06 June 2006

Certainty vs. Security

Okay, let's have some thoughts on this topic. I confess that I have never understood the drive to say: "I KNOW I will go to heaven." The reason for this is quite simple: I live with the very real possibility that I may reject the grace of God. I have no question that "God has given us eternal life and this life is in His Son." I have no question that God's will for me is to remain in saving faith in my Lord until the end. He wills that for all people! But I also know that God will never coerce me in this regard. Salvation remains gift; and gifts are always rejectable.

So it seems to me that when our Lord warns: "He who endures to the end will be saved," He meant it!

St. Paul also seems to speak this way quite clearly in Philippians 3:12,13; 1 Cor 9:27.

There IS certain salvation in Christ; there is NO certainty that I will be in Christ when I die. Therefore this calls for constant and unending vigilance and attendance upon the promises of God and the Means of Grace.

Gerhard speaks of this in his meditation on carnal security where he stresses that such absolute security is not possible in any place: an angel fell in heaven; Adam fell in paradise; Judas fell under the tutelage of Christ Himself.

Note that this does not drive one to despair, but to attend to the promises of God in the preaching of the Gospel, the reception of the Sacrament, the promises of Baptism and Absolution. Because there is no "once saved, always saved" business; because our Lord could reference "those who believe for a while and then fall away" we must guard against all forms of carnal security until our dying breath.

Okay, you all. Ducking!

21 comments:

William Weedon said...

Oh, by the way, the question from Kennedy evangelism is rather interesting in this regard: "If you died today, are you certain you would go to heaven?"

The certainty of today's faith is not a problem. The certainty of tomorrow's faith can always be. How many times have we seen people we know and love dearly fall from the faith?

Chaz said...

It just struck me that maybe the problem here is that you are looking at this in the way of man instead of the way of Christ.

When you express concern about enduring to the end, about your faith tomorrow, you are looking at it all in the way of your sinful self. You are not looking at in the way of Christ who has redeemed you and said, "Do not worry about tomorrow."

Still pondering, but that thought struck me as worth sharing.

William Weedon said...

Our Lord clarifies "take no thought for the morrow" with "what you shall eat, what you shall drink, what you shall wear." But in the same passage he enjoins us to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness." The secure don't bother to seek the kingdom, supposing that it is theirs already in an absolute sense.

Caspar said...

Pr. Weedon,

I have struggled with this theological question too.

Why do people desire to be assured of their salvation? Because of doubt! However, looking to anything or anyone but Christ, one can NEVER be certain of salvation. If we could follow the first commandment, we would always look to Christ, and never have a bit of uncertainty. Of course none of us can achieve that perfection of fear, love and trust in God above all things. That horrible fall in the Garden assured us of that.

Assurance of salvation is found only when looking to Christ. Doubt and insecurity are found by looking anywhere else, especially inward at the strength or weakness of one's own faith. As I often tell the oldest of my six children, who is very hard on herself, anxiety regarding doubts, one's faith, and certainty of salvation are signs of faith, not signs of unbelief.

In a sense, our doubts should give us certainty!

Unbelievers have no concern or anxiety about such things. I tell my daughter (and myself) that the time to be concerned might exist when we have no anxiety about our salvation. However, the Christian can experience times of peace and certainty in mind and spirit, a true gift of God when it is not false security. I am baptized into Christ!

"And although they (believers) sometimes fall into temptation so grievous that they imagine they perceive no more power of the indwelling spirit of God, yet they should without regard to what they experience In themselves, be encouraged and say with David, 'Nevertheless, Thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto Thee'" [Psalm 31:22b] (Formula of Concord, Article XI).

Putting this issue dogmatically: You don't have to be worried about your faith in Christ to be a Christian, but you have to be unconcerned about your faith in Christ to be a non-Christian. Is that correct? I think so, but I'm open to correction.

You are right, of course, about the falsity of the "once saved always saved" claim of Calvinism.

From the Visitation Articles:

False and Erroneous Doctrine of the Calvinists
Concerning Predestination and the Providence of God:

III. That the elect and regenerate cannot lose faith and the Holy Ghost and be condemned, even though they commit great sins and crimes of every kind.


