Saturday, May 20, 2006

Not an issue? But it still is.

I used to think that justification by faith is clear and not an issue in the circles I used to roam in (evangelias/charismanias) but it seems that it still is. What do I mean? I mean there is confusion surrounding this slogan as understood by modern evangelicals today. Though sola fide as a slogan is something they affirm, they, as I most of the time observe, make faith as something that man must throw into the mix so that God might justify- to them this is the Gospel. Unwittingly, faith becomes a form of works that one must exercise, otherwise God will not be moved.It is believed that it can be produced by the unbeliever, so the Gospel is understood as a proposition not a declaration, or a promise. A sort of, you scratch God's back and He will scratch yours. It is true though that faith is a condition of justification, but that demand of God is not something produced on our own but also supplied by God through the Gospel promise.

This topic is quite tricky...

A quick test question can be used to illustrate this point. Ask the question "why are you saved"? If the answer is "because I believed",
sola fide has been misunderstood as well as the Gospel. However, if the answer is "because Jesus died for me, a sinner", that is the Gospel and that is sola fide.

The issue is this - the reason salvation is through faith is because it is first by grace! Meaning, the gift has been given first- Jesus - his work, perfect life and person, his atonement - is finished. My point is this sola gratia is the reason why it is sola fide.

In the Apology of Augsburg, Article IV,54-56 we have this
54] Scripture frequently implores mercy; and the holy Fathers often say that we 55] are saved by mercy. As often, therefore, as mention is made of mercy, we must keep in mind that faith is there required, which receives the promise of mercy. And, again, as often as we speak of faith, we wish an object to be understood, namely, the promised mercy. 56] For faith justifies and saves, not on the ground that it is a work in itself worthy, but only because it receives the promised mercy


The result of putting the accent on one's faith is pride and self-righteousness, when grace is the accent - there is no room for boasting even if you have faith, because salvation is by grace first on account of Christ's work alone. Your faith contributes nothing.

I hope this information is not new to you but if it is, I hope you find security in the fact that God did all that is necessary for our salvation without any of our contribution needed.

PS. My blogging has been sparse due to the pressure of thesis writing, I could use your prayers.

5 comments:

TKls2myhrt said...

I am blessed by reading your post! I was just thinking about this topic today. Sometimes I wonder why I believed the message that I choose my own salvation. I used to be angry at the teachers and pastors at my former churches, but now I realize that it was always just my own fault. I fell for the same lie as Adam and Eve - the lie that says it is possible to become like God.

L P Cruz said...

TK,

I thank God that this is proving to be a help to you.

The people that taught me are only repeating what they have received from others. So at times I get angry too for their encouragement to look at my faith, when in fact they should be encouraging me to look at the grace of God, namely Jesus on the cross bleeding for my evil thoughts and deeds.

Others speak of God's grace as if it is God's favor which has no center or no ultimate demonstration. I now realize that when the Scripture speaks about grace, it is never separated from Christ - God's gift to me, a sinner. God has no grace for me, except in Christ John 1: 17. May the Lord reminding us that when grace is mentioned in the Bible, it means always, Jesus given for us, for our salvation.

Peace be w/ you.


Lito

TKls2myhrt said...

And with you, too! Especially as you write your thesis.

Anonymous said...

Well done Lito. I wonder how many contemporary Christians understand Ephesians 2:8-9? The promotion of "Decisional Regeneration" leads to Gospel Degeneration!
Blessings.

Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania.
http://www.andrewcorbett.net

L P Cruz said...

Andrew,

Scriture has taught it all along.

But I used to promote such false teaching which I inherited from my Arminian pentecostal(A/G) teachers. I am deeply sorry that I did not know any better, and I think neither did they. Like them, I am seduced to thinking that I must do some itty bitty thing to get accepted by God, even making a decision. I now realize that no, it was Jesus who made a decision for me.

See Tuesday, December 06, 2005 post - Altar Call No More

Lito