in-between studies

The 5 Solas

5-solas

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers’ basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding phrases are:

  • Sola Fide, by faith alone
  • Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone
  • Solus Christus, through Christ alone
  • Sola Gratia, by grace alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone

These phrases may be found individually expressed in the various writings of the 16th century Reformers, either explicitly or implicitly, but they are not found presented as a list per se. It is most likely the list of Solas came about later.

Faith alone (Sola Fide)

Justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.  What is justification?  It is that act that makes us ok to stand before God.  We need to be free from sin to be accepted into His presence because He is holy and something sinful is unholy.  The two cannot be together.  In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed (given) to us as the only possible satisfaction (aside from an eternity in Hell) of God’s perfect justice toward our sin. Our justification does not rest on any merit to be found in us – past, present, or future.  God justifies people based not on who we are, but on what He desires.

Our faith is given to us by God.  Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).  He creates a faith in us toward Himself.  It is by this faith that we believe in Him.  If we do not have faith, we cannot confess that He has died to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  What is faith?  It is a knowledge of something to be true without having tangible evidence.  It is like saying the sky is blue, even though there is nothing that you can physically touch to attach a descriptive.  This is how we know that our faith is from God.  For who has seen Him?  “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” – John 1:8 

Lord’s Day 7 (from Heidelberg Catechism)

20. Q.
Are all men, then, saved by Christ just as they perished through Adam?
A.
No. Only those are saved who by a true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits. 1
1.Mt 7:14Jn 1:123:161836Rom 11:16-21.
21. Q.
What is true faith?
A.
True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in his Word. 1 At the same time it is a firm confidence 2 that not only to others, but also to me, 3 God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, 4 out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. 5 This faith the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel. 6
1.Jn 17:317Heb 11:1-3Jas 2:19.
2.Rom 4:18-215:110:10Heb 4:16.
3.Gal 2:20.
4.Rom 1:17Heb 10:10.
5.Rom 3:20-26Gal 2:16Eph 2:8-10.
6.Acts 16:14Rom 1:1610:171 Cor 1:21.

Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura)

The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience.  The Bible is the only written word that is divinely enabled to teach us about the person and character of God.  Because it is divine it is without error in the matters pertaining to that which it was written.  Though there are many language interpretations there is only one meaning, and each book is meant to be read pertaining to the others as a whole complete work.

The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior and action must be measured.  Because it is a whole work, the entire book must be taken into account to understand the implications of our sin, and why we need a savior.  Beginning in Genesis we see that man is unable to keep the laws of God, therefore separating us from our creator.  The narrative gives us all we need to understand who God is and why we cannot be with Him unless, by mercy, justice is given on our behalf to pay for the wrongs we commit.

It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian’s conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.  Though there are many who have gifted the church in writing and oration, God alone is able to reveal Himself.  He does this through His word, by hearing the message of the Gospel.  “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” – Ephesians 1:13

Lord’s Day 2

3. Q.
From where do you know your sins and misery?
A.
From the law of God. 1
1.Rom 3:207:7-25.

Christ alone (Solus Christus)

Our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of the historical Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.  Because we are sinful we deserve death and eternal separation from God.  Our sins are direct disobedience to Him, as He has set His laws on our hearts.  This justice is only remedied by the intervention of Christ acting on our behalf as payment for sin.  He takes our place in judgment before God, taking on all the wrath that was meant for us as payment for our sin.

What is justice?  It is the act of giving out what is due for what was done.  Example: suppose there is a prison where there are 5 inmates who have killed, and they are all sentenced to death for their crime.  They will receive the justice that is due them for their crime – death.  But suppose there was a man who came to talk to the judge and ask to take the place of one of the inmates.  The judge decides to choose 1 inmate to pardon and release free from the death penalty in exchange for this other man’s life.  Was that inmate that was released shown justice or mercy?  He was given both; justice because there was still payment for his crime, and mercy because the judge allowed another to pay on his behalf.  This is what Christ does for us.  There is no other way to defeat the ultimate death and separation from God than to ask Christ to take it for you.

