Dr. Mike White

Five Central Truths which Inform our Reading of Scripture (part 2)

As I mentioned previously, we’re currently working through five important truths in our teaching time (Credo) on Wednesday nights. These central beliefs are usually known by their Latin phrases: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), and soli Deo Gloria (for God’s glory alone). Collectively known as “solas,” these central beliefs serve as non-negotiables for the Christian faith. Last month we learned a little about sola scriptura and solus Christus. (Scripture alone is our sole authority; Christ alone is the mediator between God and humanity.) We’ll now tackle the remaining three.

Sola gratia affirms that salvation is utterly undeserved. Since Adam, every person who has ever lived has been in total rebellion against our holy creator God. As the examples of Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1–3), Uzzah (2 Sam 6:5–7), and Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11) suggest, God deals severely with sin. There is no reason—save the grace of God—that you or I should not face the swift justice that these biblical figures experienced. Indeed, by the debt of sin we have accrued, every one of us deserves nothing but death and Hell (Rom 6:23). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved!” (Eph 2:4–5). The good news of the gospel is that even when we were God’s enemies, God showed his love by sending his Son to bear the Father’s wrath toward sin (Rom 5:6–8). From beginning to end, God’s grace is a gift which God lavishes upon those who trust Christ.

Sola fide insists that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin on the cross is to be received by faith alone (Rom 3:24). The righteousness that God requires (and which humans have fallen short of) is supplied by Christ, who became sin so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21). This righteousness is achieved not by works—the keeping of the Law, good citizenship, church attendance, etc.—but instead by faith, so that no one can boast. This ensures that God’s gift of grace is indeed a pure gift, and in no way rests on human effort. Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed to those who, like Abraham, look away from themselves to trust in God who justifies the ungodly (Rom 4). In this way, God is magnified as a glorious Savior, who accomplishes every aspect of our redemption in spite of our wickedness.

And so, appropriately, all of these truths have as their goal the great glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria). God’s radiance and renown are the purpose of our lives (1 Cor 10:31), and practically, this means that we aim to represent God as the great Savior he is in our lost and dying world. May we at Gainsville always strive to this end, giving thanks for the gift of reconciliation that is ours in Christ!

Dr. Mike White

Five Central Truths which Inform our Reading of Scripture

Part of the awesome responsibility I have in teaching our young people the Word of God includes helping them to recognize key elements of God’s redemptive storyline throughout Scripture. It is great thing to be able to recount details of Bible stories and to have basic Bible knowledge. But in our teaching of these things sometimes we can zoom in so closely to Scripture that we fail to connect our topic to God’s larger redemptive story. When we do this, we accidentally “lose the forest for the trees” and forget that all of Scripture is about Christ and God’s plan of rescue through Him. For this reason, our current series in Credo focuses on five central truths which summarize the emphases of the Protestant Reformation against the medieval Roman Catholic Church. By teaching these truths, we hope to help our students understand the things that are most important about their faith, and in turn help them to be better readers of God’s Word.

The five truths we’re focusing on are known by their Latin phrases: sola Scriptura (Scripture alone), solus Christus (Christ alone), sola gratia (grace alone), sola fide (faith alone), and soli Deo Gloria (for God’s glory alone). Collectively known as “solas,” these central truths serve as non-negotiables for the Christian faith. To give you a taste of what they’re learning, let me unpack the first two briefly.

Sola scriptura means that Scripture stands alone as the supreme standard by which all human behavior, beliefs, and opinions should be judged. This is true because Scripture is the inspired and error-free Word of God, which alone is authoritative and sufficient for the Christian life (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21). The perfection and sole authority of God’s Word mean that the sermons Mike or I preach, the opinions we have, and the traditions we have as a church all bow to the authority of Holy Scripture. We would do well to emulate the practice of the Berean Christians in Acts 17:10–11, who not only eagerly received Paul’s message, but searched the Scriptures to confirm his teaching.

Solus Christus reflects the central value of Jesus Christ and His cross, and the fact that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5). Jesus’ atoning sacrifice for sins on the cross is at the very heart of the gospel—the Apostle Paul states clearly that it is of first importance for our faith (1 Cor 15:3–4). As believers we must never think that we can move beyond the cross to more advanced topics; the cross is essential both for salvation and daily Christian living (Gal 2:20). Salvation comes by no other means than Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross.

In a future post, I’ll delve into the remaining “solas.” Until then, let’s rejoice in these precious truths about God’s Word and our Savior!