Aside from being a full-time medical student, I also serve our local church as a worship leader and head of publications in print and online. This year, Christendom will be celebrating the 500th year of the Reformation, which was led by Martin Luther, giving way to reforms in the whole Christian church. Every week, I post some reflections on the events of the Reformation, writing about some points on it. This is our post for this Sunday:
The second sola in the pillars of the Reformation is “Sola Fide” or “Faith Alone.” This stemmed from the early practice of the church during Martin Luther’s time, where there was the selling of indulgences, especially for the souls trapped in Purgatory.
Indulgence is “a way to reduce the amount of punishment one has to undergo for sins.” Pope Leo X offered the selling of these indulgences to collect funds in order to renovate St. Peter’s Basilica.
Martin Luther highlighted this in his 95 Theses condemning the corruption involved in the selling of these indulgences. He drew inspiration after observing people who were paying for their salvation and of their relatives in Purgatory, teaching propagated by Johann Tetzel, the Grand Commissioner for indulgences of Germany saying, “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, a soul from purgatory springs.”
Prior to Martin Luther’s time, Jan Hus in Bohemia already condemned the practice as early as 1412.
The Roman Catholic Church eventually condemned the corrupt practices and a later pope canceled all indulgences that were made through payment or fee. However, the Reformed Church eventually did away with indulgences, including the teaching about Purgatory, and centered its beliefs on the biblical basis that salvation is not man’s own doing.
It is emphasized that good works cannot save us from the punishment of sin. This includes water baptism. We hold on to what Jesus said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Therefore, faith alone, as a free gift from God, can grant us salvation.
Paul further says in his letter to the Ephesians that salvation is given by God through faith “not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:9)
Sola Fide is the Reformed Church’s expression that Christ’s blood is the only means of salvation, and through His death and resurrection, we are saved. Faith alone in this wonderful mystery can save us from eternal misery.