Sola Fide

More recently I’ve been trying to learn more about Bible Theology, because growing up non-denominational, most of the time people said, “Well I just believe in the Bible.” That is all well and good, but more and more I’m learning that if you don’t have a strong, theologically solid foundation, it is hard to interpret and apply the Bible. At least that is what I’ve experienced.

So I found some teaching by R.C. Sproul on basic theology, and I listened to one today about Sola Fide, which means salvation through faith in Christ alone. Use to, I would’ve said, yeah I believe that and just moved on, but he started off talking about the importance of this doctrine. It was so interesting. 

He quoted Martin Luther, “There are few who know and understand this article. And I treat it again and again, because I greatly fear that after we have laid our head to rest it will soon be forgotten and will again disappear. And indeed we can not grasp or exhaust the Christ, the eternal righteousness, with one sermon or thought for to learn to appreciate him is an everlasting lesson that we shall not finish in this or yonder life.”

He went on to explain that while sola fide is an easy concept to grasp with the mind, “but to get the doctrine from our heads into our bloodstream is another matter all together. Because it is one thing to understand a doctrine but another thing to have it be the controlling aspect of the faith we live before God.”

Then he explained the doctrine and what it actually means to us. I tried to write a blog about this before, but I don’t think I did a very good job, and here again today, I may fail miserably, but hopefully it’ll be some what of an improvement and therefore worth my time…

Sola Fide does not mean that if we accept Christ, God begins to simply overlook our sin, as if we are now in his special club and get special treatment. But Sola Fide means we are actually made righteous through Christ. To me, it means we can be confident before God as we are righteous and a new creation, BUT we must also remain humble as this new status is not due to us or our actions. This dualism creates a sort of fine line. It is like we are strong and weak at the same time. We are whole and yet broken. We are redeemed and yet sinful. It is like, while I’m well aware of my shortcomings, somehow through Christ, we find a way to overcome them. It is very bizarre, but I think something worth contemplation, consideration, and as Luther said, a lifetime.

26 thoughts on “Sola Fide

  1. I really like and respect R.C. but I agree and disagree with him on some things. I agree with his views on eschatology but disagree with him on Calvinism. As for sola fide, just saying we have faith in Jesus does not save us, unless our lives bear the fruits of the Spirit also, which confirms whether our faith is sincere or not. As James says, faith without works is dead. There are some people who claim to be Christians but live a life in continued rebellion against God and never repent of their sins but use sola fide as a fire escape. Are they really saved? I don’t know but it doesn’t look good. And people that at one time said they had faith but are now atheists. were they really saved?

  2. Good study. I especially liked this paragraph:He went on to explain that while sola fide is an easy concept to grasp with the mind, “but to get the doctrine from our heads into our bloodstream is another matter all together. Because it is one thing to understand a doctrine but another thing to have it be the controlling aspect of the faith we live before God.”

  3. are some articles about what you are talking about… you are close but Sola Fide actually means “By Faith Alone,” which was important to Martin Luther because the Catholic Church was pressing faith by works or deeds and also selling things like indulgences (pieces of paper epople bought to get loved ones out of purgatory). This was one reaosn for the big split between Catholics and Protestants, which caused the Reformation.If you are really interested in a book about theology you should read: is a great author and really readable on this subject, not using too many big words, and really anything too confusing you can look up on google and wikapedia, not the best source but usually pretty correct on most things. If you do get the book, just remmeber to pace yourself (and also look of scripture references Grenz uses). It is a lot to take in but we used this in seminary and I loved it.. well, I really like Grenz and his style of writing. On this link you can also look at the table of contents too by the way.

  4. @musterion99 – True, but while works do prove faith (or its fruits) it does not save/lead to salvation. This is what makes the term so important, along with Sola Scriptura and Sola Gratia (see links I posted above)Ephesians 2:8-108 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

  5. @musterion99 – As usual, I’m confused… I thought Calvinism was simply about whether we choose God or he chooses us. So is it related to Sola Fide too? Also, do you disagree with Sola Fide or the way I explained Sola Fide? Do you believe once saved, always saved? Personally, I don’t know where I stand on that. Sproul’s lecture is a huge series so maybe I’ll know once I’m done! 

  6. @cerwindoris – I agree! I love thinking about how God is much more than we can comprehend, and so it amazing to put Jesus and his sacrifice in that category too! I think it helps us remember our humble position!

