Sola Fide (Faith Alone), a Devotion for 28 October 2016 Anno Domini
Painting by Briton Rivierie. NOTE: Daniel with great faith does not look upon the lions, but up to Heaven to His Lord.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Heb 11:1-3 (KJV)
I discovered a little story a few years back in the Bible Friend that very clearly articulates the relationship between works and faith:
An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word “Faith,” and on the other the word “Works.” Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced Christian and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, “I will show you.”
So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to ply the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again – this time the other way around, but still in a circle.
After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works, and plying both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passengers, “You see, that is the way it is in the Christian life. Dead works without faith are useless, and ‘faith without works is dead’ also, getting you nowhere. But Faith and Works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing.”
Of course, I believe that every reader of this devotion will know that no man is saved by good works for we are incapable of good works apart from Christ working in and through us. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) But we are certainly saved UNTO good works. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (KJV) But the mechanism (to use a term loosely) by which we are saved is faith working by the mercies of God’s Grace. Faith is that hook which the Holy Ghost sets in the jaw of the elect to draw him to Christ in the first case. Faith is the only agency that draws the sinner to the cross. The PURPOSE of that drawing is to enable the Free Grace that God makes available through the propitiatory death and atoning sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
By faith in the Blood of Christ, we are justified before God. The Roman Church will admit to ‘justification by faith’ as well; however, they add something else to it based in works of penitence, self-merit, and even indulgences. This Romish doctrine turns Holy Scripture on end. Read what St. Paul says: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” Romans 3:19-25 (KJV)
Another point to discern from the above text is this: all are guilty and deserving of Hell. If God, in His Sovereign Grace, does not elect to save you from your deserved Hell, justice is nonetheless satisfied. But all who have that burning desire to love and serve God are, by definition, elect in Christ. The doctrine of Faith and Grace should work together to comfort those who before doubted of their salvation. Faith is actually a product of Grace. Before Grace was imparted, there was no ability of Faith. The two (Faith and Grace) are married as One with one another.
Faith imbues the soul with the hope necessary to persevere under every threat and every hardship. Not all possess the same measure of faith because all have not fortified their souls with the same measure of wisdom and knowledge offered freely by the study of Holy Writ.
The same Article of Religion of the Thirty Nine of the Reformation Church of England applies equally to Faith as it does to Grace:
XIII. Of Works before Justification.
“Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of the Spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ; neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the School-authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.”
Justification (being accounted righteous before God) requires both Grace and Faith working in concert: “ Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:22-28 (KJV)
In the above text, Paul is making reference to all men apart from that One son of Man who did invoke the terms of the law in saving us. No man escapes the penalty of the law without the law receiving its due. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 (KJV) Yes, Miss Mary and Mr. Jones – this means you, too, and all of us except the only Begotten Son of God, Jesus Christ! “ For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (KJV) He was not subject to the penalty of death because He was without sin; however, you and I were so subject. Only one who did not owe the debt of sin could die in the place of another as a Substitute – and that only One was the Lord Jesus Christ!
Being recipient by Grace of the IMPUTED righteousness of Christ, we are justified and considered JUST. How should we then live? “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 (KJV) What does “live by faith” mean? It means to know without doubt in one’s heart that he or she is a child of God. That his actions and even thoughts can either reflect commendably or disparagingly upon His Sovereign who bought Him with His own Blood. Faith is the fuel of our spiritual lives. Faith is knowing that we are not alone – that our Lord is right beside to bear testimony of who we are in Him. Being children of the King of Kings imparts an awesome responsibility upon the prince and princess to live their lives so as not to bring dishonor upon their Father’s Name.
Hope being a product of Faith, we must have it anchored in the depths of the deep to prevent aimless drift. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.”
Heb 6:17-19 (KJV)
But we must bear in mind that Faith is no orphan. Grace has imparted it, and love sustains it. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity (LOVE), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (LOVE).” 1 Cor 13:11-13 (KJV)