by The Rev. George Borghardt
<“Sola” means “alone.” Solus Christus. Sola gratia. Sola fide. Sola scriptura. Christ alone, Grace alone. Faith alone. Scripture alone.
But no sola ever goes alone. Together they sum up the teachings of the Reformation. Christ’s death alone saves you by grace alone – that is, gift alone. All that He did for you on the Cross is received by faith alone. And it is certain because it flows from Scripture alone.
All together. No sola by itself. They are always together! Pull them apart and everything goes wrong! Seriously wrong – as in life and death wrong.
You’d think solus Christus could stand on it’s own, right? But you’d be wrong! Without sola gratia, sola fide, and sola scriptura, Christ doesn’t do you any good. If Christ is not delivered to you by grace alone, if He is not received for you by faith alone, then you are lost. And His Cross does us no good unless the Word is put into our ears.
“Grace alone” all by itself is no good either! Without the other solas we are left with an uncertain religion that says God is merciful to us apart from Christ and His Cross. It’s called “universalism.” You may not know the name, but you know the game. Universalism is the false belief that God – whatever “God” there is – is like an old grandpa who loves you just because you are you. He knows you do bad stuff, but still… He just can’t help loving you.
You know better. The truth about your sins troubles you. You know there is nothing save-able about you – nothing that God would find lovable. There is no comfort in grace alone apart from Christ, faith, and the Word. Grace all by itself isn’t grace at all – it’s slavery and uncertainty.
Sola fide all by itself is a nightmare called “fideism.” It’s believing in your believing. All you need is faith – just a bit. Muster it up, and you can move mountains. But do you have enough faith to save yourself? You don’t. You know it. I know it. Your faith in your believing won’t save you.
Have you ever heard the expression, “The Bible says it, I believe it and that’s it?” No, that is not it. Scripture all by itself is “fundamentalism.” Apart from grace alone and faith alone – apart from Christ – the Scriptures are nothing but a closed book. There may be interesting history and a good guide to living, but you won’t find comfort, peace, or eternal life. No, the Scriptures testify of solely of Christ (St. John 5:39).
Of course, we can deceive ourselves and think that God is like grandpa, or that our believing is enough, or that by obeying every last rule of the Scriptures, that God will love us and then save us. People will pay, pray, or do anything to get heaven. Who wouldn’t? Churches have been built on less.
The true Church, the one that the gates of Hades will not overcome, is built on Christ alone (grace alone) who saves us not by what we do or how much we believe but by faith alone. You can depend on that, you can die for that, cause it’s built on the Scriptures alone.
But you don’t have to die Christ already died for you. His death for your sins. His life for your eternal life. He saves you not because you deserve it, but despite what you have done. Not by good or bad works, but by the antithesis of all your works – He saves you sola gratia. Too good to be true? Can’t bring yourself to believe it? That’s why salvation is sola fide.
That’s the Gospel. Salvation is by the Cross alone, that’s grace alone, through faith alone. This is certain because it flows from Scripture alone. solo Christo. sola gratia. sola fide. sola scriptura. No sola goes alone.