FC SD, IV, 31 Triglot

Above all, therefore, the false Epicurean delusion is to be earnestly censured and rejected, namely, that some imagine that faith and the righteousness and salvation which they have received can be lost through no sins or wicked deeds, not even through wilful and intentional ones, but that a Christian although he indulges his wicked lusts without fear and shame, resists the Holy Ghost, and purposely engages in sins against conscience, yet none the less retains faith, God’s grace, righteousness, and salvation.


But, of course, there is an important Law/Gospel distinction to be made on this issue. Acknowledgment that one may fall from faith is the Law speaking to false security. On the other hand, acknowledgment that God will not let anything separate us from his love which is in Christ Jesus is the consoling Gospel speaking to the troubled soul.

FC, 2, XI, 8

In addition, God’s eternal election, however, not only foresees and foreknows the salvation of the elect, but by God’s gracious will and pleasure in Christ Jesus it is also a cause which creates, effects, helps, and furthers our salvation and whatever pertains to it. Our salvation is based on it in such a way that the gates of Hades are not able to do anything against it (Matt. 16:18), as it is written, “No one shall snatch my sheep out of my hand” (John 10:28), and again, “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48).

Formula of Concord, Epitome XI. Of God's Eternal Election (Triglotta):

5] 4. The predestination or eternal election of God, however, extends only over the godly, beloved children of God, being a cause of their salvation, which He also provides, as well as disposes what belongs thereto. Upon this [predestination of God] our salvation is founded so firmly that the gates of hell cannot overcome it. John 10, 28; Matt. 16, 18.

6] 5. This [predestination of God] is not to be investigated in the secret counsel of God, but to be sought in the Word of God, where it is also revealed.

7] 6. But the Word of God leads us to Christ, who is the Book of Life, in whom all are written and elected that are to be saved in eternity, as it is written Eph. 1, 4: He hath chosen us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.


Again, looking to Christ, we have assurance of salvation. Looking anywhere else, we easily fall into despair. The way to address this issue depends upon which medicine is called for: Law or Gospel.

I am baptized!

Erich

William Weedon said...

Erich,

Yes, law/gospel is definitely at work in the distinction between certainty (better word than "assurance" - which I do not believe actually ever occurs in the Symbols - though Tappert sometimes translated certainty that way) and security.

It is excellent to rejoice in the certainty of God's promises to you in your Baptism. The person who is lost, though baptized, however, had the same promises made to him or her. They simply chose not to abide in gift of their Baptism. "If we deny Him, He will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself."

Also the new man inside us, knowing the reality of the temptations to fall from faith, places no certainty in self at all, and speaks as Paul does, acknowledging the possibility of "being disqualified." Thus, the Lord's constant warning: "Watch!" Not, "snooze securely; you've got your ticket in all stamped and ready to go." : )

William Weedon said...

Oh, and Erich, I'm glad you brought up the Visitation Articles. They really nail this whole subject, in my opinion. I'm so glad they made it into the new Concordia!

Caspar said...

Well, Pr. Weedon, the Visitation Article I quoted does (at least on the surface) seem to say something more than what the Confessions do... namely that the elect can lose salvation. However, I do not believe that was the intended import of the statement. Rather, I believe the Visitation Article quoted was condemning the entire false Calvinist definition and doctrine of the elect. Otherwise, this would be in direct conflict with the doctrine of election found in the Confessions (FC, 2, XI, 8), and we must reject it as contrary to the Confessions we subscribe to (which doesn't include the Visitation Articles).

In my reading of the Confessions, I believe the Confessors would say that if someone who once had "saving faith" actually lost it permanently, then that person by definition could not have been "elect." Unfortunately, this sounds rather Calvinist, because it would also fit nicely into their doctrine of double predestination. In any case, that doesn't do much for either our "certainty" or "security" on this issue, for how does one ever know if he is one of the elect? However, to the troubled conscience I would, again, say that one with "saving faith" who is not of the elect wouldn't be worried about it! (Not that the elect must be worried.)

