(The following is the August 19 devotional from my Next Step Devotions book. Before reading it, I suggest you read Galatians 2 and pay close attention to verses 15-21.)
Several fundamental beliefs distinguished the faith of 16th-century Protestant reformers from Roman Catholic teaching. Some of these core tenets are known as the “five solas.” * (The word “sola” is Latin for “alone.”) It may help to put them all in one sentence: We are saved by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) in Christ alone (solo Christo or solus Christus) according to Scripture alone (sola scriptura) for the glory of God alone (soli Deo gloria).
In Galatians 2-3 and elsewhere, Paul is adamant on the matter of being justified by faith alone and not by works: “We are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners,’ and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified” (vv. 15-16). “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing” (v. 21). “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith. But since that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:24-26).
Christians should live lives of good works in response to God’s gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ, not as an attempt to earn his favor. Faith alone. Sola fide.
How do you think a random person on the street might answer the question, “How does a person get to Heaven?” How would you have answered it before becoming a Christian? Read Romans 4-5, Galatians 2-3, and Ephesians 2, then answer the question biblically. Read Matthew Barret’s helpful, brief article on the five solas at https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-five-solas.
* Matthew Barrett, “The Five Solas,” The Gospel Coalition, accessed February 14, 2022, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/essay/the-five-solas.