Back To Basics:The Sola By Which All Solas Stand or Fall(Solus Christus)

Back To Basics:The Sola By Which All Solas Stand or Fall(Solus Christus)

Now we come to the sola that is at the heart of all the solas, and this one is called Solus Christus, which when translated in English from Latin means “Christ alone.”

While salvation is found by “faith alone” (Sola Fide), trusting in the work of Christ for the sinner, and salvation is given to the sinner by “grace alone” (Sola Gratia), knowing that one cannot earn righteousness from God, but salvation is received as a free gift from God. “Christ alone” (Solus Christus) tells mankind the origin of where the righteousness of God comes from. It is found in Christ, and Christ alone.

Theopedia highlights this truth found in the Scriptures:

[Solus Christus] emphasizes that salvation is made possible for man only by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Scripture, once more, gives us the instruction that salvation comes from Christ alone:

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”(Jn. 3:16-18 NASB)

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (Jn. 11:24-26 NASB emphasis mine)

Jesus told Thomas that no one can come or be reconciled to God the Father, except by Christ alone:

5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (Jn. 14:5-6 NASB emphasis mine)

Christ alone is even at the heart of the blessed Gospel, which Paul describes to the Corinthian saints when he writes,

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…(1 Cor. 15:1-4 NASB).

Paul in these verses gives us the main reasons why it this is an important instruction of the universal church:

  • The prophecy given by God in the Garden of Eden that salvation would be by Christ alone: This reality is found in Genesis 3:15 where the Lord declares to the serpent:

“The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, and dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”(NASB, emphasis mine)

This passage, known to many theologians, is called the Protoevangelium (i.e., “first gospel”). God declares the serpent’s head will be crushed by the seed of the woman, and the serpent will bruise the seed of the woman. In this verse is found the reality of the good news itself: The redemption of mankind. There is no other way mankind can receive salvation and redemption. It would only be found in the “seed” of the woman.

  • The prophecies given by the prophets that salvation would be by Christ alone: The Prophets of God in the Old Testament expanded on the promise God had declared to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. The prophecy was given in Exodus when Moses discusses a prophet that God will speak through (Deut. 18:18-19). The prophets that spoke of the work of the woman’s seed is found in David (Ps. 22:1; 16:10; 35:11 49:15; 41:9; 50:6; 109:4), Isaiah (7:14; 53:1-12; 63:1-3), and Zechariah (11:12-13; 12:10) to name a few. These prophecies explain how the “seed”would crush the head of the serpent, and how the serpent would bruise the heel.
  • The prophecies affirmed by the apostles that salvation would be by Christ alone: This is the main point Paul gave when writing to the saints in Corinth. Namely, that Christ died, was buried, and raised in accordance with the Scriptures (i.e., the Old Testament). The apostle John told the reader the main point of his gospel: That one would read his book, believe in Christ alone, and obtain eternal life. Peter also wrotethe prophets of old searched the Old Testament for the time that the Messiah would suffer (1 Pet. 1:10-12).

In addition, the righteous fathers of the faith wrote about this truth that salvation is in Christ alone. Clement of Alexandria (30-100 A.D.), wrote an epistle to the church in Corinth concerning Christ alone:

“And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

The Epistle to Diognetus, which was written sometime in the second century, and whom author is unknown, highlighted this truth of Solus Christus:

“He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal. For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God? O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! That the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!”

Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.) also spoke of the one being justified by Christ alone. In Dialogue With Trypho he commented,

“those who repented, and who no longer were purified by the blood of goats and of sheep, or by the ashes of an heifer, or by the offerings of fine flour, but by faith through the blood of Christ, and through His death.”

These are some of the many early saints of the body of Christ that proclaimed the Biblical teaching of Solus Christus.

Salvation from God can be found by no other means, and in no other person. Deliverance from sin, death, and the devil can only be found by trusting in the “seed” of the woman, whom is Christ. In addition, this is the sola that is at the center of all other solas, and the sola all other solas stand or fall. Without Solus Christus (or adding to Solus Christus), Sola Gratia would be cruelty, Sola Fide would be worthless, Sola Scriptura could not be trusted, and Soli Deo Gloria would not be the believer’s praise.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

L.S.

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Back To Basics: The Gift That Keeps On Giving (Sola Gratia)

Back To Basics: The Gift That Keeps On Giving (Sola Gratia)

Last blog post I had briefly explored the wonderful truth of how Christians are saved by the works of Christ for the rebel sinner. This instruction, found in God’s Sacred word, is come to be known as sola fide.

Now we turn our attention to another one of the five solas that was highlighted in the Reformation, and that is sola gratis, which translated in English means “grace alone.”

