Did the Reformers Invent Their Doctrine?
When we talk about the Reformation, we talk about the solas. And one of those solas is solus Christus: Christ alone. There’s actually one text by Paul that I think has all of the five solas within it: Romans 5:1–2.
First of all, these verses are Scripture, so that's sola scriptura. Paul says:
Therefore, having been justified by faith [faith alone], we have peace with God through Jesus Christ [Christ alone]. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace [grace alone] in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God [the glory of God alone].
It’s Christ alone who endured the wrath of God, who paid the penalty of our sin.
It’s Christ alone who endured the wrath of God, who paid the penalty of our sin. And by faith and grace we can obtain salvation in Christ alone. Paul says this in Romans 5, and it’s based on his argument in Romans 3:21–25:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
He says it also in 2 Corinthians 5:20:
[Christ] who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God.
That passage comes at the culmination of an argument that Paul is making that Christ alone reconciles us to God.
The Reformers were not inventing a doctrine. They were simply uncovering and proclaiming the rich doctrine of salvation through Christ alone that is so prominent and prevalent in Scripture.
- Does the Reformation Still Matter? (Stephen J. Nichols)
- 10 Things You Should Know about the Reformation (Tim Chester)
- Keep It Simple Stupid: Martin Luther on the Christian Life (Carl R. Trueman)