Archive for the ‘Sola Scriptura’ Category

The Five Solas

by Reverend Jeffrey A Nelson

edited by Licensed Minister Kevin Rhea

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases that came about because of and during the Protestant Reformation split with the Roman Catholic Church of that day.  The Latin word Sola when translated to English means “alone” or “only”.  The Five Solas describe the the basic theological tenets of the Protestant Reformation and are still
used as basics in many of today’s protestant denominations.  The Five Solas are: Sola Scriptura, Sola Deo Gloria, Solo Christo, Sola Gratia, and Sola Fide.  Translated into English they are Scriptures Alone, To the Glory of God Alone, Christ Alone, Grace Alone and Faith Alone.  The following is an overview of the Five Solas from my perspective.

Sola Scriptura (The Scriptures Alone)

Ps 119:18 ESV  Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

Ps 138:2 ESV I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

2Ti 3:14-17 ESV (14)  But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

(15)  and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

(16)  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that  the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

It is widely accepted that King David is the accredited author of Psalm 119.  In Psalm 119 he repeats over and over that the Word of God (Scriptures) is the law and how it is his primary joy.  Thus when we look at verse 18, we see that his request to open his eyes so that he may see the wondrous things out of God’s Law (Scriptures),
he is declaring that the Scriptures are the only law for those who have faith in God.

David also in Psalm 138:2 Declares (even though he is King of Israel) that he bows down before God, who has rightly exalted HIS name and Word (Scriptures) above all else.  This gives us a sense that God’s Word (Scriptures) is absolute and uncompromising as law.

The Apostle Paul in writing his second letter to Timothy, (which was written near the end of his, Paul’s, life), states that Timothy has known of the Scriptures from childhood.  He reminds Timothy that the Scriptures will make him wise  (knowledgeable) for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  Paul goes on to say that  all Scripture is given (breathed)  by God and is profitable (useful and a standard)  for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in  righteousness so that the Godly Man (or Woman) is  competent and equipped in all that he (or she)  does (good works)

The principle of Sola Scriptura/The Scriptures Alone is one of the Five Solas, that the reformers rallied around to emphasize that it is the exalted, inerrant Word (Law)
of God and is the standard for teaching, reproving, and correcting the brethren of the Lord (Christians).  It is also the proof and standard for teaching righteousness and
right thinking.  Is there any other?  I know of no other than God’s Holy Word, The Holy Bible.

Sola Deo Gloria (For the Glory of GOD Alone)

1Co 10:31 ESV   So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Rom 11:36 ESV For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Eph 3:20-21 ESV (20)  Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

(21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

1Pe 4:10-11 ESV (10)  As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

(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.

1Pe 5:10-11 KJV (10)  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

(11) To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

2Pe 3:17-18 ESV (17)  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

(18) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.  Amen.

Rev 1:4-6 ESV (4)  John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and  from the seven spirits who are before his throne,

(5) and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood

(6) and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Rev 7:11-12 ESV (11)  And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

(12) saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

The Apostle Paul is the author of thirteen and possibly fourteen of the epistles or letters that have been included in the Christian cannon known as The Holy Bible.  The disputed letter is the Epistle to the Hebrews. 

We will examine the phrase Sola Deo Gloria by first looking at the letters to the Romans, Ephesians, and the first of 2 letters to the Corinthians, in the chronological order they were written.

The Apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the very troubled church in Corinth.  This church was dealing with a lot of secular issues that had crept into the worship services by those who living there.  The Corinthians were known for their sexual immorality and their propensity to sue each other.   In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul wrote that whether it was eating, drinking or anything else, that they should do it to and for the glory of God. 

The Roman Christians Paul was writing to were people he had never evangelized or met, even though he had some acquaintances there (see Chapter 16).  Paul felt he had to use an oratorical and instructional tone to his letter, laying down basic doctrine and theology. One of those doctrinal and theological points is found in Romans 11:36 where he states “For Him and through Him and by Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever.  Amen.”  If that would be translated into today’s vernacular it would be something like this, “Everything comes from Him and by Him and goes back to him, for without him there is nothing.  We give Him all the glory forever!  Period!”

