For the next five weeks, our Sunday exhortations will cover the five Solas of the Protestant Reformation. We are doing this to celebrate the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation and we will continue with our second sola, Sola Fide, “faith alone.”
Now, faith, in and of itself, is not unique. We all have faith in something. We can get on an airplane because we have faith that it will safely get us to our destination. We can work for 40 hours a week because we have faith that eventually our bosses will pay us for it. We can hand out credit cards over to the cashier at Chipotle because we have faith that he or she will not run away with it but instead swipe it and reward us with a delicious burrito. We all have faith, and faith determines how we live and respond to propositions.
So, what about faith as it relates to God?
Some people have faith that their works will please God enough to let them into heaven. The action produced here may be incessant work trying to earn favor with God...this isn’t as common as we make it out to be though. What’s more common is a very low view of God that allows people to say things like, “Well, I’m a decent person, so God will likely accept me into heaven, I mean, I’m not a murdered or a thief, right?”
Others have faith that there is no God and therefore, there is nothing after death either to fear or look forward to. Action produced here is a life lived on one’s own terms, whatever they may be, moral or immoral.
Still others have faith that they have plenty of time left in their life to figure out what they think about God. Actually, they live free from worry, in over-confidence about the security of their earthly existence.
So what about the Christian church? What do we have faith in?
First, we have faith in what the Bible says about our perfect, spotless and holy God with whom evil cannot dwell (Ps. 5:4).
Second, we also faith in what the Bible says about humankind, namely, that we are imperfect, tainted and sinful, and therefore deserving of eternal punishment (Rom. 6:23).
Third, we have faith that our holy God made one way for evil people to be reunited with him, and that is through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus that takes away our sinfulness and imputes, gives us, righteousness.
Fourth, and most important for today, is that forgiveness, through Jesus, is applied on the basis of faith alone (Sola Fide) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9)
You are saved by faith and faith alone, not faith + works, not faith + church attendance, not faith + anything else. Paul says in Galatians that if you are trying to be justified before God by faith plus anything else then you are in fact severing yourself from Christ.
Don’t sever yourself from Christ! Don’t allow Satan to trick you into thinking that you need to earn your salvation. Satan’s not looking out for you! Through such a lie he is not helping you attain salvation but instead stripping it from you. Resist him, firm in your faith!
Everyone has faith, and faith determines how you react to propositions. Here’s a proposition: Christ saves sinners by faith alone. Now, how will you react to this proposition? Will you ignore it, and try to earn your way into God’s kingdom? Will you take it as a starting point, God gets you halfway and you got to get yourself the rest of the way? To do so would be a slap in the face to Jesus, saying His sacrifice was helpful, but not good enough. Then, after humiliating Jesus we have the audacity to believe that though he is not good enough our own pitiful works are good enough.
Oh God, forgive us for such childish thinking! Forgive us for rejecting your Son! Forgive us for having such a low view of you that we could ever imagine that we, sinful people, could bring you dirty rags and expect reward.
May we not be like this. May we instead fall on our knees in desperation and say yes Lord, nothing in my hands I bring but something to the cross i cling! We have faith in Jesus, and that faith is that Jesus is sufficient.
I close with this: For those who accept it, and by God’s grace I pray that that would be everyone in this room, will you tuck this promise of grace through faith away into your pocket, or will you share it with the world? Will we celebrate the Reformation by patting ourselves on the back for having right doctrine, or will we run to a needy world that is literally dying for this message? Saving faith is faith alone, nevertheless, that faith never remains alone. Genuine faith stirs in our hearts and moves us to pursue God with a passion, love God, fight sin, pray often, and for goodness sake, share the gospel truth with as many people as humanly possible. How will we celebrate the reformation? How will we celebrate what Christ has done for us? May we say here at Cities church that we are resolved to celebrate the Reformation by sharing Sola Fide, faith alone, with the world!