The Five Solos
On October 31st Martin Luther shared his 95 point thesis on needed Catholic Church reforms. This is im-portant since he was a Catholic priest and professor that had his life transformed radically as he experienced a near death experience. During this period in his life he was teaching the book of Romans. As he taught it and expounded upon the scriptures his own life was touched and transformed and he began to seek spiritual reformation in the Catholic Church. His efforts were rebuffed by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, and he was persecuted for his beliefs and reformation efforts. However, he set in motion the Protestant reformation movement which would impact the world, and return the Bible back into the hands of the laity, and focus back on the basics of Christianity. What does it mean to be a Protestant? These are five of the major teachings of the reformers by which they distinguished their beliefs from those of the Roman Catholic church of their day.
1. Sola Scriptura – “The Bible alone.” Scripture alone speaks authoritatively, and it speaks to all believers, independently of church leaders and councils, human interpreters and so-called spokes-men for God.
2. Sola Gratia – “Grace alone.” It is only by the unmerited favor of God that Christ went to the cross and paid the price for man’s salvation. Man is by nature depraved—he has no virtue that commends him to God. Therefore God’s grace to him is truly undeserved and amazing, and God’s grace alone has the power to draw people to himself.
3. Sola Fide – “Faith alone.” Only total righteousness is acceptable to God, and that is found in Christ, not us. Man can only accept Christ’s work by placing his trust in him. Man is justified by faith alone in the finished work of Christ, not by any works of his own.
4. Sola Christus – “Christ alone.” Salvation is accomplished by Christ alone, and mediated by Christ alone—not by angels, saints, relics, sacraments, priests, teachers, churches, or anyone or anything else. Christ alone was the perfect Savior, and he alone is the perfect prophet, priest and king.
5. Soli Deo Gloria – “To God alone be glory.” God should be thanked, praised and given full credit for his sovereign grace and spiritual and physical provision. Theology should be God-centered, not man-centered. God should be put in his place and humans in theirs. Our efforts should not elevate and celebrate men but God. We should bring him glory in our work, in our homes and at play. He, not we, should be the center of all things.