Holidays (Other), Reformation Day

The Five Solas of the Protestant Deformation

Reformation Day is Saturday, October 31.

Originally published September 15, 2017

This year marks the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. October 31, 2017 will commemorate the date in 1517 when Martin Luther famously nailed his 95 theses – a list of grievances against the Catholic church for unbiblical doctrines and practices – to the door of Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Luther’s calls for reform spread quickly throughout Europe, inspiring the likes of church fathers Ulrich Zwingli (Zurich), John Calvin (Geneva), and John Knox (Scotland) to join the effort in their own locales. As they worked to address the issues raised in Luther’s document, these men codified what we know today as the “Five Solas of the Reformation,” the basis of Protestant church doctrine. The five solas are:

1. Sola Scriptura– Scripture alone is the basis for all church doctrine, belief, and practice. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. Sola Gratia– Salvation is by grace alone. It is an unmerited gift of God based solely on His goodness, not our own (because we don’t have any). (Ephesians 2:8-9)

3. Sola Fide– Salvation is through faith alone. Faith is a gift bestowed by God. We are saved only by placing that faith in Christ’s finished work on the cross, not by doing good works or by any other attempts to earn salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

4. Solus Christus– Salvation is found in Christ alone. As Acts 4:12 says, “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.”

5. Soli Deo Gloria– God saves man for God’s glory alone, and Believers are to live our lives to glorify Him alone. (Romans 11:36)

The five solas should be the foundation of the church’s orthodoxy (beliefs or doctrine) and our orthopraxy (church practices). But over the past five centuries there’s been a declension. A downgrade. The church has become deformed from the beautiful biblical portrait of a bride “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” because we’ve functionally replaced the Five Solas of the Reformation with pragmatic, and often idolatrous, solas of our own making…

No longer is Christian doctrine and practice governed strictly by sola Scriptura, especially among Christian women. Now it’s all about our own personal feelings, opinions, and life experiences. Won’t go to a church that preaches sin and repentance because it offends your sensibilities? You’ve become accepting of homosexual “marriage” because someone you love dearly has adopted that lifestyle? Believe God is in the habit of talking to people because you’ve “heard His voice”? Then you’re basing your doctrine and practices on your own feelings and experiences rather than on what the Bible says.

The Christian’s instructions for life and godliness are found in only one place: the Bible. We do not squish Christianity into the mold of what makes us happy, what we agree with, our relationships with others, or the things we’ve experienced. We start with the Bible and we bring everything else in our lives – everything we think, feel, believe, say, and do – into submission to it. If a personal feeling, opinion, or experience conflicts with Scripture, it is wrong. We don’t change Scripture to fit our perspective, we change our perspective to fit Scripture.

If you want to know what road the modern church is headed down simply pick up your Bible and turn to… the Old Testament. Especially the verses that say “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Jesus said the way to greatness was humility, servanthood, and anonymity. We want glory, recognition, and applause. God says, “walk in My ways.” We say, “I’ll consider that if it fits in with my plans, is agreeable to me, and makes me look good to others.” We “welcome” the Holy Spirit into His own church as though we own the place. We are so used to being on the throne of our own lives that we use words like “letting” or “allowing” God to do something without even realizing it. We don’t ask, “Is it pleasing to God?”, we say, “If it’s pleasing to me, it must be pleasing to God.” Goodbye soli Deo gloria. Hello soli ego gloria.

More and more, “Christians” are driven by the selfish greed of “What can God do for me?” rather than the pursuit of holiness. So-called Christian teachers who will scratch itching ears are sought out, and an abundance of hucksters are at the ready, eager to “give the people what they want” in order to make a fast buck.

These people who claim the name of Christ care nothing about following in His footsteps – or even knowing what those footsteps are – craving instead the temporal creature comforts of wealth, success, popularity, health, self esteem, and influence. They want to be told what their flesh wants to hear, and they want to believe that’s Christianity. Share in Christ’s sufferings? Never. Away with the Via Dolorosa. Lead us down the primrose path.