Ephesus was the capitol of the Roman province of Asia.  It was at a trade route crossroads.  It was also the home of the temple dedicated to the fertility goddess Diana.  Ephesus was once known as a center for pagan delights and had many  “idol” merchants.  By the time of this letter Ephesus had become a center of Christianity for the
region and the “idol” merchants were in an uproar over it.  
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians ends the first half of this letter of exhortation in a “doxology” or ‘praise to God’. He expresses to his readers the abundance of God’s mercy and love and exhorts the Ephesians to give all the glory where it is due and that is to God.

The Apostle Peter wrote his first letter to the Christians in Asia Minor (Turkey).  He recognized that living the life of a Christian had it’s tough spots.  He wrote this letter to encourage these Christians to persevere and to remind them of their eternal reward at the end of this earthly existence.  

He exhorts them in verses 10 and 11 of Chapter 4 to use the God given gifts they have received to serve their brothers and neighbors as good stewards of God’s grace and mercy.  He also tells them to do all of this to the glory of God, to whom all glory belongs.

Then in verses 10 and 11 of Chapter 5 he tells them that even though they have suffered it was all for their own good and that in giving thanksgiving they should give it to the glory of God forever and ever. 

The Apostle Peter’s second letter was written to Christians everywhere. He exhorted the Christians to ignore the false prophets and false messiahs that were cropping up here and there and stick to the truth that was given to them through his witness.  He told them that they had the knowledge presented to them before the false ones came about and that they should be growing in this knowledge and grace;  giving all the glory for it to God both then and for eternity.

The Apostle John was in exile when he wrote the final book of the Christian Cannon known as The Holy Bible.  It was because of his witness to all things pertaining to Jesus Christ that he was exiled to the Island of Patmos, a small island located in the Aegean Sea southwest of Ephesus.  During his stay on Patmos, through the Holy
Spirit, the Apostle John received great visions and momentous messages for the Christian church in general and for the Christian Churches in Asia in particular.

A part of one of these messages appears in the opening verses of Revelation where in verses 4, 5 and 6 John describes who he is talking to and who is giving these words that he is writing.  In verse six he declares that “all glory goes to God The Father forever and ever.  Then again in Chapter 7 where he is describing and
reporting the vision on what is to come, he declares he saw, in verse 11, the angels around the Throne of God, fall on their faces before God and cry out: (Verse 12) “Amen!  Blessing and Glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

We have learned from the Apostle Paul’s, the Apostle Peter’s, and the Apostle John’s writings, that there is doctrinal teaching that everything is for the Glory of God Alone.  That the Glory for anything does not belong to one person or group of people but solely and only to God The Father Alone.

Solo Christo  (In Christ Alone)

John 14:5-6 ESV (5) Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going.  How can we know the way?”

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

Col 1:13-18 ESV  (13)  He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

(14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

(15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn1 of all creation.

(16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.

(17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

(18) And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

1Ti 2:5-6 ESV (5)  For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

(6) who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

The Apostle John wrote The Gospel According to John.  He was called the beloved Apostle or “him whom Jesus loved”. Later he would be called John the Revelator.   This is the time that was used by Jesus to impart some of His most important instructions to the twelve.  They were at the passover feast in the upper room; the feast that would be called the last supper.  Jesus had just finished washing all of the twelve’s feet and declared that one would betray him.  Judas had left leaving the eleven with Jesus.  Jesus was telling the eleven he would be going away soon.  In John 14: 5-6 when Jesus had said this; Thomas said to Him “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  What Jesus was saying here was that in order to gain access to God’s throne room and God you had to go through him and only him.  There is no other way we can reach the throne of God and God himself.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Asia Minor church at Colosse to emphasize that as the Son of God, Jesus Christ was and is  the head of the Church and that Christians, including the Colossians, were the body of the church   In Colossians 1:13-18 he tells the Colossians that we (Christians) were delivered out of darkness and into the kingdom of God’s son, who provided us with redemption and the forgiveness of our sins.  He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn3 of all creation.  For by Him was everything created and by Him and for Him everything was created.  He was before all things and in Him everything is held together by Him.  Also He is the head of the church, the firstborn4 of the dead and that His name is above everything.

