The Five Solas
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For five hundred years, Protestant Christians have summed up the gospel in terms of the five “solas,” which is Latin for “only” or “alone.” And all I do in giving you this summary is add one that is implicit in the others. So, in these historical forms, I would define the gospel like this:
As revealed with final authority in Scripture alone
the gospel is the good news that
by faith alone
through grace alone
on the basis of Christ alone
for the glory of God alone
sinners have full and final joy in God alone.
All these affirmations are grounded in the Bible.
- Scripture alone is the final authority for revealing and defining the gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:9): “If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” The apostolic delivery of the gospel is final and decisive.
- By faith alone (Romans 3:28): “We hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.” Faith plus nothing is the way we receive the gift of justification.
- Through grace alone (Ephesians 2:5, 8–9): “When we were dead in our trespasses, God made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved. . . . 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.”
- On the basis of Christ alone (Hebrews 7:27): “[Christ] has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself” (see also Hebrews 9:12; 10:10). Once for all and decisively. Nothing can be added to the work of Christ to cover our sins, and that work cannot be repeated.
- For the glory of God alone (Ephesians 1:5–6): “[God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ . . . [literally] to the praise of the glory of his grace.” God saved us in such a way that there would be no human boasting (Ephesians 2:9; 1 Corinthians 1:26–31), but all would show his glory.
- Full and final joy in God alone (Psalm 16:11; 73:25–26): “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
This is the gospel as millions of Christians have thought about it for centuries, and we are happy to link arms with this great Reformation heritage: “God in Christ: The Price and the Prize of the Gospel.”
- John Piper
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