The five solas – Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria. These five solas are what separates the true biblical gospel from other teachings. But before we get into what each of them mean, we need to understand what are the Five Solas? The Five Solas are 5 Latin phrases that sum up the Reformation’s declaration. The word “Sola” in each of the phrases means “alone”, in the context of “grounded”, which we can see from what each of the solas mean.Sola Scriptura means “Scripture Alone”, Sola Fide means “ Faith alone”, Sola Gratia means “Grace alone”, Solus Christus means “Christ alone” and Soli Deo Gloria means “To the glory of God alone”.
The 5 Solas are the foundational beliefs laid down by the Reformers that we firmly hold on to today, because they are what the Bible teaches. During this next month, we’ll go through to explain what each of them means.
The first sola we will go through is “Sola Scriptura”. Sola Scriptura translates to “Scripture Alone”. The Scripture is not man’s words, it is breathed out by God. This means that the Bible alone, God’s Word, is the highest authority in the church. All other authority in the church has to submit to Scripture. God’s Word is essential for the life and growth of a Christians’ life (2 Timothy 3:16). God’s Word is the most valuable thing that anyone can read or hear.
In fact, this is a significant reason why the Reformation was sparked. During Martin Luther’s time, the Catholic Church had the highest place in society in Western Europe. However, not everything they taught was right according to the Bible. One big example was the practice of selling indulgences, saying it will help them get to heaven. However, the Bible tells us that a person is saved by faith, not by one’s deeds. In Ephesians 2:8, the Bible tells us “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
So how can we apply “Sola Scriptura” to our spiritual lives? Nowadays, we humans tend to base our judgment on “feelings”. However, we must remember that we, humans, are sinful, so Jesus’ teaching will not always make us “feel good”. We must set our thinking in line with the Bible, and our feelings in line with our thinking.
The Bible is the only source of hope and truth.
Sola Fide means “faith alone”. Jesus Christ is our only saviour, and we are saved through faith alone in Him. We are not saved through good works or by our own strength (Galatians 2:6). Faith means accepting Jesus Christ into your heart. It means living a life in the truth. Just as Martin Luther says, (Sola Fide) is “the article with and by which the church stands.” Without this, we will have no hope for salvation.
In an excerpt of Martin Luther’s Commentary on Romans (translated by J. Theodore Mueller), Luther writes, “Faith is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1). It kills the old Adam and makes altogether different people, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. And so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly….Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. ”
Luther reminds us that good works comes because of faith. Good works cannot buy our salvation. True faith isn’t only for getting into heaven, faith changes our entire current selves. Faith is essential for the lives of Christians and the church, even today.
“Sola Gratia” translates to “grace alone”. We are saved by faith alone (sola fide) by God’s grace alone (sola gratia) , not by our own doings or strength. So, what is grace? Grace is God’s undeserved mercy to us, sinners. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because he first loved us.” We need to understand that nothing we, humans do by our own strength can ever lead us to salvation. Humans are sinful by nature. We can never be “good” enough to be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, 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.” Sola Gratia is important because it shows how God saved us because of His mercy and grace, not because we did something that makes us worthy to be saved.
So do we truly thank God for His grace? Everything in us is by God’s grace. We can never fully realise and understand how great is God’s grace until we understand what sin truly is and we realise how sinful we humans are.
Solus Christus translates to “Christ alone”. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. He is our Lord, Saviour and King. Jesus Christ is the foundation of the Church.
But why is Jesus Christ our only hope for salvation? Because He is perfect and sinless. In this world, fallen into sin, there is no human that is perfect enough who is able to pay the price. As Romans 3:10 states, As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one”. Only Christ can save us.
We humans do not and can not add to what Jesus has already done on the cross. This means that no sinner is beyond the reach of God’s salvation. No-one’s sin is too great to separate a sinner from God, if they put their faith in Christ for salvation.
By understanding Solus Christus, it helps us to understand the other solas. We receive grace (sola gratia) from the Father through Jesus Christ. We are saved through faith alone, however it is not our faithfulness we are saved by, but the faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done. Jesus Christ is at the centre of the Scripture (Sola Scriptura).
All humans have a God-shaped hole in their heart and only Jesus Christ can fill that hole. (Blaise Pascal)
Soli Deo Gloria
The last sola we will go through in this series is “Soli Deo Gloria”. Soli Deo Gloria translates to “to the glory of God alone”. God alone is the one to receive the glory for his wonderful works- creation and redemption. Therefore, we live for God’s glory alone.
God’s glory is something that is emphasized throughout the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, from Genesis to Revelation. But why is God’s glory so important? God’s glory is God’s magnificence and purity. We, with our human limitations, cannot express the fullness of God’s glory.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarises what the Bible says about this. “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”
In 1 Corinthians 1:31 it says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” The Bible shows us that the ultimate goal for the works of God is to glorify His name.
God and God alone is the one to receive the glory for His wondrous works.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Eliana (Anju) Tambunan (14) is one of the writers for RE Generation-Z. She strives to share and spread God’s Word and what she has learned from it to other teens. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, drawing, sewing and attempting to bake new recipes.