The Protestant Reformation forever changed the history and landscape of the church. Its effects are still felt to this day. Some have wondered whether it is over or whether it is needed any longer? The answers to these questions are clear: YES!
Something that came out of the Reformation, from the writings and preaching of the Reformers, are the great Solas. These 5 Solas are still relevant and needed today. From time to time each of them are challenged and even denied. In the spirit of the Reformation we, who hold to the teachings of the Reformers, must hold them high and defend them against every attack.
Here are the five solas:
Sola Scriptura (2 Ti. 3.16)
This teaches us that Scripture, and Scripture alone, is the church’s only infallible or supreme authority for matters of faith and practice. It doesn’t teach that Scripture is our only authority (even the Bible itself teaches us we have other authorities: civic, parental, ecclesiastical); but rather, it is the church’s only infallible authority.
Scripture is the inspired, infallible, authoritative and eternal word of the Living God. It is theopneustos or God-breathed, inspired. It is not only a word about God or for God or to God or on God . . . no, it is more than these, it is the very word of/from God!
Sola Fide (Ep. 2.8f)
This teaches us that salvation is by faith and faith alone. It is not ours by right or birth. It is not something we can earn or win. Rather, it comes by faith alone. Justification is by faith and faith alone. It is faith in what God has done in his Son Jesus Christ. Faith in the saving work of Christ upon the cross for sinners. Faith in the fact of the risen Savior from the tomb on the third day.
Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is brought about by the work of regeneration of the Spirit of God. The natural man/woman (i.e. lost person) cannot please God. But faith is part of the divine gift and by it we are saved eternally.
Sola Gratia (Ep. 2.8f)
This teaches us that salvation is unearned, unmerited. One common definition of grace is the unmerited favor of God. It is something I can not work to achieve. I cannot muster it of my own efforts. I must realize, by the grace of the working of the Spirit of regeneration, that I am, in myself and own efforts, utterly helpless and hopeless.
I must come to an end of striving in my own power and abilities. I must see all that I do as rubbish and dung. I must see my righteousness as filthy rags. I must fall humbly upon the grace of God. This can only be done by the working of grace by the Spirit in the work of regeneration. Apart from that, no one would ever be saved.
Solus Christus (Ac. 4.8-12)
This teaches us that salvation is found only in Christ. It is in Christ and Christ alone. Not all roads lead to Rome; in fact, the truth of Scripture is clear: there is only one that leads to heaven! The Gospel is, in its very nature, exclusive. It stands on the reality of absolutes. The Gospel is the telling of what God has done in his Son Jesus Christ. We must believe what God has done, as God tells us, or else we have believed in a false message.
The Gospel, because it is exclusive, is scandalous to the world. It offends. It repels. It wounds. But, to those, who by God’s grace, believe, it saves! It redeems! It liberates! When we preach or share the gospel, we must remember it will be scandalous to the majority who hear it; if we preach it any other way, it will be scandalous to God!
Soli Deo Gratia (1 Co. 10.31)
This teaches us that God is sovereign over all things and we are to bring him glory. He alone is worthy of glory. The Westminster Confession asks, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” All things are to be done for and to the glory of God.
When the gospel is preached it always brings glory to God. He is glorified when, by his grace and good-pleasure, a sinner repents and believes its messages. And he is glorified when, because of the rebelliousness of the heart, a sinner rejects and is condemned. God is glorified. His grace and mercy are to his glory. And his justice and holiness are to his glory.
As we sit on the eve of Reformation Day, let us remember and ponder anew the great teachings and legacy of the Reformation. Again, as I said in yesterday’s post, I am a proud and thoughtful Protestant. I stand humbly in the legacy of the Reformers and I’m thankful for their willingness to stand on God’s word alone. No, they were not perfect. No, they were not right in all things. But I am humbled to stand on their shoulders and to reaffirm the truths they tenaciously espoused and defended, even in the face of persecution and threats.
Praise Christ, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins, by faith alone, by grace alone, according to the infallible witness of the Scriptures, to the glory of God forever and ever. Amen.
(*Image courtesy of http://reasonabletheology.org/the-five-solas-of-the-reformation/)