This past October, we marked the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. That is, the anniversary of the period in which there was a dramatic recovery of the principles of the Christian faith. The Reformation has long been marked by what have been called “The Five Solas.” Sola is Latin for alone, and the Five Solas are Latin statements that emerged during the period of the Reformation that summarized the reformers’ theological convictions:
1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone
2. Sola Fide: Faith alone
3. Sola Gratia: Grace alone
4. Solus Christus: Christ alone
5. Soli Deo Gloria: To the glory of God alone
Taken together, these statements really do give us a rallying point for the gospel. They are beautiful in their simplicity – just like the gospel of Jesus Christ. But, up until recently, I had only really thought of sola fide in personal terms.
That is, I am justified by faith alone. There is nothing I can do that will make me right before God. Indeed, it is by faith alone in Christ alone that God credits to me the righteousness of Jesus.
But it was pointed out to me that sola fide also dramatically impacts our evangelism.
If indeed salvation is by faith alone, then there is no measure of right living or personal effort that can clean me up and make me more acceptable before God. This means that no one – no one – is beyond the reach of the gospel.
Or to put it more positively – if salvation is by faith alone, then every person we come in contact with is within a single moment of faith of being made a child of God. Everyone. Every single person.
The ardent atheist.
The apathetic moralist.
The rebellious teenager.
The embittered senior.
No matter how far away from God someone might appear, they are, in truth, right on the edge of God’s family. The only thing keeping them from entering in is not their appearance, not their background, not their habits, not their lifestyle – it’s ultimately the same thing that keeps any of us away from the grace of Jesus.
It is faith.
And this is why we can share the gospel with confidence. It’s not because by our eyes someone is “almost there.” It’s because everyone is almost there. That “lost cause” is closer to Christ than you think.