Martin Luther famously said that justification by faith alone "the article by which the church stands or falls." So certain of its importance to the Christian faith was Luther that it became the crucial dividing issue between the Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches.
Today, however, many evangelicals "know" that we are justified by faith alone but are not entirely sure what it means. And because of this uncertainty, we begin to ask--does it really make sense? And is it really that important?
In his (very) short book Justified by Faith Alone, R.C. Sproul answers that question with a resounding yes as he lays out the Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines of justification.
One of Dr. Sproul's greatest gifts as a teacher is his ability to clearly and charitably examine positions with which he disagrees. In doing so, he manages to clear up a great number of misconceptions that Protestants have regarding Romanism.
A key example is whether or not Roman Catholicism offers a works-based salvation. Sproul argues that it is, in fact, not accurate to make this claim. As he examines Roman Catholic teaching, he reveals that faith in Christ is essential to salvation... it's just not all you need. The congregant's works of penitence, his acts of contrition, are also required. In essence, the Roman Catholic position is that of faith in Christ plus works equal justification (Justification = Faith + Works).
The Protestant position, however, is that faith in Christ alone brings justification, and our works are our response to and the evidence of our right standing before God (Faith=Justification + Works).
Sproul is also quick to address the common complaint against the Protestant position, which is that it is Antinomianism. In this error, we are saved by faith in Christ alone (justification), and there need be no evidence of saving faith (Faith=Justification - Works). However, the Scriptures are clear that one who says that he has faith, but there is no evidence of it in his life is a liar (cf. James 2:14-26).
Justified By Faith Alone is an important book, one that I believe readers of all ages and stages would benefit greatly from. Read the book, and gain a greater understanding and appreciation for this crucial doctrine--and praise God that it is by faith in Christ alone that we are saved.
The review is based upon an audio production of this book provided through ChristianAudio's reviewer program