Our look at the Three Solas of the Lutheran Reformation continues with Sola Fide – latin for Faith Alone.

Can you think of a situation where you’ve had to rely on faith? We can have faith in many things – a teammate, a spouse, a higher power, even faith in humanity. Phrases like, ‘You have to believe in yourself” and, “I believe in you!” are commonplace in our society. In each of these situations, faith is confidence or trust in someone or something, but unfortunately it can often let us down. How is Lutheran faith different?

Our faith is more than just wishful thinking. Lutherans see faith as a matter of life and death, the dividing line between heaven and hell. Mark 16:16 says that “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” We need faith to be saved. But it is not the faith itself which saves– it is the object of that faith which brings the blessings of salvation to those who believe. Faith can be seen as the open hand that receives those blessings earned through the work of Christ.

Jesus Christ alone is the object of saving faith. His perfect life fulfilled God’s demands for holiness, and his innocent death was the punishment we deserve for our sins. His resurrection assures us that his life and death in our place was accepted by God, and his righteousness is now ours. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” We are told in Romans 3:22 that “The righteousness of God comes through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe.”

Faith alone, in Christ alone, saves – apart from any works of our own. The good things we do in response to Christ’s love in no way merit our salvation, and even the faith that clings to Christ as the only source of our salvation is a free gift from God. Our faith is solely the work of the Holy Spirit through the message of what Jesus did to save us, and God’s gifts of Baptism and Holy Communion. As Paul writes to the Ephesians, “…it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no man can boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)

The faith that saves us is a free gift from the God who saved us. We’ve done nothing to earn or deserve it. Because of the love God has shown us in Christ, we can be confident that our faith – and our God – will never let us down. That’s how Lutheran faith is different!