  7. @Doubledb – I think I said “by faith alone” in one of my beginning paragraphs. My last paragraph was really about the implications of Sola Fide, sorry it wasn’t very clear…

  8. Catholics also believe that only through faith in Christ can a person be saved.  But that is not Sola Fide. Sola Fide means the rejection of the traditions of Judeo-Christianity, the teachings of God that have been handed down from generation to generation outside written books.It means confining the entire mind of God and the life of Jesus Christ to a book. Thus, Sola Scriptura. All of Luther’s “Solas” go together to create an entirely new religion.And each “Sola” is clearly refuted in the Bible. Jesus himself destroyed the doctrine of Sola Fide when someone asked what was necessary for eternal life. Jesus did not answer, “Faith.”  Jesus answered that following the commandments was necessary for eternal life.Also, in the book of James:  “Faith without works is dead.”Sola Fide is not a biblical teaching and Luther, who was nothing more than a Catholic priest with an ax to grind, had no authority to create new doctrine.

  9. @AmyDoo – you did speak of it, just not the exact translation.. that is all I was making clear. A good blog about an interesting subject.@PrisonerxOfxLove – I know where you are coming from but respectfully disagree. In addition, Christianity also existed before it was institutionalized as the Roman Catholic Church for almost 300-400 years, so it isnt doing away with those teachings as the ones from the Church, at least as Luther and most Protestants see it. Plus, there were many doctirnes argued before the catholic church, during the span between that time and the reformation, and even today. One could say the Catholic”rejection of the traditions of Judeo-Christianity” in relation to such things as slavery, since the Catholic church changed its mind. I am not saying Protestants are right and you are wrong, what I am suggesting is just because you are Catholic you cannot state all Protestants have rejected Judeo-Christian traditions and values. That is simply not the case.”Jesus himself destroyed the doctrine of Sola Fide when someone asked what was necessary for eternal life. Jesus did not answer, “Faith.” ” – this statement is false, because Sola Fide came during the time of Luther, so Jesus did not destroy something that hadnt happened yet. Yes, you can disagree with the concept, but you cant say Jesus’ refuted or destroyed it. Plus, Sola Fide does not mean cheap grace but costly grace, as Dietrick Bonhoeffer suggested in his book “the cost of discipleship”

  10. @AmyDoo – Yes, part of Calvinism is about choice. There’s 5 parts of Calvinism called TULIP. Sola fide is a separate teaching. I agree with what you said. That is what is referred in the bible as imputed righteousness. And then I explained more on sola fide in my first comment.

  11. @Doubledb – The Catholic Church traces its beginning all the way to Peter the Apostle. That is a historical fact. Saint Polycarp was a protege of Saint John the Apostle. And when the Portuguese landed in India in the late 1400s they found Catholics who were spiritual descendants of Saint Thomas the Apostle.Saint Justin Martyr described the Catholic Mass in 150AD. It’s the same as it is today.  The Church Fathers which include Tertullian, Origin, The Desert Fathers and Saint Augustine were all Catholics.Catholicism remains united and continuous from the days of Jesus til know. That fact is recognized by any reputable historic or theological authority.The rest of your comment is riddled with factual errors also. It is impossible to seek truth with people who do not recognize facts.

  12. @Doubledb – Sola Fide is as old as the hills. The Sophists practiced it in ancient Greece to bamboozle the ignorant.Anyone who accepts dogma and discards reason is a fideist or adherent to “Sola Fide.”  Fideism is one of the greatest heresies to assail the Church.

  13. @AmyDoo – As I said, I don’t agree with him on Calvinism. I believe we are depraved but not totally depraved. Even though we have a sin nature, we are still able to love and do some good things. An unsaved person loves their children. Jesus even spoke of this.

  14. @musterion99 – I’m mostly curious. I don’t really know what I think about a lot of these things. I’ve had zero formal theology training… as far as total depravity, we’ve already discussed it, but I’m curious for other opinions. I understand what you are saying, but I think you and I probably view the relationship between the condition of our hearts and our actions differently.

  15. @AmyDoo – The debate of Calvinism is a very strong one. Both sides can show strong scriptural support for their views. I’ve done quite a bit of study on both sides. I’m not totally a Calvinist and I’m not totally Arminian, but I lean more towards Arminianism. The one thing I agree with Calvinism on is the perseverance of the saints, that is if they really are saints.

  16. @AmyDoo – above book is great in talking and discussing Calvinism, Armenian-ism, and Open Theism. We used is in my Christian Philosophy class. It is pricy though for one paperback (I guess it is no longer being reprinted maybe), but it is by far the best book I ever read on the subject(s). I wrote a paper on this, if your interested, I could e-mail it to you.

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