1517 October 31st the eve of All Saints Day, when the Roman Catholic church would remember the merits of all the saints instead of Christ alone opposing Faith alone and Scripture alone, Martin Luther decided to challenge the scholars of the day about what was going on in church tradition. He didn’t plan to start a movement. But move he did. The nail in the door opened the door to the truth of the Gospel. The hammer thud sounds out ringing out across Europe and all across the globe to this day.
What are the solas? What do they mean? Are they biblical?
Sola means alone in Latin. These fives solas are summaries of principles that the Reformation stands for – not that Martin Luther or Zwingli or Huss came up with them… Luther didn’t print up t-shirts with 5 solas blaring on them.But as we look back at that time, we find that what began symbolically at that nailing of the grievances on the church door can be summarized in five principles – five “onlys”.
The “only” is important. The Roman Catholic church believed in Scripture and Grace but not Scripture alone. The church tradition was also authoritative. The Roman Catholic Church spoke about grace but God’s favor is by grace alone.
- Sola Scriptura – Only Scripture: Scripture is our only foundation for life and practice. We don’t need tradition of man, or polling public opinion. We have the Word of God as our only source for faith and practice.
- Sola Fide – Only Faith: Faith Alone is the only Condition for receiving the Gospel. It is not human merit but Christ’s Merit – which is the next Sola.
- Sola Christus – Only Christ: Saved by Christ alone. No works of the saints, no works of anyone but Christ.
- Sola Gratia – Only Grace: We don’t merit our own favor. Christ earned it for us and gives us by His grace. If it is worked for it is no longer grace. One ounce of our works = no more grace.
- Sola Deo Gloria – To God Alone Be Glory! If salvation from beginning to end is all of grace by Christ then only God gets the glory which is the ultimate principle of the Bible. May the Lord be glorified today!