The Formula of Concord on Justification Sola Fide

 For me, one of the most debilitating aspects of moralistic theology is the way works sneak in the back door of justification.  One can see this open “back door” in the New Perspectives on Paul, the Federal Vision, and some Arminian evangelicalism.

In sharp contrast to this moralistic theology, I love this reformation statement on justification sola fide from the Formula of Concord (Solid Declaration) III (called “The Righteousness of Faith before God).

“Neither renewal, sanctification, virtues, nor good works are at all a form, part, or cause of justification, that is, our righteousness before God.  They are not to stand or be set up as a part or cause of our righteousness.  They are not to be mixed into the article of justification under any pretext, title, or name whatever, as though they are necessary and belong to justification.  The righteousness of faith stands alone in the forgiveness of sins out of pure grace, for the sake of Christ’s merit alone.  These blessings are brought to us in the gospel promise and are received, accepted, applied, and appropriated through faith alone.”

I think I’m going to memorize that.  One thing I love about the Lutheran Confessions is that they are clear – not ambiguous.  May God help us all be clear like that when it comes to the heart of the Christian faith – the work of Christ to save sinners.

shane lems

sunnyside wa

5 Replies to “The Formula of Concord on Justification Sola Fide”

  1. Nice! Outstanding stuff!

    btw – do you have that Fesko/Glomsrud/I-forget-who-edited-it book “Justified”? (Essays from Modern Reformation on the topic over the years?) I’ve been thinking of picking it up … just wondering if you’ve given it a read…


  2. Loren (Houston)

    Appreciate the time and thought you put into this blog. I stumbled across your blog a couple of weeks ago and it is one of my favorites. The review of the books and the snippets you provide are becoming a key ingredient in developing my reading list. I am just finishing Thomas Watson’s ALL THINGS FOR GOOD and it has been so helpful in providing perspective on the challenges I face or help others through. Keep up the good work because what you are doing is really glorifying to God and, in addition, you are building up the saints.


  3. Thanks much for your encouragement, Loren. When Andrew and I started this blog right after seminary (around 4 years ago), we wanted to help Christians grow in the historic Christian faith – in an intelligent way. Glad we can help this way!

    Also, Amen on Watson’s book you mentioned; it is outstanding.

    The management (shane and andrew)


    1. My son-in-law will be graduating from Westminster this Fall. He loves it. We love to visit them in southern CA. He has been doing some temporary preaching assignments, I think, in the WA area. We are also going on the cruise featuring Dr. Horton in January and looking forwarding to his discussions with Dr. Olson.


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