Friday, September 19, 2014

Sola Fide: Faith...

An Offering to God or a Gift from God?

“He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them-- he remains faithful forever.” Psalm 146:6 NIV This passage is the first bookend of this musing. 

Occasionally - fortunately not too often or I might start to believe it - I will be commended for “my great faith.” People see the life of dependence on God that we have lived and want to attribute it to something within ourselves. Honestly I cannot recollect a conscience decision that we made to live this life. I sincerely doubt that if I had been given a volitional choice I would have been able to make the right one. My reply to such well-meaning observations is that “God took both feet and kicked us out of the boat.”  The decision - if we would call it that - arose from Someone who is decidedly outside of ourselves.  George W Bush is known for saying that he was “the decider.” The Christian has come to know the One who is truly The Decider. 

By Faith Alone

“and the life that I am now living in this body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 ISV Please note that this translation along with the KJV uses the preposition of instead of in. This rendering transfers the burden of faith from self’s insecurity to Christ’s full atonement. We live not by faith in our faith, but by the faith of the Son of God.  

“From life's first cry to final breath. Jesus commands my destiny.” In Christ Alone

“How can these things be?” was the question asked of Christ by Nicodemus.  The query arose as a result of hearing these words: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."John 3:8 The born again experience comes not as a result of something pleasing from within ourselves, but as a result of the pleasure of God. As D.A. Carson has written concerning the Christian: “We are chosen not as a result of being choice, but we become choice as a result of having been chosen.” 

Every building block of Nicodemus’ credulity was being challenged - right down to its very foundation.  And so it is - the fortress of our tendency toward self-confidence must - and will - succumb to the Divine Invasion.  Even though we may initially resist, we will wholly and completely be  taken captive: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV “But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ's triumphal procession...” 2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

Intrinsic or Extrinsic?

Is faith intrinsic or extrinsic? Where does faith come from - within ourselves or outside of ourselves? If from within ourselves it will be recognized as a personal attribute that will quite naturally seek its own validation with the resulting adulation. 

Faith originates in God, passes through the Cross of the Son, is energized in the life of the believer through the Spirt and returns to the Father as a fragrant offering. We give to Him what He has given us to give Him. “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;...” 2 Corinthians 2:15 

Christ Himself who is the author and perfecter - the beginning and end - of faith came from the Father and returned to Him.

Look unto Him, ye nations, own
Your God, ye fallen race;
Look, and be saved through faith alone,
Be justified by grace.   Charles Wesley 

Sola Fide

(The following paragraphs are from an internet publication that I can no longer find. What is said is said so well that I cannot find a means by which to parse it.) 

Sola fide (by faith alone) was the war cry of the Reformation. It was radical then. It is just as radical now. The Reformation was dynamic. Sola fide was not the slogan of a delicate, cloistered piety. It was the ensign of a movement of blood and fire. (And I might interject here - the Blood of Christ and the Baptism of the Fire of the Holy Spirit.)

What does "faith alone" mean?  "Faith alone" is a confession that all which is necessary for our acceptance with God has been done by God Himself in His redemptive act in Jesus Christ. It is an acknowledgment that Christ Himself, in our name and our behalf, met all our obligations before the bar of eternal justice. This redemptive act was so complete and perfect that we cannot add anything to it. Nothing needs to be added to it. Sola fide means that we cannot in the least contribute to our salvation, but that we must submit to what God has already done—fully and completely. That is the meaning of "faith alone."

"Faith alone" does not mean that faith itself will make us pleasing and acceptable to God. Only One is righteous, One is pleasing.

We in faith flee from our own acts even of repentance, confession, trust and response and take refuge in the obedience and faithfulness of Christ—"Lord I believe, help Thou mine unbelief." That is what is meant to be justified by faith. — Thomas F. Torrance, "Justification," Christianity Divided (New York: Sheed &Ward, 1961), p.293.

"Faith alone" is mighty. It is mighty because in itself it is nothing. What makes it mighty is its mighty Object. Like John the Baptist, it points away from itself to the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. "Faith alone" lets {demands that} God be God and man be man.


“Whosoever will?” This phrase has become part of our evangelical mantra. Yet when we use it we are often inadvertently indicating intrinsic goodness. This usage flies in the face of scripture and subsequently the doctrine of original sin. 

“And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him.” Mark 3:13  Out of a great multitude Christ calls His church. “but reader be it thine to rejoice that Jesus calleth whom He wills.” Charles Spurgeon

It is only the will and pleasure of God that can overcome: “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;...” Revelation 12:9 If left to the “free will” of man - man would forever remain in the bondage of deception. “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 

Whosoever the Savior calls to Himself will come! “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.” John 6:45b.  Everyone who has heard and learned comes - everyone! Faith comes only as a result of grace - “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;” Ephesians 2:8 Grace is the means of faith - faith comes no other way. Again, it is the gift of God - “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” 2:9 This is the faith that is pleasing to God for it acknowledges His Son as its author and perfecter. True faith strikes the death knell of all boasting - “That no flesh should glory in his presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:29 KJV

Did we in our own strength confide, 
our striving would be losing, 
were not the right man on our side, 
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?  
Christ Jesus, it is he; 
Lord Sabaoth, his name, 
from age to age the same, 
and he must win the battle.  Martin Luther

And for our final bookend: “Our faith may fail, his never wanes— That's who he is, he cannot change!” 2 Timothy 2:13 ISV