OUR FIVE SOLAS OF BELIEF
Much of what we believe can be described by those five great declarations of the Protestant Reformation, Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Solus Christus (Christ Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), and Soli Deo Gloria (for the Glory of God Alone).
Five hundred years ago, the Church was in darkness. The Holy Scriptures were unreachable to most people and the Gospel was twisted into a lie. Yet, the Sovereign God was pleased to choose men, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who would unlock the Truth. This rediscovery of the Truth occurred primarily through a concentrated emphasis on Scripture—apart from ecclesiastical (church) interpretation. This “Back to the Bible” movement was called The Reformation. The Reformation changed Christianity in many European countries directly, while forever influencing the whole world, indirectly. Protestant Churches and their theology, both of which arose from the Reformation, have touched every nation in the world.
While the leaders of this great spiritual revolution were many and quite diverse, they held to a short list of core beliefs. Today those beliefs are summarized and entitled as the “5 Solas.” These core beliefs are what really made the greatest impact throughout the centuries: changing lives, communities, and even some nations. Therefore, we join with the great company of Christians who have also affirmed the 5 Solas since the Reformation.
God’s Word, as preserved in the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, is the Divine, authoritative revelation for the Church and for the individual. It comes from God and consequently obligates you and me, His creation, to listen and obey.
Therefore, positively, Scripture is completely sufficient and dependable for one’s true needs – spiritual birth and holy living. Or to put it another way, Scripture properly and accurately directs one’s beliefs and actions for all of life. It won’t lead you astray. Furthermore, it contains wholly reliable accounts of Jesus – His identity and redeeming activity – which are the center of the Gospel, and essential to salvation.
Furthermore, we believe that the Scriptures should be accessible by the common man. One does not need to be a religious leader or scholar to have and read God’s Word. The Bible is for all men and women, regardless of class, sex, or skin color.
Negatively, no other source, whether a clergyman’s word, a council’s decree, a religious document, or personal experience, has infallible, errorless authority. So, it is not binding upon man. Extra-biblical information/experience must always be evaluated – accepted or rejected – upon the basis of its faithfulness to the Bible.
The importance of Sola Scriptura cannot be overemphasized. It is, essentially, the foundation of the Reformation. The other four Solas arise from the first.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Peter 1:2-3 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Jesus Christ, alone, is our mediator. That is, only Jesus is qualified to represent and intercede on behalf of men before God. Being fully God, He, the Son, can approach God the Father. As a man, He understands our weakness and afflictions and, therefore, represents us fully.
Furthermore, Jesus alone was a suitable substitute, able to bear the Father’s wrath towards sinful man. As God Himself, Jesus deserved no punishment or displeasure. Yet, also fully man, His perfect life became the perfect substitute for those who would become His brothers and sisters.
Believers need Christ alone for justification and mediation. No preachers, priests, saints, prophets, nor popes can bring a man closer to God. Access to the Father comes through the Son, alone. Similarly, a believer’s position is maintained by, and his good deeds are pleasing, only because he is united with the Son.
1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
Hebrews 10:12, 14 But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God… because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
Hebrews 9:13-15 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
Scripture clearly states that man is spiritually dead and incapable of seeking God or pleasing Him. Therefore, salvation is solely initiated and accomplished because of God’s grace. Man, in his unregenerate state, has done nothing to deserve God’s favor or elicit His forgiveness. Still, God, out of the abundance of His love, has chosen to bring salvation to undeserving sinners. If you or I try to take any credit for salvation, we stand in complete opposition to the Bible, concerning our natural condition and salvation’s essence. We were spiritually dead and completely unworthy. God was not obligated to offer salvation because of our innate value. Further, it is erroneous to say that one’s good works provide a basis for God’s bestowal of grace. Salvation is by grace alone.
To illustrate the essence of grace, let us borrow one of Jesus’s own parables in Luke 10: the Good Samaritan. In his story, Jesus tells of a Jew who was robbed, beaten, and left for dead on the road. Other Israelites (religious ones at that!) passed by without stopping to help. Yet, a man from Samaria stopped to help. You could say that Samaritans and Israelites were archenemies. Surprisingly, the Samaritan showed grace to the helpless Jew. He sacrificed time, effort, and money to ensure that this “enemy” was restored to health, though he had no obligation to do so. In summary, this kind of unearned, undeserved kindness is called grace. And this is a small reflection of the unfathomable grace that God gives to spiritually dead sinners through salvation!
Romans 3:10-12, 17-18 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God…there is no one who does good, not even one….and the way of peace they do not know…There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
Galatians 2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
Ephesians 2:8 clearly tells us that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. Justification (which is the heart of salvation) is the act whereby God declares a sinner “righteous” (and therefore free from judgment and wrath), based upon the righteousness of Christ. Such a declaration is not grounded on man’s own merits or intentions. In other words, our justification cannot be earned nor won. Rather, it is gift which can be procured when we believe (have faith in) the gospel, trusting only in Christ as our means of pardon and of our hope of salvation.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 10:9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Soli Deo Gloria
Glory to God Alone
Ultimately, salvation is not really about us. God’s kindness toward mankind is genuine, and His love is truly self-sacrificing. Yet, He ultimately has accomplished everything for His own glory. Jesus endured torture and murder because He knew the Father would exalt Him in front of all creation. Therefore, we must give glory to God alone for salvation. No evangelist, friend, nor author should receive credit, for they are only tools used by God to declare the truth of the gospel.
Further, a Christian’s whole life must be about glorifying God alone, following Jesus’s example 2,000 years ago. All that a believer does, even eating and drinking, must be for the Lord, because he has been purchased by the blood of Jesus.
John 17:1-5 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
Romans 11:36 “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
According to history, the Reformation has ended. Yet, there are and will always be those who try to downgrade the authority of Scripture, dethrone Christ, side-step faith, minimize grace, and make life man-centered. Therefore, the spirit of the Reformation must continue.