Sola Fide vs. Sola Gratia; What’s the Difference?


Lord’s Library contributor Jared Helms explores various Christian traditions by comparing Sola Fide vs. Sola Gratia. Check out Jared’s YouTube channel and two blogs: A Light in the Darkness and Blind Faith Examples. Lord’s Library’s Ministry Leaders Series is a collection of contributed articles written by ministry leaders on key Christian topics.

Ministry Leaders Series BadgeThe Five Solas of the Reformation express the core tenets of the Christian faith and mark the critical objections which motivate Protestantism. Each of the Five Solas of the Reformation can be studied independently, but it is very helpful to view them all together to see how each one is connected to the others.

Sola Fide, or faith alone represents the belief that we are saved through faith alone without regard to any works we might do. Faith is according to the Bible. We see this in Hebrews 11:11: “Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.”

Sola Gratia, or grace alone, represents the belief that we are saved by grace alone, without regard to the works we do. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is only by God’s grace that our violations of God’s perfect law are fully pardoned.

We are going to dive into both doctrines in detail, then compare the similarities, differences, and importance of each.

The Gospel

Sola Fide vs. Sola Gratia

What is Sola Gratia? Sola Gratia Definition

Sola Gratia means that we are saved by God’s unmerited favor apart from any works of our own in keeping with Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

 We contribute nothing to salvation, it is received from God. Salvation is the work of God, and He has not needed our help. Furthermore, we have not in any way merited God’s grace. This whole notion is calculated to keep us humble before God and men.

What is Sola Fide? Sola Fide Definition

Sola Fide represents that we receive grace by faith, apart from any works. We accept God’s unmerited favor (grace) trusting (in faith) that His offer is good. Good works are the result of faith and a sign of genuine faith. We do not have to go on pilgrimage in order to have faith, but in faith, we walk our pilgrimage towards Heaven. See Romans 1:17: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

Other religions and philosophies offer grace only after all one’s efforts have been exhausted. The Council of Trent in responding to the Reformation very clearly contradicts this doctrine of grace alone through faith alone:

Canon IX, sixth session of the Council of Trent: “If any one saith, that by faith alone the impious is justified; in such wise as to mean, that nothing else is required to co-operate in order to the obtaining the grace of Justification, and that it is not in any way necessary, that he be prepared and disposed by the movement of his own will; let him be anathema.”

This is not the same gospel as Paul taught the Galatians, Romans, or anyone else, nor is it taught by anyone in Scripture. It is not the true gospel.

Sola Fide vs. Sola Gratia; What’s the Difference?

Hold on there, we have a sola saying we are saved by grace alone, and another saying we are saved through faith alone. Well, which is it?

According to Ephesians 2:8-9, it is both. Notice we have been careful to say “by grace” and “through faith” just as Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit explained it to the Ephesians. Grace is a free gift from God to us. Faith is the way in which we receive that gift. The two are inseparable in salvation.

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Jared Helms
Jared Helms

Jared Helms

Jared received his Bachelor of Arts from Bryan College in 2012, and his Masters of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2017. He has pastored churches in Kentucky and Tennessee. Most importantly, Jared has walked with Christ most of his life. His interests extend from theology to church history, but he is particularly passionate about ecclesiology and homiletics.

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