At least, within the context of justification. Faith is a God given supernatural gift whereby the Christian comes to trust in the promises of God.
Are you referring to intellectual assent, aka ‘belief’? And is this distinguished from a free gift of grace which can manifest as faith?
More specifically, the promises of God that Christ lived, died, and was raised for the forgiveness of our sins and our justification. This faith unites us to Christ and thereby we are given everything that belongs to Him; eternal life, righteousness, etc.
When the Lutheran reformers used the term sola fide, they meant that faith is the alone instrument whereby we receive the merits of Christ.
All the merits? And how does one avoid the conclusions that faith is all that is necessary for salvation? (Or is that meant/implied by sola fide?)
In this context then, the fruit of faith is not the instrumental cause of our union with Christ. Rather, it is faith that is the alone instrument. However, when this instrument is present, the fruits will also be present. If the fruits are not present, then there is question as to whether the root (faith) is present.
Is it fair to say that it is not present in such a situation? (ignoring cases where there may not be time or ability for it to appear/mature/etc.)
Is it important to distinguish between fruits that are brought forth as a natural consequence of true faith AND “fruits” that are brought forth because we ought to behave so?