The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century was a divinely inspired movement to restore the Gospel principles outlined in the Old and New Testaments. Some basic biblical principles emphasized by the reformers are:
Sola Gratia —
According to the message of Paul to the Ephesian Christians, we are saved solely by grace (1). “There are thousands today who need to learn the same truth that was taught to Nicodemus by the uplifted serpent. They depend on their obedience to the law of God to commend them to His favor. When they are bidden to look to Jesus, and believe that He saves them solely through His grace, they exclaim, ‘How can these things be?’”
Sola Fide —
In 2the Word of God makes it clear that repentant sinners can be justified solely by faith: “ ‘Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.’ Justification by faith is placed beyond controversy. And all this controversy is ended, as soon as the matter is settled that the merits of fallen man in his good works can never procure eternal life for him.”
Sola Scriptura —
In His controversy with Satan, Christ used only the scriptures. “It is written” was His powerful weapon. Likewise referring to the rise of the great advent movement, Ellen White testifies: “We . . . took the position that the Bible, and the Bible only, was to be our guide; and we are never to depart from this position.”3
“God will have a people upon the earth to maintain the Bible, and the Bible only, as the standard of all doctrines and the basis of all reforms. The opinions of learned men, the deductions of science, the creeds or decisions of ecclesiastical councils, as numerous and discordant as are the churches which they represent, the voice of the majority—not one nor all of these should be regarded as evidence for or against any point of religious faith. Before accepting any doctrine or precept, we should demand a plain ‘Thus saith the Lord’ in its support.”4
Solus Christus —
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (5). “Christ is your Redeemer; He will take no advantage of your humiliating confessions. If you have sin of a private character, confess it to Christ, who is the only mediator between God and man.”
Solo Deo Gloria —
“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (). “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father, which is in heaven” ( ).
“‘All things are for your sakes,’ [Paul] said, ‘that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.’ Not for self-aggrandizement did the apostles preach the gospel.”6 The whole plan of salvation has the ultimate purpose of restoring humanity to its original condition before sin and for the honor and glory of God.
In harmony with the great Reformation principles, in Hebrews chapter 11, we find that all those heroes according to God’s criteria, were saved by grace and justified by faith, for example: “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous” (verse 4). “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (verse 7).
About 600 years before Christ, Habakkuk wrote: “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith” (), and Paul echoed this in .
Martin Luther seriously studied especially Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians to understand the magnificent subject of salvation by grace and justification by faith.
Later, in the General Conference held in Minneapolis, 1888, this “most precious message” was brought to God’s people to prepare them for the true evangelization of the world. Ellen White wrote: “Several have written to me, inquiring if the message of justification by faith is the third angel’s message, and I have answered, ‘It is the third angel’s message in verity.’”7
During this special week of prayer, God’s people around the world will study these subjects so essential for our own salvation and for the purpose of fulfilling the Gospel commission. “This is the message that God commanded to be given to the world. It is the third angel’s message, which is to be proclaimed with a loud voice, and attended with the outpouring of His Spirit in a large measure.”8
May the Lord help us to take to heart this wonderful truth!