Contend Earnestly: Five Solas of the Reformation - Sola Fide - Part I

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Five Solas of the Reformation - Sola Fide - Part I

If you did not read the intro to Sola Fide, please read that first as it will give you an important look to the background of where we find this Sola. click here

Faith is a Gift from God

With Sola Gratia we hopefully challenged you in understanding that God grace is given to whom He chooses and whom He wills. If you remember we went through Romans 9 and answered some questions that are natural in the understanding of this doctrine.

What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
Romans 9:14-16

We looked at man’s deadness in sin. We saw that men were not merely sick, merely blind, almost dead; no, men are completely dead in sin without capacity to search for God as found in Romans 3:10. So, if all this is true, how can anyone believe?

We state that people are saved by faith alone, but how can they have a faith if they are totally dead in sin? Would not this faith be constituted as some good in man instead of the opposite? Here is the kicker: saving faith is given to God’s elect so that they will respond to the call of the Gospel.

I won’t completely exegete this passage, but look to John 6:37

All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

If faith was generic, given to all men equally, so that all could respond, how could Christ say that ALL that the Father gives Me will come to Me? Notice that further down in John 6:39 that Christ says that He loses none of them but will raise them up on the last day. So, we see that Christ gives some absolute statements here.

- All the Father gives will come
- Christ loses none of these that come
- Christ raises these up, or better put in John 10:27,28

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

Do you see the parallel here? How do the sheep come as spoken of in John 6:37? Jesus calls them with His voice and the sheep hear, and come.

John 6:44 continues to reveal this to us

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

So, now John 6:44 continues to tell us that only those that are drawn by God can come to Him, no one else is able to. This Greek word for “can” where we see “no one can come” is this:

to be able, have power whether by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom

So, no one is able to by their own power, ability or resources come to God unless He draws them. This also reveals that God does not draw all men, for if He did, all would come and all would be raised up, or saved.

So what does God do in order so that they can come when He draws them? He gives them the saving faith in Him.

We will look to two verses in particular to define this for us, but also, when you have time, look who Paul thanks when referring to the faith of those in Colossae and Thessalonica. If this faith was because of the people you would expect Paul to thank the believers, but since it is given by God, Paul thanks God for their faith, not the people themselves.

First verse is Phil 1:29

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

Some have taken this verse and said that through Christ suffering is a possibility but not always a reality. So, Christ made faith a possibility but not a reality. First, rule in interpreting Scripture? Scripture interprets Scripture…

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted
2 Timothy 3:12

There is no doubt this is an absolute statement. If you want to live godly you will be persecuted, not maybe, not might be, but absolutely. Don’t blame Scripture if you are not persecuted for your faith, because the faith that God gives is always persecuted. Jesus even said in John 15:19 that the world will hate you, then the apostle John follows this up again in 1 John 3:13. Maybe if you are not being persecuted or hated, it is time to do some self evaluating to see if you are truly in the God fearing, God exalting, God proclaiming faith.

So, then if we can see this absolute, that it has been granted to us to suffer for Christ, then the proof lies that it has been granted to us to believe in Him, or granted to us to have the faith that saves.

This word “granted” is used in a lot of places in Scripture, but let me ask; What does a blind man do to receive sight from God? Does Christ use the little light or shades of light that the blind man has to restore his sight? Or did Jesus give the sight to the blind man freely by Christ’s power?

At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
Luke 7:21

The word for “gave” when saying “He gave sight to many…” is the exact same word for “granted” when telling us that it has been granted to us to believe.

Notice the other proof text of this understanding: 2 Peter 1:1

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:

This word for received means: to receive by divine allotment

I don’t want to beat a dead horse but when we think of love, peace, wisdom, understanding and good; are these not all understood to have one that is given by God and one that is given or adhered to by man? Is there not a difference between a godly love, a godly peace, godly wisdom, godly understanding, and godly good, compared to human love, human peace, human wisdom, human understanding and human good….

We actually find this different, human faith in James 2:14

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

James goes on to prove that there is a difference between the human faith, that is dead and the God given faith that works. So, when we come to the doctrine of faith alone, Sola Fide, we must understand that our faith was given to us, when you believe this you cannot fall into the trap of thinking that your faith was anything meritorious for your salvation. How can it be? It was given to you, you did nothing to receive this faith.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Phil 1:6

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith
Heb 12:2a


Anonymous said...

Hey Seth,
I have a guy on my site who is very confused on this matter. He feels that I am leading people into darkness by way of the "sinners prayer". I can't seem to get him to understand what I am trying to say....want to give it a try and help him out? sarah from Amazing Grace

Anonymous said...

Hey Seth,
I just got flagged as spam over at your friend's place at Theology Online(first time ever! I feel aweful!) and now I can't tell him sorry for causing him undue stress. I really didn't realize I was because at the bottom of his posts he says he accepts challenges so I just responded to his response to me. Anyhow, will you tell him sorry...I and I won't pester him anymore? Thanks, sarah.

Seth McBee said...

I will fix weren't flagged as spam because of your I will fix...check back in a little while...

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