In the footer of ws harbor are numerous helpful resources and one of those is a collection of daily readings by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Below is today’s reading taken from the highly recommended Studies in the Sermon on the Mount.
Freedom from sin’s desires
[The desire for righteousness] means a desire to be free from sin, because sin separates us from God. Therefore, positively, it means a desire to be right with God … All the trouble in the world today is due to the fact that man is not right with God, for it is because he is not right with God that he has gone wrong everywhere else … The man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is the man who sees that sin and rebellion have separated him from the face of God, and longs to get back into that old relationship …
But it also means of necessity a desire to be free from the power of sin … The man we have been looking at … is a man who has come to see that the world in which he lives is controlled by sin and Satan … He sees that ‘the god of this world’ has been blinding him … He wants to get away from this power that drags him down in spite of himself [see Romans 7]. He wants to be free from the power and the tyranny and thraldom of sin …
But it goes further still. It means a desire to be free from the very desire for sin, because we find that the man who truly examines himself in the light of the Scriptures not only discovers that he is in the bondage of sin; still more horrible is the fact that he likes it, that he wants it. Even after he has seen it is wrong, he still wants it. But now the man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness is a man who wants to get rid of that desire for sin, not only outside, but inside as well … Sin is something that pollutes the very essence of our being and of our nature. The Christian is one who desires to be free from all that … To hunger and thirst after righteousness is to desire to be free from self in all its horrible manifestations, in all its forms … the man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness … wants to be emancipated from self-concern in every shape and form.
I don’t use the term ‘must read’ when it comes to recommending books and/or authors because there is only one must read and that’s the bible. However, I do have a hand-full of writers that I would consider my favorites when it comes to extracurricular reading and one of these is A.W. Pink. Below is a short excerpt from one of his works entitled Profiting from the Word.
The Word of God may be taken up from various motives. Some read it to satisfy their literary pride. In certain circles it has become both the respectable and popular thing to obtain a general acquaintance with the contents of the Bible simply because it is regarded as an educational defect to be ignorant of them. Some read it to satisfy their sense of curiosity, as they might any other book of note. Others read it to satisfy their sectarian pride. They consider it a duty to be well versed in the particular tenets of their own denomination and so search eagerly for proof-texts in support of “our doctrines.” Yet others read it for the purpose of being able to argue successfully with those who differ from them. But in all this there is no thought of God, no yearning for spiritual edification, and therefore no real benefit to the soul.
An individual is spiritually profited when the Word convicts him of sin. This is its first office: to reveal our depravity, to expose our vileness, to make known our wickedness. A man’s moral life may be irreproachable, his dealings with his fellows faultless; but when the Holy Spirit applies the Word to his heart and conscience, opening his sin-blinded eyes to see his relation and attitude to God, he cries, “Woe is me, for I am undone.” It is in this way that each truly saved soul is brought to realize his need of Christ. “They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick” (Luke 5:31). Yet it is not until the Spirit applies the Word in Divine power that any individual is made to feel that he is sick, sick unto death.
Sola Scriptura – Scripture Alone
Solus Christus – Christ Alone
Sola Gratia – Grace Alone
Sola Fide – Faith Alone
Soli Deo Gloria – The Glory of God Alone
Charles Spurgeon once said…
Reformed theology is nothing other than biblical Christianity.
…and as I continue to mature in faith I tend to agree with the Prince of Preachers. When we talk about the Reformation, topics such as Protestantism, Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, the doctrines of grace, Calvinism, and the Five Solas are often at the forefront of discussions. Today – as the title of the post would hint – we’re going to look at a summary of each of the Five Solas of the Reformation courtesy of the late James Montgomery Boice.
The Five Solas of the Reformation by James Montgomery Boice
1. Scripture alone.When the Reformers used the words sola Scriptura they were expressing their concern for the Bible’s authority, and what they meant is that the Bible alone is our ultimate authority—not the pope, not the church, not the traditions of the church or church councils, still less personal intimations or subjective feelings, but Scripture only. Other sources of authority may have an important role to play. Some are even established by God—such as the authority of church elders, the authority of the state, or the authority of parents over children. But Scripture alone is truly ultimate. Therefore, if any of these other authorities depart from Bible teaching, they are to be judged by the Bible and rejected.
2. Christ alone. The church of the Middle Ages spoke about Christ. A church that failed to do that could hardly claim to be Christian. But the medieval church had added many human achievements to Christ’s work, so that it was no longer possible to say that salvation was entirely by Christ and his atonement. This was the most basic of all heresies, as the Reformers rightly perceived. It was the work of God plus our own righteousness. The Reformation motto solus Christus was formed to repudiate this error. It affirmed that salvation has been accomplished once for all by the mediatorial work of the historical Jesus Christ alone. His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification, and any ‘gospel’ that fails to acknowledge that or denies it is a false gospel that will save no one.
3. Grace alone. The words sola gratia mean that human beings have no claim upon God. That is, God owes us nothing except just punishment for our many and very willful sins. Therefore, if he does save sinners, which he does in the case of some but not all, it is only because it pleases him to do it. Indeed, apart from this grace and the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit that flows from it, no one would be saved, since in our lost condition, human beings are not capable of winning, seeking out, or even cooperating with God’s grace. By insisting on ‘grace alone’ the Reformers were denying that human methods, techniques, or strategies in themselves could ever bring anyone to faith. It is grace alone expressed through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit that brings us to Christ, releasing us from our bondage to sin and raising us from death to spiritual life.
4. Faith alone. The Reformers never tired of saying that ‘justification is by grace alone through faith alone because of Christ alone.’ When put into theological shorthand the doctrine was expressed as “justification by faith alone,” the article by which the church stands or falls, according to Martin Luther. The Reformers called justification by faith Christianity’s “material principle,” because it involves the very matter or substance of what a person must understand and believe to be saved. Justification is a declaration of God based on the work of Christ. It flows from God’s grace and it comes to the individual not by anything he or she might do but by ‘faith alone’ (sola fide). We may state the full doctrine as: Justification is the act of God by which he declares sinners to be righteous because of Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone.
5. Glory to God alone. Each of the great solas is summed up in the fifth Reformation motto: soli Deo gloria, meaning ‘to God alone be the glory.’ It is what the apostle Paul expressed in Romans 11:36 when he wrote, ‘to Him be the glory forever! Amen.’ These words follow naturally from the preceding words, “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (v. 36), since it is because all things really are from God, and to God, that we say, ‘to God alone be the glory.’”
James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2001), pp. 65-149.
Other recommended resources: 5 Solas, The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Essentials of Evangelicalism by James Montgomery Boice & Philip Ryken