I want to familiarize ourselves with what are called the Five Solas. That is, five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Protestant Reformation. They summarize the Reformers' basic theological beliefs. These five soals were to counter the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day, just as the five points of Calvinism were established 50 years after Calvin to counter the teachings of Arminianism.
People rale against the five points of Calvinism, but we hear no railing against these solas though the two go hand in hand.
What is known as Reformed Theology came out of the Reformation. However, the theology that came out of the reformation was not new. It is traced back to Augustine (345-430). John Calvin (1509-1564) applied Augustine's theology for his day. It was further developed by the Puritans. Though the Puritan movement can be traced back to King Edward VI (reign, 1547-1553, during Calvin's time), the term "Puritan" did not come into use until the 1560s.
The Puritans felt that the English reformation did not go far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices associated with the Church of Rome. (Church of England's formal history started in 597, and was under Papal authority until 1534, when King Henry VIII separated from Rome over the divorce and remarriage issue)
Reformed Theology was formulated by the Puritans, especially in the Westminster confession of faith, 1646. The Confession was formulated by a group of 100 leading Puritan divines who convened at Westminster Abby in London from July 1, 1643 through Feb 1649. Other reformed confessions were the Belgic (1580), Baptist (1689), and the 39 Articles of the Church of England Anglican and Episcopal (1571, 1662, 1801).
During this time, the Anglican had a good many top Reformed theologians who were as straight as an arrow in the world of God. They included my some of my favorites: Augustus Toplady, Charles Bridges, Edward Pusey, Alfred Edersheim, Andrew Fausset, Westcott, Lightfoot, Girdlestone, Plummer, John Newton and Sir William Blackstone.
Some other well known Reformed theologians were John Owen, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, Charles Hodge, AA Hodge, C.H. Spurgeon, BB Warfield, Louis Berkhof, AH Strong and many others.
The Reformation has been called the "rediscovery of grace." It was the rediscovery of God as he has revealed himself in his word. In the Reformation, God is the center of life.
The Latin word sola means "alone" or "only" in English. The five solas define five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation. These are the five pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice.
Can one be saved and not believe these five points?
1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus ("Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
We take the five solas for granted, but many people faced horrendous torture and even death to establish these solas for the protestant church. There are many Christians who have never heard of them, let alone understand them.
Folks can be saved apart from believing in election, among other things, but I do not know how sinners can be saved apart from faith alone in Christ alone as revealed in Scripture alone, apart from Church tradition, and for anything except the glory of God.
God led his people to victory in the Reformation under these 5 Solas:
1. Sola scriptura that is, by Scripture alone.
We must start with this sola scriptura. It is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God. It is the only source for Christian doctrine, and it is accessible to all, and is self-interpreting. The Bible requires no interpretation outside of itself; this understanding is directly opposed to the teaching of the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Coptic, Anglo-Catholic, and Roman Catholic traditions, which teach that the Bible can only be truly be interpreted by Apostolic Tradition, defined as Roman Catholic tradition together with the Pope.
Paul does speak of tradition:
Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many
my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of
the traditions of my fathers.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.
He counted as less than useless the traditions of the fathers, yet he urged the people to follow the traditions they learned from his letters and from the Scripture.
Sola Scriptura means that the Bible alone is the sole instrument by which he reveals himself to man for salvation through faith in Christ, Solus Christus.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
It is only by the faithful preaching of the written word of God that the Holy Spirit brings the gospel to us.
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Preaching that is, public proclamation of the gospel. Thus, anyone who proclaims the word of God is a "preacher."
The Bible is the ultimate authority; it is the infallible rule for all matters of faith and practice. It must be viewed apart from the oral traditions of the church and the decrees of men, particularly the pope, or the use of reason and human understanding. The holy Scripture is our only standard of truth.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (even Leviticus and Chronicles) for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Everything we need in order to be throughly equipped unto every good work is found in the Holy Scriptures. We do not need a modern prophet, as some claim to be. All the instruction we need in order to live a Holy life pleasing to God is found in this book. All we need in order to know God's will for our lives is found in this book. This book will equipt us to do anything that God calls us to do in this life.
