There are three principles that came out of the Lutheran Reformation that Lutheran Christians hold dear. They are Scripture alone, Grace Alone and Faith alone. We trust in Scripture alone as our only source of doctrine and life. We are saved by God’s grace alone and we receive it by faith alone.
Sola Fide, or Faith alone is a big deal for the following reasons.
“This doctrine confirms and maintains the Christian in humility and repentance, attributes to Christ’s work the power to save, grants to the penitent sinner assurance of salvation, is the sole source of his sanctification, enables him to understand the true Sacraments or means of grace, makes all believers members of the holy, universal Christian Church, removes from the Christian all false hopes concerning an illusory paradise on earth, shows him the abyss which exists between faith and unbelief, and finally is the guiding principle of Christian preaching.” So said Pastor G. Wolff in a meeting of free churches in France and Belgium many years ago.
Two of the points are particularly interesting. The concept of being saved by faith alone showing the abyss that exists between faith and unbelief is expressed everyday in our life together and is the reason for so much of the tension in our world. That is obvious. What is not so obvious is what faith does with those discrepancies. The reaction should be a renewed sense of mission and mercy.
The other point is that faith alone is the guiding principle of preaching. Preaching the Gospel is meant to engender faith, strengthen faith, and embolden faith to action. That is what makes it so important. It is also one of the reasons that many do not want to hear it. See point one.