Three crucial words: “You see that…

Sola fide, faith alone
“It is faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone”John Calvin

Three simple words and they are often glossed over, confounding one’s reading of one the most misused verses in Scripture. Modern apologists often contend that James 2:24 refutes Sola Fide, the doctrine of justification by faith alone. They often opine that the only time the term “faith alone” appears in Scripture, it follows the words “not by.” Furthering their cause, they claim Martin Luther added the word “alone” to Romans 3:28 to counter this. However, three words at the beginning of James 2:24 indicate that it more easily supports than refutes this wonderfully simple and reassuring doctrine. At the very least, they render such rhetorical attacks futile. These words in James 2:24 actually provide support for justification by faith alone, relegating works to their proper place in the economy of salvation.

Many of us who find eternal hope and peace in the words Sola Fide, struggle with this passage of Holy Scripture, when we step outside of our Evangelical bubble and contend with zealous synergists. We invariably jump to more explicit and familiar passages like Romans 3:28, Galatians 2:16, Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 3:9 (and there are many more) to defend this doctrine. But we don’t need to run from James 2:24 at all. When you examine it closely, this verse only adds to the overwhelming scriptural support for Sola Fide.

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Pope Gelasius I: substance and nature of consecrated elements

“The sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, which we receive, is a divine thing, because by it we are made partakers of the divine-nature. Yet the substance or nature of the bread and wine does not cease. And assuredly the image and the similitude of the body and blood of Christ are celebrated in the performance of the mysteries.”

Pope Gelasius I, ~496 AD

I’ve come across a few mentions of this quote concerning the nature and substance of sacramental elements (bread and wine). The best source I can find is here. It’s in Philip Schaff’s 1884 edition of “History of the Christian Church” and he cites the following:

De duabus naturis in Christo Adv. Eutychen et Nestorium (in the Bibl. Max. Patrum, tom. viii. p. 703) … “et tamen esse non desinit substantia vel natura panis et vini. Et certe imago et similitudo corporis et sanguinis Christi in actione mysteriorum celebrantur.” Many Roman divines, through dogmatic prejudice, doubt the genuineness of this epistle. Comp. the Bibl. Max. tom. viii. pp. 699-700.

If anyone knows how to track down this reference online, I would greatly appreciate it. Anything closer to the original source would be even better.

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