The theme of the reformation is summed up in the sing, "Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe."
Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, as revealed in his word alone, and for his glory alone. Through faith, his righteousness is applied to us. All we can bring to him for our salvation is our sins. We can supply nothing but the sinner.
God has given us his commandments. These are laws outside of ourselves. It does not matter what we think of them, they are the laws of God that must be followed if we will have peace with God.
When it comes to God, there must be something that rests outside of myself which is the final authority. That final authority in all matters is found in the Scriptures.
There must be right and wrong in everything. Truth and error. We cannot make God's authority come down to our level based on the culture or tradition of the day or what something means to me'. Jesus told the Pharisees that they had "made the word of God of no effect through their traditions" (Mark 7:13). When the Saduccess questioned Jesus about the resurrection, he did not say "You are mistaken, not knowing the tradition" but "You are mistaken (wrong), not knowing the Scriptures" (Matthew 22:29)
When it comes to any matter of theology, doctrine or worldview, we must be as were the Bereans, whom Paul complimented:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
He did not complement them for knowing the traditions of the church nor the traditions of the community. (I do like the tradition of oysters on Christmas eve.)
Some Christians follow the "church calender" as established by Rome and still followed by Rome. People complain that Rome adapted pagan holidays and feasts, and added a supposed Christian meaning to them. However, in the "church calender," we see Protestants adapting the pagan Roman calender and trying to sanctify it by adding supposed Christian acts to the special events.
What does the Scripture teach about a matter? That must always be our rule of thought and action.
2. Sola fidethat is, by faith alone
We are justified and accepted by God by faith alone, apart from works of the law, apart from sacraments, apart from anything else.
Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Sola Fide says that believers are justified or declared righteous by faith alone. Ephesians 2:8, 9 fits here as well as under Sola Gratia (By Grace Alone).
God is clear: We are saved though faith, and that not of ourselves. Justification comes through Christ alone. There is NO OTHER MEANS. If we believe that we have any part in our justification, then we are saying that we had to help the atoning work of Christ, and that his death was not sufficient.
There are those who say that the Bible never says we are saved by faith alone, and that the phrase "faith alone" occurs only once in James where it says that we are not saved by faith alone. Because Scripture is very clear we are justified by faith alone, and not by works.
Here are some Scripture where faith and works are contrasted. They clearly tell us that salvation is by faith, apart from works. There are only two options either we are saved by faith alone, or by works alone. The two will not mix any more than fire and water.
If we see that the Scriptures exclude works in any form as a means of our salvation, then logically we are saved by faith alone
1. Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: 30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
2. Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
3. Also, Romans 5:1, 9:30, 10:4, 11:6.
4. Galatians 2:16 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
5. Also, Galatians 3:5, 6, 3:24, Eph. 2:8-9, Phil. 3:9.
One must be blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), to not see that faith and the works of the Law cannot work together for justification.
The conflict is over the view of justification. There are those, both in Rome and in Protestant circles, who consider good or righteous works meritorious toward salvation, along with faith. However, in Reformed Theology, good or righteous works are seen as the evidence of a truly converted believer who has acted by faith alone.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
We are seeing some who claim to be Reformed moving toward Rome. Rome sees Justification applied to the soul by Baptism. Justification, as well as Sanctification, is applied even to infants by the Sacrament of Baptism, even before any exercise of repentance and faith.
I am saddened when I hear of supposed Reformed pastors and parents telling children, and adults, that they are to live holy because they have been baptized. That is clearly Rome, and totally contrary to Reformed Theology.
The command to live holy is not given to the "baptized," but is given to those who have been redeemed by "the precious blood of Christ" when they understood and obeyed the truth of the Gospel, and exercised faith in Christ. 1 Peter 1:13-23.
