This has been teaching that has been argued for centuries throughout Christendom.
In order to understand this well, we must first have a brief history of the importance of the doctrine of salvation found in faith alone.
Specifically, during the 16th-century, men and women throughout Europe saw a need for reform in the church to scripture alone. This lead to the importance of focusing on the pathway to reformation as the journey permitted.
SOLA FIDE: This is the Latin word used for, “faith alone.” This specific sola (which this is one of the five) is probably the most famous for the Reformation; this sola captured the truth of scripture declaring God’s imputed righteous has placed men’s faith alone in Christ alone to be saved and secured.
This reminds us that God alone is sufficient for eternal sovereign work of holy perfect obedience on the cross. We contribute nothing to our salvation at all, only God does it all.
We are here today before a great cloud of the witness who have gone before us (Heb. 12:1). Those men will be such as Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Tyndale and many others who preached with great confidence by God’s help.
But even before we dive into this, we must understand the whole scope of the narrative of the gospel first.
Salvation is the saving of man from the power and effect of sin. When men come to Christ we are truly saved as Jesus is called to save people. By God sending his only begotten Son Jesus Christ he has saved us from all consequences and in its result, he has brought us to a vital relationship with himself.
Therefore, salvation is then deliverance, preservation, from any danger (Acts 7:25, 25:31; Heb. 11:7) The word here, adds the notion of wholeness, soundness, and health, giving “salvation” a medical connotation-salvation from af
fliction, disease, demon possession, or death.
We are indeed, saved all and entirely by the sovereign grace of God alone.
How do we know? The saving grace of Christ is by faith alone because of God’s irresistible grace. Why? Because this was an act that was even done before the foundation of the earth (Eph. 1:4-14). This election is unconditional as we see God, “chosen by grace” (Rom. 11:5).
Because of the fall, man is unable of himself to saving believer the gospel. The sinner is dead, blind, and deaf to the things of God; his heart is deceitful and desperately corrupt. His will is not free, it is bondage to his wild nature, therefore, he will not – indeed he cannot – choose good over evil in the spiritual realm.
Wayne Grudem summed this well in his book on Systematic Theology, “An election is an act of God before creation in which he chooses some people to be saved, not on account of any foreseen merit in them, but only because of his sovereign good pleasure.”
Charles H. Spurgeon who was known as the Prince of Preachers from England said once, “We see a golden thread of grace moving through the whole of the Christian’s history, from his election before all worlds, even to his admission to the heavenly rest.”
The Dilemma of Doctrine Election in light of Faith Alone
One of the major misunderstandings is with the understanding the doctrine of election is associated with Calvinism.
This term is actually a misnomer. Calvin did not emphasize predestination in his institutes (only 4 chapters). Calvin warned against delivering too deeply into this subject (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 21, section 1).
However, it became the controlling principle in Reformed Theology, expressed by the Synod of Dort in 1618-1619. The first starting point(s) for Calvinist Reformed theology is that God is sovereign and decrees certain things. (Isa. 46:10,11)…. My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please. (11)… What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.
Total Depravity, as a result, is Adam’s sin, people are born in a “depraved” state. This means that although people may do something that is good, they are constitutionally unable to submit themselves to the gospel. (Rom. 3:11-12; John 6:44, 64).
So, Why does it Have to be Faith Alone?
Have you ever wonder that question? Why faith alone? Why emphasize so much focus that salvation is by faith alone? John Piper explains in a helpful way;
“To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition?
’The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man . . . is that faith means receiving something, not doing
something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us.’
In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it crystal clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us, and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God.”
The Gospel is the Cause of True Celebration
This is good news! The meaning “Gospel” is the reality of redemption by the blood of the Son of God for wretched sinners. You and I can be part of this kingdom of God that He had made for us. Gospel is not a system of how people are going to be saved.
The gospel tells us, “The announcement of the gospel results in people getting saved.” which Christ has shown and related unto men 2000 years ago.
The meaning “justification” is we are in a true sense of meaning being grated into the family of God. How? His declaration of righteousness unto men for the forgiveness of our your sins.
Those who truly see the depth of the depravity of their own sin, are forever transformed by this good news of the cross of Jesus Christ. The significance of the cross in awe-struck worship is driven by the conviction of one’s own sin in light of the holy wrath of God.
If you don’t see the cross in profound significance, then you do not understand the state of depravity that caused Christ’s death that gave us the faith to save mankind.
The doctrine of Penal Substitution means true eternal forgiveness of your sins. You are simply just in because He did it all!
I am accepted and saved by faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone!