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From Your Pastor’s Heart: 5 Solas

Categories: Pastors Blog

Romans 1:17 says: “For in it (the Gospel, v. 16) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is
written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).’”

This verse was the key that unlocked salvation for a 16th century Catholic priest named Martin Luther. Luther
had been trapped in a cycle of despair over his own sin and his inability to find righteousness through the
works prescribed by the Catholic Church. He spent countless hours in confession, only to turn right around to
confess something else he had forgotten. One time his confessor, Johann von Staupitz, sent him away telling
him, “If you expect Christ to forgive you, come in with something to forgive.” Luther felt crushed beneath the
demands of works based righteousness. His guilt was always with him. He never felt good enough for God.

In his regular study of scripture he came upon Romans 1:17. Here he found the answer he had been searching
for, “The righteous will live by FAITH.” By FAITH! Not by works! Faith meant trusting in the redemptive work of
Christ on the Cross. This realization opened Luther’s eyes to God’s grace and to the corruption of the Catholic
Church, the only church he knew. He became deeply troubled with the Church’s unbiblical teaching on
salvation seen in a fund raising tactic, the selling of indulgences. An indulgence was a certificate from the
Church that was being sold to fund the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. The certificate granted freedom from the
consequences of sin, like a “get out of jail” card. The parishioners were being told that it would save
themselves or their loved ones from eternal punishment. There was even a jingle, “As soon as the coin in the
coffer rings, the soul from Purgatory springs”. Luther hated this. The Church was selling salvation! Luther
confronted the corruption by writing out 95 statements or theses arguing against this practice and posted
them on the door of the church in Wittenberg, where he lived. That was like putting a flyer on a community
bulletin board.

They were written in Latin, which was not the common language, and few people understood or were
interested. It was not long though until the owner of the local printing press, in need of something to publish
for the masses, translated the 95 theses into the common language of German, printed them, and began to
distribute them. They went viral. Within 10 days they were being distributed in Spain. It was like striking a
match on dry tinder.

From this priest’s protest, Protestantism was born. This year we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the
Protestant Reformation on October 31st. This month we will be looking at 5 teachings that were given birth
during those momentous days and have shaped the Protestant Church ever since. They are called the 5 Solas:

Sola Scripture – Scripture Alone (10/01)
Sola Fide – Faith Alone (10/08)
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone (10/15)
Solus Christus – Christ Alone (10/22)