Asked which is their favorite season, an overwhelming percentage of people will say “Fall” and this is certainly understandable. We have the return of football, awe-inspiring beautiful foliage, pumpkin spiced almost everything, the smell of burning leaves and the rare opportunity to shut down the HVAC system and open the windows. We get to pull out our favorite sweaters and sweatshirts, watch the baseball postseason and turn our thoughts to the upcoming holiday season. And what better holiday to kick off the holiday season than the one which falls on October 31st? If you thought I was referring to Halloween, then you would be wrong. This is the church newsletter after all, and I am referring to Reformation Day.
While not an official religious holiday, Reformation Day is a holiday observed by some Protestant denominations. It commemorates the October 31st in 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-Five Theses” on the door of All Saints Church in Wittenburg, Germany. These “Ninety-Five Theses” were a critique of certain practices within the Catholic Church, particularly the sale of indulgences, and a call for theological discussion and reform, sparking the Protestant Reformation. As Baptists, we are descendants of those church Reformers. Though five hundred years removed our fundamental beliefs remain unchanged from those of the Protestant Reformers.
Five Latin phrases stand as pillars and rallying cries of the Protestant Reformation, representing core beliefs and principles that guide our faith. These phrases, collectively known as the “Five Solas,” were pivotal in shaping the Protestant Reformation and continue to be foundational to our understanding of Scripture and our Christian experience. Those “Five Solas” are as follows:
1. Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) – This principle underscores the centrality and sufficiency of the Bible as the ultimate authority for Christian doctrine and practice. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
2. Sola Fide (Faith Alone) – Salvation is not achieved through our own works or efforts, but by faith in Jesus Christ alone. This principle reminds us that our faith in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection is the means through which we receive forgiveness and eternal life. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
3. Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) – Our salvation is entirely a result of God’s grace. It emphasizes that we do not merit salvation through our deeds but are solely recipients of God’s unmerited favor and love. (Also Ephesians 2:8-9)
4. Solus Christus (Christ Alone) – Jesus Christ is the exclusive mediator between God and humanity. He alone is the source of salvation, and through faith in Him, we are reconciled to God and find redemption. (John 14:6, 1 Timothy 2:5-6, 1 John 2:1-2)
5. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone) – All glory and honor belong to God alone. Only if our salvation is by grace alone will God alone receive all the glory. If there is something of our own we can claim, then we no longer boast in Christ alone. This principle reminds us to live our lives in a manner that glorifies God in all we do, acknowledging that everything we have and achieve is for His glory. (1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Corinthians 10:31)
I hope you’ll take some time this October 31st to consider Reformation Day and these “Five Solas.” I believe doing so enables us to align our beliefs and practices with the timeless truths of Scripture. As we deepen our understanding of these foundational principles, may we grow in our faith and continue to proclaim the gospel with conviction and clarity.
Deacon of the Month