The Solas of the Reformation
We celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in 2017. The Reformation was a profound theological awakening, which called the church back to the primacy and supreme authority of Holy Scripture, as well as the proper, biblical understanding of the Gospel. The Solas of the Reformation convey basic, yet essential truths of God's revelation and the one, true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Sola fide teaches that the instrumental means by which we are saved in Christ is faith alone. In other words, by faith alone (rather than faith plus works of cooperation or contribution), we are united to Jesus Christ and declared righteous/just and forgiven of our sins. Hardly a novel theological innovation of the 16th Century, this doctrine finds its foundation in Genesis 15:6 (cf. Romans 4; Gal. 3:7-29).
Sola scriptura proclaims that Scripture alone is the ultimate authority in our lives. The character of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16) reveals that it has supreme authority over reason, tradition, and experience. While the latter are valued within the church, they are neither equal nor superior to Scripture, and thus must always be tested and evaluated by the truth of God’s Word.
Sola gratia, that is, grace alone, emphasizes the Lord’s unmerited and undeserved favor with respect to humanity. Because we all merit eternal death as sinners, God's free grace to us in Christ is both necessary and sufficient for our salvation. A proper understanding of sin reinforces our need for God's amazing grace (cf. Eph. 2:1-10).
soli deo gloria
Soli Deo Gloria underscores that it is God and God alone who is to receive glory and praise for creation and redemption. Due to our fallen nature, we cannot turn our hearts to Christ (cf. John 6:44, 65). God must sovereignly and effectually change our hearts so that we are willing to believe. God alone receives the glory and praise for bestowing such grace.
Solus Christus reminds us that we are saved in Christ alone. Our reconciliation with God the Father is realized and secured only on the basis of the perfect life, atoning death, and physical resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are saved by faith alone in Christ alone (cf. Acts 4:12); and Christ is the one and only mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5).