The Five Solas
- Foundational Doctrines of the Faith -
as were recovered
by the 16th Century Reformers
A multi-part study series by Arthur J. Licursi
There are “Five Solas” (five Latin phrases) that were used to succinctly summarize the Biblical truths or doctrines of “the faith” of the Protestant Reformers of the 1500’s.
These key elements of “the faith” were mainly derived from the thirteen epistles that Paul, “the Apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:13) wrote to the members of the predominantly Gentile “church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a, 3:1-5). Paul laid “the foundation” of “the faith” for “the body of Christ”; that foundation is “Christ ALONE as ALL” - this is “SOLA CHRISTUS.”
The Apostle Paul received “revelations” (2Cor 12:7) by the grace of God directly from the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus (Gal 1:10-12). These “revelations” concerned the full meaning and ALL-SUFFICIENCY of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and also then of His resurrected “Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” coming to eternally indwell each of His believers as His living “temple (1Cor 3:16).
The resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Himself, from heaven, called Paul (Acts 9:3-16) to save him and give him a unique grace gospel and ministry for this age of the pure “grace of God,” which extends to this day (Eph 3:1-5).
Paul was the first to ever receive the revelation of God’s eternally planned, but previously “kept secret,” gospel message for the “body of Christ,” which concerns “…CHRIST according to… the REVELATION (unveiling) OF THE MYSTERY (God’s secret plan).”
“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to MY (Paul’s) GOSPEL, and the preaching of Jesus CHRIST, according to THE REVELATION (unveiling) OF THE MYSTERY (God’s secret plan), which was (had been) KEPT SECRET SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN” (Romans 16:25)
Paul’s purpose then was “to MAKE ALL MEN SEE what is the FELLOWSHIP OF THE MYSTERY, which from the beginning of the world HATH BEEN HID (concealed) IN GOD, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9).
The “fellowship of the mystery” that had “BEEN HID” is now REVEALED to be … “CHRIST IN YOU”; the “Spirit of Christ” indwelling each believer as their “hope (expectation) of glory” (
We today live in the time of “the dispensation of the grace of God,” (Eph 3:2), the age of God’s pure “grace,” under which men may be “SAVED BY GRACE (alone) THROUGH FAITH (alone)… THE GIFT OF GOD… NOT OF WORKS” (Eph 2:8-9). We cannot earn salvation by our good works or piety.
The “Five Solas” of the Reformers of the 16th century helped to re-establish the mostly lost foundation of Paul’s pure “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) unto eternal salvation. This all-sufficient “grace of God” is set in contrast to any good works or performance requirements that many Christian church systems set forth in order for one to be saved or to be kept saved.
Paul received his unique “gospel message” directly from the ascended Lord (Gal 1:12). Yet Paul’s grace gospel is most opposed by two factions within the Christian church-at-large today. These factions are 1) the religious legalists who perpetuate “the Law” in place of grace, and 2) the religious institutionalists who impose a mediatorial hierarchical clergy system that is set between the believers and God. These serve to obstruct the pure grace gospel for salvation of the believer and the believer’s direct relationship with God.
· From Early On: From the beginning of Paul’s ministry the truths of “the faith” were opposed by the Messianic Judaizers of the church at
. “Certain (men) came from James” (the leader of the Jerusalem church, Gal 2:12); they tried to subvert Paul’s message of “the gospel of the grace of God” that he preached “among the Gentiles” (Gal 2:2). These Judaizers clung to and maintained the tradition and ceremonial rites of the Old Testament Law that God gave Moses for the Nation of Israel only – the Law is not for the Gentiles who are “under grace” (Rom 6:14). These Judaizers tried to undermine Paul’s Gentile converts, to rob them of the liberty of Paul’s pure grace message, requiring them to be under “the Law” of works and to be “circumcised” for salvation (Act 15:1, 24). In the course of this conflict, Paul “withstood Peter to the face” for his “dissimulation” (hypocrisy, Gal 2:11-14) at that time. Jerusalem
· The 1500’s: In 313AD the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized Christian worship and then proceeded to usurp the church, to make it a branch of the
Roman Empire. The “Five Solas” of the Protestant Reformers of the 1500’s were then in stark contradistinction to the doctrines of the corrupt Roman mediatorial hierarchical clergy system that had come to power. We will cover this in more detail later.
· Today: Even today Paul’s “grace gospel” is opposed and/or marginalized by most of the religious institutions of the Christian church at large – both Roman and Protestant.
’s Roman church continues much the same today. Today’s Protestantism still has its legalist and its hierarchist; while the evangelicals have mostly become “neo-evangelicals,” straying to compromise and embrace the ways and techniques that of the world. Thus most of Christianity has largely forsaken Paul’s pure grace gospel message. This has led to the mostly irrelevant and impotent Christian “church” that we see it today. Constantine
Paul had warned Timothy, his son in the faith, of that apostasy of the “latter times,” such as we now see.
1 Timothy 1:3 As I (Paul) besought thee (Timothy) …that thou mightest charge some that they TEACH NO OTHER DOCTRINE, 4NEITHER GIVE HEED TO FABLES (MYTHS) and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying (building up) which is in faith: so do.
1 Timothy 4:1-3, 7 (AMP) BUT THE [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that IN LATTER TIMES SOME (apostates) WILL TURN AWAY FROM “THE FAITH,” GIVING ATTENTION TO DELUDING AND SEDUCING SPIRITS AND DOCTRINES THAT DEMONS TEACH, 2 Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 3 Who forbid people to marry and [teaching them] to abstain from [certain kinds of] foods …
7 (Paul to Timothy) REFUSE AND AVOID IRREVERENT LEGENDS (profane and impure and godless fictions, mere grandmothers’ tales) and silly MYTHS, and express your disapproval of them.In the course of our study of the Reformer’s “Five Solas” we will of necessity explore the history of religion’s opposition to and/or hindrance of the clear proclamation of Paul’s pure “the gospel of the grace of God.” It is only by Paul’s God-ordained gospel that men may be eternally saved by grace ALONE, through faith ALONE, in Christ ALONE.