The triumph of truth over darkness is one of the central themes of any objective examination of the Reformation.
Those truths can be summarized as follows:
- The formal (foundational) principle of the Reformers – Sola Scriptura
- The material principles – three truths related tot the true Gospel and the nature of justification
- Sola Gratia
- Sola Fide
- Solus Christus
- The teleological principle – Soli Deo Gloria
Those principles rose out of the plain and clear teaching of Scripture.
And at the heart of these great and foundational words was one small “word.” And through this word the great truths of the Reformation were uncovered and recovered from the mountain of sacerdotalism that had buried them and liberated them from the myriad of ceremonies and rituals (ceremonialism) that had obscured them.
That word was SOLA.
God’s Word alone! As the supreme and sole authority of the church – all she believes and all she practices.
Through faith alone – by grace alone – in Christ alone.
The terms faith, grace, Christ, and Scripture were part of the Roman Catholic theology of justification. What the Reformers did was bring one small word to bear on all this theology – ALONE.
And this resulted in great glory to God alone as the true Gospel message marched around the globe and down through time until it reached each one of us!
Luther penned a powerful Reformation hymn – “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” One line in that hymn states that Satan and error and spiritual darkness will all be stopped – will all be reversed – by “one little word.”
And that little word was SOLA.
Luther said it well when referring to the power behind the Reformation:
“Take me, for example, I opposed indulgeneces and all papists, but never by force. I simply preached, wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing. And then, while I slept…the Word so greatly weakened the Papacy that never a prince or emperor did such damage to it.”
“I did nothing. The Word did it all.”
Oh for again a Luther! A Calvin with passion for theology. For one with Zwingli’s zeal or Martin Bucer’s piety or the boldness and courage of John Knox!
No…the Reformation is not over. It continues in our day – its truth must go forward to the ends of the earth!