This all brings us back to that wonderful Lutheran pastoral application of Law and Gospel. The one who is worried about his salvation should be comforted by the Gospel, including possibly the doctrine of election, which is "also a cause which creates, effects, helps, and furthers our salvation and whatever pertains to it." On the other hand, the one who is found in false security [commonly identified as living in sin while claiming to "love" Jesus] needs the Law, which tells him that those who have saving faith can, in fact, fall away permanently.

Categorical statements:

All elect have saving faith.
Not all with saving faith are elect.
Some elect can fall away temporarily.
No elect can fall away permanently.
Some with saving faith can fall away permanently.

Problem:

We cannot identify with any certainty who falls into any of these categories.

Solution:

All theology should be pastoral theology. Apply Law and Gospel as needed.

Erich

Caspar said...

P.S. That said, what is the real point of your post on this subject? That we should never feel secure in our salvation? That we need to continually WORK to keep it? That we can never REST in Christ until the end of the race?

I'm confused about what you are trying to get at here. Your words seem weighed down by the law to the extent that you cannot rest for a moment's contentment and joy in the Gospel. Certainly at least the divine service allows for such rest, as the doors of heaven are opened for our refreshment.

"Come to me... and I will give you rest." Did He mean "...once you have run the race" ???

Erich

William Weedon said...

Erich,

What prompted the discussion was just that I've never really understood the drive for certainty in regards to my own salvation. I rejoice in the certainty of the life and salvation that are mine in Christ Jesus - given and sealed in the Sacraments - but at the same time I know I must keep a watchful eye on my flesh lest I use that "freedom as an opportunity for the flesh." (Gal. 5)

As to resting, yes there is great rest in Christ. And Christ calls you into it. And His apostle adds the ironic exhortation which is at the heart of this discussion:

"Let us strive (labor!) to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience." (Hebrews 4)

To me this has zero flavor of the law about it: it is simply that the Gospel does not exclude but by its very nature as gift includes the possibility of rejection. There is never a time in my life when I do not need to be vigilant against the Gospel's rejection - my old flesh saying that I don't need rest that is in Christ.

After all, what is the meaning of St. Paul's words about the race? About the importance of disciplining the flesh?

Pax!

Caspar said...

Perhaps you are having a sensitivity reaction to the semi-antinomianism which has been trying to get a foothold in the church ever since the serpent asked, "did God really say..."

I am always upset at how some Lutherans latch onto the poor misleading translation of the 1 August 1521 Letter in the American Edition of Luther's Works which has Luther telling Melanchthon to "sin boldly." This is not what he said at all! He said:

"Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world." [From a proper translation of "Letter no. 99" by friend and fellow parish member Erika Flores, on file at Project Wittenberg]

Luther never said "sin boldly." I believe Luther was paraphrasing Romans 5:20-21. I don't have the German of the Letter, but Erika tells me the words are strikingly similar.

Here is that passage in the 1545 Luther Bibel:
"Das Gesetz aber ist neben eingekommen, auf daß die Sünde mächtiger würde. Woaber die Sünde mächtig geworden ist, da ist doch die Gnade viel mächtiger geworden, auf daß, gleichwie die Sünde geherrscht hat zum Tode, also auch herrsche die Gnade durch die Gerechtigkeit zum ewigen Leben durch Jesum Christum, unsern HERRN."

My English translation of the German: The law however came in besides, so that sin became more strong. But where sin becomes strong, nevertheless grace becomes even more strong, so that, as sin prevailed to death, thus grace also prevails through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Again, what Luther said was, ""Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world." Luther was warning against minimizing sin. He was warning against starting to think our sin is not the dangerous stuff it is. Am I correct that this is what you are getting at here in your post?

Erich

William Weedon said...

Erich,

Definitely antinomianism is FED by carna security.

I don't think, though, what I'm saying is complicated. In a nutshell: I can be certain of Christ; I cannot be certain of myself.

Therefore, all confidence is in Him and no security is in myself. This calls for constant vigilance ("watch! be alert!") lest I be among those who "receive the grace of God in vain" since the gift of salvation remains rejectable by me right up to the grave. Both sides are in Jude:

"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before the presence of his glory with great joy..."

