The Five Solas of The Protestant Reformation–Part 3b Sola Fide: Faith Alone

In last week’s blog, I described how the theme, context, and reference to righteousness relate to Romans 1:17 and Sola Fide. Our focus today is the interrelationship between faith and salvation.   
Our key verse is Romans 1:17–“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (NASB).

What Faith Is     

“Faith” is mentioned three times in this verse and refers to the Greek word pistis  1 which is used almost every time “faith” is mentioned in the New Testament.  Pistis’ “primary idea [involves] trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust.” 2   R.C. Sproul points out two important and practical distinctions about faith. “At its root, this is what faith is. It is not believing in God. It’s believing God. The Christian life is about believing God. It is about living by every word that proceeds from His mouth (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4).” 3

What Faith Does But beyond the word meaning, what does the Bible say about faith?  Hebrews 11:1-40, the Hall of Faith chapter, describes the theology and practical applications of faith.  Hebrews 11:1 reads “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  For believers, Hebrews 11:1 speaks to both saving faith and practical faith. 

Although saving faith is implied at the beginning of Hebrews, it’s more clearly addressed in Hebrews 11:6–”And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”  Isn’t the existence and desire of God at the heart of every conversation about salvation?  If people deny God’s existence or that He longs for us to worship Him, then saving faith can only occur because of His divine and sovereign intervention, not human initiation.   
Saving faith acknowledges that we are born sinners who can be born again in Christ.  Paul hits this topic head on in Romans 10:9-10 which reads “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”  So while God gives us the faith to believe in saving faith, we must act on this faith by repenting of our sins.
Hebrews 11:1 also addresses practical faith.  Notice the two key concepts of assurance and conviction mentioned here.  Believers’ daily walk should be based on our confidence in God’s provision for our future outcomes rather than our preoccupation of current circumstances (Matthew 6:25-34).  Consequently, we are comforted by the practical ways that faith should impact our lives. Notice, for example, how many verses in Hebrews 11 begin with the phrase “By faith” followed by the names and actions taken by Old Testament heroes.  Faith should strengthen our walk with God, not hinder it.
In my next blog, I will discuss how Ephesians 2:8 relates to Sola Gratia:  grace alone.
1  Strong, James. A Concise Dictionary of the Words in the Greek Testament and The Hebrew Bible 2009 : 58. Print.
Easton, M. G. Easton’s Bible Dictionary 1893: Digital.
3  Sproul, R. C. What Is Faith?. Vol. 8. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010. Print. The Crucial Questions Series.

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