On October 31, 1517, a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany with the intention of provoking a conversation and protesting the abuses and corruptions of the Medieval Catholic Church. This was reform, not revolt. That action sparked the most important reformation in the last 2,000 years of church history.
The protest spread like wildfire throughout Europe and England, against fierce opposition. Though it involved political, social, and intellectual factors, the Protestant Reformation was profoundly and definitively theological. And though the primary ‘Reformers’ each had many flaws as they struggled toward biblical assurance and faith, they laid the path for the recovery of the biblical gospel.
The great issue was the nature of the gospel. How can we be right with God: what does it mean to be justified by faith? The gospel not only announces what Christ has done but how the benefits of his word are made real in the lives of individuals and the church. Over time, the contribution of the reformation has been summarized with five interconnected statements, often called "The 5 Solas" (because sola is the latin word for "alone").
• Grace alone (Sola gratia) — how can a person be right with God?
• Christ alone (Solus Christus) — how does this grace come to us?
• Scripture alone (Sola Scriptura) — how do we find the real Christ?
• Faith alone (Sola fide) — what is our part in response to Christ
• Glory alone (Soli Deo gloria) — all our salvation comes from God and is for his glory.
So what does all this mean for us? This is not arcane history. As this year is the 500th anniversary of the reformation, we want to rediscover and revive these treasures and beg God to revive us again.