The Five Solas
Scripture Alone. When the Reformers used the words sola Scriptura they were affirming the Bible’s authority. Ultimately, neither the pope, nor the church, nor the traditions of the church, nor church councils, nor man’s feelings and ideas hold any authority over the Bible. Some sources of authority have been instituted by God such as human governments, parents, and the elders of a local church. But Scripture alone holds final authority. Therefore, if any of these other authorities depart from Biblical teaching, they are to be rejected.
Christ Alone. Any church that fails to speak about Christ in the highest regard is hardly Christian. The Reformation motto solus Christus was coined to affirm that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ alone. Christ’s sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for true salvation. Any teaching that denies this is considered a false gospel.
Grace Alone. The motto sola gratia means that if sinners are going to be saved, God alone must do it. He is not obligated to save any. God owes us nothing except just punishment for our sins. Salvation is solely by God’s grace, not the works or techniques of man in any sense. God’s independent work of the new birth releases us from our bondage to sin and raises us from the dead unto new life.
Faith Alone. The means by which sinners receive God’s free gift of salvation comes by faith alone (sola fide). Faith is not a work or merit earned by man. Rather, it is the natural and guaranteed response to God’s grace that birthed us into His kingdom.
Glory to God Alone. Each of the solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo gloria. Since salvation is all of God, He alone is to receive the credit, attention, and glory for our salvation.