Spotlights. Merch. Audiences of thousands. Agents. Entourages. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the Christian celebrities from the secular. The star-struck church has created its own caste system in which biblical fidelity is measured by how many books you’ve sold, the number of attendees at your megachurch or conferences, and the size of your audience on social media. That many followers? That number of bestsellers at the Christian retail chain? She must know what she’s talking about. We’ll use her books for our women’s “Bible” study – no vetting necessary! But that 85 year old pastor who’s been faithfully expositing the Word to his rural congregation of twenty for the better part of his life? No kudos. No esteem for honorable servants of the Lord such as he. We want glitz and glam and hype and bling. We want to be cutting edge, relevant, and attractional. Because maybe – just maybe – some of that glory will rub off on us. And so it goes – we follow the latest and greatest Christian authors, bands and personalities, attracted more to their pretty faces, stylish clothes, and charisma than to sound doctrine, while Christ’s sheep, relegated to a dark corner of the sanctuary, bleat to simply be fed the Bread of Life and the Living Water.

What’s hot rightthisminute? What’s the current style, the latest trend, the fad du jour? The Church of What’s Happening Now wants to know. Whether it’s today’s Christian bestseller that simply every small group is using now, dahling, or caving to whichever way the wind is blowing today when it comes to the world’s sexual morality, if we can just ride the viral wave of the immediate we can get people in the doors, money in the offering plate, and souls into Heaven. Maybe.

Vox populi, vox Dei? Have we forgotten how uncool it was to be the only one building an ark before rain was invented? That idol worship was the latest thing going in Jeremiah’s day? That it was the crowds who cried “Crucify Him!”?

The God of the Bible is not hip and groovy. He’s seen as hopelessly out of touch with current morals and values. A doddering old fool who just can’t seem to get with the times. His holy ways are antiquated and obsolete. We’re modern and educated and wise to the ways of the world. We know better how His church and our lives should run.

Just what is it we’re building our Christian doctrine and practices on these days? ‘Cause it sure isn’t the unadulterated written Word of God and the original five solas. Maybe it’s time we took a good hard look at how far we’ve slidden in the last five hundred years. How far we’ve strayed from the purity of Scripture and doctrine the Reformers worked so hard for, were imprisoned and persecuted for, were martyred for.

Maybe it’s time for another Reformation.


Additional Resources:

Why We’re Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation by Nate Pickowicz

What was the Protestant Reformation? at Got Questions

5 Questions and the 5 Solas at The Cripplegate

Favorite Finds

Favorite Finds: June 9, 2020

 

Here are a few of my favorite online finds…

 

“Behind the storyline of Scripture is the story of how God, in his providence, gave his words to us. When God spoke, he ensured that it would be preserved through a process of writing, collecting, copying, translating, and printing. After thousands of years, the Scripture that began with the breath of God now comes to us in the Book that is worthy of our supreme trust.” Check out this fascinating article from Dirk Jongkind, How We Got the Bible: The Great Story of Sacred Scripture.

 

 

Here’s an informative and helpful infographic from Crossway, How do you read the Bible? “When do you read the Bible? How often? What portions of Scripture do you tend to gravitate toward, and are there particular extra-biblical resources you use alongside your Bible to help you process and study it? We surveyed over 6,000 people to learn about Bible study habits. In some cases, the results were quite convicting.”

 

Parents of older kids, do you have a prodigal- a child who has chosen worldliness over godliness, sin over the Savior? Hey, About Your Prodigal by our friend Michael Coughlin over at Things Above Us will bring you a great deal of peace and comfort as he walks us through the Scriptures that show us how to cope, and that God knows what it’s like to be the Father of prodigals too.

 

 

Freebie time! The good people at Monergism “believe the Church should have open access to Scripturally/Theologically sound edifying Christian literature and that one need not be held back from having a significant Christian library because of cost.” And so they offer us 575 Free eBooks Listed Alphabetically by Author. That should give all of us plenty to read for a while!

 

Here’s a brief, yet instructive video from WordBoard on Mark 2:20, What Is the Point of Fasting?


The resources listed above are not to be understood as a blanket endorsement for the websites on which they appear, or of everything the author or subject of the resource says or does. I do not endorse any person, website, or resource that conflicts with Scripture or the theology outlined in the Statement of Faith and Welcome tabs at the top of this page.
1&2 Peter Bible Study

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 13- Wrap Up

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Wrap Up

As we wrap up our study today, think about the things God has taught you through His Word and how you might apply them to your life.