What exactly does sola gratia teach? Theopedia gives a definition below:

“Sola gratia, one of the five Solas of the Reformation emphasizing that our justification before God and our resulting salvation are both solely by the sovereign distinguishing grace of God and not dependant on any action or condition provided by man.”

This glorious doctrine is written by Paul to the saints in Ephesus, which says:

1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind , and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (Eph. 2:1-4 NASB).

Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit in the passage above, gives us several reasons why it had to be by God’s grace:

  • Mankind is dead in trespasses and sins: Simply put, mankind cannot choose God because they are dead. Not physically dead, but spiritually dead. The ideas, thoughts, and concepts mankind has about God are all wrong. Mankind’s actions, thoughts, and words towards our actions are not altruistic. In fact, the reason mankind is “dead” is because all men are “trespassers” and “sinners.” This is mankind’s being, and very nature. Dogs bark, cows moo, and sinners sin.
  • Mankind follows the world, flesh, and the devil: Mankind’s nature is sinful, and mankind is trapped, unable to choose God because mankind practices the deeds of the spirit of this age and its rebellion. Giving approval, by nature, to the things God despises and hates. In addition the devil, who is called the “prince of the power of the air” in this passage, is the father of lies (cf. Jn. 8:44), mankind does exactly what its father does. The devil lies, deceives, slanders, and murders…and so does mankind.
  • Mankind deserves the wrath of God: There is no one who is a “good person” before the eyes of God. All of mankind, because of its flat out rebellion against God, and because mankind refuses, by nature,to love their neighbor, are referred to as being “children of wrath.” In effect, this is what all of mankind has earned by works: The anger and wrath of God. Paul highlights this truth in his letter to the Roman saints:

“There is none righteous, not even one; 11 There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; 12 All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” 13 “Their throat is an open grave, With their tongues they keep deceiving,” “The poison of asps is under their lips”; 14 “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness”; 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood, 16 Destruction and misery are in their paths, 17 And the path of peace they have not known.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Rom. 3:10-18 NASB).

There is no amount of “good” one can do to earn favor, or righteousness, before God. All men have been born dead in trespasses and sins in thought, word, and deed. Even mankind’s altruistic and philanthropic attempts are done through a sinful nature. From doing good things so one may be noticed by men, to false religions and religious movements, to “little white lies” one tells, to gossip, slander, and murder. All of it is sin before the Almighty, which God, due to His just and holy nature, must punish.

However there is good news, found in verses 4 and 5:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved) (NASB).

All mankind deserves death and eternal separation from God by the lake of fire. Yet God, due to His great mercy, choose out of His own will to act on behalf of the sinner who could not redeem, or rescue, themselves from the wrath of God. Paul explains that God made those who believe alive together with Christ, emphasizing that salvation is by grace (and grace alone) that a sinner is saved. Grace is given as a gift undeserved for the sinner, because the sinner has earned the wrath of God.

There are many other verses that speak of the wonderful grace of God, and how it has saved the sinner from the wrath of God:

10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are” (Acts 15:10-11 NASB emphasis mine).

14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. 15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many (Rom. 5:14-15 NASB emphasis mine).

8 I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:8-9 NASB emphasis mine).

20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal. 2:20-21 NASB emphasis mine).

There are also many First century Fathers that wrote of this wonderful truth of Scripture. Some of these include Jerome (347-420 A.D.), who in his book Epistle to the Ephesians wrote this about the work of God:

“We are saved by grace rather than works, for we can give God nothing in return for what he has bestowed on us.”

John Chrysostom (349-407 A.D.) in his work Homilies on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians says this about the grace of God when he writes,

“God allowed his Son to suffer as if a condemned sinner, so that we might be delivered from the penalty of our sins. This is God’s righteousness, that we are not justified by works (for then they would have to be perfect, which is impossible), but by grace, in which case all our sin is removed.”

Marius Victorinus, who lived in the forth century, had this to say about being saved by God’s grace alone when he comments,

“The fact that you Ephesians are saved is not something that comes from yourselves. It is the gift of God. It is not from your works, but it is God’s grace and God’s gift, not from anything you have deserved. … We did not receive things by our own merit but by the grace and goodness of God.”

Salvation is given to men, by faith, as a free gift. The sinner does not, and cannot, earn salvation, nor does the sinner deserve salvation from God. Grace is given as a free gift, to rebel men and women, to come and be reconciled to God, in Christ Jesus. If mankind is born dead in trespasses and sins (and mankind is!), and salvation in Christ Jesus had to be earned, then there would be absolutely no hope for mankind at all, and the lake of fire would be an imminent, and eternal, destination for all mankind.

Thank our sovereign and merciful God because of sola gratia, this scenario is only a hypothetical, and not reality.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

L.S.