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life."

Pax!

Pastor H.R. Curtis said...

The trick when speaking of this is find a way to communicate the last paragraph of this blog entry about not leading to dispair.

Indeed, I just received an email from a person who read this blog entry and was despairing. My response:

"If left to your own devices you will certainly fall and reject God. You are a faithless wretched sinner who wouldn't trust God one inch. You hear his word and constantly reject it. You trust yourself more than God and you fear men more than God. Your sin extends not only to actions and deeds and thoughts but also to a way of being. You simply are faithless.

"Indeed, you cannont by your own reason or strength believe in your Lord Jesus Christ or come to him.

"Is this surprising? Why look to yourself for certainty or assurance or anything else? Why navel gaze at your own worthlessness? Do you not know what you will find there? You will deny the faith if given a chance. You will fall if given a chance for Adam did fall in paradise and you are no better than he for you are but his child.

"But the Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel, enlightened you with his gifts, sanctified AND KEPT YOU IN THE TRUE FAITH.

"Sent by Christ with authority to speak on his behalf I declare to you by his authority: If you prove faithless, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself; no one can snatch you out of his hand - no one; you did not choose him, he chose you (you couldn't and wouldn't choose him!); so work out your salvation with fear and trembling - for it's not you who work, but God who works in you.

"If it's up to you in even the slightest sense you are damned. But it's not up to you. Jesus says so: John 10:28-29 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." These words are yours, from Jesus to you."

+HRC

Caspar said...

Well said, Pr. Curtis.

It is important also to remember the proper distinction between justification and sanctification. More often than not, we need to hear and ponder the comfort of the Gospel found in the doctrine of justification without all the appended warnings about falling away found in the doctrine of sanctification - which can point us back to our inner strugglings rather than to Christ alone. My own precious daughter (the oldest of six) was in despair about this very subject a year ago until I was able to provide the pure Gospel to her. I am ashamed that I hadn't made it clearer to her before.

Contrary to Pr. Weedon, I taste quite a strong statement of law in the Hebrews 4 passage he quoted ["Let us strive (labor!) to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience."]. True, the gospel does not exclude the necessity of sanctification (which is distinct but inseparable from justification). However, whenever we speak of something WE must do, we are speaking about law, NOT gospel. Yes, we must strive (LAW) to enter that rest by the power of the Holy Spirit; but that rest is given to us as a free gift, without any work or merit on our part (GOSPEL). Any blurring of the distinction between justification and sanctification can and does distort the truth and robs Christ of his glory and robs us of the free nature of the gift.

Erich

William Weedon said...

Pastor Curtis,

Excellent pastoral response.

One caveat: the keeping watch on the old man so that he does not gain the upper hand is an act of the new man, the new self created in Baptism, who "cooperates in all the works of the Holy Spirit" (FC Ep II:17). As it is a work of the Spirit to keep us in the true faith, it is likewise a work of the new man.

Further, the Formula specifically warns against speaking of "a person's will before, during and in conversion" resisting the Holy Spirit. Also the phrase that the Holy Spirit is given to those who resist him intentionally and persistently. "For, as Augustine says, in conversion 'God makes willing persons out of the unwilling and dwells in the willing.'" (FC Ep II:15)

And finally a few thoughts from Dr. Luther (Visitation Instructions):

Many now talk only about forgiveness of sins and say little or nothing about repentance. There neither is forgiveness of sins without repentance nor can forgiveness of sins be understood without repentance. It follows that if we preach the forgiveness of sins without repentance that the people imagine that they have already obtained forgiveness of sins, becoming thereby secure and without compunction of conscience. *This would be a greater error and sin than all the errors hitherto prevaiing.* Surely we need to be concerned les, as Christ says in Matt 12 the last state becomes worse than the first. (AE 40:274)

Pastor H.R. Curtis said...

Each of us is still Old Adam and New Man - we have, as it were, two egos. Thus I resist the Spirit. And I cooperate with the Spirit.

