What are the five solas?

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By BibleAsk Team


What are the Five Solas? 

The Five Solas are five Latin phrases that came from the Protestant Reformation. “Sola” is Latin meaning “alone” or “only.” The five solas reflect the doctrines of justification and salvation. The Reformation started in the late fourth century in protest against certain aspects of Roman Catholic doctrines and practices. The Reformers weren’t trying to attack the Catholic Church but only to bring it in line with the Scriptures. The five solas are: 

1. Sola scriptura: “Scripture alone” 
2. Sola fide: “faith alone” 
3. Sola gratia: “grace alone” 
4. Solo Christo: “Christ alone” 
5. Soli Deo gloria: “to the glory of God alone”  

Sola Scriptura  

This phrase stresses that Scripture must rule over church traditions and interpretations because it is the only source of infallible truth. Therefore, it should govern the conscience. No one should go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6).  

Reformers declared that the Bible alone is “inspired by God” (2 Peter 1:20-21) and “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Based on this principle the Reformers translated the Bible into other languages. This act was opposed by the Roman Catholic Church, which insisted that the Bible remains in the Latin language. 

Sola Fide  

This phrase stands for salvation as a free gift from God to all who receive it by faith (John 1:12). Salvation is not gained by works (Romans 5:1). For “man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28; 1:17). But the Roman Catholic Church stressed the use of indulgences to buy merit with God. And they also taught that good deeds must be done in order to gain salvation. 

Sola Gratia  

This phrase means that salvation comes by divine grace or “unmerited favor” only, not as something merited by the sinner. The Bible declares, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God gives the grace and man accepts it. It is through the act of entrusting ourselves to the Lord that we are saved, not that faith is the means of our salvation, but simply the channel (Romans 4:3). But the Roman Catholic doctrine of the means of Grace is a mixture of dependence upon the grace of God and in the merits of one’s own deeds.

Solo Christo (or Solus Christus)

This phrase means salvation is “by Christ alone.” His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for man’s justification and reconciliation to the Father (John 14:6). Man’s redemption is completed by the mediatorial work of Christ alone. “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).  

The Protestant Reformers stressed the Bible teaching that Christ serves as the “high Priest” who intercedes for the believer before the Father. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). But the Roman Catholic Church teaches that priests, Mary, and canonized saints serve as mediators between the believers and God.  

Soli Deo Gloria  

This phrase means glory to God alone since He alone atoned for man’s sins (1 Peter 2:24). It stresses the glory of God as the believer’s aim (1 Corinthians 15:28; Isaiah 43:7). “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This phrase stands in opposition to the veneration done to Mary, the mother of Jesus, the saints, and angels that is carried out in the Roman Catholic Church. And it excludes the canonized saints of the Roman Catholic Church, the popes, and the ecclesiastical hierarchy as not worthy of the glory that is bestowed upon them by men. We should not exalt humans for their good deeds for men’s works are as “filthy rages” (Isaiah 64:6), but rather give all glory to God alone for His perfect love and sacrificial death (John 3:16). 

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