 

Back To Basics: Christians Are Saved By Works (Sola Fide)

Back To Basics: Christians Are Saved By Works (Sola Fide)

Any believer seeking to profit greatly from theological study, would find it expedient to go back to the basics of theology.

The “basics” of Christianity is highlighted in have been deemed the “five solas” of the faith, which are as follows: 1.) Sola fide, 2.) Sola gratia, 3.) Solus christus, 4.) Sola scriptura, and 5.) Soli deo gloria. These “solas” have been at the core of theological study from body of Christ throughout the centuries, being highlighted in the period of the Protestant Reformation. In this blog post we will examine the Latin phrase sola fide, which translated in English means “faith alone.”

Martin Luther, the spearhead of the Protestant Reformation, had this to say about the doctrine of sola fide:

Hence it comes that faith alone makes righteous and fulfils the law; for out of Christ’s merit, it brings the Spirit, and the Spirit makes the heart glad and free, as the law requires that it shall be

There are several observations to note concerning Martin Luther’s comments:

  • Justification is by “faith in the work of Christ alone”:  The term “faith” means a belief, or an assurance in someone, or something. The Holman Bible Dictionary describes faith in this manner:

Trusting commitment of one person to another, particularly of a person to God. Faith is the central concept of Christianity. One may be called a Christian only if one has faith.

The faith a believer has in Christ is “fixed” on an object. In the case of a Christian it is “fixed” on a Person. What makes one righteous before God is faith in Christ.  A person must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to be justified before God.

  • Justification is by “faith in the work of Christ alone”: A believer who has faith in Christ, also has assurance, in the work (or what Martin Luther called merit) of Christ for them. This is what Paul highlighted as he wrote to the churches in Corinth:

1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (1 cor. 1:1-4 NASB).

Believing in the work of Christ on the cross: His suffering, death, burial, and resurrection is how one receives the forgiveness of sins. In short, a Christian can cleverly confess they are saved by works-the works of Christ for them.

  • Justification is by “faith in the work of Christ alone: A believer cannot (and should not) add to the completed work of Christ. To add to the work of Christ is to assert Jesus’s suffering death, burial, and resurrection, is not enough to pardon sins, and make one righteous! It actually minimizes the completed work of what God has done for us, thus minimizing God’s glory.

There are many Scriptures found in God’s Sacred word, which reveal our justification from God is indeed by faith alone. Some of these Scriptures include the following below:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH” (Rom. 1:17 NASB).

2For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Rom. 4:2-5 NASB).

8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” (Rom. 10:8-11 NASB).

Many saints of old have proclaimed this eternal truth of Sacred Scripture. These saints included Clement of Rome (possibly 1-101 A.D.) who wrote,

“And we who through his will have been called in Christ Jesus are justified, not by ourselves, or through our wisdom or understanding or godliness, or the works that we have done in holiness of heart, but by faith, by which all men from the beginning have been justified by Almighty God, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.”

Justin Martyr (100-165 A.D.), another saint of the faith in the first century observed:

No longer by the blood of goats and of sheep, or by the ashes of a heifer . . . are sins purged, but by faith, through the blood of Christ and his death, who died on this very account.

Ambrosiaster, written possibly in 366-384 A.D., was a commentary on the epistles of Paul. Although the author of this work is not given, they made this observation concerning the apostle Paul and sola fide, when the author noted,

“Paul backs this up by the example of the prophet David, who says that those are blessed of whom God has decreed that, without work or any keeping of the law, they are justified before God by faith alone.”

In fact, the Latin phrase the author of Ambrosiaster used in this sentence is “sola fide justificentur apud Deum,” which translated in English means “they are justified by before God by faith alone.” The very term sola fide was used by the author.

The Sacred Scriptures teach, very plainly that by faith alone the sinner is reconciled to God by works. Not by the sinners work, For no one is righteous by their works before a holy, and just God (Rom. 3:10). A sinner is declared righteous by trusting in the completed work that was done by Jesus Christ, which has been accounted to the sinner. To deny this truth is to deny the a fundamental pillar of the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints to believe, proclaim, teach, and confess.

I end this blog with a paragraph from Martin Luther that highlights the reality of sola fide, found in the Sacred Scriptures, which says this:

The faith of the fathers in the Old Testament era, and our faith in the New Testament are one and the same faith in Christ Jesus, although times and conditions may differ. Peter acknowledged this in the words: Which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they (Acts 15: 10, 11). And Paul writes: And did all drink the spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (I Cor. 10:4). And Christ Himself declared: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56). The faith of the fathers was directed at the Christ who was to come, while ours rests in the Christ who has come.

Until next time…

Soli Deo Gloria!

L.S.