The question is how do I encourage the Christian's New Man to arise? Not, primarily, with injunctions, warnings, law, etc. Those are important. They must be stated. They are in the Scriptures for a reason: combating carnal security. They call folks to repentance.

But to really strengthen the New Man to remain strong in the faith, to do good works, etc., it is more important to lather on a lot of Gospel. That's where the strength to live in the faith is found - not in injuctions, warnings, law - but in the purest Gospel.

In short, I think one can over talk the New Man. If you get me focusing too much on noticing my New Man, my Old Adam is right there with me and I find this law at work in my flesh. . .etc. That is the genius of Paul in Romans 7 - he speaks of the New Man, but doesn't forget the danger of the Old Man, and ends with purest Gospel.

+HRC

Rev. Benjamin Mayes said...

This is a very interesting topic, one that's always discussed here in Calvinist Grand Rapids. I don't think there's any perfect logical position to take. The Lutheran approach is the pastoral approach, which requires that we recognize where individual people are at, and then apply what needs to be applied (promises or threats). Here are some quotes from the Baier-Walther Compendium (available at www.emmanuelpress.us -- sorry for the shameless plug, Fr. Weedon!), which I recently shared with my congregation:

B. Meisner: “We have stated that two rocks are to be especially avoided: 1. doubt, 2. presumption. You will crash against the former if you follow the papists, finally being troubled and despairing; you will crash against the latter if you cross over to the Calvinians and fall into carnal security. Therefore think first on the infallible promises of God, and thus you will be freed from doubt; afterwards, think on the exhortations and threats, and thus you will be freed from security. Let there be here a mixture of hope and fear—not the fear of a slave, but of a son. For in this way the ship of faith, following the Cynosura of the Word, will find its way between the Scylla of perpetual doubt and and the Charybdis of absolute security.” [B. Meisner, Anthropol. Disp. XVIII. C. b. in Baier-Walther, Compendium, 3:597.]

Gerhard: “An absolute certainty of election and salvation is not to be asserted, for in this way the gates would be open to carnal security. Nor is incertitude and doubt to be defended, for in this way the gates would be open to desperation. Instead, one should insist on the middle way; God has made us certain about our salvation, not secure (by which is understood carnal security).” [Johann Gerhard, Loci communes, sect. 175, in Baier-Walther, Compendium, 3:597.]

Hope this is helpful. In general, I think it's wise just to tell our people, "You can depend on God's promises made to you in the means of grace." And also, "Don't depart from his grace, lest you perish." I always direct people to the present, and discourage them from speculating and thinking too much about the future. "Right now, you are in a state of grace, you believe, you repent, you receive His gifts. You will certainly be saved."

William Weedon said...

Excellent, Pr. Mayes. One observation: the doubt that Rome seems to require is a doubting of my status before God because I cannot presume to know His judgment upon me. I think that's a tad different from the doubt about my own persevering in grace. Gerhard's comments are on the mark. And plug your book all you want, for those who prefer bronze to gold... ;)

Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon,

I have learned much about this topic of assurance/certainty in past weeks.

I have been hanging out at the "Pontifications" blog (which I know you check out on ocassion), and there have been several posts on the subject, (and related to the subject) the past several weeks.

By the way, I think the Reformation primarily ended up being about this very issue (for Luther, at least - see 72 here: http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=1720)

Here are the top recent 3 Pontifications posts on this issue in my opinion:

http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=1720

http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=1713

http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=1708

I am a Lutheran (I am the "Nathan" in all of the responses to these posts), and I think for me, the key is that we, as Lutherans, say that we are able to have assurance and certainty of our salvation IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. This is not based on our reflection on our faith, but is because of direct trust/faith in the Gospel promise.

When we do reflect on this issue of assurance(can we still be sure?), I think we can are likely to get something like post 35 (mine) on the thread below below:

http://catholica.pontifications.net/?p=1669#comments (also see original post, comment 17,18, and 35).

Would be interested in your thoughts here. Do you think its important that the Christian be permitted assurance (if I die now, I will go to heaven)in the present moment?

In Christ,
Nathan

William Weedon said...

