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The Reformation at 500 and The Five Solas

October 30, 2017 0 Comments

As I wrote in my Reformation Day post last year, it was on October 31, 1517 that the Augustinian Monk Martin Luther nailed his now famous 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany. His plan was to start a debate over the Catholic Church’s abuse of indulgences (Paying money for a recently passed loved one to be released from purgatory) However, to use a common vernacular, “his post went viral. “ There were many who came before Luther who planted the seeds of reformation and many would come after him but his 95 Theses were a key catalyst that rocketed the reformation forward. There would be no going back.

This October 31st marks the 500th anniversary of that great day.

There are volumes of books that have been written on the history of the reformation and I make no claims on being an expert. However, I believe the Five Solas provide a great summary of the outcome of the Protestant Reformation. They were not written by Luther but came about as the Reformation developed.

Sola Scriptura = Scripture alone

  • The Bible alone is our highest authority.
  • The Bible contains all the information we need to know Jesus and how to live faithfully for him. It is not a mere self-help manual but the very word’s of God given to increase our faith and guide us to live a life for God’s glory

Sola Fide = Faith alone

  • We are saved through faith alone in Jesus Christ

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8 (ESV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (ESV)

Sola Gratia = Grace Alone

  • We are saved by the grace of God alone
  • Salvation is a gift of God given to us. We can’t earn or work for it. It was paid for by Jesus Christ alone.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:4-9 (ESV)

Solus Christus

  • Jesus Christ alone is our Lord, Savior and King
  • Many today want to claim there are many paths but Jesus himself tells us he is the only way (sola scriptura)

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6 (ESV)

Soli Deo Gloria

  • To the glory of God alone
  • Sadly we fall far short on this last point. We have viewed the Bible as nothing more than self-help mnaul and Jesus is nothing more than our own Mr. Fix it – Yet we have been created to live for God’s glory. Even Jesus walked this earth at the will of the Father and for his glory

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Fathere] does, that the Son does likewise. – John 5:19 (ESV)

I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. – John 5:30 (ESV)

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved. – 1 Corinthians 10:31-33 (ESV)

Let me close with my last paragraph from last years post: I know there is a wide theological gap between the Protestant and Catholic Church but let’s be careful before we discredit the whole. The reformation was needed and may it be reminder to us today that was must always be vigilant to remember our lives are not our own but they have been bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ. So everyday we are to live all in for God’s glory.

More resources on Martin Luther and the Reformation:

From Ligonier Ministries

From the History Channel

Click here to read the 95 Theses

photo credit: micagoto sola scriptura via photopin (license)

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Filed in: Faith, History

About the Author:

I am enthusiastic about helping others discover their purpose and grow into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It is great to see their eyes light up at their “Ah Ha!” moment when they discover they were created for something more. My hope is that this blog will help encourage and inspire you along your way. Join the conversation and take the time to share with me your own story. I have been married to my beautiful wife Janice for over 30 years. We currently live in McDonough Georgia with our daughter. Our two boys have left the nest and we have two wonderful grand kids. Of course we cannot forget about our dog Bear.