Pilgrims Hall recently ran a series of Bible studies under the banner ‘Fundamentals of the Christian faith’. The aim was to unpack key components of the Gospel of Salvation: what does it mean to be saved? How does salvation come about? How do Christians explain their salvation? The studies were based around the ‘five solas’:
- sola scriptura (Scripture alone)
- solus Christus (Christ alone)
- sola fide (faith alone)
- sola gratia (grace alone)
- soli Deo gloria (glory to God alone)
The phrase “five solas” has its roots in the 16th century Reformation, a period of church history which resulted in the theology of Protestantism being distinguished from that of the Roman Catholic church. The latter had corrupted certain doctrines and beliefs and engaged in practices not found in the Bible. The ‘five solas’ positively impacted the understanding of scripture, Christ, faith, grace and God in the new ‘Protestant’ church which then emerged and form the nucleus of the evangelical faith.
In the 21st century the church is once again being corrupted. In an age of rapid technological, social and cultural change, some of which is being adversely assimilated into the church, there is an erosion of Biblical truth. Surveys show that many Christians have lost a full understanding of basic Biblical beliefs and doctrines of the Christian faith and are theologically illiterate. The exposition of key tenets of the Christian faith, as set out in the ‘five solas’, are intended to remind Christians of the core foundations of the Faith as set forth in scriptures, the Holy Bible.
The ‘five solas’ are summarised below:
Scripture alone: Sola Scriptura
The Bible is the sole authority for Christians in faith, doctrine (belief) and practice. It is the source of all truth and is sufficient and without error. The scriptures reveal both the state of humankind and the mind of God and proclaims the way of salvation and the purpose of life.
2 Peter 1:21
For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16–17
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Christ alone: Solus Christus
Salvation is found in the person and work Jesus Christ alone. By His sacrificial death, forgiveness is offered. No human being can forgive sins; it is Christ alone who saves.
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.
John 14: 6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Faith Alone: Sola Fide
Salvation is not achieved by any human work or effort, which sets Christianity apart from all other religions in the world. Salvation can be found only by faith in Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is granted to those who by faith place their trust in the perfect work of Jesus: as one repents of sin and place faith alone in Jesus Christ, new life is obtained.
Know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
And being found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
Romans 4: 4–5
Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.
Grace alone: Sola gratia
Salvation from God’s condemnation and judgement that every person deserves because of their sinfulness is a gift of grace; it is not because of any human effort. It is God who through his grace moves the sinners heart, bringing about conviction and faith, enabling them to repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Spiritual life is an unmerited gift from start to finish.
As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good not even one.”
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Glory to God alone: Soli deo gloria
Salvation is wholly a work of God for his glory alone. Because Jesus Christ is Saviour and Lord, believers are commanded to live their lives to glorify God. In the kingdom to come, believers will look back and give glory to God for their salvation. From beginning to end, the Lord is deserving of all praise.
Oh the depths of the riches of the wisdom of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
1 Corinthians 10:31
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Peter 4:11
If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.