Nathan,

A pleasure to meet the man who keeps the Pontificator honest. ; ) I had actually followed along in some of that discussion. Specifically to your question:

Do you think it's important that the Christian be permitted assurance (if I die now, I wil go to heaven) in the present moment?

First, I just squirm at the word assurance! I know Tappert inserted it in that version of the BOC, but I think a far better translation is certainty.

Second, by all means, a Christian should know in the present moment and in the future moment and for all moments the absolute certainty of God's promises in the means of grace. For so long as the Christian uses them in faith, the Christian lives in the certainty of salvation.

Third, because all Christians are "cracked pots" and the faith that the Spirit pours into us by the means of grace "drains out" when not constantly being poured into us, the Christian should also have absolute certainty that if he/she ever chooses to live apart from the means of grace, saving faith will die out in them and so their God-given, vital connection to salvation will be lost.

Fourth (and tangential to your primary concern), the Fathers are by no means silent on this. I am thinking specifically of St. John Chrysostom:

God does not wait for time to elapse after repentance. You state your sin, you are justified. You repented, you have been shown mercy. – Homily 7 On Repentance and Compunction, p. 95 in FOTC, vol. 96.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Weedon,

Thank you.

Do you have more quotes like that from the fathers handy? (dealing with certainty - I'd be interested in knowing why "assurance" makes you cringe, but that is a secondary concern, knowing you might not have much time)

By the way, I am currently working through Oden's book on justification.

In Christ,
Nathan

William Weedon said...

Nathan,

Oden's work is very good, I think. There are other passages than just the ones he adduces, though. I keep collecting them as I read through the Fathers, and they are very many.

Here are a handful (with implications for certainty, but not explicitly dealing with it):

Some Fathers on Sola Gratia

But when the Lord Jesus came, He forgave all men that sin which none could escape, and blotted out the handwriting against us by the shedding of His own Blood. This then is the Apostle's meaning; sin abounded by the Law, but grace abounded by Jesus; for after that the whole world became guilty, He took away the sin of the whole world, as John bore witness, saying: Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. Wherefore let no man glory in works, for by his works no man shall be justified, for he that is just hath a free gift, for he is justified by the Bath. It is faith then which delivers by the blood of Christ, for Blessed is the man to whom sin is remitted, and, pardon granted. Ambrose (Letter 73, to Irenaeus, a layman)

“After speaking of the wages of sin, in the case of blessings, he has not kept to the same order: for he does not say, the wages of your good deeds, but the gift of God: to show, that it was not of themselves that they were freed, nor was it a due they received, neither yet a return, nor a recompense of labors, but by grace all these things came about. And so there was superiority for this cause also, in that He did not free them only, or change their condition for the better, but that He did it without any labor or trouble upon their part: and that He not only freed them, but also gave them more than before, and that through His Son.” - St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to the Romans, Homily 12, Rom 6:23)

And he well said, "a righteousness of mine own," not that which I gained by labor and toil, but that which I found from grace. If then he who was so excellent is saved by grace, much more are you. For since it was likely they would say that the righteousness which comes from toil is the greater, he shows that it is dung in comparison with the other. For otherwise I, who was so excellent in it, would not have cast it away, and run to the other. But what is that other? That which is from the faith of God, i.e. it too is given by God. This is the righteousness of God; this is altogether a gift. And the gifts of God far exceed those worthless good deeds, which are due to our own diligence. Chrysostom (Homily on Philippians 3)
Suppose someone should be caught in the act of adultery and the foulest crimes and then be thrown into prison. Suppose, next, that judgment was going to be passed against him and that he would be condemned. Suppose that just at that moment a letter should come from the Emperor setting free from any accounting or examination all those detained in prison. If the prisoner should refuse to take advantage of the pardon, remain obstinate and choose to be brought to trial, to give an account, and to undergo punishment, he will not be able thereafter to avail himself of the Emperor's favor. For when he made himself accountable to the court, examination, and sentence, he chose of his own accord to deprive himself of the imperial gift. This is what happened in the case of the Jews. Look how it is. All human nature was taken in the foulest evils. "All have sinned," says Paul. They were locked, as it were, in a prison by the curse of their transgression of the Law. The sentence of the judge was going to be passed against them. A letter from the King came down from heaven. Rather, the King himself came. Without examination, without exacting an account, he set all men free from the chains of their sins. All, then, who run to Christ are saved by his grace and profit from his gift. Bu those who wish to find justification from the Law will also fall from grace. They will not be able to enjoy the King's loving-kindness because they are striving to gain salvation by their own efforts; they will draw down on themselves the curse of the Law because by the works of the Law no flesh will find justification. Chrysostom (Discourses Against Judaizing Christians. Discourse I:6-II:1)

