Gateway to God’s Heart — Sole Fide // The Solas – Part 3

This article is the third of a series on the “Solas” of the Protestant Reformation. They will post each Thursday here on The Post.

Faith is simple, but it’s often a mystery to many people, even believers. Why? Because it defies analysis and any effort to quantify it. And yet, faith is the gateway to God’s heart. It’s how we enter into a relationship with God.

It requires no special training or expertise and children seem to get its essence better than anyone. Faith is crucial to become a true Christian. This second Sola is closely linked with Sola Gratia, which we’ll look at next. Sole Fide is a second foundation and theological emphasis of the Protestant Reformation next to Sola Scriptura.

Sola Fide simply means by faith alone—a simple statement and a vital one. The theology of this Sola is what distinguishes Protestant Christianity from virtually all other religions and all pseudo-Christian sects and cults.

Here are three important elements of this foundational statement based on Scripture. A person is justified before God (reconciled and made innocent) by faith alone. Salvation cannot be gained by any effort (works) on our part. Christ’s righteousness—being without sin in a right relationship with God—is imputed (credited) to believers because of His grace, which is God’s unmerited kindness and favor

The Gospel

We can only receive and understand the message of God’s redemptive work through His Son Jesus Christ on the cross by faith. This is the basic message of the Gospel. We don’t become Christian believers by holding to a set of doctrines, or theological beliefs, or moral goodness, but by a personal trust in God.

The believers’ confidence for salvation is in Jesus taking the place of each of us on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice. This is called atonement, an act of reconciliation between God and people. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (atonement) enabled Him to provide the means for freedom from the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 5:18-19; 6:23).

Jesus’ reconciling act on the cross set up an exchange for those who trust in Him. Our sin was transferred upon Him, as the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world—all humanity (John 1:29), and He imparts or gives His righteousness to us. This is called imputed righteousness. The Lord is by nature righteous and He transfers His righteousness to us because of His grace toward us.

Faith that justifies

It’s easy to lose sight of the essence of faith when viewing it through a theological lens or trying to define it. True biblical faith is always personal and tied to a relationship with God. The faith that justifies a person doesn’t come through theological belief or knowledge of how faith works, it’s a matter of personal trust.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6 NIV)

Genuine, true faith isn’t developed through a right set of beliefs or actions. Neither is it a feeling or a dynamic force we conjure up or make happen. It is a confident surrender of our life to God. We see this throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament as well—especially the Gospels and Epistles.

In Chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews, many examples are given of people who lived by this kind of faith. Four notable people mentioned in the beginning are Abel, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham (Hebrews 11:4-8).

We see this justifying faith most clearly in Abraham’s life as God promises He will become the father of many nations (Genesis12:1-5, 7; 13:14-18; 15:1-6). Abraham’s trust in God was credited to him as righteousness—

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” (Romans 4:3 NKJV)

God considered King David a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22) and he had a similar faith in God and God’s Messianic promise to him (2 Samuel 7:18-22).

Justification by faith and the Holy Spirit

Again, it’s important to understand that justification by faith, the theological term connected to Sola Fide, is not based on doctrinal or theological beliefs, or by anything a person does or does not do in an attempt to be in a right relationship with God.

The faith that justifies a person is based on implicitly trusting God with our lives. God nurtures this justifying faith in us in various ways—revelation of the truth, supernatural events, making Himself known through life events, or confirmations in our hearts by His Spirit.

The personal work of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life is too often misunderstood as some spiritual dynamic or conjured-up belief, but this is inconsistent with the whole of Scripture. Jesus makes it clear that the Holy Spirit is the One who teaches and guides a believer (John 14:15-17, 26; 15:26), and it is He who leads us and points us to Jesus. God’s Spirit also brings conviction about sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-11; 13-15).

Justifying faith is the gateway to God’s heart, and He’s the one who nurtures this faith in us. As Paul makes clear to the Ephesian believers—

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Eph 2:8-9 NKJV)

A person doesn’t need to be a theologian to have this faith, for as Jesus reminded His disciples, we need to become like a child to enter God’s kingdom.

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” (Mark 10:14-15)

Understanding terms—

Many of the theological terms used by Christians become like a foreign language to nonbelievers. Believers need to understand these terms well enough to put them in their own words, or as I call it IYOW (In Your Own Words).

I’ve tried to give some simple clarification of terms in these posts, but I encourage you to make your own effort to understand these terms so you can explain them IYOW to others.

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