Second in a five-part “Solae of the Reformation” series by AFLC Schools faculty
The Reformation principle of sola fide (faith alone) is actually a Biblical Gospel principle that was recovered and re-emphasized at the time of the Reformation. Throughout Scripture, the Gospel clearly teaches that we are saved only by faith in the completed work of Christ. The principle of sola fide teaches that salvation is entirely apart from our own works or effort.
From the many portions of Scripture that clearly teach sola fide, two key references are Romans 4:5-6 and Galatians 2:16. In Romans 4:5-6, Paul declares, “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works.” Note the emphasis in these verses: “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies” and “God reckons righteousness apart from works.” Also notice that Paul declares that God justifies the ungodly. We are not justified because in ourselves we are right or do right; we are justified by faith in the Justifier because of His mercy and grace. This is salvation by faith alone.
Paul teaches the same truth in Galatians 2:16: “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” When Paul says, “Even we have believed,” Paul is referring in context to himself and to Peter. Even though theirs was the rich Old Testament heritage of the Jewish nation and even though they were leaders in the Early Church and had direct interaction and fellowship with Christ (Paul met Christ on the Damascus road), Peter and Paul were also saved only by faith in Christ. “Works of the Law” is a reference to anything anyone attempts to do for the sake of righteousness before God. We are righteous in God’s sight (justified) only by faith in Christ, and never by works of the Law. This is sola fide, salvation by faith alone. And God alone receives the glory.
Dr. Phil Haugen
Professor of New Testament
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