Truth Matters Newsletter – November 2004 – Vol. 9 Issue 10 – Sola Christus –by Rev. Robert S. Liichow
John 1:29 KJV
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
We are saved by Christ alone! One would imagine that this doctrine need not even be discussed by Christians because it is an “obvious” truth. Sadly, many people who declare themselves to be Christians are blind to this truth and untold numbers do not even believe such a statement to be biblically true.
Not only are people confused by what it means to be redeemed by Christ and Him alone there are currently several perversions of who the biblical Jesus is and what He came to do and what He does now for His people. Ron Rosenbladt cites several examples of these “false Christs” on page two in the following article:
“Solus Christus means there is only one genuine and saving Christ. He is not only sufficient in his bleeding and dying to save us, He is the only Christ. Today’s American culture offers many “Christs” who are not really Christ at all. Asserting solus Christus means that a Reformation Christian rejects positions in opposition to it as false (“and therefore we condemn…”) will mention just a few of these positions.
1. Christ the psychotherapist The is an extremely popular position in today’s evangelicalism. This “Christ” is preached as the one who can heal our inner psychological wounds. He can heal broken marriages, aid us in communication with our children, and deal with other dysfunctional situations.
2 Christ our example. Often Christ is preached as a moral example whom we are to emulate. The idea lying behind this view is that our sin is little more than confusion and that we have within us the inner moral wherewithal to do whatever should be done, once we are taught it. The “gospel” of this particular “Christ” is pure law, though few pastors who preach “Christ is you model” seem to recognize this fact.
3. Christ who gives health and wealth Surprisingly common is the preaching of a “Christ” who always grants health or wealth to those whose faith in him reaches the level it should. Those who have watched the Pentecostal televangelists recognize this “Christ”.
4. Christ the lover This is popular in certain seminaries where faculties recommend (or even require) students to read the supposed profundities of the mystics. The idea here is not (as it should be) that the student is enabled to critique these writings as examples of man’s perennial attempts to use inner experience as the basis for his justification before God. Rather, the student is encouraged to see the possible application of such writings to the laity in his parish. But as Luther says, mystical experience is just one more counterfeit “ladder to heaven.” Such examples could easily be multiplied.
All of the above views comprise the regular spiritual diet on Christian television and much of religious radio today. Jesus is usually presented as the One who can make your life better, He is touted as “the missing ingredient” to achieving the American dream. I do not dispute that belonging to Jesus Christ makes the believers life better or that He is truly the missing ingredient (but not to achieving the American dream).
John the Baptist speaking by the Spirit announced to all exactly who Jesus was: “The Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world.” That is precisely what the Gospel message is all about–Jesus Christ the Bearer of the sin of the world. That means I am a sinner, and no matter how hard I try or how long I work at attempting to keep God’s holy Law I fail miserably and I must admit that I am in need of a Redeemer.
Such a message is extremely unpopular in many of today’s pulpits. The very notion of telling the people that they are sinners in need of redemption is antithetical to church growth! To remind people that they are sinners and that God is holy might cause psychological damage and somehow impede their escaping the myriad dysfunctions plaguing their lives. In such congregations people are simply not told this basic truth about themselves and about the glorious work of Jesus as our sin-bearer. In other congregations people are taught that they must add their works to the redeeming work of Christ.
On the one hand (call them “group one) many people are simply not taught that they need redemption and that it has been completely and graciously provided by the Father through the death of His Son on the cross. The simple yet profound message found in the following text is foreign to them:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (KJV) John 3:16-19
The Father loved us enough to give His only begotten Son. He did not send Jesus to condemn us, we already stood condemned by our own wickedness, no He sent Jesus to redeem us from the curse of sin and the bondage of the law.
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (KJV) Romans 5:8-10
While we were sinners and enemies of God, Christ died for us! Who were the sinners and enemies? You, me, the whole world. Who died for us? Christ Jesus. It seems plain to me, but it is obscured from the sight of many people.
On the other hand (call them “group two”) we find that people know something of Christ’s death for sinners but His death, in and of itself is insufficient to secure redemption on the basis of faith alone. For these misguided folks it boils down to this: Christ + works = salvation and its maintenance. This version of Christ is as damning as knowing nothing of Him at all. In fact this is another “Jesus” who is presented to people in another “Gospel” that Paul warned the Church against:
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any (man) preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (KJV) Galatians 1:6-9
The believers in Galatia were being brought back under the yoke of the law by legalistic Jews. When works are added to the gospel (the Good News of salvation in Christ alone) Paul called it a perversion and those who proclaimed such heresy he declares anathema or damned. The Judizers taught that faith alone in Christ alone was not enough that the keeping of the ceremonial law was necessary to be redeemed. The Bible is clear on this matter:
“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses: Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; [And} having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. (KJV) Colossians 2:13-15
We were dead in our sins but the Father made us alive with Jesus. He forgave all (past, present and future sins) our trespasses and blotted out every ordinance of the law that was against us and took it away. When? When Christ Jesus died on the cross! How much can a dead person contribute? Absolutely nothing. Jesus triumphed over Satan on the cross (not in hell as the Word of Faith cult teaches):
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. (KJV) 1 John 3:8
Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and He did so by taking our place and being our substitute on the cross.
For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (KJV) 2 Corinthians 5:21
He took our sins and God imputed to our account His righteousness. Our Lord bore the brunt of the curse of the law that rightly belonged to us (see Gal. 3:13) that we might receive God’s blessings through faith.
Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins: (KJV) Colossians 1:13,14
We’ve been translated into the eternal kingdom of His dead Son from the former dominion of darkness. How did the Father do this? It was accomplished through the power of the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus, the Lamb of God who took away our sins. We have been redeemed by His blood and by that same blood our sins have been washed away.
And it is by God’s ill that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (NRSV) Hebrews 10:10
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, [as] silver and gold, from your vain conversation [received] by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: (KJV) 1 Peter 1:18,19
We are sanctified by what, our works? No, we are made (declared) holy through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ on the cross, once, for all. There is no more sacrifice to be made, there is no more work to be completed Jesus has don it all for us. Brothers and sisters receive the Gospel—
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (KJV) 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Christ died for our sins. He died and was buried and He rose again on the third day. It is Jesus from start to finish; He is the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Heb. 12:2); He is the Alpha and the Omega (see Rev. 1:11). Salvation is of the Lord:
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. (KJV) 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
Jesus has done it all, rest in Him and in His work and put no trust in your own feeble attempts to merit the favor of God. I know too many believers who are like the Galatians, they begin by confessing they are saved by the grace of God, but from that point on fall from grace back into a form of “works righteousness”
By wrongly believing they are kept saved by their works. No my dear friends, from start to finish it is Christ and Him alone. Any good works we do are because of Jesus and His working in us by His Spirit. Remember the words of our Master when He said:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (KJV) John 15:4-5
In the end, even our best spiritual works have their origin in Christ and thus He is to receive the ultimate praise for them. This no doubt this is why the elders cast their “earned” crowns down at their Savior’s feet in Rev 4:10. Yes our good works in Christ are rewarded, but this reward too has its basis in the grace of God through Christ Jesus our Lord. To whom alone be the glory and honor forever and forever. Amen!! ♦
copyright © 2004 Robert Liichow