It is denied that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.  In claiming to tell others the Gospel it is imperative to speak of what Christ has done.  If you leave out the part about His saving work on the cross, then you are not teaching the Gospel.  “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17

Lord’s Day 1

1. Q.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
A.
That I am not my own, 1 but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, 2 to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. 3 He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, 4 and has set me free from all the power of the devil. 5 He also preserves me in such a way 6 that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; 7 indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. 8 Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life 9 and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him. 10
1.1 Cor 6:1920.
2.Rom 14:7-9.
3.1 Cor 3:23Tit 2:14.
4.1 Pet 1:18191 Jn 1:72:2.
5.Jn 8:34-36Heb 2:14151 Jn 3:8.
6.Jn 6:394010:27-302 Thess 3:31 Pet 1:5.
7.Mt 10:29-31Lk 21:16-18.
8.Rom 8:28.
9.Rom 8:15162 Cor 1:21225:5Eph 1:1314.
10.Rom 8:14.
2. Q.
What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
A.
First, how great my sins and misery are; 1 second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; 2 third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance. 3
1.Rom 3:9101 Jn 1:10.
2.Jn 17:3Acts 4:1210:43.
3.Mt 5:16Rom 6:13Eph 5:8-101 Pet 2:910.

Grace alone (Sola Gratia)

In salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone.  Just as in our example above, it is the Judge (God) who decides which inmates He will select for salvation – this is His grace toward us.  What is grace?  It is unmerited favor.  God chose the elect prior to creation, not based on anything He foresaw, but based solely on what He desired – His will, for His glory.  “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” – Ephesians 1:4-6

It is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ by releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from spiritual death to spiritual life.  It is denied that salvation is in any sense a human work.  Human methods, techniques or strategies cannot accomplish this transformation.  Faith is not produced by our unregenerate human nature – we cannot decide to follow Christ or place our faith in Him until God first gives us the revelation that we need a Savior.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” – Ephesians 2

Lord’s Day 23

60. Q. How are you righteous before God?
A. Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. 1 Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them, 2 and am still inclined to all evil, 3 yet God, without any merit of my own, 4 out of mere grace, 5 imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. 6 He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, 7 if only I accept this gift with a believing heart. 8
1.Rom 3:21-28Gal 2:16Eph 2:89Phil 3:8-11.
2.Rom 3:910.
3.Rom 7:23.
4.Deut 9:6Ezek 36:22Tit 3:45.
5.Rom 3:24Eph 2:8.
6.Rom 4:3-52 Cor 5:17-191 Jn 2:12.
7.Rom 4:24252 Cor 5:21.
8.Jn 3:18Acts 16:3031Rom 3:22.
61. Q. Why do you say that you are righteous only by faith?
A. Not that I am acceptable to God on account of the worthiness of my faith, for only the satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ is my righteousness before God. 1 I can receive this righteousness and make it my own by faith only. 2
1.1 Cor 1:30312:2.
2.Rom 10:101 Jn 5:10-12.

Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria)

It is affirmed that because salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God, it is for God’s glory and that we must glorify Him always. We must live our entire lives before the face of God, under the authority of God and for His glory alone.  It is denied that we can properly glorify God if our worship is confused with entertainment, if we neglect either Law or Gospel in our preaching, or if self-improvement, self-esteem or self- fulfillment are allowed to become alternatives to the gospel.

“7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others,as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 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.” – 1 Peter 4

Lord’s Day 45

116. Q.
Why is prayer necessary for Christians?
A.
Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness which God requires of us. 1 Moreover, God will give his grace and the Holy Spirit only to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask him for these gifts and thank him for them. 2
1.Ps 50:1415116:12-191 Thess 5:16-18.
2.Mt 7:78Lk 11:9-13.
117. Q.
What belongs to a prayer which pleases God and is heard by him?
A.
First, we must from the heart call upon the one true God only, who has revealed himself in his Word, for all that he has commanded us to pray. 1 Second, we must thoroughly know our need and misery, so that we may humble ourselves before God. 2 Third, we must rest on this firm foundation that, although we do not deserve it, God will certainly hear our prayer for the sake of Christ our Lord, as he has promised us in his Word. 3
1.Ps 145:18-20Jn 4:22-24Rom 8:2627Jas 1:51 Jn 5:1415Rev 19:10.
2.2 Chron 7:1420:12Ps 2:1134:1862:8Is 66:2; Rev 4.
3.Dan 9:17-19Mt 7:8Jn 14:131416:23Rom 10:13Jas 1:6.
118. Q.
What has God commanded us to ask of him?
A.
All the things we need for body and soul, 1 as included in the prayer which Christ our Lord himself taught us.
1.Mt 6:33Jas 1:17.
119. Q.
What is the Lord’s prayer?
A.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory forever. Amen. 1
1.Mt 6:9-13Lk 11:2-4.

