Dr. Sam Waldron, Martin Luther And Sola Fide

What is the meaning of sola fide for Luther? Faith alone is not the product of human free will or goodness remaining after the fall. It is a supernatural faith introduced into the soul by the sovereign grace of God through the gospel. Faith alone means Christ alone comes into the soul of man. It is a fides apprehensiva. It grasps Christ, brings Him into the heart, makes the soul one with its heavenly bridegroom, and clothes itself in an alien righteousness. Thus, the believer is at one and the same time a sinner and a righteous man. He is always a sinner, always a penitent, and always a righteous man. Bringing the soul into contact with Christ and His Spirit, this faith is a lively, active, and productive power bearing fruit unto Christ, but this faith does not justify or grasp Christ through its working, but through its grasping, receiving, and resting on Christ alone for salvation. It was this understanding of faith alone that focused Luther’s attention on God and His Son, took his attention off his works, and brought him an assurance that could only be found by receiving and resting on Christ alone for salvation. Thus, faith alone reverses the hopeless introspection that Luther’s schooling produced and summons the sinner to a glad extraspection in which Christ alone fills the eyes of the soul.

Were Martin Luther alive today he might have stinging things to say to evangelicals. Sola fide, he would say, cannot be compromised for the sake of peace within the professing church of Christ. It represents everything about the gospel that can bring peace to the soul weary of its own sins. Sola fide cannot be defined in terms of obedience to the law or as a response to the gracious commands of God. It cannot be defined without reference to Christ. The faith of the Bible is “faith toward (εἰς) our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). When it is made in any sense the righteousness by which a Christian is justified, its true nature is destroyed. Sola fide can only be understood as resting on and receiving an alien righteousness. Christ alone is the meaning of faith alone. Sola fide cannot be possessed by the irreligious and careless. It is semper penitens. It grasps Christ and brings His Spirit into the heart and life.*

*Vol. 1: The Reformed Baptist Theological Review Volume 1. 2004 (1) (103–104). Owensboro, KY: Reformed Baptist Theological Review.

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About lalvin1517

I'm married with two children and pastor McCall Baptist Church in McCall, Idaho.
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