“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sola Fide Part 2 - The Instrument of our Justification

In my last post I wrote about the grounds of our justification; that being the person and work of Jesus Christ. In this post I am going to look at the instrument of our justification.

When we say sola fide -- 'faith alone' we are not saying that faith is our justification; faith is not the grounds of our justification, but the instrument of it.

Let me state it this way; we are saved through faith, but not because of faith. Our faith in and of itself is not salvific – it needs an object. Some would claim that if one simply has ‘more', or 'enough' faith then they would be saved, but it is not the volume of our faith that is justifying, rather it is the object of our faith – that is, Jesus Christ and His finished work.

People may have faith in many things, but only one thing is salvific -- the person and work of Jesus Christ. We can have faith that our favorite baseball team will make it to the World Series, but that will not save us -- we can have faith that our president will 'save' America, but that is not salvific -- it is only faith in the correct object; that being the person and work of Jesus Christ, that has any efficacy in our salvation.

And our faith is not even generated by us – it is a gift of God. Ephesians 2:8, 9 -- For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Even the faith to cry out to God is a gift from Him.

Sadly, we have come under what R.C. Sproul calls the ‘Pelagian Captivity of the Church”; we somehow believe that we come to the table with SOMETHING and only need a bit of a boost from God to affect our own salvation.

However, having said that; let me clarify something: faith is something that we take and work with. God gives the faith, but we are to believe. God does not believe for us. Faith is not some condition that we meet to merit salvation, but a gift from God that we exercise. God is the one who gives faith to us, but we then take this gift and reach out to Christ in awareness of our need. Faith is our open and empty hand reaching out to Christ.

So, faith is the instrument of our justification – faith, given by God, enables us to respond by reaching out to Jesus Christ so that we have His perfect righteousness imputed to us, giving to Him our sinful, soiled garment in the great exchange.

Let us meditate on those thoughts for a bit, and I will complete this section on sola fide in my next post.

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