From Your Pastor: The Solas of the Reformation

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name be the Glory!” (Psalm 115:1)

This month we have the privilege of celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. October 31st is the occasion when many Reformed congregations gratefully remember the Spirit of God’s work through Martin Luther in hammering his 95 Theses on the church door at Wittenberg Germany, that was the means through which God brought a fresh recovery of His Gospel to His church. We should be thankful that the Reformation was one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church. Let us pray that we today can enjoy this same kind of revival by God’s grace in our hearts and churches.

As grateful heirs of this reformation and revival, let us particularly remember the five theological truths of the Reformation that are worth memorizing and remembering each year at this time. These five truths of the Reformation are five “solas”, or “alones”, that are important for us never to forget as God’s people.

These ‘solas’ accentuate God’s absolute mercy and passionate grace for His dear lost and helpless children whom He is pleased to rescue and receive through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The ‘solas’ are ‘Sola Scriptura’ (Scripture Alone), ‘Sola Fide’ (Faith Alone), ‘Sola Gratia’ (Grace Alone), ‘Solus Christus’ (Christ Alone), and ‘Soli Deo Gloria’ (To God be Glory Alone!). Let’s look briefly at each of these:

Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone): Scripture alone stresses that the God-breathed-out, infallible and inerrant Word of God is foundational and sufficient for all life and godliness (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). Biblical creeds and confessions are helpful aids to God’s people, and we should embrace tradition insofar as it is consistent with Scripture. Scripture alone means that the last word and final authority for matters of life and doctrine are to be found in the Holy Scriptures. Scripture is to be preached by the power of the Holy Spirit as a primary means of saving and sanctifying sinners (2 Tim. 4:1ff).

Sola Fide (Faith alone): Faith is a gift of God, an instrument whereby believers receive as a gift all of the perfect righteousness that we need to stand before a holy God. The righteousness God requires is the righteousness found in Christ (Rom. 3:24-26, 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:21). Faith alone stresses that Christ does all the work that is required for one to be saved, and we receive this as a gift. We are not saved through faith and our works, but through Christ’s works alone received by faith. However, it is important to note that while we are saved by faith alone, we are saved not by a faith that is alone. True and saving faith is a working faith that responds to God’s grace with sincere obedience out of love and the fear of God (Eph. 2:8-10).

Sola Gratia (Grace alone): Grace alone teaches that we are not saved in our cooperating with God in salvation. We are utterly helpless and unable to do anything good before God in our sinfulness (Rom. 3:23). Apart from Christ we can do nothing (John 15:5) and without the gracious, initiating, powerful work of God through HIs Spirit drawing us no one can be saved (Matt. 11:25-27; Tit. 3:4-7; John 6:37, 44). Our salvation is from beginning to end because of God’s mercy, not because of anything God might foresee in us (Rom. 9). We are saved by grace through faith, not of works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9).

Solus Christus (Christ alone): Christ alone emphasizes that there is one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5), who is God’s perfect Prophet, Priest and King. Christ has done all for us that we could never do, nor would want to do in our sinful fallenness. Christ is to be glorified and thanked for His good works for us. Christ is to completely possess our minds, hearts, wills and affections, and our lives are to be lived with our ultimate focus, praise, and gratitude on Him (1 Cor. 1:30; Heb. 12:1-2) because of all He has done for us in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension to God’s right hand. While others may place undue and unbiblical emphasis on saints, Mary, and even angels, our hearts and minds are centered on Christ alone as our loving Savior, Bridegroom, and friend (Col. 3:1-4).

Soli Deo Gloria (To God be the Glory Alone!): All that has been achieved for our salvation is to bring glory, honor and praise to the Triune God alone! (Psalm 115:1; Rom. 11:33-36; Rev. 4:11; 5:9-11). We were made for His pleasure, and now live for His glory in gratitude for what He has accomplished for us in Christ.

As a congregation, let us memorize these five ‘Solas’ of the Reformation, and reaffirm them, and unashamedly make them known as God’s pilgrim people on the way to the Heavenly City.


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs

From Your Pastor: Calvin on the Blessed Practicality of the Providence of God


“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all of our days!” (Psalm 90:14)

“By this [teaching of providence] we confess that we have all our trust fixed in God the Father, whom we acknowledge to be Creator of ourselves and of absolutely all things that have been created, which have been established by the Word, His eternal wisdom (who is the Son), and by His power (who is the Holy Spirit). And, as He once established, so now He sustains, nourishes, activates, preserves, by His goodness and power, apart from which all things would immediately collapse and fall into nothingness. But when we call Him Almighty and Creator of all things, we must ponder such omnipotence of His whereby He works all things in all, and such providence whereby He regulates all things…

By faith are we to be persuaded that whatever happens to us, happy or sad, prosperous or adverse, whether it pertains to the body or to the soul, comes to us from Him (sin only being excepted, which is to be imputed to our own wickedness); also by His protection we are kept safe, defended, and preserved from any unfriendly force causing us harm. In short, nothing comes forth from Him to us (since we receive all things from His hand) which is not conducive to our welfare, howsoever things may commonly seem at one time prosperous, at another adverse. Indeed, all these things are done to us by Him, not through any worth of ours, nor by any merit to which He owes this grace, not because we can force His beneficence to make any reciprocal payment. Rather it is through His fatherly kindness and mercy that He has to do with us, the sole cause of which is His goodness.

