As you’re probably aware, 2017 marks the 500 year anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 Theses to the door of a church building in Wittenberg, Germany. While not seeking to separate from the Roman Catholic church, he called for substantive and specific changes in her practices and theology.
Luther was joined by many other Reformers whose teachings were eventually summarized in what we call the Five Solas, “sola” being a Latin word meaning “alone” or “only.”
Sola Scriptura: Scripture alone
Solus Christus: Christ alone
Sola Fide: faith alone
Sola Gratia: grace alone
Soli Deo Gloria: glory to God alone
These phrases carry such weight because they keep us from our sinful tendency to base our justification before God on something other than what God has done for us in Christ and revealed to us in his Word.
The Five Solas
Our final authority is Scripture alone, not amended or added to by tradition, opinion, or church councils.
The basis of our forgiveness before God is Christ alone, not saints, Mary, angels, or any other being. In his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross Jesus completely bore God’s righteous wrath against us. His payment was full, final, and effective.
Our justification before God is by faith alone. God declares us righteous in his eyes not because he sees righteousness in us but because we fully rest and trust in the work of Christ on the cross to pay for our sins and because we receive his perfect righteousness as a gift.
We are justified by grace alone, through God’s kind, gracious, and free initiative. He gives us what we don’t deserve and could never earn: forgiveness, transformation into Christ’s image, and adoption into his family.
All of this is accomplished for God’s glory alone. For eternity, praises will redound to the God whose wisdom, power, and love ordained that he would have a people from every tribe, language, and nation to share in his Triune joy forever.
A New Song
While we already have many songs and hymns that help us remember and celebrate these truths, it seems appropriate to mark this 500 year anniversary with new songs. David Ward wrote one a couple years ago called Glory Be to God Alone, and I’m sure there are probably others.
Which brings me to this post. Last year Chris Anderson, a pastor and hymn writer I had met once at Together for the Gospel, emailed me to ask if I wanted to work on a Reformation Hymn with him. Sounded like a great idea.
So for about 8 months we emailed back and forth, worked on a Google doc, and finally came up with a song. It’s intended to be a concise, musical summary of Reformation truths that we stand on, live by, and treasure. Here are the words:
We will trust God’s Word alone, where His perfect will is known;
Our traditions shift like sand while His Truth forever stands.
We will live by faith alone, clothed in merit not our own;
All we claim is Jesus Christ and His finished sacrifice.
Glory be, glory be to God alone
Through the church He redeemed and made His own.
He has freed us, He will keep us till we’re safely home
Glory be, glory be to God alone!
We are saved by grace alone—undeserved, yet freely shown;
No accomplishment on earth can achieve the second birth.
We will stand on Christ alone, the unyielding Cornerstone;
Nations rage and devils roar, still he reigns forevermore!
Here’s a quick demo I recorded with Zach Taylor, a member of my church and recent Southern Seminary graduate.
Of course this song can be sung any time, not just during the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation. I pray it’s an encouragement to you as you consider what a great salvation God has given us through his Son!
You can download the sheet music and MP3 below:
If you’re interested, you can also check out Reformation Song, which I wrote with Tim Chester.