Five pillars of reformation era theology influenced our forefathers. 1) sola scriptura (Scripture alone), 2) sola fide (faith alone), 3) sola gratia (grace alone), 4) solus Christus (Christ alone), and 5) sola Deo Gloria (glory to God alone).
Between professing and action is a vast defining gulf. Luther, Zwingli and their peers went part way to truth. They identified the doctrinal errors of their time, but stopped short of true cross bearing. They clung dearly to the safety of self-life. They did not take up and bear the cross of Jesus (Mt 16:24). In doing so, they returned to the same apostasy from which they sought to escape. This scenario repeats itself—even in 2009. Our Anabaptist forefathers did differently. They not only believed, but by voluntarily denial of self, they took up the cross and followed Jesus. By such action they established a 6th sola, 6) sola crux (cross alone). A few theologians today are even willing to notice the defining difference between these men who sought true faith.
Sola scriptura: Obeying the scriptures is never wrong. It is always right. Using Scripture solely for a guide will never fail. It guides into all truth. It prevents the deceptions that deny the power of God. It steers one away from professing godliness that lives in open disobedience to clear Bible commands. It shows when traditions are good and when they must be discarded for biblical foundations. It shows when to take a stand for God and when to forsake those who are dear for the sake of one’s Lord and Master (Lk 14:26).
Sola fide: By faith a person makes the all-important switch in perceptions of what is true reality. By faith, he finds what is real. He perceives the difference between the tangible and the intangible. He discovers that the intangible is the real and the tangible of this present world is the unreal. He then pursues eternal life and purifies the hope within himself. He looks beyond. He looks for buildings not made with hands. He moves at the warnings of his God. He trades the “treasure of Egypt” for the treasure of an unseen city not made with hands. He suffers without the gate. He stops defending the things of this world and defends the things of the world to which he really belongs. That which is unimportant to this world becomes the most important to his life. He is an ambassador (2Cor 4:16-5:7,21).
Sola gratia: remembering that one is only a sinner saved by grace and that “except for the grace of God there go I” is the humble view which will save one from unholy, judgmental, holier than thou, Pharisaic belief systems so common to the nature of false Christianity. He is “not willing to justify himself” but will both answer the question and do the command of Jesus his Master “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” (Lu 10:36-37) (1Cor 15:10; 1Tim 1:15)
Solus Christus: Many laws vie to replace the law of Christ written on the tables of the heart through the sacrificial gift of Jesus Christ who is the only begotten Son of the Father. They seek to cause one to leave his first love for dependence upon outward law. Dependence upon outward law deceives and offers a false hope. Only the law of Jesus Christ working by faith in the life of a believer can save him from eternal destruction. Only Christ who came and died for sin can save the soul of a man or woman (Rom 5:8; 8:1-4; 10:4; Col 2:17-23).
Sola Deo Glori: Unrestrained, rampant humanism teaches that the end of all things is the happiness of man. but those around the throne in Heaven proclaim that the end of all things is the Glory of God. This present world with its accompanying religious society wallowing in humanism has adopted almost every conceivable form of this deception. Those who deny such heresy even in its simplest form and focus their attention on the glory of God will yet find grace in the eyes of the Lord (Re 4:11).
Sola crux: Cross bearing is not the normal sickness, normal difficulties, normal disappointments and normal things which happen to all mankind. Cross bearing is taking a stand for truth against evil. Cross bearing conflicts with the world’s frivolities, the world’s treasures, the world’s loves and the world’s interests. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” The cross is what a Christian willingly accepts in this life because he is finding favor with his God and not with men. He does not love the things of the world, the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the prides of life. The world does not love him because he is not party with them. He clings to the love of God even when it brings him opposition. He accepts it patiently and bears his cross. (Mt 5:12; Jas 5:5-8; 1Pe 2:20; 3:14,17; 4:15,16,19; re 2:10)
“Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
— Greencastle PA