First and foremost, Protestant Christianity is about the Word of God – the Bible. Protestants have all manner of customs, traditions, and ecclesiastical authority structures; but at the end of the day, the highest and final court of appeal in any and every issue related to faith and practice is, and must always be, the Word of God. The Bible is the ONLY safe, reliable, and infallible guide in understanding the character and ways of our Holy God. It is fully sufficient to supply everything we need for our salvation and growth. For a brief statement on the reliability of the Bible, see:
THE CHICAGO STATEMENT ON BIBLICAL INERRANCY.
For a brief post from me on why I am not Roman Catholic, see Why I am NOT a Romanist.
The Five ‘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 teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. “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.
We reaffirm the inerrant Scripture to be the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. We deny 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.
- “…from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (1 Tim 3:15-17)
- “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (Is 8:20)
We reaffirm that our salvation is accomplished by the mediatorial work of Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.
We deny that the gospel is preached if Christ’s substitutionary work is not declared and faith in Christ and his work is not solicited.
- “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
- “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 5:36)
- “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
- “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5)
We reaffirm that in salvation we are rescued from God’s wrath by his grace alone. 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.
We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques or strategies by themselves cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerated human nature.
- 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)
- “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Tit 3:5-7)
We reaffirm that justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone. In justification Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us as the only possible satisfaction of God’s perfect justice.
We deny that justification rests on any merit to be found in us, or upon the grounds of an infusion of Christ’s righteousness in us, or that an institution claiming to be a church that denies or condemns sola fide can be recognized as a legitimate church.
- “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Rom 5:1-2)
- “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:17)
- “But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” (Gal 3:11)
Soli Deo Gloria
We reaffirm 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. We deny 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.
- “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Pet 4:11)
- “To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:25)
- “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Tim 1:17)
- “…every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:11)
- “…whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor 10:31)
- “To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.” (Rom 16:27)