“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” –Matthew 28:19-20
If you did not know this before, now you do—GOD’S LAW IS HOLY!
In the New Testament, we read:
So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
And we can look back to the Old Testament and read,
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.
We all know the feeling we get when someone acts selflessly towards us: joy, warmth, and love. And we also know the other side of the coin—when we resent, hate, and slander our neighbors. It’s hard to read and take comfort in our Lord while looking at Matthew 28:19-20, then reading the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:1-48, and concluding, “I am observing all he has commanded.”
So is sola fide true or not? I need to know because my life depends on it!
Faith with no layers, no dressing up, no make-up, just Christ and faith in his atoning work, is naked faith—this is the heart of the Gospel. What good is a second or third chance when we know before we start, that it’s just a matter of time before we err (Jas. 2:10)? The thief on the cross shows us that it is reliance on the fact that it’s Jesus who saves us, not our self-perceived glorious works, that keeps us in, or our constant failures that keep us out.
One of the most impactful theologians in my life, Dr. Rod Rosenbladt, stated that Romans 4:5 is “Christianity in one verse.” The confession of the thief on the cross, words not works, not an action on his part, is all he had, and Jesus declared that this sinner would be with him in his kingdom.
And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.
This passage establishes the premise of why the thief on the cross was granted salvation. As I stumble through life, attempting to be the best person I can be, I can rest assured in Christ and not try to keep a tally of my good and bad deeds.
An interesting thing I recall about Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery (Jn. 8:1-10), is the pronouncement of her sins being forgiven. She the sinner says only three words to Jesus in the whole saga, “No one, Lord.” Then after her confession of Jesus being Lord, he declares that he does not condemn her. She did not earn forgiveness through her keeping of the holy law and Jesus did not “make her drop and give him 20 push-ups” to show she really wanted forgiveness—her naked faith was enough.
Later in John 8, there is a beautiful passage that states:
I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.
“UNLESS YOU BELIEVE THAT I AM HE,” is the definition of sola fide. Jesus does not tie anything to this proclamation. Naked faith that Jesus is Lord, the promised Messiah, was and is enough to save a wretched soul. Looking further at the context, Jesus is talking to respected law keeping Jewish elders here. This could be the equivalent of the “the Gospel is enough to save even a Christian.”
Naked faith—sola fide—is true! Thank God it’s true! I don’t care who proclaims that it’s “deeds over creeds” or “that the final judgement will be based on works.” The truth of the matter is “faith alone” saves (Gal 3:6)! The obedience that is mentioned in Matthew 28:20 flows from our justification. And this justification is based solely on faith in Christ. The one work of God that Jesus says for us to do when asked is:
This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.
Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you.