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  • Writer's pictureWayne Shelton

The Five Solas - Sola Fide "A Portrait of Faith"

Mark 7:24-30

The aim of our Reformation series this year is not only designed to underscore the significance of our heritage but also to remind us of the basics of our faith. Chad set up the “solas” series beautifully with an introductory sermon on “The Heart of The Reformation” from Romans 1:16-17. He then went on to preach the first two solas.

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity. The Five Solas are:

1. Sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our highest authority.

2. Sola Gratia (“grace alone”): We are saved by the grace of God alone.

3. Sola Fide (“faith alone”): We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ.

4. Solus Christus (“Christ alone”): Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior, and King.

5. Soli Deo Gloria (“to the glory of God alone”): We live for the glory of God alone.

As we consider “faith alone” this Lord’s Day, the great question that confronts us all is: how can a holy and righteous God ever be reconciled to unholy and unrighteous sinners? More specifically, how can I ever be put right with God? How can the holy One who inhabits eternity ever be righteously reconciled to me, a judgment-deserving sinner? That really is the issue. And that’s the issue that takes us to the very heart of the revelation of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The righteousness we so desperately need is provided by the very God we have offended: "but now a righteousness of God apart from law has been made known" (Rom 3:21). "Cursed is everyone", says Paul to the Galatians, "who does not do everything written in the book of God’s law". That’s our standing and our state before God. The law humbles us, it crushes us. But now a righteousness of God apart from law has been revealed. This righteousness becomes operative in our lives through faith in Jesus Christ (see Rom. 3:22). Paul then highlights that this righteousness is the gift of God’s grace (Rom. 3:24). In other words, it is not your faith that justifies. Faith is the empty hand that receives God’s gift of justifying righteousness. And even the faith with which we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is God’s gracious gift to us in His mercy. (The classic passage for understanding this truth is Romans 3:21-30.)

Sola fide is the truth that the believer receives the redemption Christ has accomplished through faith and faith alone. Rather than trusting in ourselves, we trust in another: Jesus Christ. This Sunday we will look at a portrait of faith in the story of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30.

One of the great prayers of the English language is the prayer of access to the Lord’s Supper, written by Thomas Cranmer, in the first Book of Common Prayer; it’s based on this story in Mark, and over the centuries millions of people have prayed it:

We do not presume to come to this your table, merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in your manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table, but you are the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy.

Every time we pray this prayer, we are inviting you to step into this woman’s shoes and approach Jesus boldly, with humility, to take up both the offer of God’s infinite mercy. That is, to trust in Jesus Christ alone. I hope you can join us this Lord’s Day as we look at faith alone.

In His Mercy,

Pastor Wayne



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