Contend Earnestly: Sola Fide

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sola Fide

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...

By the Scriptures, I have no doubt that Jesus Christ, who authors up the faith and hands us a measurement of it according to...

Romans 12:3 (ESV) For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

Jesus Christ starts it i,e. justification. Jesus Christ finishes it i.e. glorification. (As aforementioned in Hebrews 12:2)

But how our faith strengthens and grows and matures and solidifies is based on the work that Christ in us and through us and we with Him that is the doctrine of sanctification.

Sanctification is the only thing I will contend that isn't 100% all on God alone. It is by His power and His strength but it is those things that He gives us by the power of the Holy Spirit so that we will have the endurance in order to do His will.


Seth McBee said...

Thanks for the comment. This is a hotly debated topic and hard to understand.

Here is what we do know in the revelation that God has given us (Deut 29:29)God is completely sovereign in everything, he gives us life and breath and he directs our steps where ever we go. (Prov. 16:9)He is the vine and we are the branches. John 15 is a great discussion on the eternal. Jesus tells us that we can do nothing apart from him, and that we should also bear fruit. What seems to be completely biblical is that God is always sovereign, even in our sanctification, but we are held responsible for our actions. He gets all the glory for any perceived good we do, but we get all the glory for all the sin we commit.

So, I understand why you would say he isn't 100% reponsible for our sanctification, but I don't think it completely states the picture. I also think that some uber Calvinists forget reponsibility and the call to work out our salvation, to crave the word of God and to do all things to the glory of God.

It is balance, but a misstep, in my estimation, to say that sanctification isn't 100% on God alone.

This is a question which is seems to be a conundrum to us humans, how God could be 100% sovereign in all things and yet we are still held responsible. But, our job isn't to figure out the eternal, but to believe what has been revealed.

This make sense?

Anonymous said...


I'll give you something that happened to me this morning.

I run over to my daily morning visit to a local gas station to get my Monster and whatever breakfast I can grab a hold of.

I go back into my car (parked in the parking lot) and sat for a second, eating my sandwich and drinking my Monster.

Just then a lady comes over and knocks on my glass and humbly asks for a gallon of gas. I went and got her a $20.

Okay, so the scenario is this:

1. To the outside world, I did something good.

2. However, because I'm a Christian, I know biblically that:
a. I am not good
b. Nothing is good apart from God.
c. God makes me good by the sovereign grace of the Father, through the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to save me.
d. Because He alone is good and my faith is in Him, I do good for the glory of God alone.
e. 1 Chronicles 29:14 Whom am I and what are my people that You, O Lord, give to us so freely for all things come from you so that we can give it all right back to you.

I am without a job. But in God's provision, I have something to give. Therefore, how can I not give this woman money for gas?

My part in sanctification is to obey God and have faith in God. God saved me. God gave me the faith. All I have to do is respond. Those are very tiny little bitty parts compared to all what God has done.

Seth McBee said...

I really can't argue with anything you put...well stated.

You stated exactly what I believe, you showed the biblical understanding of the secretive will cannot be known, but that in our knowledge we know certain things (you listed 5) and must respond in certain ways, which you noted in your last paragraph.

So, I agree with you completely.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting back and forth between you two.

I think though, that there is something missing with regards to Sanctification, is there not?

How about this for an understanding?

We offer nothing to God for "our" 100% Sanctification before Him. He does it all, sanctifies us 100%.

What I do that seems to be a sanctifying work, "making me look sanctified" is this:::>

Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
Eph 2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Eph 2:11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands--
Eph 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility
Eph 2:15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace,
Eph 2:16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.
Eph 2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
Eph 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
Eph 2:22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

What do I do? I do those good works prepared beforehand that I am to do. I would ask you to show me one place in those cited verses by Paul where he teaches that my "flesh" is ever sanctified or "made" Holy or any prepared good works that I do?

My flesh is that part that is "left behind" when I pass out of this world. On the other hand my spirit, soul and body go to a "Just" reward, either to God's Eternal Glory in Christ because I have been sanctified 100% by God, or to God's Eternal Damnation in the lake of fire prepared for Satan and all his angels because I would not receive the Grace of God in Truth and let Faith do it's perfect work in me, that is, believe and receive the blessings of Abraham's Seed.

It seems to me we continually are raising up something that we want people to know something about our flesh. Well, here's what I know and believe about my flesh. If I leave it alone with my sinful nature, I will be right back in the vomit of my human flesh nature!

It's all or nothing! I need a 100% Savior, not a 99% plus my 1% Savior.

It's Christ all in all or it's hellbound!

1Th 5:23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Th 5:24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

I guess what I am saying is there is 100% "passive sanctification" like there is 100% "passive righteousness".

1Co 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

God is 100% of the time the Active Sanctifier by the Sanctification work of the Holy Ghost:

1Pe 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

I am the wretch God is saving from myself and Adam's nature that I bear through and through!

Rom 7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
Rom 7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Anonymous said...

Not to beat a dead horse but my Arminianist reminded me that in Romans 12:3, that God gave "each a measurement of faith..."

All humans have a measurement of faith given to us by God.

Seth McBee said...

Romans is speaking to the people of God, specifically the church. So, that really doesn't disprove anything.

But, we can also see that there is a difference between saving faith and a mere dead faith. We see this in James 2:14 where James asks, "can that faith save him?"

Saving faith is only given to the elect.

Related Posts with Thumbnails