Key Doctrines of Reformed Theology Part I

Last week we began a series of blogs on Reformed Theology and we saw that, at its heart, it is a system of doctrine that centers on the glory of God. This week we will begin to see exactly how it does so.

Reformed Theology is thoroughly Protestant and is therefore based on what are called the five solas ("alones") of the Protestant Reformation. These were the battle cry of the Reformers as they cleared the godless overgrowth of darkened centuries and struck the lively path back to biblical Christianity. The five solas are as follows:

Scripture Alone - The Bible and the Bible alone is where God speaks. It is the sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. Rome believed Scripture was authoritative but not Scripture alone; they held that tradition, councils, and popes were also mouthpieces of the Holy Spirit. The Reformers excluded everything apart from Scripture and its right interpretation as God's voice and, therefore, as authoritative. (Isaiah 8:20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Grace Alone - The Bible teaches that sinners are saved by grace and grace alone. Grace is God's condescending mercy and favor bestowed on those who deserve the exact opposite. Grace means salvation is entirely of the Lord and not of ourselves. God initiates and God completes, to the joy of helpless sinners like us. (Romans 11:6; Ephesians 2:8)

Faith Alone - This grace comes to us by faith and faith alone. Rome believed salvation was by faith, but not faith alone. They added works. The Reformers taught that faith alone apprehends God's saving grace. A mustard seed of real trust in Christ saves instantly and completely. (Romans 3:28; Ephesians 2:8)

Christ Alone - This faith is in Christ and Christ alone. Rome believed the object of saving faith was all doctrines taught by the church, that all doctrines were equally necessary for salvation. Scripture teaches that the only object of saving faith is our Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work. It's "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" to those who know his love. (Acts 16:31; Romans 3:25; Galatians 2:20, 3:1)

The Glory of God Alone - This great salvation results in the glory of God alone. No boasting is left to men. All glory belongs to the God who saved us by himself. Salvation displays his greatness and merciful bounty to hell-deserving sinners through the shed blood of his Son for them. What this mighty doctrine means is that there is none like him. (Romans 4:2, 9:23; Ephesians 3:21)

And so Reformed Theology is founded upon the deeply biblical doctrines of the five solas. Next week we will see how Reformed Theology takes the solas to their most natural and necessary conclusions.