In our previous post, we talked about the amazing truth that being saved is only possible through Christ. He’s the only one who can make things right between us and God.

The Five Solas of the Reformation: Sola Fide

Continuing this exploration of the Five Solas of the Reformation, we now focus on the pivotal concept of Sola Fide, commonly known as “faith alone.” Sola Fide means that all the benefits of Christ’s saving love come to us when we trust and believe in Him.

As we unravel the depths of this doctrine, we uncover a truth that challenges conventional notions of our day and invites us to consider how faith in Jesus revives and renews us.

What Is Sola Fide?

If Solus Christus is the teaching that helps us understand how we are saved (through Christ’s work), Sola Fide is the teaching that helps us understand how that salvation is applied to us. This may sound complicated at first, but a closer look will help us understand that Sola Fide simply teaches that God gives us Christ’s salvation through faith, not through good deeds.

This faith is a gift from God given to us to help us cling to Him. However, we must understand that when we say, “by faith alone,” we don’t mean that we merely acknowledge that Jesus was a historical person who lived and did good things. Genuine faith isn’t just knowing things or agreeing with the Bible—it’s also about depending on God’s promises. Genuine faith is based only on trusting in Jesus, not on our own goodness. It’s not like the faith demons have, which is just knowing facts (James 2:19). Sola Fide stresses that being right with God isn’t about what we do; it’s a gift we get by relying on Jesus. So, if you trust in Him alone, that’s what matters.

This idea of trusting in Jesus alone for salvation sets true Christianity apart from other religions and beliefs. Instead of saying we need to do certain things to be saved, the Bible teaches that we’re saved by God’s kindness when we trust Him, not because of anything we do (Ephesians 2:8-9). Other religions focus on what people can achieve, but Christianity centers on what God has done through Jesus. If you trust Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, His goodness becomes yours. However, if you try to be good enough on your own or mix faith with actions, you’ll fall short of God’s perfect standard.

Does This Mean I Can Do Whatever I Want?

The natural question follows: “If I’m not supposed to mix faith with actions, does that mean I can do whatever I want?” The Apostle Paul emphatically answers this with a resounding “No!” in the Bible, saying, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not!” (Romans 6:1). Paul clarifies that trusting in Jesus should lead us to a “newness of life.” In simpler terms, faith should inspire us to live like Jesus–a life characterized by doing good things.

The Scripture elsewhere says that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). This means that our faith should cause us to do good things for God. To be clear, this does not mean that our good works make us right with God.

We must not think that since the Bible urges us to do good things, that means we are saved by them. John Calvin is helpful here, writing, “James does not speak here of the cause of justification, or of the manner how men obtain righteousness, and this is plain to everyone; but that his object was only to show that good works are always connected with faith,” (Calvin’s Commentary on James).

In essence, Sola Fide teaches us that rather than earning salvation through good works, the gift of faith empowers us to start doing good things. Indeed, our salvation isn’t earned by good works but is a gift received through faith, inspiring a transformed life marked by doing good things in response to God’s grace.

Why Sola Fide Matters Today

In a culture where the pursuit of success and material wealth often defines our worth, the doctrine of faith alone provides a comforting reprieve. Sola Fide assures us that our faith, security, and righteousness come as gifts from God. It offers a counter-narrative to the constant pressure to perform, inviting us to rest in the knowledge that our standing before God is not achieved through our efforts but is graciously bestowed upon us.

Moreover, Sola Fide instills in us a genuine motivation to do good in this life. Rather than being driven solely by self-interest or the desire to impress others, the doctrine prompts us to act out of gratitude for God’s overwhelming goodness to us. As we reflect on the countless gifts bestowed upon us despite our undeserving nature, our response should not be complacency but humble adoration.

Far from leading to spiritual laziness, the doctrine of justification by faith alone calls believers to wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to God, striving to obey His commandments and seek His glory in all things. The fruits of true faith should be a readiness to give ourselves to others and a sincere commitment to do good, ultimately advancing the glory of God in every aspect of our lives.