Today we celebrate Reformation Day. This year marks the 500th anniversary.
One reason we celebrate the Reformation is because the Reformation heralded “five solas:” sola scriptura (Scripture alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), soli Deo Gloria (glory to God alone).
These Latin words sound cool, but why are they so important?
Essentially, we celebrate the five solas of the Reformation because each sola sums up one of the main doctrines involved in the formulation of the gospel. That is, the five solas taken together, is a summary of the gospel.
Sola Scriptura means that the Scriptures are the only infallible rule for faith and practice. Thus, the Scriptures are the final authority for determining what is and what is not the gospel. Without “Scripture alone,” we would not know the content of the gospel.
Sola gratia means that grace is the only basis for our forgiveness of sins and righteous standing before God. Without “grace alone,” we would not have a gospel based solely on grace. We would be left to our own to merit God’s favor, which we can never do.
Sola fide means that faith is the sole instrument in receiving the gospel. We do not receive Christ by anything we do (or don’t do). Without “faith alone,” we would be left with a gospel that required our works for justification.
Solus Christus means that Christ is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). Thus, it is in Christ only and completely that we have salvation. Without “Christ alone,” the gospel is centered on other people in addition to Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria means that the glory of God is what all of our salvation (and the entire universe) is about. Everything exists ultimately for God’s glory alone. Without “God’s glory alone,” the gospel would not be glorious because we would receive some of the credit.
In summary, “Scripture alone” tells us what the gospel is, “grace alone” tells us what the gospel is based upon, “faith alone” tells us how the gospel is received, “Christ alone” tells us who the gospel is centered upon, and “God’s glory alone” tells us what the gospel is ultimately about. The five solas are so important because without them we don’t have the gospel.
Happy Reformation Day!