Guest post by Todd Warden-Owen; musician, comic-book lover, volunteer youth worker and administrator for Llandudno Youth For Christ. Check out more at www.llandudnoyfc.com
Now by the title, despite the picture above, I don’t really mean ‘solar powered’ like the pictured superhero; but rather ‘sola powered’, referring to the five solas of the Protestant Reformation.
‘What are the five solas?’ – I hear you say.
The 5 solas, or solae of the Protestant Reformation are a foundational set of Biblical principles held by theologians and churchmen to be central to the doctrine of salvation as taught by the Western Protestant church. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only” and the corresponding 5 ‘solas’ 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.
Although they were often used by Reformers in the 16th century in their writings and speech, such as when Philip Melanchthon wrote in 1554 “sola gratia justificamus et sola fide justificamur“(“only by grace do we justify and only by faith are we justified”), they were never formally compiled or grouped together until the 20th century. A great example of this compiling of the ‘solas’ is in The Cambridge Declaration of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (1996).
Recently at ‘Redefine’, our Sunday evening youth Bible Study, we had a look at the 5 ‘Solas’ as part of an evening themed around the idea of survival and what do we need as essential for survival; a question often posed and answered in demonstration by people such as Bear Grylls.
It was a fun night, and we really wanted to see the young people grapple with what the essentials of the Christian faith are, hence a look at the ‘solas’.
They are a great way of summing up essentials in the Christian faith.
Faith alone (Sola Fide): Justification: being put right with God is received by faith alone, without any need for good works. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura): The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behaviour must be measured. The Bible can and is to be interpreted through itself, with one area of Scripture being useful for interpreting others. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Christ alone (Solus Christus): Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man, and there is salvation through no other. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father. (Hebrew 10:12-14)
Grace alone (Sola Gratia): Salvation comes to us by divine grace alone, not as the results of anything we have earned or merit. It is given by “unmerited favour”. This means that salvation is an unearned gift from God for Jesus’ sake.
Glory to God alone (Soli Deo Gloria): All glory is to be due to God alone, since salvation is God’s gift and work. Our lives as a response of God’s great gift of making us right with himself through the death of His Son Jesus, is to live lives that bring glory to Him (1 Cor 10:31).
That is the 5 solas very briefly summed up, I must say.
The reason I tilted this post ‘sola powered’ and put the picture of ‘Superman’ at the top was because it was catchy, but also to get us thinking of the parallels the metaphor presents.
‘Superman’ gets his great strength and abilities from how his Kryptonian physiology metabolises solar energy – he is quite literally ‘solar powered’. As Christians, we get our strength, encouragement, gifts, in fact, all we need for life and godliness from or because of Jesus (Phil 4:13, 2 Thess 2:16, Eph 4:7, 2 Pet 1:3). Jesus is God’s great gift to all mankind. Jesus is our source. He is our sole provider; to quote the Parachute Band’s song ‘Amazing‘. We are ‘sola powered’, referring to the 5 ‘solas’ as explained briefly above. Our strength and provision comes from God, and God alone.
We are not like Superman empowered by the sun, but are rather empowered by the Son.
“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” Heb 1:3.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Cor 3:18.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Col 1:15-20
Let us thank God for sending His Son Jesus.
Let us thank God for giving us His precious Word.
Let us trust in and rely on Christ’s strength in and through our lives.
Let us live lives that bring glory to God alone, responding in faith to His great grace towards and for us.