Questions to Consider

1. Was there anything new God taught you in this study that particularly impacted you? What was it, and why was it so significant?

2. How is your walk with the Lord different after this study than it was before?

3. How has this study helped you to prepare for living as a Christian under persecution? Are there any practical steps you are taking as a result?

4. What have you learned about false teachers from this study? How will you apply this to your personal spiritual life or to your church life?

5. What have you learned from this study about the sufficiency of Scripture, suffering, the church, baptism, and submission to authority?

6. Have there been any passages or concepts in this study that God used to convict you of disobedience and lead you to repentance? How will you walk differently in this area from now on?

7. What have you learned about God and His nature and character from this study?


Homework

Spend some time in prayer this week asking God to show you how to put into practice one thing you learned from this study.

Recite all of your memory verses from this study. Which one is most meaningful to you right now?

1&2 Peter Bible Study

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 12

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Read 2 Peter 3

Questions to Consider

1. Read verse 1, noticing the words “beloved” and “sincere mind”. What do these words tell you about how Peter regarded his audience as opposed to…say…how Paul regarded the Galatian Christians?

2. Compare verses 1-3 with Jude 17-19. What does it mean for someone to be a “scoffer”? Make a list of all the words and phrases Peter and Jude use to describe scoffers. Do these words and phrases sound like they are describing lost people or saved people? Examine 2 Peter 2 (or lesson 11, link above) and the remainder of Jude – which words and phrases indicate that some scoffers are false converts (people who claim to be and/or believe themselves to be saved, but aren’t)?

Describe a prototypical lost person (makes no claim to be a Christian) scoffer. Describe a prototypical false convert scoffer. (These might be people you know personally, celebrities, authors, etc.) What’s something you might say, or a question you might ask each of these people as a lead-in to a gospel conversation?

3. Verse 4- What are the scoffers scoffing about? Have you ever heard a lost person scoff at or ridicule this? Read verses 5-7. How does Peter address the argument the scoffers make? What does it mean that they “deliberately overlook” the facts Peter lays out in 5-7? Explain why, in order for a scoffer to hold an anti-biblical view (evolution, abortion, egalitarianism, sexual perversion, etc.), she must first “deliberately overlook” biblical facts or “suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

4. Examine verses 5-13. What is the main topic this passage deals with? How does Peter compare and contrast God’s creation (and first destruction) of the earth with His final destruction of the earth? In what ways will the final destruction be like the first destruction (the Flood)? What does this have to do with the return of Christ (4)?

5. Have you ever been in a situation in which a scoffer made an argument that seemed plausible, or asked a question you couldn’t answer (ex: If God is so good and so powerful, why does He allow evil and suffering?), and you knew she was wrong, but you didn’t know what the biblical answer was? Did you feel confused and anxious? That’s kind of the situation Peter’s audience is in here. Explain each of the components of Peter’s answer to the scoffers’ argument:

5-7-

8-10-

11-13-

How would Peter’s answer to the scoffers’ argument have set the minds of his audience at ease, brought them comfort, and given them hope?

6. Read verses 8, 9, and 15a together. Compare and contrast our impatience for the Lord’s return with His patience toward the world. Why is the Lord taking so long – from our perspective – to come back?

7. Using your cross-references, what does verse 9 teach us about the heart of God toward the unregenerate?

8. Examine verses 11-18. “What sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness” considering that Christ could return at any moment? Make a list of the instructions Peter gives us for the way we should live as we await the Lord’s return:

Be sure to…                                                  Be sure NOT to…

 

 

 


Homework

Second Peter 3:8 is often used by Old Earth Creationists and Theistic Evolutionists as a prooftext to explain how God could have taken millions of years to create the earth. Examining this verse in the entire context of chapter 3, is that what Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, intended when he wrote this verse? What was he intending to convey when he wrote this? Explain why it’s important to always use verses in their right context when building doctrine, claiming promises, supporting an argument, applying Scripture to our personal circumstances, etc.


