Volume. XXV, No. 20
Sunday, 14 November 2010

Five Solas of Reformation - Part 3

Sola Fide: Faith Alone

The Reformers in the 16th century not only restored the doctrine of justification by grace alone but also through faith alone. This doctrine was the element by which the church of Christ stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The Reformers called justification by faith Christianity’s material principle, in contrast to formal principle which establishes the Scripture as the sole and final authority to faith and practice. Faith alone is the “material” principle because it involves the very “matter” or “substance” of what a person must understand and believe to be saved – faith. Justification is a judicial pronouncement or declaration of God based on the Work of Jesus Christ, His only begotten Son. It flows from God’s divine grace and it comes to the individual, not by anything he or she might do, but by ‘faith alone’ (Sola fide), such faith of course cannot be deemed as man’s work for his or her faith also comes from God. In view of this, we may define the full doctrine of Justification as: the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.
John Owen, a great English Nonconformist church leader and theologian wrote:
“The truth which we plead has two parts: That the righteousness of God imputed to us, unto the justification of life, is the righteousness of Christ, by whose obedience we are made righteous. That it is faith alone which on our part is required to interest us in that righteousness, or whereby we comply with God\'s grant and communication of it, or receive it unto our use and benefit; for although this faith is in itself the radical principle of all obedience,-- and whatever is not so, which cannot, which does not, on all occasions, evidence, prove, show, or manifest itself by works, is not of the same kind with it,--yet, as we are justified by it, its act and duty is such, or of that nature, as that no other grace, duty, or work, can be associated with it, or be of any consideration. And both these are evidently confirmed in that description which is given us in the Scripture of the nature of faith and believing unto the justification of life.” (John Owen, The Doctrine Of Justification By Faith)
In view of the above, Apostle Paul argues in Romans 1:17 quoting from Habakkuk 2:4, “As it is written, the just shall live by faith”. There is no doubt that the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone is a consistent teaching in the Scriptures. In spite of this many cult groups have attempted to justify their “work based religion” by quoting James 2:20 which says, “Faith without works is dead”. Based on this verse that is quoted out of context, they argue that since Abraham was justified by works, so are the people today. Nothing can be further from the truth. The Scripture is to be diligently searched and studied as a whole and not to be taken out of context or to be distorted with human interpretation or eisegesis (ie. process of interpreting a text in such a way that it introduces one\'s own ideas, reading into the text) instead of exegesis. For the Apostle explicitly maintains in Galatians 3:6 that “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. It was the faith of Abraham which justified him, not his work – his work was only an evidence of his living faith in contrast to dead faith (James 2:20b) such as of the devils’ who knew there is one God but refuse to render due glory to God (James 2:19). Furthermore, to silence some Jews during his days who believed that circumcision was needed for salvation, Apostle Paul argued that God had declared Abraham righteous even before his circumcision. Romans 4:9,10 says, “…for we say that faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness. How was it then reckoned? When he was in circumcision? Or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.” This wonderful truth is later enshrined by the Westminster divines in the Westminster Confession of Faith which says, "Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love."
The Reformers not only recognized Scripture Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone and Faith Alone but also Soli Deo Gloria: to God be Glory Alone. Since salvation is accomplished solely through God’s will and action, God alone deserves all the Glory with regard to salvation and every good thing that come along with it.
Soli Deo Gloria: To God be the Glory Alone
Which is the Reason for Our Existence
The book “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren has been the number one seller in many Christian book stores around the world for many years. The subtitled of the book “Purpose Driven Life” states: “What On Earth Am I Here For?” It is a good “provoking” question no doubt, but unfortunately the author offers little more than collection of human opinions and advices from gurus from all different religious backgrounds including some Eastern religious mystics, ecumenists and even apostates. By the way, if one is keen of looking for some serious answers to the question: What On Earth Am I here For,”hedoes have to look too far. In fact, if he knew the answer to question number one of the shorter Catechism, he would be pleasantly satisfied with the answer which says, “To Glorify God and Enjoy Him for Ever.” Psalmist says in 8:4,6, “What is man…(v.4a)…Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands….(v.6a)”. Adam was created to rule the earth for the glory of God. This creation mandate did not change after the fall, just that man has become incapable of fulfilling it. And ever since the fall, Adam has not only brought curse upon himself and the earth but also to his posterity. Despite of the Adamic curse, those who are saved and redeemed by the blood of Christ and being renewed by the Holy Spirit to be conformed into Christ’s image may once again glorify God and enjoy Him – for this is the very reason for their existence (Psalm. 86:9; Isaiah. 60:21; Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians. 6:20; 10:31; Revelations. 4:11)!
Our Chief Ambition in Life
It is unfortunate to find that some Christians today seem to live their life aimlessly so much so that they literally ebbed their life away. Others are depressed because they could not obtain the desires of their hearts such as material possessions, social status, prestige and power in this temporal world. There is need for God’s children to reintegrate this important biblical principle, as restored by the reformers, into their lives. Our ambition in Life should be chiefly for the glory of God, not for our own glory, fame, power, status and influence for this is the chief end of our Lord while He was on earth: “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” (John 17:4). The world is full of ambitious people but Christians must show the world that their chief ambition is different and God glorifying. Our Lord said, “…My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34). Man cannot be truly happy and enjoy God (Luke 19:8; Philippians 3:8) if he had not his chief ambition set on glorifying God (Matthew 19:22; Mark 10:22; Luke 18:23) by doing the will of God. May God help us all! All glory be unto God.
Ps Weng

