What Are the Five Solas?

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Steve Willis in Article from The Messenger

     This week marks the 500th anniversary of The Protestant Reformation. Roused to action by the corruption and abuses they saw in the Roman Catholic church of the time, visionary pastors and leaders like Martin Luther and John Calvin spearheaded a movement that transformed Christianity and eventually led to the emergence of the Protestant denominations that exist today.

     The Reformers were guided by the conviction that the church of their day had drifted away from the essential, original teachings of Christianity, especially in regard to what it was teaching about salvation—how people can be forgiven of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and receive eternal life with God.

     The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged during the Reformation to summarize the Reformers’ theological convictions about the essentials of Christianity.

SOLA SCRIPTURA

     The Scriptures are our ultimate and trustworthy authority for faith and practice. This doesn’t mean that the Bible is the only place where truth is found, but it does mean that everything else we learn about God and his world, and all other authorities, should be interpreted in light of Scripture.

SOLA FIDE and SOLA GRATIA

     We are saved solely through faith in Jesus Christ because of God’s grace and Christ’s merit alone. We are not saved by our merits or declared righteous by our good works. God grants salvation not because of the good things we do and despite our sin.

     As humans, we inherited (from our ancestor Adam) a nature that is enslaved to sin. Because of our nature, we are naturally enemies of God and lovers of evil. We need to be made alive (regenerated) so that we can even have faith in Christ. God graciously chooses to give us new hearts so that we trust in Christ and are saved through faith alone.

     God graciously preserves us and keeps us. When we are faithless toward him, he is still faithful.

SOLUS CHRISTUS

     God has given the ultimate revelation of himself to us by sending Jesus Christ. Only through God’s gracious self-revelation in Jesus do we come to a saving and transforming knowledge of God.

     Because God is holy and all humans are sinful and sinners, neither religious rituals nor good works mediate between us and God.  There is no other name by which a person can be saved other than the name of Jesus. His sacrificial death alone can atone for sin.

SOLI DEO GLORIA

     Glory belongs to God alone. God’s glory is the central motivation for salvation, not improving the lives of people—though that is a wonderful by-product. God is not a means to an end—He is the means and the end.

   The goal of all of life is to give glory to God alone: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). As the Westminster Catechism (1646) says, the chief purpose of human life is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

--Steve