Some Fathers on Sola Fide:

"Similarly we also, who by His will have been called in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, or our own wisdom or understanding or godliness, nor by such deeds as we have done in holiness of heart, but by that faith through which Almighty God has justified all men since the beginning of time. Glory be to Him, forever and ever, Amen." - St. Clement of Rome (Letter to the Corinthians, par. 32)

“Human beings can be saved from the ancient wound of the serpent in no other way than by believing in him who, when he was raised up from the earth on the tree of martyrdom in the likeness of sinful flesh, drew all things to himself and gave life to the dead.” - St. Irenaeus (Against the Heresies, IV, 2, 7)

"Indeed, this is the perfect and complete glorification of God, when one does not exult in his own righteousness, but recognizing oneself as lacking true righteousness to be justified by faith alone in Christ." - St. Basil the Great (Homily on Humility, PG 31.532; TFoTC vol. 9, p. 479)

"They said that he who adhered to faith alone was cursed; but he, Paul, shows that he who adhered to faith alone is blessed." - St. John Chrysostom (First Corinthians, Homily 20, PG 61.164)

"For you believe the faith; why then do you add other things, as if faith were not sufficient to justify? You make yourselves captive, and you subject yourself to the law." - St. John Chrysostom (Epistle to Titus, Homily 3, PG 62.651)

"To declare His righteousness." What is declaring of righteousness? Like the declaring of His riches, not only for Him to be rich Himself, but also to make others rich, or of life, not only that He is Himself living, but also that He makes the dead to live; and of His power, not only that He is Himself powerful, but also that He makes the feeble powerful. So also is the declaring of His righteousness not only that He is Himself righteous, but that He doth also make them that are filled with the putrefying sores (katasapentaj) of sin suddenly righteous. And it is to explain this, viz. what is "declaring," that he has added, "That He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus." Doubt not then: for it is not of works, but of faith: and shun not the righteousness of God, for it is a blessing in two ways; because it is easy, and also open to all men. And be not abashed and shamefaced. For if He Himself openly declareth (endeiknutai) Himself to do so, and He, so to say, findeth a delight and a pride therein, how comest thou to be dejected and to hide thy face at what thy Master glorieth in? - St. John Chrysostom (Homilies on Romans 3)

Some Fathers on Solus Christus:

Take therefore first, as an indestructible foundation, the Cross, and build upon it the other articles of the faith. - St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Catechetical Lecture 13:38)

God is a great lover of man. He did not hesitate to surrender His Son as prey in order to spare His servant. He surrendered His only-begotten to purchase hard-hearted servants. He paid the blood of His Son as the price. O the philanthropy of the Master! And do not tell me again, “I sinned a lot; how can I be saved?” You cannot save yourself, but your Master can, and to such a great degree as to obliterate your sins. Pay attention very carefully to the discourse. He wipes out the sins so completely that not a single trace of them remains. – Chrysostom (Homily 8 on Repentance and the Church TFOTC, pp. 116,117)

"Christ is Master by virtue of His own essence and Master by virtue of His incarnate life. For He creates man from nothing, and through His own blood redeems him when dead in sin; and to those who believe in Him He has given His grace. When Scripture says, 'He will reward every man according to his works' (Matt 16:27), do not imagine that works in themselves merit either hell or the kingdom. On the contrary, Christ rewards each man according to whether his works are done with faith or without faith in Himself; and He is not a dealer bound by contract, but our Creator and Redeemer." St. Mark the Ascetic (ca. 425), (On those who think that they are made righteous by works – in the Philokalia)