More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Rosters: Team Leader: Bro Lucas Yiew. Next Lord’s Day: Team Leader: Bro Daniel Volvricht
*Hope Bookstore - open 12:30 - 1:30pm. Books & cards are for sale.
*B-P National Youth Campers: please submit your camp forms & fees to Sis Clara Sim ASAP.
*Anyone (not in YAF) wishing to attend sessions in the B-P National Youth Camp, please see Sis Clara Sim. 
Looking Ahead
*B-P National Youth Camp, 29 Nov - 3 Dec.
*Christmas Day Worship Service: Sat, 25 Dec.
*Watchnight Service: Fri, 31 Dec.
Praise & Thanksgiving
1. Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Melb); Dns Purdee Yeo; Bro Joseph & Sis Chrisanthi Selvanayagam & Grace; Bro Phil & Sis Iris Surman (Adl); Bros Boong Atijatuporn (Udon Thani), Frank Wong (KL) & Simon Yeo; Sisters Marilyn Haggard & Helen Kuan (Adl); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations.
2. Church activities - over the past week.
3. Job - Bro Cong Pham.
4. Daily mercies & guidance in our lives.
Prayer Items
1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow; Rev & Mrs James White; Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros Colin Creaser, Dn Edwin D’Mello’s father (admitted to hospital); Makoto Kobayashi (JPN), Elton Law, Jonathan Liao (Melb), & Len Pearson; Mr Swee Liang Ng; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Auntie Oei; Sisters Lynette Booth, Mabella Booth, Annie D’Mello & her mother (Mumbai), Lydia Fan, Myung Ki, Choon Fong Lee (KL), Nan van Buuren; Gillian Ong, Lehia Paauwe, Margaret Pearson, Julie Tan, Susan Veradi, Irena Kurek-Braden; & others in affliction.
2. Cambodia Missions - Rev Stephen Choi & Ministry (Phnom Phen & Kandal Province).
3. iSketch&Tell Studio - Pr H S Lim & his ministry.
4. IBPFM (USA) - Rev K Coleman, Board & Missionaries around the world.
5. Ministry in London - Ps & Sis Ki
6. Presbyterian Missionary Union - Missionaries.
7. Ps & Sis Weng - ministry in Hope BPC.
8. Hopefuls in S’pore; In Kuching: Teo family.
9. Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Alice Lee; Dn Edwin D’Mello (Mumbai); Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Adl); Bros Joseph Selvanayagam (USA) & Youwen Yeap (S’pore); Sis Corinne Teng (Intrastate/Adl); all others who are travelling.
10. Job - Sisters Judy Li & Corinne Teng. Jobs for our uni graduates next year.
11. Good health in pregnancy - Sis Myra Horenung (Mindanao).
12. Final weeks of pregnancy - Sis Monica Tan, for good labour & delivery. 
13. Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
14. Year 12 Exams: Sisters Jillian Chia & Shilsha Ninian.
15. Uni students - preparing for end-of-year exams.
16. God’s comfort for those in grief.
17. B-P National Youth Camp - Speaker: Rev Tracy Minnick; organisers & participants.



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