***

References:

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18 thoughts on “The 5 Solas

  1. I like this post a lot. I think this is solid doctrine, and I believe that any person commits this to their hearts, believes it, and acts on it will be assured to spend eternity by the Father’s side. I think that any person who is able to build the foundation of their very self – their mind, their will, their emotions – on these principles will be able to live a joyful rewarding life in Christ, and see the Father face-to-face when they die.

    The one thing I see missing from this is love. Scripture places a higher importance on love than faith.
    Luke 10:27
    “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
    1 Corinthians 13:13
    And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

    I see more to it also. Principles are a foundation, and like any strong foundation, much more can be built on it. God is alive; He is the source of all life, yet He never changes. We grow in Him daily. Our salvation is a constant thing; we aren’t just saved the once, we must continually call upon His name.

    The Law of God is written on our hearts, and Christ is the source of our Faith. So we are constantly able to hear His words and receive revelation. His revelation is not limited to a moment in time when our eyes are fixed upon the letters on pages in an English translation of the Bible. We carry His Word upon our heart, and at any moment His Spirit may revel to us understanding that we’ve never had. God will grant to us wisdom for the asking, but wisdom is only a guide, it is not an action. Actions come from knowledge that is guided by wisdom. God will grant us knowledge too! We can’t presume to know what God knows, or even that He will give to us all the knowledge of the universe. His ways are higher than our ways! We often could not understand them if we wanted to. But if we humble ourselves and pray “Dear Lord, I am limited in my understanding, and do not know what to do. Please grant me the wisdom and knowledge to do this in a way that will bring you glory, and allow me to become closer to you. Speak to me now, and I will listen.” And He will speak to us! What Father if his child asks for a fish would give them a stone, or nothing? God may speak to each of us differently. It may be an shadow of an image, an idea of a scripture, a person offering advice at that opportune moment, or even an impression of words upon our Spirit. God will do these things for us to build our faith in Him.

    Like I said, I liked the grand majority of the content. But in some ways I felt like there was a tendency toward legalism, like it was trying to define the bounds of our Christian walk. I think these principles define a solid foundation, but a foundation does not a house make. If we are walking daily with these principles in our heart, then God will have an amazing starting place from which do to great things with our life.

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    • Jason,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. I spend lots of time examining and preparing these blogs and it is good to see that you also spent time thinking deeply on the subject.

      That being said, this blog post is meant to examine the doctrines of what is called the 5 solas. Yes love plays a huge and significant role in scripture (I actually wrote a whole other post on just love and the importance of it); however the solas were formulated based on scripture to talk about how it is that we come to be saved. As Paul states, we are saved once, Christ righteousness is imputed to us, therefore sealing us in Himself to be reconciled permanently to God and we are constantly being sanctified.

      11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” – Ephesians 1

      12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. – Philippians 2

      These are the foundations that create what we know about the person and work of Christ on our behalf. This is doctrine, it is what I believe, and must understand so I can give an answer when people ask me why I believe what I believe. These doctrines were written in a time when the protestant churches were taking a stand on what they believed based on what the Scripture actually said, verses what the Catholic church was claiming on salvation. It was imperative to them to agree on these foundational doctrines so that they could move forward in their sanctification without letting heresy come into the church. Not everyone will agree with the solas, but upon examining Scripture I must conclude that I agree with this reformed view.

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      • I understand. It is a great foundational starting place. But I was just surprised that love did not make it into the list. Seems like maybe it should have been the 6 Solas lol. Seems to me that love would be what makes all the rest possible

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      • I don’t guess I really said it, but most of my post was in response to the Scripture Alone section where it said “It is denied … that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation”. I really was not sure what that was implying. It seems to me that personal spiritual experience can be a great source of revelation so long as the revelation is scriptural. But if you are asking God for an answer as to which house to buy finding a scriptural basis for the choice is going to be tough. But God through His goodness may revel the answer to you in whatever way you have faith to hear.

        But then maybe my definition of “revelation” is different than theirs.

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        • Yeah, Seth and I were talking about that word ‘revelation’ last night, too. I think my definition is a bit different than his. The point of the way it is said here (in context to the other solas) is that when you were saved, somewhere or somehow their was scripture involved. You either read it or heard it. In my case, Seth quoted a parable of Jesus. In Seth’s case he was listening to a sermon. The main idea to take away from sola scriptura is that we cannot decide to be saved, or have an experience apart from scripture when we are saved. It is in God’s word that He reveals Himself for salvation. Of course you could definitely apply this to the rest of your Christian walk as well, but that is a topic for another time.. lol.

