Five Eternal Gifts from God - Faith 1
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:1-10 ESV)
As a faithful Roman Catholic, Martin Luther (1483-1546), the father of the Protestant Reformation, strove with all of his might to attain salvation while serving as a monk in the little town of Wittenberg. He prayed earnestly, studied tirelessly, held countless vigils, recited numerous masses, and harshly mistreated his body all with the goal of bringing his unruly flesh into submission. Yet, despite all of his efforts, peace of conscience eluded the young monk. As Luther later testified in his Lectures on Genesis, "[T]he more I sweat, the less quiet and peace I felt."
Although it has been said in various other ways by the reformers, it was the early seventeenth-century Reformed theologian J.H. Alsted who identified the doctrine of justification (by faith) as the “article of a standing or falling church.”
Sola Fide: Crucial then, crucial now!
Complimentary to God’s gift of grace is the gift of faith. Faith is defined as a commitment to, a dependence upon, a trust in and worship and honoring of a particular object. Consequently, people place their faith in a host of objects. People commit, trust, depend and honor their possessions, their jobs, their families, their education, their phones, their governmental leaders, their prosperity, and any number of famous or infamous personalities such as athletes, actors, musicians or entrepreneurs: such as the late Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.
However, in speaking of saving grace and the gift of faith the Bible refers to God’s unmerited favor in saving sinners and the instrumental means by which His grace is applied to the sinner’s eternal soul. The instrumental means by which God’s grace is applied to the sinner’s eternal soul unto salvation the Bible calls saving faith.