For this reason, we must take care to give thanks for this very great goodness of His, to ponder it with our hearts, proclaim it with our tongue, and to render such praises as we are able. We should so reverence such a Father with grateful godliness [piety] and burning love, as to devote ourselves wholly to His service, and honor Him in all things. We should also so receive all adverse things with calm and peaceful hearts, as if from His hand, thinking that His providence so also looks after us and our salvation while it is afflicting and oppressing us. Therefore, whatever may finally happen, we are never to doubt or lose faith that we have in Him a propitious and benevolent Father, and no less are to await salvation from Him.”

~Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1536 edition, pgs. 66-67.

From Your Pastor: John Calvin on the Benefits of Union with Jesus Christ

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” [ESV John 15:4-5].

“If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is ‘of Him’ [1 Cor. 1:30]. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in His anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in His dominion; if purity, in His conception; if gentleness, it appears in His birth. For by His birth He was made like us in all respects [Heb. 2:17] that He might learn to feel our pain [Heb. 5:2].

If we seek redemption, it lies in His passion; if acquittal, in His condemnation; if remission of the curse, in His cross [Gal. 3:13]; if satisfaction, in His sacrifice; if purification, in His blood; if reconciliation, in His descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in His tomb; if newness of life, in His resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in His entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in His Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given Him to judge.

In short, since rich store of every kind of goods abounds in Him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”


“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” [ESV Psalm 90:14].

From Your Pastor: Christ’s Voice in Preaching

Preaching is Christ’s voice speaking with power in the church and to the world in salvation or judgment.

As God’s people, we should understand that preaching is a continuation of Christ’s prophetic ministry to the Church. Christ still speaks. On the Day of Pentecost, the exalted, ascended Christ sent forth His Spirit to empower His beloved people to be His witnesses (Acts 1:8). Preaching was one important result of this Holy Spiritual outpouring. We see Peter in Acts 2 “lifted up his voice” (Acts 2:14; cf. Isa. 42:2) to authoritatively declare the truths of God in submission to His word. To lift up one’s voice as a preacher (or prophet as in the Old Testament, cf. Isaiah 40:8-11) is to authoritatively, yet submissively declare the mind of God in Christ by the Spirit. As we see in the sermons recorded for us in Acts chapters 2 and 7 and 13, all are focused on declaring authoritatively, yet submissively the mind of God in Christ by the Spirit, particularly God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises through the Gospel of Christ (see particularly Acts 2:32-36, 13:23, 25, 38-39). In faithful preaching, where the preacher is authoritatively, yet submissively declaring God’s truth through His, we hear God’s very voice. As our forefather, John Calvin, taught in his ‘Sermons on Deuteronomy’: “Where preaching is, there God’s voice rings in our ears.”

Preaching is Christ continuing to be with His Church by His Spirit, to guide the Church, to feed His sheep through the means of men as they declare His word faithfully (Christ says to His preachers: “I am with you always, even until the end of the age…” -Matt. 28:18-20). Christ is pleased not to speak directly from heaven to His people, but to use sinful, yet sanctified men as His means of making His truth known. Christ is pleased to use weak men to glorify His strength (1 Cor. 1:23-24, 2:1-5; 3:7; 4:7; 2 Cor. 2:16). Christ is pleased to use men who are insufficient yet qualified and called to the task (cf. Act 13:1-4; 1 Tim. 3:1ff). Preaching is incarnational, in that it continues Christ’s powerful ministry of the Word, and extends His kingdom through weak men, weak vessels, extending a hand of grace and comfort to His people through the preacher.

