The Reformation was a "back to the Bible" movement that recoved core truths of God's Word that had been obscured through time and tradition. Following are some of the key doctrines clearly taught in the Bible that help us understand how to follow Christ.
Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone): The Bible is the only Word from God without error. Scripture is the sole authority in matters of doctrine, faith, and practice; the Bible alone has the authority to bind the conscience absolutely. In Christian churches and in the lives of believers the Bible is the ultimate authority for what we believe and how we live. It is God's Word that defines and establishes the Church, rather than the church that defines God's Word (II Timothy 3:16).
Sola Fida (Faith Alone): Justification is only received by faith in Jesus Christ.â€¨ It is the biblical doctrine highlighted at the time of the Reformation that God declares the sinner to be righteous and just before Him on the basis of faith alone. Justification is God's legal declaration of pardon and acceptance on the basis of the righteousness of Christ imputed to those who believe. The Westminster Confession defines justification as the act of God's free grace by which he pardons all of our sins and accepts us as righteous in his sight. Justification is received by faith alone and is not based on human merit, righteousness, or good works (Romans 3:22-24, 28, 4:5, Galatians 3:6, 24).
Sola Gratia (Grace Alone): Salvation is only by grace and not a result of works. Grace is the love and favor of God. Sola Gratia is the biblical doctrine which teaches that God extends love and favour to sinners on the basis of the atonement accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus and the merit of Christ's righteousness. Man, being sinful, does not earn or deserve the love and favour of God; rather, God chooses to give that which man does not merit. It is God's grace that saves us through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and that justifies us as a gift on the basis of the redemption we have in Christ (Romans 3:24). Grace can be thought of as the context in which we believe the promise of the gospel and are thereby justified (II Timothy 1:9).
Solo Christo (By Christ alone): Christ is the only mediator between God and man. As John Calvin said in the Institutes of the Christian Religion, "Christ stepped in, took the punishment upon himself and bore the judgment due to sinners. With his own blood he expiated the sins which made them enemies of God and thereby satisfied him...we look to Christ alone for divine favour and fatherly love!" (1 Timothy 2:5-6; Colossians 1:13-18).
Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone): Only God is worthy of our worship and not man. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." This great and all consuming purpose was emphasized by those in the 16th and 17th Centuries who sought to reform the church according to the Word of God. The reformers saw all of life to be lived under the Lordship of Christ. Every activity of the Christian is to be sanctified unto the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31; 1 Peter 4:11; Revelation 1:6; 2 Peter 3:1; Ephesians 3:21; Revelation 7:12; Romans 11:36).
Priesthood of the Believer: The biblical doctrine recovered at the time of the Reformation that teaches all true believers are priests unto God and have direct access to the presence of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. In the Old Testament, only priests as representatives of the people could go into the presence of God. In the New Testament, there is no earthly mediator who goes to God on our behalf or through whom we gain access to God. Jesus Christ is our mediator, our High Priest, through Whose shed blood we approach God in confidence and faith. On the basis of the blood of Christ we commune with God, enjoy His presence, are filled with His Spirit, and receive understanding of His Word. (Hebrews 4:14-16, 10:19-22).