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The Protestant Reformation started in the 16th Century when there was a breakaway from the traditional Roman Catholic Church ruled by the Pope of Rome. The man who sparked this widespread spiritual revival was a Catholic friar, named Martin Luther (10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546). The Reformation was a wake-up call to return to true Biblical faith as taught by the Holy Scriptures.

 

Through the Reformation, Martin Luther and the early Reformers made God’s Word available to the common people. Their theological convictions that emerged during the Reformation are often referred to as “The Five Pillars of the Reformation”. Each pillar or “sola” – which means “alone” or “only” in Latin – represents a fundamental Scriptural truth held by the Protestant Reformers as opposed to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The five slogans or “solas” are:

1. Sola Scriptura (“By Scripture alone”)
2. Sola Fide (“By faith alone”)
3. Sola Gratia (“By grace alone”)
4. Solo Christo (“By Christ alone”)
5. Soli Deo Gloria (“Glory to God alone”)

1. Sola Scriptura (“By Scripture alone”)

The Bible is the ultimate authority for our faith and practice. God’s Word alone is the basis of our salvation and must continue to be our guide in our daily life and conduct: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (II Tim. 3: 16-17). “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up” (Deut. 11: 18-19).

2. Sola Fide (“By faith alone”)
3. Sola Gratia (“By grace alone”)

Sinful man, left to himself, will never seek after God: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Rom. 3: 10-12). How then can anyone be saved? God’s Word provides the answer: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph 2: 8-9). We are not saved by our own merits or goodness but by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.

“It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is he who has carried it on; and if he does not finish it, it never will be complete. If there be one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost; but this is our confidence, the Lord who began will perfect” (C H Spurgeon).

4. Solo Christo (“By Christ alone”)

Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between the holy God and sinful man: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; 6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (I Tim. 2: 5-6). Only Jesus Christ Who is the perfect Lamb of God can take away the sins of the world (Jn. 1: 29).

In his epistle to the Romans, the apostle Paul spoke not only of man’s sin and penalty but also of God’s gift of salvation through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6: 23). Paul reiterated this truth in a later chapter: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10: 9). In the same vein, the apostle, writing about the salvation of both the Jews and Gentiles, declared in Acts 4: 12: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name (than Christ) under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

5. Soli Deo Gloria (“Glory to God alone”)

We have been saved by believing in God’s Word alone, by God’s grace alone, through faith in Christ alone. We must therefore give all glory to God alone. God has wrought grace in all our hearts so that we who were dead in sins and trespasses, could respond to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved (Eph. 2: 1-9).

Like Jonah of old, let us give all praise and glory to the Lord: “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jon. 2: 9). Let us honour the Lord in our daily conduct: “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10: 31). May we fully consecrate our lives “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever” – which is “the chief end of man” (Westminster Confession of Faith).

Conclusion

Today we thank God for our godly heritage which began with the Protestant Reformation. May we continue to uphold the five pillars of the Reformation which are based on God’s Word. As exhorted by the apostle Paul, let us hold fast “the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus”(II Tim. 1: 13) and “the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)” (Heb. 10: 23). Let us also, by God’s grace, “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1: 3). Amen.

– Pastor