The Prinicipal beliefs of the Reformation still ground believers in basic truth and communicate the gospel!
In a few days, on Oct 31, it will be the 495th anniversary of Luther’s nailing the 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenburg Chapel. It was a watershed event that some say began the journey through the Reformation. But what was the hallmark of the Reformation? It might be the 5 Solas.
There’s an old saying, “God can hit a straight lick with a crooked stick.” Look how he used David, who was far from perfect, Paul persecuted the church, Peter denied Jesus. I say that to point out, while men like Martin Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Beza or one of my favorites, anabaptist Bathasar Hubmaier (I just like saying his name) were far from perfect, and sometimes did bad things, God still used them in a mighty way. Some have said church history is the story of how the gospel was lost in the dark ages and found again. 1400’s Christianity didn’t look very much like we know it today. What’s worse, it didn’t look like anything the apostles would recognize! Here’s a few things they believed in the 1400s:
· Jesus wasn’t the only redeemer – Mary was the co-redeemer.
· Jesus’ death on the cross was not all the sacrifice you need – you also need the mass performed by priests.
· The traditions of the church were higher than the Scriptures.
· While the death of Jesus made grace available, you had to perform good works to earn salvation.
· Giving money or Viewing the relics were among the good works.
· And since the church was the body of Christ the church should be honored and glorified like God.
These are just a few of the strange things people believed. Now this coming Wednesday is the 495th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. You probably know, that’s when Martin Luther is supposed to have nailed his 95 proposals or Theses to the door of Wittenburg chapel. He didn’t say it was time to start a new church. He didn’t say the church was wrong about everything. He just said, here’s 95 things that need to be fixed.
Now there are many things we can learn from the reformation. The writings of Luther and Calvin are not perfect, but they were brilliant men who desired to serve God. And from this time there arose what are called the 5 Solas. These 5 things still ring true today, because they’re true to the Bible! Sola is a Latin word for Alone or Only.
Sola Fide means Faith Alone. Sola Gratia- Grace Alone. Solus Christus means Christ alone. Sola Scriptura- Scripture alone. And Soli Deo Gloria means Glory to God Alone!
You might wonder: Why are these things important? Are there other Solas besides the 5? And Do I have to remember the Latin?
Those are important questions. I‘ll start with the last one:
NO- you don’t need to remember the Latin.
And YES- there are other Solas. For instance only by being justified will we see God. Only by being born again will we see His kingdom.
The list could go on and on but we’ll just look at the 5 famous ones. They are important because they reset Christianity but are still being challenged today!
1. First, Faith Alone. One criticism of the 5 Solas is they aren’t in the Bible and the Reformers probably never said them, but they were phrases that were coined later. First what does the Bible say? James in Jas_2:23 the scripture was fulfilled which says, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness... AND, Paul in Rom 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. The Bible only speaks of two ways to be saved or justified before God. There is works and Faith. Now the only way works can justify is if you keep Every letter and comma of the law. No one but Jesus ever did that! So the ONLY WAY left to us is Faith in Jesus Christ!
Did the reformers ever teach this? One of the main scripture translations they used was called the Latin Vulgate. It was the Bible translated into Latin around 400 AD. With the translation came Jeromes commentary. And he wrote on comment on Romans 10:3 that says: “Deus ex sola fide justificat: “God justifies by faith alone.” There’s no doubt the reformers read these words as they studied Romans, and right their were the words Sola Fide.
It was important because the church was not teaching Faith Alone! They were teaching some kind of mixture of believing and working. Believe but you have to attend Mass. Believe but give your money. The Reformers said, that’s NOT in the Bible and they were right!
Its important today because some people are still teaching Faith AND something else. Faith and good deeds. Faith and baptism.
But the Bible says Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. And Rom 4:5 But to him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. We are Saved Through Faith Alone!
2. But we are also saved by Grace Alone. Sola Gratia! Is this a biblical doctrine? You decide: Ac 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, …
Ro 4:16 Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; …
Ro 5:2 By whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand
Ro 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be works, then is it no more grace:
Ep 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: Ti 2:11 the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,
Ti 3:7 being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs …
Faith is how we receive Salvation, But GRACE is how its offered to us! The church in the 1400s said it was offered by grace, But they kept mixing Grace with Works making salvation something you earned. And if you earned it, its Not Grace! (ro 11:6)
Billy Graham was driving through a small southern town, he was stopped by a policeman and charged with speeding. Graham admitted his quilt, but the officersaid he had to appear in court.The judge asked, "Guilty, or not guilty?" Graham pleaded guilty, and the judge replied, "That'll be 100 dollars -- ten for every mile you went over the limit."THEN the judge recognized Billy Graham. "You violated the law,The fine must be paid--but I am going to pay it for you." He took a 100 bucks from his wallet, attached it to the ticket, then took Graham out and bought him a steak dinner! "And That," said Billy Graham, "is how God treats sinners!"
3. And Its Only By Christ we are Saved! Solus Christus!
If Mary is the Mother of God- which they taught – and if she was the co-redeemer, then Mary helped save us! But not only Mary. Because the Blood of Christ of 2000 years ago wasn’t enough, the Priests offered the Mass everyday so that you could go and have your sins cleansed again and again! They believed the bread and the wine actually became the body and blood of Christ when the priest said the Latin words: Hoc est Corpus Meum! This is my body! So the people depended on the priests for salvation, not on the Once for all death of Christ! But what does scripture say? Ac 4:12 neither is salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven… whereby we must be saved. 1Ti2:5 there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; He 12:24 to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling. It wasn’t Mary on the cross. It wasn’t the Priests who offered the sacrifice.
In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save. 'Til on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied, For every sin on Him was laid, Here in the death of Christ I live.
4 How do we know all this? Scripture Alone- Sola scriptura!
In the 1400s the tradition of the church was as important as the Bible. And traditions could change if the pope wanted to. Listen to what Martin Luther said on trial: "Since Your Majesty and lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and without teeth. Unless I am convinced by sacred Scripture or by evident reason - I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - my conscience is held captive by the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to act against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand! I can do no other. God help me!
Why did he say that? 2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: Jesus told the Pharisees: Ma 7:13 you Make the word of God of no effect through your tradition…
But even today, people want to add to scripture. Whether it’s the Book of Mormon or people adding their own legalism to the Bible. Don’t drink, don’t dance, don’t you dare play games of chance!
It’s NOT that the Bibles the ONLY authority. That’s not what Sola means here. Parents are authorities. The government has authority. The police have authority. But the ONLY Foundation for All authority is in the words of Scripture and in the Word- Jesus Christ!
5. And Lastly- To God alone be Glory! Soli Deo Gloria! Bach & Handel wrote SDG on their music. The church taught, since it was the body of Christ, it also was worthy of honor and glory. But the reformers said, No, that’s not what Scripture teaches. Listen to 1Ti 1:17 in Latin "soli Deo honor et gloria". To God alone be the Glory. The glory is not for Popes or priests. It’s not for great preachers or singers. God’s glory is not for believers. All that we do should be for the Glory of God! 1Co 10:31 Whether ye eat, or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Ph 2:11 every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 1Ti 1:17 Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.