I was delighted after last week’s worship to hear that some of you really enjoyed the historical emphases of our new series. All three of you who like that sort of thing made sure to mention it to me.
So maybe most of us are being challenged with this series to focus in on things that aren’t at the top of our interests. I understand that. Our culture tells us that we always need to be entertained. That we should accept life is broken into three parts. The first part is WORK, and that is bad. The second part is REST, and that is good. And the third part is AMUSEMENT and ENTERTAINMENT, and that is the ultimate good.
Now I know you don’t think about life that way. But we are getting messages from our culture all the time that kind of push our hearts and our minds in that direction. But the wind of God’s Spirit directs you on a drastically different course.
The testimony of God and life and creation and truth are that you were created to know God and to relate to Him and to enjoy life in harmony with Him. And you long for this because God has, as the Scriptures say, planted eternity in your heart. He made you for something more than just work or rest or entertainment, although all those aspects of life have a place in God’s sovereign design.
Look at what King David of Israel wrote about life with God over 1000 years ago:
“You (God) have made known to me the path of life. You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” – Psalm of David, 16:11
So understand that the ultimate desire of your heart is God’s desire. You want to find peace and fulfillment and delight and love, and those are the very experiences that God created you for.
Now what we are doing in these first few weeks of the New Year is considering fundamental ideas and truths that are going to help shape and re-form how you will live in 2017 so that you can experience life as God intends.
500 years ago there was a movement to restore thinking about life and God as He intended – we now know that time as the Reformation.
Before the Reformation, culture and society and even religious institutions had gotten off track, focused mostly on power and position and wealth. The same temptation exists today.
But in the Reformation period, Christian leaders with integrity called the people to remember again the basic principles that are foundational to life as God intended.
Those principles have been captured in Latin phrases that are called the Five Solas. Sola means “alone.” Here they are:
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God Alone
Last week we were focused on Sola Scriptura. When you accept the principle of Sola Scriptura and you put it into practice, this is what that means:
God’s Word is your supreme and divine authority for truth. You let God rule in your life through the instruction and the teaching and the guidance of His Word.
This is incredibly valuable! And I hope you began to try to apply this principle over this last week. If you missed last week’s message and you want to consider it for yourself, let me know and I’ll get you a copy of it.
Today we turn our attention to Solo Fide – Faith Alone.
Here’s how this principle is historically stated:
Solo Fide – Faith Alone
You are saved / justified through faith alone in Jesus Christ.
Now, as we said last week, these theological emphases from the Reformation were emphasized as a result of abuses and unscriptural teaching in the organized church.
At that time, the Catholic Church was trying to raise massive amounts of money to rebuild the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, which is a church in the Vatican complex in Rome.
One of their fund-raising systems was to increase the sell of indulgences, which was an after-death reduction of the amount of punishment one would suffer for his or her sin.
Of course, the granting of indulgences was not a teaching of Scripture, and neither is the concept of Purgatory which the Catholic church was teaching at that time.
Purgatory was said to be time spent or a kind of halfway house between earth and heaven where those who had not been sufficiently purged from their sins could rest and dwell until they were taken fully into God’s kingdom.
If you bought an indulgence, then you or a loved one could spend less time in Purgatory or even bypass it all together.
A German church official by the name of Johann Tetzel was commissioned by the Pope to encourage and increase the sale of such indulgences. So Tetzel traveled around Europe peddling this affront to God’s mercy and salvation with this slogan:
“As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” – Johann Tetzel, Roman Catholic friar, 1465-1519.
This guy was one of the forerunners to Jim Bakker and Creflo Dollar. I mean, who trusts a minister with the name Dollar?
But 500 years ago it was the reformers like Martin Luther who denounced these teachings and tactics. They rightly pointed out that God’s Word teaches that salvation, forgiveness, justification – which is God attributing to you the righteousness of Christ – these things are given by God to people because of their faith, not because of offerings or good works or following the laws of God.
Let’s look at a few passages just to affirm this truth.
“Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to Him as righteousness.” – Genesis 15:6
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.” – the words of Jesus recorded in John 5:24
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
They replied, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” – words of Philippian jailer and Paul and Silas recorded in Acts 16:30-31
“In the Gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.” – Romans 1:17 (Habakkuk 2:4)
“No one will be declared righteous in His sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” – Romans 3:20-22
God is clearly teaching us this truth in His Word.
Sola Fide – by faith alone in Jesus Christ – the sinless, crucified and resurrected Son of God – you are forgiven of your sin, counted as righteous and received as a child of God so that you might enjoy God and His blessings for now and forever.
This is good, isn’t it? You don’t have to earn your forgiveness from God. You can’t buy it. It isn’t passed down to you from your family or the church. But if you trust in Jesus for who He is, if you count on Him for salvation, if you receive Him as your Savior and Lord, then you come into the family of God.
Some of you may feel God leading you to receive Jesus this way today. If you feel the Spirit calling you to confess Jesus as Savior and Lord, do it right now in prayer to God, and then speak with me after the message. If God is offering you the gift of faith, don’t refuse to accept it.
Now many of you have come to Christ by faith some time ago. Maybe long ago. And you embrace the truth that we have declared this morning. To you and to myself, I would say, just as you received Jesus by faith, continue to follow Him in faith.
You see, faith is not just effective for your salvation and justification, making you right with God. It is also for your sanctification, making you more and more like Jesus.
Here’s what God says to us through the Apostle Paul in the New Testament letter of Galatians:
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” – Galatians 2:20
So understand, just as you come into God’s family by faith, so you live and take on the characteristics of God and His family by faith.
That means it is not you by your own effort you must resist temptation, strive for holiness and do the good things that God calls you to do, but instead it is by daily trusting in the power of Christ that is within you that these things are accomplished.
For example, if you try to stop gossiping or telling little lies or consuming inappropriate media content just by your own will, ultimately you will fail whenever your will is weak.
But if in those situations, you pray for God’s Spirit to strengthen and guide you, and you by faith embrace the promise of God that holiness and its rewards are far better than the fulfillment of sinful desire, then Christ can be victorious through you.
Another example – God calls you to give your effort, your ability and your financial resources to advance the redemptive mission of His kingdom in this world. And we all feel good when we volunteer and give.
But there are going to be circumstances when you are fearful that if you give, you won’t have enough to do what you need and want to do. You won’t be happy if you sacrifice or give up something to support God’s work.
Or if you serve, you will just be more tired. You won’t be appreciated like you should. You will be taken advantage of and what you can do really doesn’t matter anyway.
All of us have experienced that there will be times that our own will and our own good intentions will not be enough to overcome the temptation and the lies of the evil one. But what will give you victory in this battle?
God inspired the Apostle John to write these words:
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves His children as well. This is how we know we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.” – I John 5:1-4
I want you to understand that the FAITH that God has gifted to you is not just a LOOKING BACKWARDS and trusting in what Jesus has done for you, but it is also a NOW, THIS DAY REALITY that appropriates His own Spirit dwelling within you to empower you for Godly living, and it is also a FORWARD LOOKING EXPECATION that every promise God has made to you will come to pass through Jesus.
By faith in Christ alone you are declared righteous by God.
By faith in the Spirit’s power you daily say no to sin and yes to God’s truth.
By faith in God you look ahead to today and tomorrow and eternity with joy over all God will do in you and for you.
REVOLUTION CHURCH / 17270 INTERSTATE 30 NORTH, SUITE 2 / BENTON, ARKANSAS 72019 / 501-778-9977