How powerful is the gospel that you cling to? Because the gospel I see in Scripture, the gospel that awakened my dead and hateful soul, is the power of God for salvation. The power of God to transform the lost cause. The power of God to lead the murderer to repentance. The power of God to restore relationships… to heal the scars of abuse… to bring the abuser to repentance… to bring peace to the battlefield…. To reconcile racial disparity… to free the oppressed, to make demons flee, to strengthen a believer that has lost his family because he believes in Jesus… to make ordinary people so bold that they would rather die than stop preaching Jesus to a world in need.
In my corner of Christianity these days you can’t swing a cat without hitting a sermon series on the Solas of the Reformation. And I like it. It is timely as we are a week off of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther asking ninety-five questions that would right the trajectory of the church. A turn back to Jesus. To his grace, the majesty of the gospel for salvation.
From the positions, writing, and preaching of the Reformers, we get the five Solas. A biblical rebuttal to the justification by works embraced by the Roman Catholic Church. These truths are:
Sola Fide, by faith alone. Justification, being made right with God is by grace through faith alone in Christ and his work.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone. Scripture, as the divine revelation of God, alone makes clear what is necessary for salvation.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone. Our salvation is accomplished through the mediatorial work of Jesus alone – none of our own, or anyone else’s (Pope), just Jesus.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone. Those saved from the wrath of God against sin are saved not by their own merit but grace alone – the unmerited favor of God.
Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone. If salvation is a work of God alone, then it is accomplished for his glory alone.
Yes and amen. Over and over again. We must preach the gospel these truths point to continually, that lives would be freed from the bondage of works righteousness and trusting in anything other than Jesus for salvation.
From salvation, though we enter into real life – this abundant life promised by Jesus and delivered in his resurrection. And this is where we can go wrong way too often. Some might say that since you are now saved it becomes “your work that transforms you… that carries out Christian duty in order to earn rewards…” Or others will latch onto our ability to cling to the right set of doctrines to ensure we never deviate from the Solas, against trusting in our ability to keep it up…
But what if we are meant for something different, something more… powerful?! Following the God-aloneness of the Reformation – we are to live by the power of God alone.
As we have been studying Acts at Reservoir Church, I have once again been struck by the power promised by Christ and delivered by the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Jesus. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you” and you will be witnesses (Acts 1:8). I was at first inclined to see this power as ONLY for witnessing, preaching the gospel of Jesus. But that is not what the clear language from Christ says – it is AND witness. So we are given power, not only to witness but to live.
This is the exact posture of the Apostles in their preaching and writing of Epistles, that God’s people, the church, would experience the fullness of Christ, the power of God for life.
I mentioned in my sermon on Sunday that I desired to be Sola Dynamis, living by the power of God alone. It might mean any number of things in my life and the life of the church. That we might see addiction broken, healing happen, the word of God preached with boldness. It will also mean power to pursue and live from the good news of Jesus.
Why would we miss what we are meant for in the power of the Holy Spirit, the power of God for all of life?
Sam Storms hosted a conference on the continuing work of the Spirit in the church and he opened it with a sermon on power. I submit it to you and invite you into the Sola Dynamis life – by the power of God alone.
“Remember, the only power that Satan has now is to roar like a vicious lion the law’s demands in your conscience and accuse you of irredeemable failure. He has no other power over you but to insidiously slander God’s faithful love in your ears. Because Jesus was successful in his temptations, when Satan comes to accuse you (his name, Satan, means “accuser”), you don’t need to try to defend yourself with your own record. All you have to do is recall the perfect obedience of the Son in your place and go on your way in faith.” – Elyse Fitzpatrick, Found in Him