“Sola Fideles: Faith Alone”

So how does belief become faith?  I may believe that someone is the President of the United States, but that does not mean I have faith in all the proposed policies debated over news broadcasts each evening.  Believing is not having faith.  Ephesians 2:8 shares, “By grace we are saved through faith..”  In Luther’s day indulgences were a big thing.  Indulgences were pieces of paper sold by roving priests like Tetzel that, if bought, guaranteed the forgiveness of a certain number of years in Purgatory.

         “The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a          “purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of      heaven,” which is experienced by those “who die in God’s grace and          friendship, but still imperfectly purified” (CCC 1030). It notes that “this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned” (CCC 1031).”

Luther challenged this belief, creating a rift between Catholicism and Protestantism.  Both believe in Christ, have similar Bibles, and actually have much in common.  Faith alone says that it is not because of an amount of my faith or because of my purification that I can draw near to God but because of trusting in Christ’s work on the cross, that we are saved.  Faith alone is all that is needed to be in relationship with God.  There does not need to be further purification.  We are saint and sinner.

         A Biblical story that exemplifies the Protestant’s stand is the two thieves on the cross, Luke 23: 39-42.  Both men believed Jesus was on the cross.  Both seemed to believe that Jesus was a good guy.  Neither had access to theological training and they appeared to be ordinary people.  As the one thief  is dying, he turns to Jesus and says, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”  There is no big theological understanding but he pleads for mercy and to be where ever Jesus is going to be.   Jesus responds, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Faith puts one’s life where one’s beliefs are.  I can agree that it is a chair but when I sit on it, I exhibit faith that it will hold me.  I can believe Jesus is a great person but when I trust him to guide my life and future, that’s faith.

         Many of us struggle with guilt over pass failures and in many subtle ways try to deserve God’s grace.  On the other hand, we may cast a critical glance at another and silently judge that their actions make them unworthy of God’s love.  It is not our actions but Christ’s actions that is important.  Faith alone is the means of receiving grace – salvation. 

         Today spend a moment forming an acrostic from faith.

         F ________________________________

         A ________________________________

         I ________________________________

         T _______________________________

         H _______________________________

Blessings as you trust in that relationship.

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