These so-called FIVE solas are stated as follows:
Scripture alone (sola Scriptura)
Grace alone (sola gratia)
Faith alone (sola fide)
Christ alone (solus Christus)
Glory to God alone (soli Deo gloria)
What do these five words mean to us today?
- Scripture only: The Bible is the inspired, infallible and inerrant Word of God, and it is the only rule and authority for faith and practice. This means that we endeavour to submit unconditionally to everything the Bible teaches (2 Tim. 3:16).
- Grace only: We can only be saved from sin and its consequences by the renewing work of the Holy Spirit. This manifestation of God’s sovereign goodness to sinners, which excludes all human merit or good works, the Bible calls the grace of God (Eph. 2:8). Grace is usually defined as unmerited favour or God not treating us as our sins deserve. But grace is something more than this because God, in His grace, lavishes upon us the very opposite of what our sins deserve. Where our sin merits nothing other than judgement, God, for Christ’s sake, grants pardon and life in abundance as a free gift [Rom.6: 23]. Our salvation then resides in God’s sovereign will alone, meaning that from beginning to end, it is God’s free mercy and grace bestowed upon those who actually deserve His wrath. There is, therefore, absolutely nothing residing in man, no inherent righteousness, which somehow causes God to look favourably upon him. Were it not for God’s unmerited grace, then, all of us without exception would perish in hell.
- Faith only: Salvation is not the result of our own accomplishments or works, but is obtained only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement accomplished on Calvary’s cross. By faith in the perfect obedience of Christ we become righteous before God, trusting only in the finished work of Christ (Heb. 4:2).
- Christ only: The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), who has made an effective, complete and final atonement for sin. Therefore He is the only One through whom we can be reconciled with our Creator, whom we have offended by our sins. OnlyChrist’s perfect sacrifice and righteousness are acceptable to God (John 14:6), and through Him we have direct access to God [Eph.2:18].
- Glory to God only: The primary purpose of our existence is to live to God’s glory, which therefore is the primary purpose of our salvation. This means that all honour and glory for our salvation must be given to Godalone (Rev. 7:12).
- In contrast to the above, the Roman Catholic Church teaches:
- that Scripture alone is not sufficient, but Scripture AND tradition [therefore, we are to submit to the Scriptures and the traditions of the church];
- that faith alone is not enough to save, but faith and good works [our good works add to our salvation];
- that it is not by God’s unconditional grace alone that we are saved but grace AND human merit [my goodness in some way causes God to act favourably towards me]
- that Christ alone does not save, but Christ AND Mary, Christ AND the intercession of the saints
- that glory does not belong to God alone but to God, the saints, the church and the hierarchy.