What Are the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation?

Jul. 01, 2021 by Adriana Thompson

CTX entrance gateThe Pre-Seminary minor at Concordia University Texas allows students to expand their biblical knowledge and prepare for further study at seminary, in their church communities, and elsewhere. One of the major parts of Christian history is the Protestant Reformation.

So, What Was the Protestant Reformation?

Essentially, a former Augustinian monk named Martin Luther and his contemporaries started a protest against the unbiblical actions and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church in Europe, which launched the Protestant Reformation. At the heart of the 16th-century movement was the question of ultimate authority in the Christian Church and the life of the Christian. 

The Protestant Reformation was a call back to biblical Christianity, to acknowledge that the authority on all matters, both for the Church and believers, is God's Word alone and that sinful man is reconciled with God by faith in Christ alone.

Protestantism rejects core claims of the Catholic Church, including apostolic succession, the infallibility attributed to the pope, and the equating of the authority of church teaching and tradition with the authority of Scripture.

Out of the Reformation emerged the articulation of five essential points of doctrine known as the five solas. The five Latin statements serve as a summary of the core beliefs that separate Protestantism from Roman Catholicism.

The Five Solas

The five solas state that Christians are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed by Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.

Sola Gratia

"Grace Alone"

Salvation from the judgment and condemnation of God that every human being deserves (because we are sinners) is a gift of grace from God. It has nothing to do with human merit.

Romans 3:10-12*

As it is written:

"None is righteous, no, not one;

no one understands;

no one seeks for God.

All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;

no one does good,

not even one."

God Himself, through His Son Jesus Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, rescues all who believe in Him from His wrath. God brings people to repentance and faith in Christ because of His goodness and grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Sola Fide

"Faith Alone"

The biblical truth that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions in the world. It is not by the believer's works or efforts but by Christ's work on the cross that a person is saved.

Romans 4:4-5

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.

Christ, who lived a perfect, sinless life, willingly bore the full punishment of the wrath of God against believers. He paid the penalty in full. Therefore, those whom God brings to faith in Christ are saved because He imputes Christ's righteousness to them.

Romans 5:8-9

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.

Solus Christus

"Christ Alone"

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Salvation is found in Christ alone. No human being can forgive sins. It is Christ alone who saves.

Romans 10:9

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

Acts 4:12

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Sola Scriptura

"Scripture Alone"

2 Peter 1:21

For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The 66-book Bible is the sole authority for Christians in faith, doctrine, and practice. Sola Scriptura acknowledges the facts that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant, sufficient, without error, and the source of all truth.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Soli Deo Gloria

"To the Glory of God Alone"

Titus 3:4-5

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.

Salvation is wholly a work of God for His glory. Believers contribute nothing to their salvation. Because Christ is both Lord and Savior of believers, they are commanded to live their lives to glorify God.

John 6:44

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day."

It is God who, through His grace, moves in the sinner's heart, enabling him or her to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:31

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

*All Bible verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

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