Sola Fide • Central Campus
In his 82nd Thesis, the Augustinian Monk, Martin Luther asked the question, "Why does not the pope liberate everyone from Purgatory for the sake of love (a most holy thing) and because of the supreme necessity of their souls?" He was troubled that the Roman Church called for the works of man to be added to the work of Jesus in order to be justified, or declared righteous before God. For Luther and the Reformers, justification was a work of God and not of men. They defended and declared that justification as a work of God, was received by faith alone (Sola Fide). Sola Fide was the Reformers' defense against minimizing man's helplessness before God on the one hand and God's holiness on the other.
- Do you have a natural tendency toward minimizing man's helplessness or God's holiness as you work out your relationship with God?
Because Missio Dei Church stands with the Reformers in affirming Sola Scriptura, that Scripture is the only God-inspired authority for truth it is to the Scripture we look to learn about justification. The primary text we utilized at Central was Romans 3:21-28 where we learned the following:
- God's wrath for sin is propitiated (satisfied) by the death of Jesus, not the suffering of the church.
- Justification is a work of God as he is "just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
- Justification is "by faith apart from works of the law" or faith alone (sola fide).
One of the primary contributions of the Reformers was in clarifying the way in which sinners are justified. Rome taught the impartation of righteousness before God. In other words, the sacrifice of Jesus makes it possible to live righteously. The Reformers taught impartation, but also the imputation of righteousness before. In other words, the sacrifice of Jesus makes it possible to live righteously because sinners, united to Jesus by faith, are declared righteous. The contention was that the Romans worked for a right standing, while the Bible teaches that we work from a right standing (justification). Romans 5:18-19 along with II Cor. 5:21 teach that the one act of obedience from Jesus leads to justification because Jesus becomes sin and sinners become righteous.
The primary contention against justification by faith alone is two-fold.
1. James 2:18-23 concludes with the statement, "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." However, the key words in the text are, "show, shown, and see." James declares that Abraham's belief was counted as righteousness, but that the good works put on display the faith that justified him. It is in the expression of good works that justifying faith is put on display.
2. Another contention is closely related to the first and it is that sinners can confess belief in God and feel justified to do as they please. Once again, James is helpful here in stating that "Even the demons believe—and shudder!" The Reformers, faithful to this text, taught that faith alone justifies, but justifying faith is never alone and the works that flow from faith that put on display justifying faith.
The big idea was that Jesus justifies us and in declaring us righteous before God changes our status and nature so that we are no longer free to continue in sin, but to do good works.
Pastor Kurt gave two action steps to process in community:
1. Justifying faith obeys God in Christ.
- In what ways do you count on your obedience to justify you before God?
- In what ways do you find it difficult to obey God? When you struggle to obey God, to what do you turn for assurance of justification?
2. Justifying faith displays God in Christ.
- On of the keys to faithfulness in Christ is to go where He leads and do works that glorify God in heaven. Where are you being sent where you need to put God's goodness on display?
- Who in your life needs to hear the good news of justification by faith alone? How will you tell them?