At its heart, the Protestant Reformation was a recovery of direct access to Scripture… and then was that Scripture setting the world ablaze! For many hundreds of years, God’s gospel was obscured by the teaching and practices of the church based in Rome. For a good century, earlier saints attempted to reform this church—John Wycliffe, Jan Hus, James Resby, Pavel Kravar. All of them suffered in attempting to call the church back to fidelity to the Gospel.
Luther’s generation was God’s time for a massive new work. The Protestant Reformation was born. As Christians looked back, it was clear that this movement centered on 5 truths – the Five Solas of the Reformation.
This House Church Study is going to focus on those 5, and then turn to one of the great fruits of that next hundred years, the Catechisms. (Michael Horton adds the subtitles to the Five Solas). If you can’t look up every verse, that’s OK.
Sola Scriptura – Our Only Foundation
- Read 2 Timothy 3:15-17 & Hebrews 4:12. What do we learn about God’s Word here?
- Read Jeremiah 23:21-22. There are two types of people speaking in God’s Name. Who are they? Why do you think it’s so important for bible teachers to listen to God?
- How do you think Christians mistakenly build their foundation other than on God’s Word? What types of things are substituted for our most basic authority in life?
Solus Christus – Our Only Mediator
- Read 1 Timothy 2:5, John 14:6, Hebrews 9:12-15a, 7:25. What do these teach us about the absolute exclusivity of Christ in our Salvation?
- Many of our Catholic friends pray to the saints for protection. We Protestants rightly demure. But many of my Protestant friends put much focus on “guardian angels” for their protection. Do you think this is wise?
Sola Gratia – Our Only Method
- Read Eph 2:1, 4-6. What is the basic story of salvation? (where were we, what happened, where are we now?)
- As if to reinforce the point beyond all reasonable doubt, Read Eph 2:8-9. How many different ways are there by which to be seated in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus?
- What are examples of “works” that we think earn us some standing before God?
- If God hadn’t come to us in Christ, could we ever have come to him? (1 John 4:19 adds the ‘cherry on top’ to this gracious truth!)
Sola Fides – Our Only Means
- Read Acts 4:12, Romans 10:9-10, John 1:12. Why is it so hard to count on faith?
- Why do so many people shrink back from entrusting themselves & their lives to Christ and his work?
Soli Deo Gloria – Our Only Ambition
Rom 11:36 – For from Him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
- What hope can you take from this exclamation?
Catechisms & Confessions
The 16th and 17th centuries saw the development of a number of important catechisms and Confessions of Faith. The reason is simple: Having left the Roman Catholic Church (with its well-laid out doctrines), the Protestants had to flesh out what they believe and how to pass it along to the next generations. A Confession of Faith is a “statement of doctrine/belief”, and a Catechism is a training course for discipleship.
Even to this day, many churches and families use Catechisms as a way to help folks grasp their faith. Two of the most famous catechisms are the Heidleberg (1563) and the Westminster Shorter (1640s).
Compare the first question of each. What is the focus of the respective authors? Even without knowing the rest of the questions/answers, how do these set the tone for each catechism?
How might these (and others) be helpful in discipling us today?
WSC Question 1
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
[Glorify God: 1 Corinthians 10:31. Romans 11:36. Enjoy Him: Psalm 73:24-26. John 17:22, 24.]
Heidelberg Question 1
Q: What is thy only comfort in life and death?
A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.