Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Five Solas

The Protestant Reformation was based on five solas.  Sola means "alone," and True Christianity needs these five elements to be alone and pure, without addition or subtraction: sola scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria.  Namely, these were scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone, and glory to God alone.  This Christmas, let's look at how each of these relates to the nativity of Christ.

Sola Scriptura
The foundation of our faith is the unmolested scripture.  We believe in scripture alone.  That means that everything we know about God comes from the Bible.  If we read something abut Christ that does not line up with what Scripture says, we discard it.  This goes for dreams, visions, and at the time of the reformation, Papal authority.  It's so easy to get duped into thinking things about Jesus that aren't biblical.  We hear them from the media, our world's "authorities," and our friends and family.  We rarely investigate after getting information from someone we love and trust, but we must always go to the text of the Bible to see if it's true.  Scripture alone.  There are not many words about Christ's birth, but what is there is valuable--precious. God does not give us more nor less information than we need.  People will enhance the nativity to make it more "real" to us, but God found such enhancements unnecessary.  He has given us exactly the amount of information we need for our salvation--no more, no less.

Sola Gratia
This is the all-important grace alone.  This means that Christ's incarnation was not based on anything that mankind, nor particular people, did to deserve this.  We are wretched sinners who deserve death and everlasting ruin.  Nothing in us merits God's favor.  Becoming a man, the Christ, was God's decision from the beginning.  He even told Adam and Eve in the garden about what he was going to do.  It was his plan.  He didn't wait for us to become better people.  We could see from the nation of Israel's history that we weren't getting better at all; worse, in fact.  Only God's grace, his condescending to become a man, solely based on his own will, is what saves us.  God did it because he is good, not because we are in any way.  He is a gracious, holy, and just God, but he is also merciful.  His mercy endures forever. While we were still sinners, unable to help ourselves nor reach out to God for help--in fact we were haters of God--he came to earth to save us.

Sola Fide
Is anything required on our part for salvation?  Well, yes, there is one thing--faith, but as we've learned from Sola Gratia, even this faith comes from God.  We do not bring our faith to the table, God provides it for us through his Holy Spirit.  Faith is just believing, believing in Jesus Christ, but not just any Christ.  No, it has to the be Christ of the Bible. That's why Sola Scriptura is so important.  We are fed false Christs every day, but the one of the Bible is who we are to put our faith in for our salvation.  Faith involves denying self, because you can't have faith in yourself AND Christ.  Denying self is called repentance.  This is also a gift from God.

Solus Christus
Only the Jesus of the Bible, and Jesus alone.  I already said we can't have faith in ourselves.  We also can't have faith in any other religious figure.  We can't "hedge our bets."  We can't put our faith in celebrities or world leaders.  We can't put our faith in false Christs.  Jesus is God, and he is the only one we can put our faith in.  Not because God won't allow it, but because salvation is only POSSIBLE through Christ.  He is our ark, the only one who can save us from the flood.  He is our living water, the only that gives eternal life.  He is the bread of life, the only that can sustain us.  He is our only healer, our only savior.

Soli Deo Gloria
All of what God does for us is really for his glory alone.  That's not being selfish.  God is the greatest thing in the universe, and so everyone should worship him as that greatest thing.  When we look at the scriptures and we read about what God has done for us, and how all we need to do is believe, we see that all the other figures written about in the Old Testament are types and shadows of Christ.  I can't put my faith in Moses but Christ alone.  Moses is a type of Christ. David is a type of Christ.  When I read about David and Goliath, I am not to identify with David and try to figure out how to slay my own Goliath.  That would be for my own glory.  I am to see David as a foreshadowing of Christ defeating the death on the cross.  Everything points to Jesus: the Old Testament forward, the New Testament back.  The scriptures are all about Christ, and we praise him and give him the glory he deserves when we see him everywhere in it.  Anything that can turn our minds toward Christ and the amazing life he lived and died in order to save us, properly gives glory to God alone.  We need to preach to each other the first four solas, so that the fifth sola locks into place.  Only by preaching grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, can we give glory to God alone.  In order to not stray from this course, we need to preach from the scriptures alone.