What do old church doors, credit cards that pay for sins, and ten Latin words have to do with each other? They’re all tied to the spark of the Reformation (whose 500th anniversary is coming up this month!). Learn about the Five Solas and why the matter for you today in this blog post!
What’s Reformation Day?
Reformation Day, AKA Halloween is the day that Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg Church Door. I admit that sounds kind of random. Some guy writes 95 things and sticks them to a door – and we have a whole day to celebrate that?
Yeah, we do. Because that was the spark of the Reformation.
So, what were these 95 theses anyway?
The Theses were basically his way of protesting the Church’s selling of indulgences (in short, you could buy forgiveness from your sins for cash!)
“Indulgences are most pernicious because they induce complacency and thereby imperil salvation. Those persons are damned who think that letters of indulgence make them certain of salvation. God works by contraries so that a man feels himself to be lost in the very moment when he is on the point of being saved. …Man must first cry out that there is no health in him… When man believes himself to be utterly lost, light breaks. Peace comes in the word of Christ through faith.”
– Martin Luther
In short, Luther was saying that thinking God forgives you through paying money to the church is dangerous because you get complacent and it’s not about seeing your sin and turning to Jesus but just swiping a credit card to be forgiven. Of course, credit cards weren’t invented until the 1950s ?
So that’s what Reformation Day is all about.
What were the Five Solas?
The Five Solas were the five basic teachings of the Reformers.
And they are:
- Scripture Alone (our highest authority is in the Bible, not tradition or the Pope)
- Faith Alone (we aren’t saved by our works, but simply by faith in Christ’s work)
- Christ Alone (we are saved by Christ alone)
- Grace Alone (all of our salvation is grace alone)
- Glory to God Alone (salvation is for God’s glory and as Christians, we are called to live to glorify him alone)
For the rest of these ebook, I’ll try to write on each of these Solas and the relevance they have to us as young people.
WHAT IS SCRIPTURE ALONE?
So what does Scripture alone mean? And on the other hand, what does it not mean?
- Scripture alone is our ultimate authority
- Anything that contradicts Scripture isn’t true
And it doesn’t mean…
- Traditions don’t matter. They do! Traditions are important and helpful (as long as they’re in line with Scripture!), but Scripture is our authority.
- Everything we could know is in the Bible. The Bible has everything necessary to know for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), but it doesn’t clearly explain less important issues (because they’re less important!). The big point of the Bible is Jesus – seeing our sin, seeing Jesus our Savior, and turning from our sins day by day.
SO WHY DOES SCRIPTURE ALONE MATTER FOR TEENS?
- Scripture is our authority. We have a solid ground and we know how God wants us to live. This book is God’s very words to us.
- As teens, we have the absolute truth revealed from God himself in Scripture.
- Jesus – his life, death, and resurrection for us – is made clear through Scripture. We see the gospel clearly as teens in Scripture – God’s love for sinners like us that we might live for him.
To summarize, Scripture is our authority and absolute truth and God’s gift to us – showing us Christ and his death and resurrection for us.
It is not written, “He that believeth on Jesus nine parts out of ten, and on himself for the other tenth.” No! “Whosoever believeth on him”−on him alone. Jesus will never be a part Saviour. We must not rest in part upon what we hope to do in the future, nor in part upon the efficacy of an outward ceremony. No! The faith must be “on him.” – Spurgeon
“I must listen to the gospel. It tells me not what I must do, but what Jesus Christ the Son of God has done for me.” – Martin Luther
The gospel isn’t about us or our decision.
It’s completely about Jesus alone. He didn’t save us because of how special and wonderful we are. He saved us despite everything about us.
We trust in Christ and Christ alone, and nothing else. We can’t trust in ourselves, our works, our decision, outward ceremonies, or anything else but Him.
We simply look to Jesus, the author, and finisher of our faith. He saved us alone.
He alone saved us because he wanted to. God could have just as easily not not sent his Son. He decided to because he decided to.
We had no reason to be saved. But God saved us.
We hated God. But he loved us to the point of death.
We rejected Him. But he chose us.
We can rest in Christ. He has redeemed us from our slavery. Our salvation is complete and finished. Jesus paid it all. And nothing can separate us from him. (Romans 8:38-39).
As we go through life, we know that we have Jesus on our side – who loves us, guides us, and will ultimately bring us home.
Jesus died for you. The author of life itself was murdered for you. And your salvation is found in Him alone.
“So he [Paul in Titus 3:5-7] discards all boasted free will, all human virtue, righteousness, and good works. He concludes that they are all nothing and are wholly perverted, however brilliant and worthy they may appear, and teaches that we must be saved solely by the grace of God, which is effective for all believers who desire it from a correct conception of their own ruin and nothingness… Our salvation must exist, not in our righteousness, but…in Christ’s righteousness. …Let his righteousness and grace, not yours, be your refuge.”
– Martin Luther
When God sent his Son, he didn’t send his Son to rescue awesome, deserving, wonderful people. He came to rescue people utterly undeserving, God-hating, and depraved.
You see, the only reason we’re Christians is grace.
We all hated God and if he didn’t love us first, we’d still refuse him.
God saved us out of love for us undeserving creatures, not out of seeing anything great in us.
He chose us.
Grace that showed us the law, that showed us how screwed up we are, and how sweet God’s grace is through the murder of his Son for us.
Faith or works?
A gift…or a decision?
What is faith? Is it our work?
We are justified by faith in Christ.
And this faith is simply the gift of God.
It’s not our decision to be saved; it’s God’s decision to save us.
And faith is a gift.
We can’t boast in ourselves.
We boast in Christ who gave us the very grace to have faith.
To the Glory of God Alone
God has surely promised His grace to the humbled: that is, to those who mourn over and despair of themselves. But a man cannot be thoroughly humbled till he realizes that his salvation is utterly beyond his own powers, counsels, efforts, will and works, and depends absolutely on the will, counsel, pleasure and work of Another — God alone.
Why did God create us, save us, and love us?
For his glory.
Everything he has created is created to glorify him and everything he has created is to his glory.
He created us for his own glory, loved us, chose us, sent his Son to die for us, all for his glory.
We exist, we live for, our purpose is to glorify and worship and enjoy the God who came to earth to be murdered for us to justify us.
And that’s why the Reformation matters 500 years later.
Soli Deo Gloria