Sunday, August 3, 2008

Faith Alone

I started reading R.C. Sproul's book "by faith alone" today. I really believe the bible teaches Sola Fide, it is the only gospel I can hope in, because I'm a totally depraved sinner, and only the blood of Christ will save me.

A famous Protestant once said that this is the doctrine on which the church stands or falls, the doctrine that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. Now I can't find that doctrine anywhere in church history before Luther (maybe a bit in St. Augustine), but as I re-read Romans I cannot possibly read a Catholic interpretation into it, no matter how hard I've tried. Ultimately these are just some of the verses that point to justification by faith alone, and yes I've read James 2:24, but honestly in light of all the other verses that go against it, I am obligated to believe either 1) St. James was wrong, or 2) that Calvin's interpretation of it was right, namely that the KIND of faith that bears no works, is NOT saving faith, and thus it alone cannot save a man. As Melancthon reminds us faith alone justifies, but the faith that justifies is never alone.

John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Rom. 3:22, "even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction."
Rom. 3:24, "being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;"
Rom. 3:26, "for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
Rom. 3:28-30, "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 29Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one."
Rom. 4:3, "For what does the Scripture say? "And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
Rom. 4:5, "But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness,"
Rom. 4:11, "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also,"
Rom. 4:16, "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all."
Rom. 5:1, "therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,"
Rom. 5:9, "Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."
Rom. 9:30, "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith."
Rom. 9:33, "just as it is written, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”
Rom. 10:4, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
Rom. 10:9-10, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Rom. 11:6, "But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace."
Gal. 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."
Gal. 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Gal.3:5-6, "Does He then, who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6Even so Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness."
Gal. 3:8, "And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "All the nations shall be blessed in you."
Gal. 3:14, "in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
Gal. 3:22, "But the Scripture has shut up all men under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."
Gal. 3:24, "Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith."
Eph. 1:13, "In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise."
Eph. 2:8, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God."
Phil. 3:9, "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith."
1 Tim. 1:16, "And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life."

Sproul argues in his book that IF the gospel is justification by faith alone, then it is an essential doctrine and any church, meaning a church that doesn't teach this doctrine cannot be truly Christian. Of course the debate is all in the IF, but I think I've finally come back to this doctrine of the Reformation. And as Luther once prayed in a courtroom in Worms... may God help me.

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