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          • I can agree: that the context of the word “revelation” in sola scriptura is implying “revelation of Christ unto salvation”… Though I am not sure how that washes when you take Romans 1:19-20 into account: “19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” To me, this Scripture implies that since God has reveled Himself so plainly in creation, that any person may come to know God through it. That sounds to me like God has allowed for the possibility for His children to come to Him without ever having seen or heard a word of Scripture.

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          • I’ll state it another way, that I am aware of there is no place in Scripture that ever says that scripture is the only medium through which Christ is reveled. The message is the key, and the message can be conveyed through scripture, through God’s creation, or through any other way God chooses to revel Himself.

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            • I have almost the same response as Seth below.. lol… Here it is:

              The book of Romans was written to believers in Rome (v7), and the letter records the whole of the Gospel message. Paul starts by laying a case against humanity saying that what may be known of God is clearly visible to them but they have rejected it. This is Paul’s accusation against man: that he can see God all around him, yet he refuses to believe in him. This is setting the stage for Christ – it is not yet about Him. God’s wrath is against man because man has rejected the Father, not the Son. This is why there are no innocent people in the world – all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10-18). Christ is our redemption from our rejection toward the Father.

              The only way to know about Christ is to have someone tell you or read to you the Gospel. Jesus tells the disciples multiple times to go into the world and share the Gospel message, which is all about what He has done and why. You can see this played out when you try to share the Gospel with someone. You must first tell them about God, His creation, the fall of man, and why we cannot be reconciled to Him without intervention. We can only know these things by reading scripture. Yes we can know there is a God without scripture, but we cannot know His plans without it. This is the very reason He gave it to us, so we would know what is required to be reconciled to Him.

              “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!” – Romans 10:14-15

              Great article on the subject: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sufficiency.html

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  2. Well, very interesting take on Romans 1:19-20; however, Paul is not talking about salvation, but rather damnation in this verse. He is painting a picture of how man came to be in such a wretched state. If we look a little further into Romans, in chapter 10, we see the role of scripture in salvation
    Romans 10:13-17
    “for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? 15 How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who [i]bring good news of good things!”

    16 However, they did not all heed the [j]good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ.”

    Also, it is important to note that God is not obligated to accept inappropriate worship as evidenced in Leviticus 13:1-2 when God judges Aaron’s sons for offering up ‘strange fire’ before Him. Jesus also addresses this issue in Matthew 7:21 when he describes those who claim to have served him, but he casts out as strangers to him.

    It is important to note that Luther, when he state sola scriptura, was denying the Catholic Church’s assertion that the scriptures alone were not sufficient for salvation, but one had to also follow the church’s ordinances. We, as Christians, can all agree that the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible information that is available to us for salvation and holiness. They are God’s communication from His transcendent realm to man’s finite realm, and have been given to mankind as a gift so that we may know Him.

    I would recommend reading St. Augustine of Hippos’ work “On Christian Doctrine” to see a wonderful treatment of these subjects by a man gifted to the church for teaching and edification of sound doctrine.

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  3. So what you’re saying, Seth, is in Romans 1:19-20 “context be damned”? Lol (see what I did there 🙂

    That has been one of my favorite verses for long time. I get what you’re saying about Paul talking about damnation v. salvation, but that does not change the meaning of what he said. Man is damned because he didn’t believe, and he has no excuse for his unbelief because God has clearly revealed Himself – and here’s what makes this passage so unique – through His very creation. Jesus told the Pharisees in Luke 19:40 that if the disciples didn’t preach then the stones would cry out.

    No man can say “But I never heard of you!” because God will say “But I revealed myself through your very existence, through MY creation.” And no one can argue that God is unjust because “What about those people that haven’t been reached by evangelists? It’s unfair that their souls should be lost.” Because God has revealed Himself through all things, and they through their selfishness choose not to see it.

    I also don’t think that these verses in chapter 1 and the verses you reference in chapter 10 are exclusionary, rather they are “inclusionary”. Most will not hear the truth if you are standing there as a witness with the Bible in your hand preaching in love. Christ said “narrow is the gate” (Mat. 7:14). But many will hear, and receive because of the love that was demonstrated first by a believer giving of themselves and second by the great love that Christ showed on the cross. We have been given the responsibility to go and preach. I’m not saying otherwise. However, I truly believe that a few will stand before God and say “Father, I saw what I was, and I saw what you had given me, and though no one ever told me, my Spirit cried out to you, and you have brought me unto you.”

