Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I Love the Five Solas


Why do I love the five solas of the Reformation? I love them because they are truths that focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ in bringing glory to God.

These doctrines should not be divisive among Christians. All the focus is upon Christ. Man is given no credit for his salvation. God receives the glory - as it should be.

As I ponder the five solas, this is what I believe they mean and how they should impact our lives.


1. Sola Scriptura

This is the starting point because the bible is the primary way we know the triune God. Apart from scripture, we could only know enough to be condemned but not saved.

The bible testifies to its own inspiration, permanence, and truthfulness. The bible is full of wonderful truths about God that are continuous blessings from God to us.

Psalm 119:18 says, "Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law."

Later in Psalm 119:105 we see, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."

In light of the inspiration and truth of scripture, the bible must be the primary and final authority in the life and practice of the individual Christian and the church as a whole.

I do not believe that this automatically means we have to jettison all man-constructed creeds and traditions. However, these must all fall under the authority of the bible. If they in any way conflict with the scriptures, they must be abandoned.

The bible is our ultimate foundation.


2. Sola Gratia

Sola Gratia emphasizes that salvation is completely a gift of God's grace.

God has done all the work required for salvation. We can do nothing to merit being forgiven and knowing God. Therefore, salvation has to be a gift from His gracious hand.

The wonderful verses from Ephesians 2:8-9 inform us, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."

We must understand that this means God has done all the work of salvation. We have done none of it. Even our faith is a gift.

The beauty of this is that we can rest in His grace while He gets the glory for accomplishing salvation.


3. Sola Fide

One of the primary cries of the Protestant Reformation was "Justification by faith alone." The reason for this cry was that the Roman Catholic Church had for hundreds of years been teaching what amounted to a works-based salvation. The Reformers found faith alone in the bible.

For example, Galatians 2:16 says, "Yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified."

This is a beautiful truth for us to embrace. We do not have to continually be working for our salvation because it is not something we can earn. We are declared just before holy God not because of any works we do (which could never be good enough), but because of faith.


4. Solus Christus

Jesus Christ is the sole provider of salvation. No one else is needed or even involved. It is Christ and Him alone who stands as our Mediator before His Father.

I Timothy 2:5, "For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus."

Speaking of Jesus, Peter said in Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Salvation was accomplished on the cross by Jesus Christ. Through this gracious act we are saved. Our faith links us to Christ. Christ stands in our place.


5. Soli Deo Gloria

This is the end goal and result of everything: that God receives the glory.

Jesus Christ's work on the cross and His subsequent resurrection and ascension were for this very purpose:

Philippians 2:9-11, "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Everything we do, in joyful response to Christ, should have the end goal of glorifying God:

I Corinthians 10:31 tells us, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

I Peter 4:11, "...whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

The end goal of the church is the glory of God:

Ephesians 3:20-21, "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Paul sums it all up well when he writes in Romans 11:36, "For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen."


11 comments:

reformedlostboy said...

Commenting from my phone :-) I love Jesus and I love how this season through the remembrance of the start of the reformation gives me more reasons to trust in the solid promises we have in Christ.

Eric said...

Bobby,

I'm glad you can comment now on my blog.

These truths all point to Christ Jesus. That's why they're so special to me.

Aussie John said...

Eric,

I'm with you all the way here!

With these truths so evident I cannot help to ask, "Why would anyone want to claim to have personally contributed to their own salvation?"

Jonathan said...

I'm all for pointing people to Jesus. Amen to that. And I believe Scripture points to Jesus... so I'm all for a high view of Scripture.

However I'll suggest that the reason the 5 Solas can be divisive is that they are not clearly taught in Scripture. Whenever someone comes up with any doctrine, theory or teaching that is not clearly spelled out word for word in Scripture, there will be some who don't agree.

Does Scripture say somewhere that it is "the only inspired and authoritative word of God..."?

(Or is Jesus the Word of God)

Does Scripture have the words "faith alone" anywhere? (other than "not by faith alone")

Does scripture say "grace alone".

