Finger of God
Pause for thought

Sola Panel

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Now that the pandemic panic appears to be receding in the rear-view mirror it seems that our world has emerged into moral mayhem and a series of ethical emergencies. Whatever your political point of view there can be no question that our society is caught in a swirling maelstrom of rights, grievances, outrage and frustrations. The number of causes and points of view clamoring for our attention and support has exploded exponentially. 

I find it not a little ironic that we seem to be mirroring the excesses of the “roaring twenties” of a century ago neatly summed up by Cole Porter in his song “Anything Goes”:

“The world has gone mad today And good’s bad today And black’s white today And day’s night today…”

Not to be too pessimistic, but it is true that although history doesn’t repeat, it certainly seems to rhyme, and the end of the 1920’s saw the start of the Great Depression!

A number of my friends like to engage in theological discussions as we seek to engage with non-believers, reacting in a Jesus-centered way to circumstances and the megaphone of the media.

It has been said that people who stand for nothing will fall for anything, so it is important for us to be grounded in the foundations of our faith. By “foundations” I mean the fundamental beliefs that underly our daily living. But let me be clear that these beliefs are not dependent on any particular denomination that we attend or are a member of. Denominations are, or should be, an aid to worship and provide a community of believers engaged in mutual support, but are not an end in themselves and certainly should not become an object of worship!

For me, these foundational beliefs are expressed by what are known as the five “solas” — “sola” being the Latin word meaning “alone”. 

The basis for all subsequent beliefs comes from the first of these, “sola scriptura”, since it is the primary (but not exclusive) means by which we come to discover the others. My own denomination, The Salvation Army, lists this as its first article of faith:

“We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments were given by inspiration of God and that they only constitute the Divine rule of Christian faith and practice.”, and this is just a restatement of “sola scriptura”, so I feel comfortable in that community.

I intend to expand on these principles and how they inform my response to the cacophony of beliefs the world is trying to force on us in future columns, but for now let me say that in any analysis of morals and ethics, for me the Bible wins!. Must win! Always! Every time!

Here are the five solas to which I hope I can persuade you to subscribe: 
 SOLA SCRIPTURA "Scripture Alone"

“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:21 ESV

The 66-book Bible is the sole authority for Christians in faith, doctrine, and practice. Sola Scriptura acknowledges the facts that the Bible is the Word of God, inerrant, sufficient, without error, and the source of all truth.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

SOLUS CHRISTUS "Christ Alone"

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6 ESV

Salvation is found in Christ alone. No human being can forgive sins. It is Christ alone who saves.

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 ESV

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 ESV 


SOLA GRATIA "Grace Alone"

Salvation from the judgment and condemnation of God that every human being deserves (because we are sinners) is a gift of grace from God. It has nothing to do with human merit.

As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." Romans 3:10-12 ESV

God Himself, through His Son Jesus Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from the dead, rescues all who believe in Him from His wrath. God brings people to repentance and faith in Christ because of His goodness and grace.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV 
 SOLA FIDE "Faith Alone"

The biblical truth that we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone is what sets Christianity apart from all other religions in the world. It is not by the believer's works or efforts but by Christ's work on the cross that a person is saved.

Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. Romans 4:4-5 ESV

Christ, who lived a perfect, sinless life, willingly bore the full punishment of the wrath of God against believers. He paid the penalty in full. Therefore, those whom God brings to faith in Christ are saved because He imputes Christ's righteousness to them.

But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God. Romans 5:8-9 ESV 
 
 SOLI DEO GLORIA "To the Glory of God Alone"

But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5 ESV

Salvation is wholly a work of God for His glory. Believers contribute nothing to their salvation. Because Christ is both Lord and Savior of believers, they are commanded to live their lives to glorify God.

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:44 ESV

It is God who, through His grace, moves in the sinner's heart, enabling him or her to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV

I pray that you might be encouraged to stand firm in your faith in these turbulent times unperturbed by the fiery darts of the wicked!

Next time, I’ll take a look at the Wesleyan Quadrilateral and its application. Stay tuned!

Blessings on you and yours, Jim Black

Saturday July 30th, 2022
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Saturday July 16th, 2022
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