Timothy traveled many years with the Apostle Paul.  Paul not only taught Timothy the basics of doctrinal Christianity but also provided him an example of Christian leadership.  Paul considered Timothy a “son” in the faith  The Apostle Paul was confident in Timothy’s ability to be a Christian leader.  He believed Timothy would execute his duties as a Christian leader in Ephesus.  However he counseled Timothy to remind them of certain things that they were overlooking or ignoring.
The Ephesians were sue happy people and in 1 Timothy 2:5-6 Paul reminds Timothy and the Ephesians that Jesus is the only
mediator between God and Man,
and that His (Jesus’
) testimony was given at the proper time.

Jesus himself said that the only way to God was through HIM and HIM alone. Paul also acknowledges that Jesus, was, is and will be the only way to salvation and the kingdom of God.  Believing in Sola Christo/Christ Alone is the only way to lead a Christian life.  We also recognize in Sola Christo/Christ Alone that He is the only
mediator we have before God.

Sola Gratia (Grace Alone)

Eph 2:1-9 ESV (1)  And you were dead in the trespasses and sins

(2) in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience–

(3) among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

(4) But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,

(5) even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–

(6) and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

(7) so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

(8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

(9) not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Apostle Paul in writing this letter to the Ephesians recognized the need to correct them on a misconception, of among other things, how they were saved.    The Apostle Paul wrote that we were once dead in sins and trespasses.  We walk in a world of sin and degradation and it is by Grace through his love that we have faith in Jesus Christ and are saved.  No acts of kindness, no moral living, no being an upstanding citizen could save us because they are works alone.  According to God’s inerrant word it is by Grace alone we Christians have been saved through faith in Jesus Christ and that this Grace is a Gift from God Almighty. 

Sola Gratia/Grace Alone is one of the most basic tenets in Christian Theology.  During the Great Reformation led by Martin Luther, the reformers adopted this position.   It is through this grace, which is a gift of God The Father because of his love and desire that no one perish (John 3:16).  He gave us this gift of Grace so that through
faith in His Firstborn,5
 Christ Jesus, we are saved.  We cannot earn our salvation in any way, shape, or form.  Just like we get gifts bestowed on us or we bestow
them on others, God does the same for us, so that we might have a relationship with Him.  For without this gift of Grace we stay in our sinful nature and are dead to him.  The results of sin is death. (
Rom 6:23 ESV), For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sola Fide (Faith Alone)

Gal 3:5-14 ESV (5)  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith–

(6) just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

(7) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.

(8) And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

(9) So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

(10) For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

(11) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

(12) But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”

(13) Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”–

(14) so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatian Churches in Galatia.  Galatia refers to an area or Roman province in Central Asia Minor which includes the cities of Pisidian, Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe; all of which Paul visited on his first missionary journey.  Ancient history tells us that Galatians were Gauls from what is now known as the Ukraine.  They broke off from a larger group who were migrating westward to what is now France or what Paul called Gallia.

The letter to the Galatians is striking in its comprehensive and passionate statement of the Gospel of Salvation through faith alone.  Paul wrote that the Christians converted from Judaism that were teaching that they were under the law was a false doctrine and was taught by false teachers. The Galatians had seen the miracles that
were performed by someone (possibly Paul himself) who was justified by faith not by the law.  And that Abraham was justified because of his faith not because of his works.  The Apostle Paul goes on to say that those who stand on their works for justification are under the curse of the law.  They are cursed if they do not abide by everything written in the law and do them.  We (Christians) are justified by faith alone.

In conclusion we see that according to The Word of God and our reformation brothers that the basics of Christianity are: Glory to God Alone, The Scriptures Alone, Grace Alone, Faith Alone and  Christ Alone.  We give Glory to God for all that He has done and we work for the Glory of God alone.  We read the Scriptures which are the inerrant Word of God and through them alone are the instructions for an abundant Christian Life.  It is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, that we are saved, and justified. 

1 For clarity the meaning of firstborn here is not order of birth but rank as used in the Roman, Greek and Jewish societies.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.


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