Weekly Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt –
“The Five Solas of the Reformation: Faith Alone”
When Martin Luther instigated the Reformation, he did so by one powerful idea. He came across it in the book of Romans which says that even a Jew, though he has the most holy Law of God, cannot be justified by God by keeping that Law. For Luther, this prompted all sorts of uncomfortable questions. How can God make people with sin and then condemn them for not being able to keep His good and righteous Laws? Can’t any good works save? Paul himself wrestled with those questions in his dense, complicated epistle to the Romans.
In the Old Testament we see this. In Deuteronomy 6, Israel is commanded: “You shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”. When Israel profusely protested that she would obey God Joshua prophesied: “You are not able to serve Yahweh, for He is a holy God” (Joshua 24:19a). The rest of the Old Testament, with the exile of Israel due to her spiritual disobedience of God, is an outworking of that reality. Even when people recognised the beauty of the Law (Psalm 119:24), it was powerless to restrain sin (119:36).
Luther tried to justify himself by being devout in his religious work, but when he read Romans things changed! In 1:17, he read: “The righteous shall live by faith”. This is not faith in our own ‘goodness’ or our man-made works of righteousness but trust alone in the cross of Jesus Christ to save. This is the next Sola statement of the Reformation: Sola Fide (Faith Alone). When someone becomes a Christian, God puts all of Jesus’ good works and obedience onto you as if you had done them, and declares that you are righteous; that is the result of faith. And faith, interestingly, is not a work of our own power, but is itself a gift of God!
Faith recognises our own powerlessness, and calls on Jesus to be our righteousness. Faith is coming to God and recognising that it’s not in me to save myself, which means that it’s the ultimate statement of powerlessness and God’s ability to save. Do you recognise and understand this? Have you become a Christian, and remain as one, on the basis of this? You can never do enough good works to save yourself. We are saved for God works, but never by them. Ask God to make this truth of Sola Fide a powerful reality in your life, and that your faith shall be built alone on Christ’s works for us and not in ourselves. What a blessing this for us! It frees us from trying to attain love by our own pitiful efforts!
~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.