    Kristy, you said “The only way to know about Christ is to have someone tell you or read to you the Gospel”. I see where you are coming from, but I don’t believe this. My evidence is the Old Testament. At one time I had memorized over 100 verses in the O.T. that spoke of the coming of Christ and His purpose. Those prophets and writers had no one tell them of Christ. But God himself spoke to them of Jesus and his coming, and they believed because of their faith.

    I understand a little about what was going on during the reformation. I wrote a paper in college on Martin Luther. The Catholic church was pretty much withholding the scriptures from people. They wanted to be the gatekeepers, and they wanted to put their own spin on things. The Bible Luther read was in Latin, but the “commoners” couldn’t read Latin or most anything for that matter. When he saw that there was salvation through grace, it changed his life. Luther wanted to put the word back into the hands of the people. He first tried to start with the church. His 95 Thesis were written in Latin and was targeted toward his peers. And when they decried him as a heretic, he went to the people.

    So with all that said, I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. I agree with the commission that all saints should preach the gospel and lead their lives in accordance with God’s will. I know that the Word of God draws people to Him. But I also believe that God has allowed for those elect few to come to know Him and Christ through the testimony of His creation.

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    • I think we can all agree on that Jason, in regards to the infallibility of God’s Word, and the imperative delivered to us through Christ in Matthew. The scriptures are very clear that apart from Christ no man can come to the Father, but God could use general revelation (i.e. creation) to provoke a man’s spirit into seeking Him through His Word as is being evidenced in the Asiatic nations now. Many are being led through experiences to seek the Word of God in nations where possessing a Bible will get you killed, and men are risking their lives daily to distribute Bibles and preach the Gospel despite the threat of death. God is sovereign, and those who are His will be reached.

      I have a feeling that the point of contention here is not the simple statement, scripture alone, but is more likely a problem that you see with the logical conclusion that man cannot come to God apart from the scriptures. If I am wrong, I am wrong, but I see a separate issue with God not needing the scriptures to draw men to Christ: If that is the case, then why do the scriptures exist?

      The Catholic Church believes(d) that only the church could interpret the scriptures, i.e. the scriptures were only written for the church not the individual; and that allowed the church free reign to teach extra-biblical doctrines as if they were God-breathed this led to the excesses that Martin Luther revolted against. The main issue that he had with the church had more to do with the selling of indulgences than the availability of scripture to the layman because Luther had spent so much time studying the doctrines of Grace as explained by Paul in Romans. He knew that salvation was by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

      Anyway, I think that this has been an exhilarating discussion regarding one of the major pillars of Protestantism, and I am thankful for the opportunity to be ‘sharpened as iron’!

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      • “then why do the scriptures exist” <– Because the Father is awesome 🙂 I think that most people.. to see those words written down, to understand the hardship and effort required to build such as amazing work as the Bible… it strengthens our faith. It's hard enough sometimes to have faith when those words are so plainly written in front of me. I can hardly imagine what faith it must take to believe in Christ when you literally have nothing to hold on to.

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      • But yeah, Seth, that was my main thought -> ” the logical conclusion that man cannot come to God apart from the scriptures”. I’m not really sure that that is really what Sola Scriptura was trying to say. But at the very least, if somebody has a “god experience” from creation and that god is not the same one described in scripture… then yeah… they misread the evidence.

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      • I have also enjoyed the opportunity to cross irons, as it were. I would do this more often, but it always requires a lot of energy. It takes time for me to craft an argument. I read, and reread my posts over and over again. It takes a lot of time, and there is rarely ever that payoff moment.. .you know what I mean, when the other person goes “Hmmm… I guess I didn’t think of it that way” and you get to feel good about yourself for a minute.. heh heh. Usually everybody gets heated and just more set in their ways. It’s all good though 🙂

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    • It’s definitely a difficult topic and one that scholars and theologians have struggled with for centuries.. ever since Christ. This even dives into predestination and election when you think about those people who will never hear the word of God. I just can’t ignore what Paul says in Romans 10, nor the fact that all the revelations given to man from God are written down for the rest of His people to read. Each person that was called did something in line with God’s will. He decided (for example) that Abram, a man who worshiped the moon god, would be His chosen vessel for the lineage of Christ. God spoke directly to him, but Abram passed down this information which only had to do with believing that God would bring a savior from his lineage. Same with Isaac, Jacob and David. All of this was written down for us to know the history of God, His character, and His Son. They were not just chosen at random to be saved and that was it. There was a purpose – a grand scale purpose – all for Christ and the revelation of who God is to man.