Rome says that faith is not prerequisite to Justification, but baptism is. In Reformed Theology, the faith of the individual is absolutely necessary and is itself the efficient and sufficient response of the individual that produces Justification.
3. Sola Gratia that is, by Grace Alone
Salvation is by God's sovereign, undeserved, unmerited grace alone, and not by any achievement nor merit by man.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Sola Gratia is the teaching that salvation comes by God's grace or "unmerited favor" only not as something deserved by the sinner. It is an unearned gift from God.
Under Grace, let me also add:
Philippians 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Which fits perfectly with:
Ephesians 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Grace alonein other words, God had to breath life into our dead spirits so we could exercise faith unto life.
Here is one area grace alone parts company with Armenians. Though they many agree with grace alone, they restrict that grace to salvation after the sinner makes his decision to come to Christ. In other words, they say that the sinner is not completely dead, but has enough life in him to come to Christ, and then when he makes the choice, he is saved by "God's unmerited favor."
The Armenian will agree that all their righteousness is as filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and that there is nothing they can do to earn salvation. But it is up to them to make that decision to come to Christ, and then God's grace takes over.
The theory of "works righteousness," or works lead to righteousness, is held by groups such as Roman Catholics and Mormons, where it is taught that our good works somehow earn one into heaven. This theory directly contradicts not of works, lest anyone should boast.'
Some may say that the book of James promotes works righteousness and that there is a contradiction. However, James clearly tells us that good works are a product of salvation, but those works cannot save.
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Did James say that we cannot be saved by faith alone, contrary to Paul's words in Ephesians 2:8-9?
Can faith save him, v. 14. That is to say: "Is faith all that is needed, and the person can continue to live as he pleases?"
Then James says, Show me your faith without good works, and I will show you my faith by my good works.
In other words, Good works are not a requirement of salvation, but they certainly are required of salvation.
We must never think that we deserve anything from God. We are saved by grace alone, yet salvation by Grace Alone will produce works that please God according to his law.
4. Solus Christus that is, Christ alone.
Solus Christus emphasizes that salvation can only be found through the death and resurrection of Christ alone. Scripture leaves no wiggle room on this point.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me
He did not say that he is a way, a truth and a life. He clearly said that no man can come to the Father except through him.
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there
is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1 John 5:12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
God's word leaves no room for any idea that there can be salvation apart from Christ. If salvation could be found through Muhammed, Buddha, Krishna or through good works, then there would be no reason for Jesus to die. But Christ was the only person who could satisfy the wrath of God and therefore atone for our sins because he himself was sinless; he took upon himself our sins and justified those who will repent and put their trust in Christ alone.
Our acceptance by God is not based upon any righteousness produced by our selves. Rather it is based upon the righteous life and atoning death of Christ alone.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
5. Soli Deo gloria that is, glory to God alone
removes any and all grounds for boasting, and for claiming merit before God. It gives all glory for the salvation of the sinner to God alone the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria is the teaching that all glory is due to God alone:
1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Peter 4:11 If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 11:36 summarizes it all.
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.
Everything we do should be for His glory and everything God does, or allows to happen is for His glory. In John chapter 11, Jesus could so easily have healed Lazarus so he would not have died. Instead, He delayed and performed a resurrection. After Lazarus, Jesus said to Martha Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?
We can never fully understand why God allows certain things to happen, but as believers we can be rest assured that God knows best, and those things will bring glory to God alone Soli Deo gloria.
In Isaiah 42:8, God clearly states that he will not give his glory to another.
To me, Acts 12 records one of the most unusual events in history:
21 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
Who would have expected wicked King Herod to give glory to God. If this kind of wrath is stored up for the pagans who refuse to give all glory to God, then what is in store for his people who refuse to give all glory to God?
Let us learn from this and give God ALL the glory because He and He alone is worthy
1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus ("Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")