Up first this week is a brief dip into the world of metaphysics and philosophy.
You still with me?
Philosophers muse about things that most of us don’t ever stop to explore. For example, if you see a wooden plank with a nail driven in it, you don’t think much about it. But when a philosopher sees a board with a nail driven into it, he asks the question “how did that nail get in that board? What caused that?”
If you had a friend who was pondering the existential dilemma of how the nail found it’s way into the board, you would probably suggest the most likely conclusion. “Someone probably took a hammer and hammered the nail into the wood.”
But that would not satisfy the philosopher. He would dig deeper.
Was it the hammer that caused the nail to go into the board?
Or was it the construction worker who did it?
Or for that matter, was it the architect who was ultimately responsible for that nail winding up in the board?
For the philosopher, the question of what caused the board to wind up with a nail in it does not have a single, easy answer!
The architect drew up the plans that dictated that a nail would need to be driven into a board. He would provide what the philosopher might call the primary cause. If he hadn’t had the idea in the first place, the nail never would have been driven.
The builder would have provided the efficient cause. He took the architect’s idea and put legs to it – or in this case, put his arm to it. If his arm hadn’t done it’s work, the nail would still be lying by the side of the board.
But then there’s the hammer. For the philosopher, the hammer would have been the instrumental cause. The architect could plan all he wanted, and the builder’s arm could pound and swing away, but without the instrument of the hammer, the nail would never have been driven in.
So why this overly simplified lesson in the philosophy of causality?
Because we’re exploring this month the slogans associated with the Protestant Reformation. And one of those slogans is all about the instrumental cause of our justification.
The only way men and women can be redeemed and reconciled to God is by the instrument of faith. Salvation, the reformers said, comes Sola Fide – by faith alone.
Last week, we explored the slogan Sola Gracia. We saw that it is not by works of righteousness that we have done, but according to God’s mercy that we are saved (Titus 3:5).
God’s grace is the primary cause of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 declares that it by God’s grace that we are saved. In Romans 3:24, Paul says we “are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is the efficient cause of our salvation. His death accomplished our redemption. Apart from His willing sacrifice, no one could ever by saved.
Which brings us to faith. Faith is the hammer that drives the nail. It’s the instrumental cause of our salvation.
We are saved by grace through faith, Paul says. Then the apostle quickly adds that even our response of faith to believe the gospel didn’t come from inside of us. The faith to respond is a gift God has given to all He came to save.
So Sola Gracia and Sola Fide are two sides of the same coin.
We are saved, not on account of any works of righteousness we have done or will do. We’re saved because God is gracious to give us a free gift that we could never earn for ourselves.
And we’re saved by responding to the message of the gospel with faith. We believe that the gospel is true and right and real, and we live our lives accordingly.
There is no other instrument that can secure our salvation other than the instrument of faith. It is God’s chosen means for accomplishing His saving work in us.
This is what the reformers were declaring when they announced that salvation is by faith alone.
Big plans ahead for our fall picnic. Click here and scroll down for the info