Although Christ is pleased to use weak, sinful, insufficient, yet sanctified and qualified men to preach, the authority and efficacy of preaching is with Christ alone. The men that Christ calls to preach and fills with His Spirit are those who are submissive to God’s Word and faithfully declare God’s Word to God’s people. In other words, preachers are Christ’s called, ordained, and sent ambassadors declaring faithfully the mind of Christ the King to the church and to the world as it is revealed in the Word of God (“Preach the Word!” 2 Tim. 4:1, not merely a preachers own ideas, or his pet theological topics, nor his own opinions). Faithful preaching through ambassadors is declaring the Gospel story of redemption to the church and to the world all for the glory of God, imploring sinful men to be reconciled to God in Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17-21)! In Acts 2 and 7 and 13 with the sermons of Peter, Stephen, and Paul, we see them as preachers wholly submitted to Holy Scripture as Christ’s ambassadors, faithfully telling God’s good story of redemption in Christ. Their preaching has Christ and His crucifixion as the central focus of their messages (cf. 1 Cor. 2:1-5). Let us rejoice that God has provided faithful ambassadors in preaching! As the people of God we can rejoice that God is not silent, but ever present to teach, guide, encourage, comfort, and edify His people through preaching (cf. Isa. 40:1ff; Eph. 4:11-16). Preaching reveals God as the God of all mercies and comfort because we are reminded of His gracious voice to us in Christ. Christ’s sheep hear His voice, and they learn to listen, learn, and follow as his sheep-like disciples (John 10:14-16, 27). Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). What should God’s people remember to bring to the preaching event or sermon so that they can better hear and follow? Not only God’s Word to follow along with the preacher, but also a prepared heart, and an expectant faith that Christ will speak to them.

But you may ask, “How is preaching Christ’s voice speaking with power”? The Bible teaches us that although Christ is exalted at God’s right hand, ruling and reigning in a glorified body, He nevertheless is pleased to be with His chosen instruments by His Spirit as a means to speak to His Church. Although Christ is in heaven as Advocate, ever-interceding for His people (Rom. 8:34), he nevertheless is present, truly and really, yet spiritually in preaching to the faith of God’s people. Similar to the Lord’s Supper where Christ is truly and really, yet spiritually present (not corporally present for He is embodied in heaven as glorified King of kings), so he is present in this same way in preaching. As Calvin wrote in his ‘Commentary on Acts’: “The Lord gave the Holy Spirit [on Pentecost] once to His disciples in visible shape, that we may be assured that the Church will never lack His invisible and hidden grace [my emphasis].”

This is another important way of saying that Christ is pleased to use the means of men as preachers to be present with His Church and to make His very voice heard. In Romans 10:13-17, the Apostle Paul is speaking of the importance of faith in hearing God’s Word. He writes: “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Before this verse, the apostle very clearly declares that Christ is present to the faith of all who hear faithful preachers and will save them: “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13). He says in Romans 10:14: “But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” In Romans 10:14b, the Apostle Paul is translated in many Bible translations as saying: “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard” stressing merely Christ as the subject of preaching, and this is true to a certain extent; Christ is the subject of good and faithful preaching! But what Paul is more particularly saying here is captured more faithfully in the marginal reading of the ESV. In the original language, Paul is not merely speaking of Christ as the subject (“in him of whom”, but Christ as the actual speaker. The correct translation of this should be: “And how are they to believe Him whom they have never heard” (Rom. 10:14b). That is, in the preaching event or sermon, when the ambassador of God is submitted to Christ and His Word, the very voice of Jesus Christ is heard. We are to believe Him and hear Him!

Furthermore, Christ promises that the Gentiles will hear His voice through the ministry of the apostles in John 10:16ff, emphasizing that it is Christ’s voice that is heard truly and really, yet spiritually through preaching: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice” (cf. Acts 13:47-48). Also, in the sermon to the Hebrews, the preacher says that Christ is speaking in and through preaching, he writes: “See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven” (Heb. 12:25). Christ literally speaks from heaven and warns from heaven through the preaching event or sermon, and this brings either salvation or judgment. John Calvin, in his “Commentary on Isaiah” wrote: “When the ministers faithfully declare the words of Christ, their mouth is His mouth and their lips are His lips [my emphasis].”

What makes these weak men who serve as preachers powerful in preaching? Are they not just weak men? What brings the power and effective or transformative change? Christ, by His Spirit. When the Word is preached, the Spirit is faithful to use these means of bringing about God’s purposes (cf. Isa. 55:10-11; Acts 13:48-49), whether these purposes are salvation or judgment. The Spirit and the Word, though they are distinct, must never be separated from one another. When the Word of God is faithfully preached in Christ’s name, God’s people can be confident that what they are hearing is Christ’s very powerful voice! While the men as preachers are instrumental means of grace, the effectual means of grace comes from the Spirit of God alone. This means that while Christ is pleased to use men as means, nevertheless, it is His Spirit alone that brings the powerful work of salvation or judgment when the word is rightfully and faithfully preached.

