I have been talking about Church History on Wednesday nights to our church group. Last night I dealt with Martin Luther and his claim of justification by faith alone.
Justification by faith alone has come to be called Sola Fide. That’s the Latin for “faith alone.”
Generally speaking, people who hold to Sola Fide also hold to Sola Scriptura–Scripture is our only basis for doctrine, it is our only authority.
I find this somewhat ironic since the only time Scripture says “by faith alone,” it says “NOT by faith alone.”
James 2:24, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
Luther, who held to Sola Scirptura, knew that James didn’t believe in Sola Fide. Therefore, as all good theologians do to maintain their pet point, Luther decided James shouldn’t be in the Bible.
I am going to go with James over Luther. The work that James is talking about in James 2 is love. The beginning of his talk about faith and works surrounds the Royal Law–love your neighbor as yourself. They were not doing this in the church based on their treatment of rich and poor people.
God gives promises to those who love Him (James 2:5). Note he didn’t say promises are given to those who believe Him.
Faith and love go together. Paul says in Galatians that faith works by love. John says we love Him because He first loved us.
Faith without love is not acceptable faith to God. Love is kind of a clinching matter. When push comes to shove, love is the determining factor. It would be nice if there were a verse that clearly stated that faith without love didn’t cut it.
Oh wait! 1 Corinthians 13 to the rescue
“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.“
Faith without love won’t cut it. Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 13 with “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The greatest is love; not faith.
You are not saved by faith alone. Faith must have love. Loveless faith is not what God is looking for. Loveless faith does not save. Love is what God desires from us. Love is greater than faith.
A doctrine that separates faith from love is a doctrine that is going to lead to problems. It will make you look more like a Pharisee than like Christ.
Love is a huge deal with God. To miss that is to miss God Himself–God is love. Faith in God who is love, results in love to Him and love to others. Therefore, if there is no love, then you don’t really know or believe God, because God is love.
Since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love.
Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.