Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The 5 “Solas” of the Protestant Reformation

Imagine a world gone mad; run by powerful dictators insanely exercising power over your daily life. Your government representatives have to pay homage to these malignant ogres and kowtow to their wishes. Even your Kings and Monarchs bow down to them. What if an official of this system, lacking in character, integrity, and virtue of any description had control over your spiritual and material well-being? What if he even controlled the destiny of your very “soul”?

No, I’m not referring to the Obama czars … I’m speaking of a system of rule that existed in Europe from AD 538 to AD 1798 (approx.). We call it; the Dark Ages.

The individual Priest could demand payment for forgiveness of sins, demand possession of your daughter’s virginity, or stop you from earning a wage.

[See here for additional study]

Such was the norm when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the castle church door at Wittenberg, Germany.

The resulting reformation declaration against this abusive Catholic/Beast system became know as the 5 Solas. It has been said that this single set of statements, derived directly from the study of scripture, is the best description of the original Apostolic teaching ever generated by man!

They are as follows:

1. Sola Scriptura (Bible Alone) – The reformers declared the Bible to be the only rule of faith and practice. They believed that God had made a revelation to men in written form in the Bible. They taught that the Bible was inspired by God and authoritative, and that it took precedence over the declarations of popes, church tradition and church councils. The Bible, hitherto written in Latin and read only by the clergy, was translated anew into the vernacular tongues of Europe and made a book of the people. Thus, the development of great Reformation Bibles culminating in the Authorized King James Version in the English language also came about because of this cardinal doctrine.

In other words, if you are confused over a denomination’s rules and statements, the Bible is the sole arbiter.

In the Roman Catholic Church, this teaching authority is given to man and is referred to as the Magisterium, understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the pope. (scripture can be interpreted by clergy only)

2. Solus Christus (Christ Alone) – Salvation is located not in the church which is an organization, but in the person which is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ actually secured and procured the salvation of all who are saved by grace through faith in Christ alone. (and this "grace" is a free gift)

This principle rejects "sacerdotalism," which is the belief that there are no sacraments in the church without the services of priests ordained by apostolic succession under the authority of the pope.

3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) – The reformers believed that salvation was caused totally by God’s grace. Man is not saved by works but by God’s grace in Christ. No man deserves salvation; and if he is saved it is because of God’s unconditional grace.

4. Sola Fide (Faith Alone) – Faith alone is consistent with God’s grace in calling to salvation. Thus, the reformers taught that salvation was appropriated by faith alone. Good works could not save but only Christ can save those who believe in Him. Any and every person who trusts the Saviour will be saved, but even that person’s faith is a gift from God.

In Catholic theology righteous works are considered meritorious toward salvation in addition to faith, whereas in Protestant theology, righteous works are seen as the result and evidence of a truly Justified and Regenerate believer who has received these by Faith Alone. The actual effectual means by which a person receives Justification is also a fundamental division between Catholic and Protestant belief. In Catholic theology, the means by which Justification is applied to the soul is the Sacrament of Baptism. In Baptism, even of infants, the grace of Justification and Sanctification is "infused" into the soul, making the recipient Justified even before he has exercised his own faith (or indeed in the case of an infant who is baptized, before he even has the ability to consciously understand the Gospel and respond with faith). In Catholic theology, faith is not a prerequisite to Justification. For the Catholic, baptism functions "ex operere operato" or "by the working of the act", and thus is the efficient and sufficient act to bring about Justification.

In Protestant theology, however the Faith of the individual is absolutely necessary and is itself the efficient and sufficient response of the individual that effects Justification.

You must decide which teaching is more biblical. As for me, I know that my works aren’t good enough. I do good works only through prompting of the Holy Spirit – because of my faith. Whatever good works I do is a result of my faith.

It is very clear that Roman teaching is centered in MAN. Protestant teaching, being truer to the Apostolic faith, is centered in CHRIST.

5. Soli Deo Gloria (God’s Glory Alone) – The underlying, foundational doctrine of the reformers was that God’s glory was the ultimate purpose of all things. They held tenaciously to the doctrines of God’s sovereignty in election, predestination and the efficacious call of God in salvation, and saw how these contributed ultimately to God’s glory rather than to man’s or to the church’s.

[Note: “predestination” here means God’s knowledge of the future and what will transpire – not “predestination” as supposed by Calvinists.]

Soli Deo gloria is the teaching that all glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is accomplished solely through His will and action — not only the gift of the all-sufficient atonement of Jesus on the cross but also the gift of faith in that atonement, created in the heart of the believer by the Holy Spirit. The reformers believed that human beings - even saints canonized by the Roman Catholic Church, the popes, and the ecclesiastical hierarchy - are not worthy of the glory that was accorded them. That is that one should not exalt such humans for their good works, but rather praise and give glory to God who is the author and sanctifier of these people and their good works.

If you’ve ever wanted a set of guidelines to determine what the true gospel really says, only the Holy Spirit can give you better than the 5 Solas!

The Observer

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