5 Solas of The Reformation
Grace Baptist West Asheville holds to the “SOLAS” of the Protestant Reformation. The solas are typically listed in five individual solas: 1. Sola Scriptura 2. Sola Fide 3. Sola Gratia 4. Solo Christo 5. Soli Deo Gloria. The word “sola” is a Latin term meaning “alone.” It was the reformers’ intent to herald the solas as the highest and only priority of the Church when teaching the way of salvation. The solas define what it means to be a Protestant Bible-believing Gospel-preaching church.
We encourage you to check out these resources on the Five Solas as well:
Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?: Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World, James Montgomery Boice
Echoes of the Reformation, Al Mohler and Kevin Deyoung
SOLA SCRIPTURA- Sola Scriptura is Latin for “by Scripture alone.” If the Scriptures are the divinely inspired Word of God, and the Scriptures certainly make that claim [2 Tim 3:16-17], then the Church should find all it needs for teaching, tradition, and practice in God’s Word and in God’s Word alone. A common understanding of this is the concept of verbal plenary (every word) inspiration of Scripture: that in its original autographs God divinely inspired the biblical authors’ very words while allowing the human authors to use their own rhetoric, vocabulary, and style to communicate God’s truth without error. Therefore, Scripture’s interpretation is dependent upon the Scripture itself, not upon the reader or the Church. This should be comforting to a local church devoted to Sola Scriptura; if a local church is guided and motivated by Scripture in its teaching, traditions, and practices, then its teaching, traditions, and practices are God-given.
SOLA FIDE- “Sola Fide” is Latin for “by faith alone.” Sola fide directly addresses how one is justified before God. Protestant reformers understood justification differently in the Scriptures than had been adopted by the Roman Catholic Church. The Protestant understanding of justification says a believer is saved through faith, not a result of works, so that no one may boast [Eph 2:8-9]. This in no way implies/permits licentious or idle living to any believer [Rom 6:1-2], rather it is to say good works have nothing to do with one’s justification before God. God does not accept good works in order to grant salvation. Instead, God accepts his own provisions for salvation through the works of his Son Jesus. At the moment of conversion the works of Christ are imputed to the believer and the believer is declared righteous before God [Phil 3:9], yet the believer still has sin [1 John 1:10]. All the while a justified believer in Christ is declared righteous through the Cross of Christ when he who bore their sin in his body on the tree [1 Pet 2:24] and his righteousness was imputed to them through faith [Rom 3:25].
SOLA GRATIA- “Sola Gratia” is Latin for “by grace alone.” Sola gratia has to do with conversion but can be faithfully extended to the whole of salvation. Salvation is a work of God and by God alone from start to finish. He does this by his righteous and sovereign grace. Grace and mercy are biblically synonymous: favor given to an undeserved recipient.
God maintains his righteousness while offering grace because he left no sin unpunished [2 Cor 5:21]. In providing a sacrifice for sins [Heb 10:14], in leaving no sin unpunished [1 Pet 2:24], in drawing the sinner to himself [John 6:44] (monergism), God makes salvation a work of his own doing and by him alone. Grace is his to give, it cannot be purchased and it cannot be earned by sinners who are dead in their trespasses and sins [Eph 2:1-2]. Nor can a believer earn more grace for themself after conversion by their own works. Grace is what the sinner receives in justification [Rom 3:21-26], it is what the sinner receives in sanctification [Heb 13:20-21], it comes to a culmination when the sinner is finally glorified [Col 3:4].
SOLO CHRISTO- “Solo Christo” is Latin for “through Christ alone.” Solo Christo for the reformers would have meant that salvation comes by no other means than through Jesus Christ [John 14:6]. To be more pointed, salvation does not happen through church membership and does not happen through the ministry of a Pope or by mediation of any dead saints. Christ, offered up his body, and serves as a high priest appointed by God who said “You are my Son, today I have begotten you” [Heb 5]. Indeed, Christ alone mediates a better covenant in his blood [Heb 7] than the old ceremonial and sacrificial system. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.” – 1 Timothy 2:5-6
SOLI DEO GLORIA- “Soli Deo Gloria” is Latin for “glory to God alone.” In light of the other solas, it is fair to say that there is no glory due anywhere else than to God alone. Salvation offered to humanity from God as a free gift of grace through faith by the blood sacrifice of his own Son Jesus Christ and made affectionately real and true to those who would believe by the Spirit of God means that he deserves all glory and honor due his name.