Suggested Memory Verse

Be sure to come back next week as we wrap up
Living Stones: A Study of 1&2 Peter!

 

1&2 Peter Bible Study

Living Stones: A Study of 1 & 2 Peter ~ Lesson 11

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10

Read 2 Peter 2

Questions to Consider

1. Examine the first half of verse 1. Using your cross references and these passages, which “people” did false prophets arise among? Who were some of these false prophets? Were false prophets/teachers only an Old Testament problem? What are the similarities between Old Testament false prophets and New Testament false teachers? If false teachers were a problem in the New Testament church –  while the apostles were still around teaching the church in person and writing Holy Spirit inspired Scripture to them – do you think false teachers might still pose a problem in the church today?

2. Examine verses 1-3. Explain, in your own words…

a) what false teachers will do

b) how people will respond to false teachers

c) how people will be affected by false teachers

d) what will happen to false teachers.

Look closely at the phrase “denying the Master who bought them” (1b). Does this verse indicate that someone who is genuinely saved can lose her salvation, or does it indicate that this person is either a false convert or a fraud? Compare this phrase with “Their condemnation from long ago is not idle” (3b), and these passages. Explain what the Bible says about false converts and the spiritual condition of those who claim and appear to be Christians, yet teach a false gospel.

3. Examine verses 4-10a. This is a very long sentence. Take note of where the sentence begins and where it ends. This is also an “if/then” sentence: If X happens, then Y will happen. Chart out the “ifs” and the “then” in this sentence (it may also help to chart out the “buts” to distinguish them from the “ifs” and the “then”):

        If…                               (But…)                                Then…

(4a)-                              (4b)-                                      (9)-

(5a)-                              (5b)-

(6)-

(7)-

(If you have time, go back to the Old Testament stories of Noah and Lot to refresh your memory on the details of these events.) What are the examples Peter cites in 4-8 that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (9a)? What are the examples in 4-8 that the Lord knows how to “keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (9b)? In your own words summarize the point Peter is making in this passage.

4. Read 10b-11. Who are “the glorious ones”? (10b) (Don’t forget to use your footnotes and cross-references.) Explain the comparison Peter is making between false teachers and angels in terms of attitude, audacity, power, and position. Who exercises better “common sense” (for lack of a better term) and more fear of the Lord?

5. Examine verses 12-19. Think about the false teachers you’re familiar with (or explore some at the “Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and explain the metaphors Peter uses for false teachers in this passage- how are false teachers like “irrational animals” (12), “blots and blemishes” (13), “waterless springs” and “mists driven by a storm” (17)?

In this passage, list all of the…

a) false teacher’s motives

b) false teacher’s sins

c) false teacher’s actions

d) consequences for false teachers

e) ways false teachers impact their followers

Read the story of Balaam and explain what Peter means in verses 15-16.

6. Read verses 20-22 in light of what you studied in question 1 about losing one’s salvation versus being a false convert:

Look closely at 20-22, and look at the phrase “denying the Master who bought them” (1b). Do these verses indicate that someone who is genuinely saved can lose her salvation, or does it indicate that this person is either a false convert or a fraud? Compare this phrase with “Their condemnation from long ago is not idle” (3b), and these passages. Explain what the Bible says about false converts and the spiritual condition of those who claim and appear to be Christians, yet teach a false gospel.

Why is it better for someone “never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back”? (21) Compare with these Scriptures. Have you ever known someone who lived life as a “Christian” for a while and then “left the faith” altogether? How often does someone like that later get genuinely saved?

7. Briefly review from lesson 10 (link above), Peter’s emphasis on the supremacy of the written Word over and above personal experiences, and answer this question: Why do you think Peter referred back to the Old Testament so many times in this chapter instead of telling his audience anecdotes about a false teachers he knew of at various New Testament churches?

8. In this chapter, does Peter make it sound like false teachers are rare or no big deal? Imagine you’re Peter and a reporter is interviewing you. She says, “Peter, tell me about the problem of false teachers in the church.” How would you answer?


Homework

a) Read 2 Peter 2 and the book of Jude side by side. What similarities do you notice? What differences? Why was it so important to warn the early church about false teachers?

b) You may wish to read my article Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?


Suggested Memory Verse