      The cannon of Scripture is closed. If we receive direct instructions from God that are beyond what the Scripture says then it needs to be added. The old Testament scriptures which were included were either direct revelations from God about the future, laws or accounts of the lineage of the Jewish nation leading to Christ. Anything that was revealed was for these purposes only. Men were chosen by God for these revelations and they wrote them down. Jesus confirms the validity of the Old Testament as Scripture (Luke 24:44-45).

      The New Testament is a collection of writings and letters written by the apostles (chosen directly by Christ for revelation), or written under the direction of them. The books selected for the new Testament all met those requirements. If there was a book or letter in question for adding to the canon the church would see who authored it – if it didn’t meet the requirement it was not included. Paul is an excellent example of someone who had not heard the Gospel from anyone and yet God chose him – but for a specific purpose – to preach the Gospel to the gentiles (Galatians 1:11-24), and all for God’s glory. Everything he wrote down is included in Scripture and beneficial, even crucial for all believers.

      The biggest question I see that arises out of all of this is: why would God give us new information now that He had not given the apostles? Everything we need to know about God and our relationship with Him is already written for us in Scripture. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t think God leads us. I have witnessed myself what it is like to pray and have prayer answered. This is different than revelation because it is not imperative for the rest of Christianity to know. It is not a ‘revelation’ but an ‘application’ specific to my life that goes directly in line with what Scripture has already revealed. On that same note, if ever we have a ‘word from God’ that does not line up with Scripture then we can be sure that it is not from God.

      Last thing – I want to thank you for making me think even deeper about this topic of Sola Scriptura. By our discussions I have come to realize even more how important and sacred the Scripture truly is, and that God has no reason to give me information that even Christ would not reveal to those closest to Him.

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      • Agreed. After reading “The Sufficiency of the Written Word” that you linked to, I will phase my argument as such: I am not saying that creation speaks above or adds to scripture, but rather it is a testament to God’s word, and evidence of it’s truth.

        I wasn’t intending to imply that “nature” will give us knowledge the Bible doesn’t. Or that God will reveal something to us “above” the teachings of the word. I am saying that all things created by God have been done so for His good will and pleasure and with the purpose of drawing/reconciling His children to Him. This includes the Bible. It includes all of creation.

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      • By the way, that was an interesting read. I’m not very familiar with the tenets of Catholicism. But I can certainly see from the perspective of a hardcore believer in that religion how Sola Scriptura would be a doctrine worth disproving. I found it hilarious when he said that some people are trying to use scripture to disprove it Lol. Why use scripture to prove the point that you believe scripture is not the final word? I’m pretty sure that’s not going to be done, and it’s certainly not what I was trying to do.

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      • Heh.. I reread your comment, I noticed something I didn’t catch before. I wasn’t using the example of prophesies of Christ in the Old Testament as a precedent of how God can give us revelation about salvation that’s not in the Word. I mean, I think God can give us knowledge that we didn’t have before through various ways as our faith allows. (I think that’s one of the coolest areas of growth in our Christian walk: to be able to hear and understand God’s will for our lives more clearly.) But I’m not trying to confuse that with prophesy.

        I certainly believe in prophesy, and I do believe that there are still those that can operate in a prophetic gift. But even with that, prophesy is a fulfillment of God’s word in scripture. The “prophesies” that I’ve heard in my life have taken many forms: some are just reaffirmations of what scripture already says; others are words of encouragement for the believers; some were words of correction for the church. These types of words can easily be confirmed or rejected based on the truth of scripture.

        I’ve even heard prophesies of the “future”. I’m always pretty skeptical of that kind of stuff. It’s always ambiguous, and hard to prove or disprove. Any supposed prophesy that brings with it confusion is highly suspect if not downright lies. Not that all of the stuff in the Bible is real clear, but prophesy from God should always bring life and be delivered in love. And I think it’s gotten a bad wrap over the years because people abuse the word and the action, and try to use it for control. I mean who doesn’t want a look at the future? It can be very tempting for a person in a position of authority. Especially when people start looking at them as the mouthpiece of God. Enter the Catholic Church in Luther’s day.

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