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)
Are all men, then, saved by Christ just as they perished through Adam?
No. Only those are saved who by a true faith are grafted into Christ and accept all his benefits. 1
|1.Mt 7:14; Jn 1:12; 3:16, 18, 36; Rom 11:16-21.|
What is true faith?
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 17:3, 17; Heb 11:1-3; Jas 2:19.
2.Rom 4:18-21; 5:1; 10:10; Heb 4:16.
4.Rom 1:17; Heb 10:10.
5.Rom 3:20-26; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-10.
6.Acts 16:14; Rom 1:16; 10:17; 1 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
From where do you know your sins and misery?
From the law of God. 1
|1.Rom 3:20; 7:7-25.|
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
What is your only comfort in life and death?
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 6:19, 20.
3.1 Cor 3:23; Tit 2:14.
4.1 Pet 1:18, 19; 1 Jn 1:7; 2:2.
5.Jn 8:34-36; Heb 2:14, 15; 1 Jn 3:8.
6.Jn 6:39, 40; 10:27-30; 2 Thess 3:3; 1 Pet 1:5.
7.Mt 10:29-31; Lk 21:16-18.
9.Rom 8:15, 16; 2 Cor 1:21, 22; 5:5; Eph 1:13, 14.
What do you need to know in order to live and die in the joy of this comfort?
|1.Rom 3:9, 10; 1 Jn 1:10.
2.Jn 17:3; Acts 4:12; 10:43.
3.Mt 5:16; Rom 6:13; Eph 5:8-10; 1 Pet 2:9, 10.
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 3:21-28; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8, 9; Phil 3:8-11.
2.Rom 3:9, 10.
4.Deut 9:6; Ezek 36:22; Tit 3:4, 5.
5.Rom 3:24; Eph 2:8.
6.Rom 4:3-5; 2 Cor 5:17-19; 1 Jn 2:1, 2.
7.Rom 4:24, 25; 2 Cor 5:21.
8.Jn 3:18; Acts 16:30, 31; Rom 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 1:30, 31; 2:2.
2.Rom 10:10; 1 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
Why is prayer necessary for Christians?
|1.Ps 50:14, 15; 116:12-19; 1 Thess 5:16-18.
2.Mt 7:7, 8; Lk 11:9-13.
What belongs to a prayer which pleases God and is heard by him?
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 145:18-20; Jn 4:22-24; Rom 8:26, 27; Jas 1:5; 1 Jn 5:14, 15; Rev 19:10.
2.2 Chron 7:14; 20:12; Ps 2:11; 34:18; 62:8; Is 66:2; Rev 4.
3.Dan 9:17-19; Mt 7:8; Jn 14:13, 14; 16:23; Rom 10:13; Jas 1:6.
What has God commanded us to ask of him?
All the things we need for body and soul, 1 as included in the prayer which Christ our Lord himself taught us.
|1.Mt 6:33; Jas 1:17.|
What is the Lord’s prayer?
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 6:9-13; Lk 11:2-4.|