October 31 is celebrated as Reformation Day in churches of the “protestant” tribe (Lutheran, Baptist, etc.).
It is also Halloween, a day for kids to dress up in fun costumes and go door to door in search of candy.
Both will be done at my house today. The first thing we will do is go to worship. We will not be worshipping Martin Luther or the Reformation. We will be worshipping God the Father Almighty who sent His only-begotten son, Jesus Christ, to save us from our sins.
At this time of year, I’m reminded of the “solas” (yes, with an “a”) of the Reformation.
There are five solas – or “alones” – that I believe, teach, and confess through my everyday living.
1. Sola Scriptura – “By Scripture Alone”
The Bible is a remarkable document. It is really a “library” of sixty-six books (in the protestant tradition) that were written by men and women over a period of 1500 years. It covers the entire history of the human race (in various ways, not all of them literally). It is remarkably consistent.
It is also my “go to.” As a trained (actually “in-training”) theologian, the Bible is my primary source for my theology. In other words, everything I believe about God, life, and salvation come from the Bible.
While I read other people’s work, listen to other preachers and teachers, I always use the Bible as my source document – testing all their teaching against what the Bible says.
2. Sola Fide – “By Faith Alone”
When it comes to salvation, I believe that I am saved by “faith alone.” There is nothing else that I can do to be saved except to have faith in Jesus Christ. This faith is a gift from God (we’ll explore that in point #3).
When Martin Luther posted 95 ideas on October 31 in 1517 in order to open the debate about Sola Fide, the Reformation “officially” began. His argument was with those who felt that “good works” had a prominent role in a persons’ salvation.
But the reality is that our “good works” are to be done because we are saved, and not in order to get saved.
3. Sola Gratia – “By Grace Alone”
This sola goes hand in hand with #2. Where faith alone without good works is how we are saved, grace alone is why we are saved. We don’t do anything to earn salvation, there isn’t anything about us that God sees and says, “I’ll save you!” other than pure love. God loves us with unconditional love (called “agape” love). It is like a mom or dad that loves their child – not because the child is beautiful or sleeps through the night or likes strained peas, but simply because she is their child.
4. Solus Christus – “Through Christ Alone”
This is the one that trips up so many people in this world. The Scriptures record Jesus Christ very clearly.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me” (John 14:6)
I know that many take exception to this. I can appreciate that. But I can’t get past the fact that Jesus said it – the same Jesus that said “love your neighbor as yourself,” “For God so loved the world that he sent his only-begotten son,” and “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
This is reassuring to me. I don’t have to worry that I’m on the right path to life. There is only one path.
5. Soli Deo Gloria – “Glory to God Alone”
This last one is our response to all that God has done. It is a way of life. All that I do is for God’s glory, not mine. He does promise to give me all I need, to give me the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4). But I will strive to do all things Soli Deo Gloria.