This month we have the privilege of celebrating the 499th anniversary of the Reformation of the Sixteenth Century. October 31st is the occasion when many Reformed congregations gratefully remember the Spirit of Godâ€™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. The Reformation was one of the greatest revivals in the history of the church.
As heirs of this reformation and revival, and as those thankful for the knowledge of the Gospel of grace, there are five fruits that are worth memorizing and remembering each year at this time. These five fruits of the Reformation are five â€œsolasâ€ or â€œalonesâ€ that are important for us never to forget. These â€œsolasâ€ highlight Godâ€™s absolute mercy and passionate grace for His dear, lost, and helpless children, whom He has rescued through the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. The â€˜solasâ€™ are â€˜Sola Scripturaâ€™ (Scripture Alone), â€˜Sola Fideâ€™ (Faith Alone), â€˜Sola Gratiaâ€™ (Grace Alone), â€˜Solus Christusâ€™ (Christ Alone), and â€˜Soli Deo Gloriaâ€™ (To God be Glory Alone!). Letâ€™s look briefly at each of these:
Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone stresses that the God-breathed-out, 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 Godâ€™s people, and we embrace tradition insofar as it is taught in 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 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 Christâ€™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; it is a working faith that responds to Godâ€™s grace with obedience (Eph. 2:8-10).
Sola Gratia: 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 Godâ€™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 emphasizes that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). 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 have our ultimate focus and gratitude (Heb. 12:1-2) because of all He has done for us in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension to Godâ€™s right hand. While others may place undue and unbiblical emphasis on saints, Mary, and even angels, our hearts are centered on Christ alone as our loving Savior, Bridegroom, and friend.
Soli Deo Gloria: All that has been achieved for our salvation is to bring glory, honor and praise to the Triune God alone! (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 â€˜Solasâ€™ of the Reformation, and reaffirm them, and unashamedly make them known as Godâ€™s pilgrim people on the way to the Heavenly City.
In Christâ€™s love,