alone.
If good works cannot save me, then bad ones cannot damn me either.
Works themselves are not the deciding factor, but are in reality only a revealer of what’s in the heart.
All therefore, were glorified and magnified not through themselves or their own works or the righteous actions which they did, but through his will, and so we, having been called through his will in Christ Jesus, are not justified through ourselves or our wisdom or understanding or piety or works, which we have done in holiness of heart, but through faith, by which the Almighty God has justified all. 1 Clem 32:3-4.
Everything is over-written by the law of faith. David sinned greatly before the Lord when he committed both adultery and murder; yet, God forgave him easily, why? B/c David believed God!!
Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in lovingkindness to all who call upon You.
And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities.
“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.
When anyone comes to God and believes in His providence and grace; when they come to Him and believe as the ancient Israelites would often say, “God is good and His mercy endures forever” then God will move heaven and earth for that one, He will pardon, heal, and deliver!!
“For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.”
The law of faith is simply that faith is all you need.