Someone asked me recently if I was “reformed”. That was a loaded question if there ever was one! Some mean “reformed” to be simply holding to justification by faith alone. For others it is a more detailed theological position that encompasses issues from salvation to baptism and even the end times. Others just mean, I think, “Do you read a lot of John Piper and like to discuss Calvinism among your Christian buddies?” The basics of what it means to be reformed and what I mean when I say I am reformed are captured in the “Five Solas”. These are five Latin phrases that came out of the Protestant Reformation to distinguish one’s theological convictions from the official positions of the Roman Catholic Church. R.C. Sproul calls them the battle cries of the Reformation. Here are those phrases which represent the pillars of what one should mean (and what I mean) when he claims to be reformed:
1. Sola Scriptura (By Scripture alone): The Bible is the rule of faith as it is the only inspired and authoritative Word of God, it is the instrument of salvation, and it is accessible to all.
2. Sola Fide (By faith alone): Justification by God is through faith only, without any mixture of good works but genuine faith is evidenced by good works.
3. Sola Gratia (By grace alone): Salvation is a gift or grace from God meaning that it is unearned or unmerited.
4. Solus Cristus (Christ alone): The only mediator between God and man by which we are saved is Jesus Christ.
5. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone): Since the miracle of salvation is accomplished completely through God’s will and power He is solely deserving of the glory.