Summary: For October 2017, as we approach the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, we are doing a sermon series on the "solas": Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, and Sola Scriptura; and 2 others added, Soli Deo Gloria, and Solus Christus. This is the first of the series.
We’re beginning a new sermon series for the month of October, as we finally lead up to the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. It’s a series called SOLA! Sola is the Latin word for “alone” or “only.” It’s where we get the word “solo,” where ONLY one person is singing or performing or highlighted, alone. When we talk about sola in light of the Reformation, there were three originally: sola gratia, sola fide, and sola Scriptura; grace alone, faith alone, and Scripture alone. We’ll unpack those three in the next few weeks. On top of those three, two more are often added: soli Deo Gloria |To God alone be the glory; and, solus Christus | Christ alone, which we’ll be discussing today.
Each of these 5 solas serve as a sort of summary of the theology of the Reformation. And what you find, oddly enough, is that, while “sola” means “alone,” these 5 solas are never really alone. They are so intricately interconnected and woven together— so, in each of these sermons, you’ll find hints of all 5. Because all glory belongs to God alone, for saving us by grace alone, through faith alone, as He reveals and works through Scripture alone—all of it pointing to our salvation in Christ alone.
Salvation is in Christ alone, we know this, we believe this. But that doesn’t stop us from pointing to ourselves, or thinking highly of ourselves, or trying to impress God with what a good saint I am. And if you’re not careful, when you approach certain passages of Scripture, especially passages of Law, you lose focus on Christ alone and what He has done in fulfilling all things, and you begin to focus on yourself alone. Next thing you know, we’re living in our own self-righteousness, in what I call DIY theology: Do It Yourself. It was a Do it Yourself theology that the Jewish leadership in Jesus' day were focused on. And it was a Do it Yourself theology that the Church of Luther's day was so bent on, too, leading up to the Reformation. DIY theology is nothing new.
And why not a DIY theology? That’s how we are with everything else. We live in a DIY culture. From self-help books for “dummies,” to magazines, TV shows—if you have a problem, you can find a way to fix it yourself. Type it into your computer; tell your phone, and in minutes you can view a few videos or step-by-step how-to pages with pictures of how to fix it, remodel it, or whatever. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s had a project around the house and thought, “I bet I can do that myself!” I watch a few videos, and suddenly I’m a professional…only to then make matters worse and shamefully call a real professional, with more experience than 15 minutes of YouTube videos to fix my mistakes. Anyone out there who’d admit they’ve done that?
Now, sometimes it turns out great—but not always. It’s rarely as perfect as that Pintrest post. And not nearly as simple as "This Old House" made it seem. But, nevertheless, we try and try to DIY, because our pride is at stake. We’re convinced that, with all those average people on their websites and TV shows and YouTube videos—surely we can do that, maybe even better. And if not that, our pride is at stake because we don’t want to admit to someone we can’t change our oil, or sew a button, or fix a leaky faucet, or braid your daughter’s hair, or whatever simple crafty or remodeling project you have in mind. If not that, our pride is at stake because we want to proudly show our parents and friends what we’ve done--so much so that we feel the need to show the world, and post it on Instagram or Facebook. #craftymom #dadthebuilder #hgtvhacks #illdoitmyselfandsavefiftybucksthankyouverymuch (all one word).
Suffice it to say, we live in a DIY culture. But that’s mostly because it’s part of our human nature. DIY is in our DNA. So, why not have a DIY theology, too? Only now in our pride we boast before God, as if we could impress Him. Look how good I am. Look what I have done for you. Look at all I have accomplished. SEven our readings today seem to point that way, too. Paul’s saying some great things in Philippians 2. Then he throws out this line in verse 12: “…work out your own salvation…” Work out your own salvation?! That sounds like DIY theology to me. Right before this, in chapter 1, Paul says, “…let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel…” Sounds like DIY theology to me. How can anyone be worthy of the Gospel? Isn't that what the Gospel is for, making us worthy? In our reading from Ezekiel today, verse 31 reads, “Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit!” Sounds like more DIY theology to me.