I'm not saying it's all wrong... but you have to be OK with some Christ followers not getting it when it hasn't been clearly taught in their Scripture or their tradition.

God bless!

Eric said...

John,

Agreed!

Eric said...

Jonathan,

I do believe these are clearly taught in scripture, but you are right in that they are not all word-for-word.

I have to wonder what a person is thinking of they do not agree with these. Is scripture not our primary authority? Are we justified by something other than faith? Is salvation works-based? Is someone other than Christ involved in salvation? Is our goal in life something other than the glory of God? It becomes very problematic very quickly if any of these five is rejected.

If someone did reject some of these, I would want to have a polite conversation about it. Sometimes we get hung up on certain words when in reality we agree on concepts.

Thanks.

Jonathan said...

Eric... "agreed"? Wow... I thought I was attacking a sacred cow of yours. Thanks for being so graceful about it. :)

Can I be bold enough to point out some irony from my perspective.

I find some irony in the Reformed "tradition" keeping the "Sola Scriptura" belief alive. I propose without the tradition there would be no more talk about "5 solas".

If we believe Sola Scriptura, we can move forward and leave all the divisions behind... no more Calvinism, no more protestantism, no more Baptists, no more labels of any type. Just a bunch of brothers and sisters following our common Lord.

(btw I'm not 'Catholic'... I just believe Christ has one Church - no walls, denominations, factions, or divisions... we just don't see it that way sometimes.)

God bless!

Jonathan said...

I agree it's mostly about how we word things. We often agree in practice but not in words.

I'll respond a bit regarding the first two.

>Is scripture not our primary authority?

Jesus didn't write a book and say "follow this"... but he did leave us the Holy Spirit to teach us all things.
(But yes, obviously I rely on Scripture to learn about the role of the Holy Spirit)

>Are we justified by something other than faith?

I'm sure you are aware there are some verses that don't fit well in the faith alone box. (James 2:24, James 2:17-18, Matt 7:21, Matt 25:34-35)

Supposedly Luther had added the word "alone" to his translation of Romans 3:28. He really wanted it there. But it should not be there, and it does not show up in any current translations that I can find. So to be fair to all scripture I will not use that language in ways protestants have. I believe justification is through faith which leads to works. You can't have one without the other.

Interesting, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church have made a joint declaration on this topic. They have found wording that both sides agree with now 500 years later.

However I'm not opposed to someone who holds tightly to the 5 Solas. They are not bad beliefs.

I just don't see the need to fuel past battles anymore.

The big question to me is: Is Jesus really Lord?
If yes, we are brothers & sisters.

Let's follow Him, and encourage each other as He leads us.

God bless!

Eric said...

Jonathan,

My purpose in this post isn't to fuel any battles. I just like to blog about what is important to me. These truths are important.

The difficulty, of course, comes when truths like this are used by some to divide instead of to encourage. My hope is that followers of Christ will embrace the full truth of scripture and God's gracious salvation that it describes.

There is a place for speaking the truth about, for example, justification by faith. I believe the Galatians 2 passage makes this one very clear. The is a gospel issue; therefore, I think it's very important. However, it's also one where words often get in the way of concepts.

Anyway, I'm still holding to these solas - primarily because they point to the wonder and majesty of Jesus Christ. I'm happy to be united with brothers and sisters in Christ who do not believe exactly as I do - even on these matters.

John Mureiko said...

Thank you Eric for continuing to remind us of these glorious truths. I remember a time not very long ago when I would not have held these truths to such a high degree of importance. They were more like "givens" for me, at best. I'm so thankful for the transforming work that Jesus has done in my heart and mind to make me all the more aware of how wonderful these beliefs truly are. I hope I will give glory to God in greater measure everyday because of them!

Eric said...

John,

I agree. I love these truths because I strongly believe they glorify the Lord. They are not an end in themselves - except for Soli Deo Gloria. My hope is that all followers of Christ will embrace these glorious truths - for their joy and for God's honor.