Nate Pickowicz: The Five Solas

October 1, 2017

nate_pickowiczNate Pickowicz Nate Pickowicz is pastor of Harvest Bible Church in Gilmonton, NH. He’s also the author of “Why We’re Protestant,” a book about the Five Solas of the Reformation, and the basis for our discussion today.


Outline of the Discussion
  • Nate studied the doctrines of the Five Solas of the Reformation for a sermon series he was preaching at his church to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. That study then became a book, and is the basis for this discussion.
  • No one sat down and hammered out these five doctrines explicitly, they were recurring themes within the writings of the first and second generation Reformers.
  • The Five Solas were much more broad than the Five points of Calvinism within the Reformation.

Sola Scriptura

  • Scripture Alone
  • Often called the formal principle of the Reformation.
  • The Bible itself bears witness to the fact that the Scriptures are authoritative. It is God's inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word. The Scriptures stand above: Popes, councils, creeds, confessions, and tradition.
  • It is not Scripture plus… (tradition, Popes, etc.)
  • The Reformation was a battle for the Bible.
  • The Catholic hierarchy fought against the Bible being released to the public in the language they understood, favoring the Latin Vulgate.
  • Adding the Apocrypha to the Canon at the Council of Trent was Rome's response to the Reformation elevation of Scripture, as well as the rejection of non-scriptural traditions.
  • While the Reformation holds to Sola Scriptura, Rome holds to a “three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition, and the ‘Magisterium'.” Functionally, this boils down to only the ‘Magisterium,' and thus they can be labeled as holding to “Sola Ecclesia” (The Church Alone.)
  • The distortions of the Gospel that happen as Rome strays from the Scripture can be dangerous, and blasphemous.
  • Reading the Scriptures is so discouraged by the teachings of Rome that past guest Richard Bennett was a priest for over two decades and was drawn out of Catholicism after reading the Bible.

Sola Fide

  • Faith Alone
  • Regarded as the material principle of the Reformation
  • Man is justified by Faith Alone, apart from works of the Law (Romans 3:28)
  • Luther faced this doctrine as he was teaching through Romans and Galatians. First at Romans 1:17, which quoted Habakkuk 2:4.
  • While the Latin Vulgate stated that faith would MAKE righteous, the original Greek stated that it would DECLARE one righteous.
  • Rome teaches Faith, but they tie to it: works, deeds, and sacraments.
  • Piling things on top of Faith instills doubt in people, always wondering if they have done enough. This ultimately makes slaves of them.

Sola Gratia

  • Grace Alone
  • In his response to Erasmus, Luther stated that Sola Gratia is the hinge on which everything turns.
  • Erasmus and Rome take a Semi-Pelagian view of Man in salvation; that we're born with a “clean slate” and it's up to us to make good choices and do moral things. It's Synergistic.
  • Grace is not infused into us, as Rome teaches. Rather, it's a gift of God.
  • Nothing we can do will save us, we are completely reliant upon the Grace of God for salvation.
  • Salvation is a work of God alone (Monergism), not of God and man (Synergism.)

Solus Christus

  • Christ Alone
  • While the doctrine of Christ Alone is attacked from many angles, the biggest attack is in the Roman Mass. In it, they take the Eucharist, say a prayer (incantation) and it “magically” turns into the body and blood of Christ and re-offer it as a sacrifice.
  • The Mass contradicts Christ's words from the cross, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
  • There isn't a single word in all of Scripture that says that anything needs to be added to the works of Christ for salvation.
  • We rely on Christ alone for salvation. If we can't rely on Him alone, he's not a savior and his work is insufficient (blasphemy.)

Soli Deo Gloria

  • For the Glory of God Alone
  • Rome had categorized everything as either sacred or secular. The Reformation recovered the understanding of the priesthood of all believers. Paul said “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) There are no separations of realms.
  • The Reformers sought to bring everything into subjection of Christ.
  • As the Westminster states: “The chief end of Man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (Question 1, Westminster Shorter Catechism)

Broader Application

  • We are always prone to wander from the Lord.
  • The Five Solas help us keep our focus on the Gospel.
  • Faithfulness is not “baptizing” cultic practices.
Scriptures Referenced
  • Matthew 23:9
  • Romans 3:28
  • Genesis 15:6
  • Habakkuk 2:4
  • Romans 1:17
  • Ephesians 2:8
  • Romans 3:10-11
  • Ephesians 2:5
  • John 19:30
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31
Additional Resources
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