Through my studies of the Puritan's (Thomas Watson, John Flavel, J.R. Miller, John Owen, Charles Spurgeon) I have come to learn of the five solas. The five key doctrines of salvation. If you are unfamiliar with these I simply want to give a brief introduction of them to you. If these intrigue you you should seek some fine books, which I will post at the end.
The first of the five is sola fide, or "through faith alone." These five points of doctrine all came from the Reformation period of our early church history. This first sola comes from the corrupt teaching of the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) that there were several graces you must accomplish to acquire saving faith. Some of the more notable RCC graces are infant baptism, confirmation, marriage, mass, and last rights. These and a few more had to be done to fully satisfy God's favor and the bestowing of His grace. Martin Luther came along and said, "No!" His study revealed what had always been in the Scriptures, but had been buried by the obscure and false teaching of the RCC. Scripture teachs that believers are justified by faith. The Epistle to the Romans speak of Abraham believing God for the promise and then God crediting His righteousness to Abraham. God required nothing of Abraham except simple faith in His divine promises. There is no man-made work or ritual that can appease God for His grace.
This takes us to the second, sola gratia, or "by grace alone." This teaches us that our salvation is non-meritorious. There is no merit that man can achieve that will appease God. Grace alone is what God displays in His mercy. Unregenerate man has no standing before God except wrath. All we like sheep have gone astray, there is none righteous, no one seeks after God is what the Word describes. As objects of holy God's wrath we can receive only one thing from God and that is His damnation. We do not deserve His grace, but wrath, we are sinful beings who have disobeyed His laws. But, thanks be to Christ Jesus, we are offered His mercy. His mercy places our sinfulness on Christ and Christ's righteousness on us. This is GRACE! Not that we could love Him, but that He loved us first!
The third sola, solus christus, "in Christ alone," teaches us that there is no other name under heaven by which man might be saved. Our salvation is a narrow minded one. Only those who enter through the narrow gate and follow the narrow way will enter heaven. There is no grace for those of the Muslim faith, Hindu faith, or any other faith. Any faith, even supposed Christian faiths, that water down Christ and His death on the cross are not faiths at all. Beloved, this is why it is imperative that you scrutinize over the Words of Scripture and over those who teach you. Are they teaching Christ alone, or do they mix him with any sort of man-made ritual or any other requirement that ultimately takes away from Christ's atoning death on the cross? There are many churches out there that teach Christ, but do they teach Christ from the Bible.
This leads us to our fourth sola, sola Scriptura, "according to Scripture alone." This sola teaches that all that is needed to know about our salvation comes from the Word of God. There are no new revelations from God, no new thoughts about our salvation, no new revelations from angels. We have a closed canon (Bible)! This means that preachers should be preaching God's Word, not the latest poll survey from Barna or whatever drivel comes out of the evangelical fads of today. The biggest church and most popular preacher does not guarantee solid biblical teaching. I encouage you to read my posts entitled, "True Preaching," where I delve into these issues more. There is alot of truth out there, but not all of it is biblical truth. Not all of it goes to the heart of the matter--our position with or without Christ. Millions of self-help books line our shelves, but none of them have the authority of God in them. Only the inspired, God-breathed pages of holy writ are authoritative. Go to them and them alone. Read the Proverbs, there is more self-help in those 31 chapter than all the books of the world!
The last sola, soli deo gloria, "to the glory of God alone," speaks to the core of what it is all about. Life, family, church, jobs, the world, all of it is for His glory. Go into the Psalms and see how often God's fame and glory is desired by the Psalmist. The first name we get from God is Jealous. He is a jealous God who is jealous of His own glory. This is why the New Testament speaks to our humility. We are nothing without Him and thus all glory goes to Him. When the church gathers it isn't for the sake of the unbeliever, despite what many pastors and churches try to sell, it is for His glory. The saints, or called out one's, come together to magnify His name by preaching, reading, singing, praying, and meditating upon His Word. Whether you eat or drink, in whatever you do, do it all for His glory.
I hope this gives you a little understanding of these foundational truths that have helped align the modern church with God. There is a resurgence of these teachings out there. You don't have to look to hard to see new books and new authors exposing these great truths. A few good books to get you on your way:
"What Makes a Church Evangelical?" James Montgomery Boice
"By Grace Alone: How the Grace of God Amazes Me" Sinclair Ferguson
"Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?" James Montgomery Boice
A good article to read is this:
God bless you in your journey,