Like bread and wine that Christ is pleased to use as instruments or means of His holy presence to the faith of God’s people in the Lord’s Supper, so He is pleased to be with the lips of His preachers as instruments and means, and their words in the preaching event or sermon (like the bread and wine) should be received by faith. There is no automatic working in the Lord’s Supper nor the preaching ministry of the Word. Both require that we receive Christ’s appointed means by faith. The preaching event or sermon requires that we come by faith to receive from the very mouth of Christ with our minds and hearts. God’s people can be confident that what the preacher says, while it may not immediately appear to them to be applicable sometimes, or particularly relevant to them in their estimation at the moment, it is very applicable and relevant, because Christ has chosen to teach them this in His good timing, on this occasion and at this location by His good and kind providence. God’s people should never go forth from a sermon immediately judging the results according to their limited (and often wrong!) estimation, but rather, by God’s Spirit to humble themselves before God, and prayerfully ask: “What are you teaching me, kind king?!” “Help me to hear this, to believe it, to meditate upon it, to live it out!” Help me to apply this,” etc, should be our immediate prayers after the preaching event or sermon. We should be on our knees as we approach the sermon, praying during this honored and privileged time with Christ, and then on our knees as we leave the sermon!

Preaching is using a double-edged sword (Heb. 4:12), and that double edge reminds us of both God’s salvation and His judgment that comes through the faithful preaching event. Preaching by the power of the Spirit brings forth both salvation for those who receive the truth as from Christ’s own mouth, and judgment for those who would reject it, because they are rejecting Christ Himself (see Acts 7:51-54; 13:42-52 for both salvation for believers and judgment for those who reject it who are described as those who “judge themselves unworthy of eternal life”, 13:46). Preaching is a fulfillment of Christ’s promise in John 16 that when His Spirit comes He will guide the Church into all truth (John 16:13-14), and that He will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7-8). Jesus is faithful through preaching to lead His people into all the truth, sanctifying them by that same truth (cf. John 17:17). He is also faithful to declare to the world by His Spirit through preaching the reality of their sins, the righteousness of God that is required of every creature to enter heaven (and how it is found in Christ alone!), and to prepare all flesh for the Judgment Day. As we learn in Acts 17:31:

“…[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man [the Lord Jesus] whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

When the Bible is faithfully preached, Christ truly speaks from God’s right hand through the preacher, and brings either salvation or judgment. As Christ will one day formally separate the sheep from the goats as he teaches in Matthew 25:31-45, with every preaching event or sermon, there is a “sneak preview” of this last day separation that is being made, whether one receives Christ showing oneself to be one of his sheep (because they hear His voice!), or whether it is rejection showing oneself to be an unbelieving “goat” (at least at this point in their life). Whether Christ is pleased to bring salvation or judgment, we should understand that the preaching event is always successful in bringing about God’s purposes (even though the preachers are often weak in different ways, the results are always powerful!). God’s word says:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (ESV Isaiah 55:10-11, my emphasis).

Understanding that preaching is Christ’s very voice speaking with power to the church and the world for salvation or judgment might change the way we pray for Christ’s preachers (1 Thess. 1:5; Eph. 6:18-20), and it might cause us to attend worship with more joyful willingness and a heightened expectation of God’s special presence in Christ, particularly in the preaching event! Let us pray earnestly that Christ would be pleased to both save and sanctify His church through preaching. Let us pray with great passion and ardor that Christ would be magnified and glorified in His enthronement as King through preaching (cf. Heb. 5:12).

Beloved in Christ at KCPC, let us pray that we would attend every preaching event or sermon with great confidence, NOT in Christ’s preacher, but in Christ Himself as He is pleased to speak through Him. Let our faith not rest on men’s wisdom in preaching, but in the power of God. Let us be reminded of what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:4-5:

“…And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,  that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:4-5).

Where is your faith? In men, or in the power of God? Let us pray that each preaching event or sermon, we would hear Christ well, and that we would see a demonstration of the Spirit and of power!

Understanding this could make the Church more attentive in listening and seeking to “hear” God as Christ speaks through the Ministry of the Word each Lord’s Day! We should be reminded that hearing is not merely hearing audibly with the ears. Many folks can hear audibly the preaching, but not profit from it at all! Profitable, true, and spiritual hearing is learning to be a “doer of the word” by God’s grace and power (cf. James 1:22). In fact, we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” and show forth the likeness of Jesus in conformity to Him by the power of God’s transformative Spirit! (Eph. 2:10; cf. Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:29; Titus 2:11-14). As Hebrews 2:1, 3a teaches us:

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it…How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”

As the Parable of the Sower reminds us (Mark 4), there are four types of soils, or hearts, or ways of receiving Christ’s voice. Although the actual growth and increase of the Word by the Spirit in men is a mystery (Mark 4:27), nevertheless, we are to come with prayerfully prepared and expectant hearts to receive from the very mouth of Christ! May we have a flourishing and fruitful increase of growth in holiness, humility, and honesty as a congregation of Christ because we hear and obey the very words of Christ that come forth from His preachers! Amen.

Preaching is Christ’s voice speaking with power in the church and to the world in salvation or judgment.


In Christ’s love,

Pastor Biggs