What is the Reformation?
In the sixteenth century, God raised up men such as Martin Luther and John Calvin to bring about a reformation within the church. Those who were involved in this reformation were eventually labeled "Protestants" because of their protests against certain beliefs and practices of the church. This reformation was a call for fidelity to biblical Christianity.
Five specific distinctives characterized the Protestant Reformation (The 5 Solas)
- Sola Scriptura (The Scripture Alone) - Church tradition and ecclesiastical authority had come to be held as equally binding with the Scripture. The reformation reaffirmed the Bible as the supreme authority and sole source of written divine revelation.
- Sola Christus (Christ Alone) - While salvation had come to be seen as a complicated, cooperative effort between God and man, the reformation reaffirmed the biblical stance that salvation is accomplished by the atoning work of Christ alone.
- Sola Gratia (Grace Alone) - The reformation reaffirmed the biblical position that sinful man is delivered from God's wrath solely by His grace. Salvation is God's gracious gift apart from any trace of human merit on the part of the recipient.
- Sola Fide (Faith Alone) - The reformation reaffirmed that God's gift of salvation is not in any sense a work of man. It is received by faith alone, "not of works lest any man should boast." This faith, like the salvation it receives, is the gift of God.
- Sola Gloria Dei (To God Alone be the Glory) - Since salvation is of God and accomplished by Him alone, all glory belongs to Him alone. Therefore, the Christian is called to live before God, under His authority, and for His glory alone.
Fundamental to these five articles is the most distinctive aspect of Reformed theology, the unequivocal and unconditioned sovereignty of God. The Reformers affirmed that God rules over His creation with absolute power and authority, determining what will and does occur. Whether circumstances, sin, or the rebellion of His creatures, nothing will ever alarm, frustrate, or defeat our sovereign God.