What are the things that you hold onto as the fundamentals of your life, the ‘rules to live by’ as it were? As a kid, my parents gave my brother, my sister, and myself three rules to follow in life. These were the guiding principles to follow to have a safe and happy life.
What are the 5 Solas? What is a Sola and why are there 5 of them? These are valid questions and I shall attempt to answer them. The word ‘sola’ is Latin and it means ‘alone’. So, basically they are the 5 ‘alones’. These ‘alones’ are statements that reflect a view of our Christian faith. Of course Christianity cannot be condensed into 5 ‘alone’ statements. It is too vast and complex and yet so simple, that to try and reduce it to 5 statements is to do injustice to the gospel. They are rather, a summary of foundational orthodoxy.
So what are the 5 Solas?
The 5 Solas are a set of foundational principles held by theologians and clergy to be central to the doctrine of salvation as taught by the Reformed branches of Protestantism. While it is true that these have been taught mainly in the reformed churches, it is fair to say that other churches of the protestant mindset have also taught these things, and the opposite is true; they have either missed because they have not heard of them, or have been dismissed as things that are unimportant writings only fit for theologians to talk about. My opinion, however, is that the 5 Solas are very important. They are under girders, so to speak, of orthodoxy. They set out our view of what it means to be saved, and what that means. So what are these 5 under girders that are being mentioned here?
1) Sola Gratia (Grace alone)
2) Sola Fide (Faith alone)
3) Sola Christus (Christ alone)
4) Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone)
5) Sola Deo Gloria (To the glory of God alone)
So what does each of these ‘alones’ mean? Let’s look at each sola and I will attempt to give a brief description of each.
Sola Gratia (Grace alone). Salvation is the free gift of God given to us. It is given by God’s grace alone, totally unmerited by any act we have done. We did nothing to deserve it. You can sum up grace in this little acronym- GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Sola Fide (Faith alone). We are judged righteous in the sight of God purely on the basis of our faith. The atoning sacrifice of Christ leads to righteousness being imputed to us when we accept Christs sacrifice, through a legal declaration by God. This is often stated as Justification by faith alone. There is a difference between Justification and Sanctification, the latter being the growth in holiness arising from the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. FAITH = Forsaking All I Trust Him. Galatians 3:11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.
Sola Christus (Christ alone). Christ is the one Mediator between God and man and our salvation is accomplished only through His death and resurrection. There is no other name by which we can be saved. This is the uniqueness of Christianity; That God is reconciling Himself to His creation through Christ. 1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture alone). Scripture alone is the only infallible source of divine revelation and the final authority for matters of faith and practice. Sola Scriptura shows us all that mankind needs to know for salvation can be found within the Bible. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Sola Deo Gloria (To the glory of God alone). Every aspect of the Christian life is to be seen as giving glory to God. In essence, this summarises the other four Solas above. It also stemmed from the reformers opposition to what they perceived as the unwarranted glorification of other people or things, i.e. the Pope, icons, and relics. 1 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.
For me I find these 5 Solas valuable. They are what I based my theology on. It speaks to me of always looking to God whom through by His grace I was saved. Because of faith in His Son to do just that; By Christ alone, and none other. His word is His final revelation to us, and to worship and give glory all to God.
This is a very condensed description of these Solas. I encourage you to do some further reading if you find this of interest. Just Google the five Solas and you will find a gold mine of articles and websites on this subject.
Please leave any comments below in the comment section, also if you have any questions or topic you would like me to cover, just leave it in the comment section and I will cover it in a subsequent blog.
In Christ our redeemer Ps Jeff