For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “the righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16,17
October 31, 1517 is a date that has been etched across the pages of books for centuries and will continued to be remembered as an event that turned the tide in the battle for Biblical sufficiency. To ensure the preservation of this historic event we need to be diligent in the study of church history and faithful in the proclamation of the whole and unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. On that day 500 years ago Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany to confront the theological errors of the Roman Catholic Church. What resulted from this theological dialogue has become known as the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was born out of the unwillingness to accept false teachings put forth by powerful and influential “religious leaders” of that time as well as an unwavering defense for the clarity and authority of the true gospel set forth in the divinely inspired pages of scripture. At the very heart of the Reformation were the Five Solas, which were designed to shed light upon the reality that the only reliable doctrines are those which have their origins firmly grounded in the truths of scripture. These are those very doctrines:
SOLA SCRIPTURA – Scripture Alone. The foundation of all knowledge is the very fact that there is a gracious and loving God who has given us His Word that we might have an accurate knowledge of Him (Proverbs 1:7; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:3-4, 19-21; John 10:35). Without the inerrant and sufficient Word of God we cannot come to a saving faith since we can have no knowledge of the whole Gospel without the whole counsel of God (Romans 10:17). As we recognize this to be true, Sola Scriptura becomes the foundation that orthodox Christianity hinges upon. Just as we would affirm that nothing can be added to or taken away from any of the other solas, this docrine is no different. There are 66 inerrant and inspired books of the Bible that cannot be altered or added to. This book alone is what provides the Christian with the ability to understand salvation, nothing else.
SOLA FIDE – Faith Alone. Faith alone is grounded in the biblical teaching of the Gospel of Christ and how we are able to obtain salvation through Him. We are saved by faith alone, there is absolutely nothing we can do in and of ourselves to achieve salvation any other way (John 3:36; Romans 3: 27-28; 4:5; 5:1; Galatians 2:16; 3:24; Ephesians 1:13; Philippians 3:9). God is the only focus of our faith. Faith in anything else whether it be works, sacraments, saints, false deities, cannot save. Sinners can only be declared righteous by God because of the atoning work of Christ on the cross and our exclusive faith in Him alone for our redemption.
SOLA GRATIA – Grace Alone. As we understand that salvation comes by faith in Christ we must also answer the question of how it is that we have come to obtain this faith. We recognize that there is no good thing that man can merit on his own so it is impossible for us to achieve this faith on our own. But if we cannot achieve this on our own this means that someone else, someone who can merit good deeds on his own, must give this faith to us as a gift (Romans 3:24; 4:16; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 12:9; Galatians 12:6; Titus 2:11). This gift is what we call grace, God’s unmerited favor. Christ is the one who was our perfect sacrifice and died for us on the cross that He might freely give us this gift of salvation that comes through faith in Him alone. Since we were dead in our trespasses (Colossians 2:13; Ephesians 2:1-2) it would be impossible for us to have come to saving faith in Christ. It must be the transforming and miraculous work of salvation that is done by Christ alone to make us alive and give us this faith that we are saved. This is grace alone.
SOLAS CHRISTUS – Christ Alone. This reformation doctrine affirms the complete and perfect atonement of Christ and repudiates the heresies that are peddled by charlatans and false teachers. Christ’s salvific work on the cross, taking the place and punishment for the sins of the elect, is full and complete. His sinless life on earth and substutionary atonement on the cross are sufficient for our justification (John 14:6; 1 Timothy 2:5; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Hebrews 4:15). Contrasting this doctrine, the deep rooted theology of works based salvation would espouse that it is Christ plus or minus the desired traits or works that we admire.
SOLI DEO GLORIA – Glory To God Alone. All glory is due to God because He alone is responsible for our salvation and it was accomplished solely by His will and action. The human race was created to God to worship, honor, and bring glory to Him alone. Even the unrepentant and unsaved worship, however they attempt to fill this void with the things of the world. Mans chief end is the glorification and exaltation of the Holy and Righteous God of the Bible. (Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:21, 23; 4:20; 1 Corinthians 6:20; 2 Corinthians 4:15; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14; Jude 25-25; Revelation 4: 8-11). Our life is to be lived in submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and with the mindset that everything we do in life should be done to the glory of our God and creator. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31
We live in a postmodern culture that is often more concerned with ecumenical acceptance in the name of unity, grace, and love than it is with taking difficult and unpopular standpoints consistent with what scripture teaches. This is even becoming commonplace in churches that exist in and identify with conservative christian circles. Jude 1:3 warns us to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” This was the driving force behind the men of the Protestant reformation. If we truly believe that doctrinal purity is relevant as the reformers did then these five solas are more than beneficial to our current culture, they are necessary. This is the very reason that we hold fast to the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture, the necessity of faith by grace in Christ, and all of this for the glory of our great and gracious God.
-Brian and Kevin